Best Answer: Actuarial science is the discipline that applies mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries. Actuaries are professionals who are qualified in this field through examinations and experience.
An actuary uses statistical and mathematical knowledge to make long-term financial forecasts. These forecasts are used by financial and governmental organisations to solve current financial problems and to make future plans. Traditionally, actuarial work has been mainly associated with pensions and insurance activity, but actuaries are increasingly in demand from other related sectors, including corporate finance/investment banking, business management and healthcare.
Actuarial consultancy is just one branch of the actuarial profession. Working mainly within professional services firms or specialist consultancies, actuaries in this area may be involved in providing a whole range of services to their clients.
Typical work activities:
The work of an actuary within a consultancy may include advising on pensions (designing schemes and calculating contributions), general insurance, HR management, risk management, mergers and acquisitions, corporate recovery, and financing projects. The exact nature of the work undertaken therefore depends on the focus of the employing organisation and the specific projects within their portfolio, but the work of most actuaries can be summarised by what is known at the 'control cycle' model. Actuaries monitor the general economic and commercial environment, specify targeted outcomes and assess risks, develop appropriate solutions and then monitor the experience and
impact. The results of their decisions may require earlier stages to be revisited and revised; hence the cyclical nature of their work.
On a daily basis, consulting actuaries draw upon and apply their knowledge of economics, accounting, marketing, legislation and business practice. General responsibilities may include:
* using mathematical modelling techniques and statistical concepts to determine probability and assess risks;
* explaining the implications of this work to clients and advising on risk limitation;
* advising on the marketing and administration of pensions and life assurance schemes;
* writing detailed reports and letters;
* applying a range of techniques to resolve different types of business problems;
* undertaking actuarial valuations;
* liaising with clients and dealing with queries as they arise;
* working with IT professionals to develop systems that ensure compliance with the requirements of regulatory bodies;
* collaborating with a range of colleagues, including accountants, solicitors, underwriters and investment managers;
* selecting and using appropriate IT software to manage and manipulate data;
* researching current developments within the business and financial worlds.
Trainee actuaries may choose to focus on the consultancy environment because it tends to offer more varied work, affording the opportunity to deal with a variety of different clients and possibly to travel, working at client sites. Balancing a wide range of responsibilities, projects and client demands can be challenging but also rewarding.