What is an actuary?

Actuaries are professionals who use their mathematical, statistical and financial skills to solve financial problems involving future uncertainty. They put price tags on future risks. Some of the areas addressed by actuarial scientists include: Insurance, Pensions, Health Care, Banking and Investments. In Zimbabwe, there is a serious shortage of actuarial personnel so there are many opportunities available for you.

Do you have any questions about the actuarial profession? If so, you’re not alone. Many people are curious about what actuaries do, how they become qualified, and what the work entails. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the actuarial profession, along with answers that should give you a better understanding of this fascinating field.

Actuaries are professionals who use their mathematical, statistical and financial skills to solve financial problems involving future uncertainty. They put price tags on future risks. Some of the areas addressed by actuaries include: Insurance, Pensions, Health Care, Banking and Investments.

Actuaries evaluate complex risks and assess the potential financial consequences of those risks. Typical responsibilities include:
analysing statistical data, for example of accident rates
computer modelling of statistics to determine potential risks
preparing presentations and reports
communicating findings to clients, managers and stakeholders
keeping abreast of financial developments in the business world.
In insurance-related specialisms, actuaries must ensure that premium rates are set accurately and that adequate funds exist to meet claims. Career progression is encouraged through direct client responsibility, specialisation, management or partnership. Although qualification can be a lengthy and demanding process, the work is highly respected, globally recognised and extremely well remunerated.

The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFOA) in U.K recommends that one should do Mathematics at A-level or Degree level for the broadest career options. It is possible to do Actuarial Science straight from A’ Level, however according to their site, “employers prefer candidates with numerate degrees such as actuarial science, maths, stats, economics, engineering, chemistry or physics.” You may also first study for a degree in Actuarial Science at a University. Locally institutions such as The University of Zimbabwe (“UZ”) and National University of Science and Technology (“NUST”) offer actuarial programs. After completing your degree programme you will shave to write board exams under IFOA, SOA, ASSA or any equivalent board, to qualify as an actuary (Associate/Fellow). Before choosing an actuarial degree program, be sure to check for the number of exemptions you will qualify for after doing the degree. Currently UZ and NUST do not offer any board exam exemptions.

*SOA – Society of Actuaries, USA

*ASSA – Actuarial Society of South Africa

Below is a non-exhaustive list of those who benefit from the expert knowledge of actuaries.

  • Banks;
  • Life insurance companies;
  • Property and casualty insurance companies;
  • Employee benefit consulting firms;
  • Universities teaching actuarial studies and undertaking research;
  • Government agencies;
  • Organizations that have oversight roles;
  • Other financial institutions; and
  • The public, and customers and users of all of the above.

Actuaries undergo rigorous academic and practical training in order to master a wide range of skills, including Analysing and managing uncertainty; Financial and mathematical modelling, including mortality and morbidity rates; Evaluating financial consequences; Analysis of risk and risk management; Scientific pricing and reserving techniques; Asset/liability management; Overall financial management, and Communication of complex financial concepts in understandable terms Therefore, if you are a person with a strong mathematical background and likes data, forecasting and analytics then actuarial science could be a worthwhile degree to pursue

There’s more than one way to become an actuary and you can choose the route that best suits your situation now and your long term ambitions. Aspirant students can complete their undergraduate degree programmes in 4 years and take from 3 to 10 years to meet the necessary requirements and gain the certifications under the exam boards

The University of Zimbabwe (“UZ”) and National Univeristy of Science and Technology (“NUST”) offer actuarial programmes. Board exams can be taken online or written at designated Actuarial exam centers in Zimbabwe. Study material can also be purcahsed online. To register for board exams, visit your preferred board’s website.

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