Bankseta career paths: Actuary

An Actuary is a highly sought-after business professional who plays an important role in the banking, insurance and financial services industry. It is a career that requires exceptional mathematical capabilities and statistical aptitude, plus an active interest in figures and their interpretation in a business perspective. There are international opportunities available for Actuaries.

Work environment
Actuaries are employed by life assurance companies, actuarial
companies and other financial institutions. There are international
opportunities available for Actuaries.

Personality profile
• Prospective Actuaries should be of above-average intelligence
• They must have a flair for Mathematics and interpretation of statistics
• A disciplined and methodical work ethic
• Work neatly and accurately
• Be responsible and reliable
• Display the highest standards of professional ethics and technical
• Have excellent negotiating skills
• Self-discipline and determination are needed to cope with
in-service training coupled with years of part-time studies
• Be a financial problem-solver with a unique blend of advanced
mathematical, analytical and business skills
• Have a deep understanding of financial security systems, their
reasons for being, their complexity, their Mathematics, and the
way they function

Duties and responsibilities
• Application of mathematical skills, economic factors, financial
projections, probability implications, statistical inputs and market
trends to manage risk across a broad spectrum of business activities
• Designing and developing products such as life insurance policies,
annuities, pensions, mortgage and credit insurance, short and
long term disability cover, plus medical and dental health savings
accounts and long term care insurance
• Determining the basis on which premium rates for policies are calculated
• Calculating the pay-outs to policy holders
• Continual monitoring of overall company/product viability and
maintaining healthy ‘risk vs. returns’ ratios

Investigating any changes in legislation affecting life assurance and
pension schemes and making the necessary recommendations
• Making decisions/recommendations for large payments such as bonus declarations
• Evaluating and monitoring liabilities in respect of policies/
policyholders through application of an extensive, detailed and
intricate analysis
• Monitoring the financial soundness of the business they work for
• Administration and optimisation of all investments
• Compiling future estimations by investigating trends in interest
rates and mortality rates, inflationary impacts and socioeconomic
• Developing special schemes of assurance to suit specific public and private sector requirements such as unemployment insurance and accident insurance funds

Consequently, Actuaries are essential to the insurance and reinsurance industry, as well as the healthcare, pensions, investment and financial services industry. Actuaries also play a vital role in providing insights for marketing and administration functions in these market segments.

• BBusSc in Actuarial Science
• BComm in Actuarial Science
• BEconSc in Actuarial Science and Mathematical Statistics
• BEconSc in Economic Science and Actuarial Science
• BSc in Actuarial Science

Study pathway
• Various South African universities offer recognised degree courses in Actuarial Science – search for these courses using the unique courses tool
• Candidates who prefer not to follow a recognised degree in Actuarial Science are strongly advised to include in their university curriculum at least Mathematics I, Accounting I, Economics I and Mathematical Statistics III. Other recommended subjects are Mathematics III, Business Economics, Applied Mathematics and Computer Science
• These subjects will provide the background that students will need later in their careers
• The inclusion of Mathematical Statistics as a major may possibly enable students to obtain an exemption from part of the professional examinations, but students are again advised to discuss possible exemptions with the relevant university

Write the Professional Examinations of the Institute and Faculty.
The Actuarial Society of South Africa (ASSA) is the professional organisation for Actuaries and actuarial students in South Africa.
Actuaries may perform certain statutory work in South Africa only if they are fellow members of ASSA. Most South Africans qualify by writing the professional examinations of the Institute of Actuaries (London) and Faculty of Actuaries (Edinburgh)
• These joint examinations are sat in South Africa, and ASSA administers them in centres in Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Namibia. (The ASSA Council offers an internationally recognised actuarial qualification that is based on local conditions, as well as regulatory and legislative requirements.) Actuaries need to be well informed regarding international financial and economic trends. They also need to have expert knowledge
of business management and investment instruments and opportunities.

Sustainability of the career
Actuaries are in short supply worldwide and the need for their
skills is growing exponentially.
• Actuarial skills are amongst the scarce and critical, globally
• There are many varied opportunities in the assurance, insurance,
health, investment and financial services industries

Where you can find employment
• Banking and financial services sectors as well as most large corporations
• Life assurance companies
• Actuarial consultants
• Other financial institutions
• Retirement benefit funds
• Medical Aid Societies and similar Healthcare schemes
• Investment consultancy (e.g. Asset management company)
• Marketing (Life assurance policies, benefit schemes, pension brokering)

Possibilities for self-employment
Actuaries can act as private consultants

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