What is an Actuary?

Actuaries determine the chances of future risks, like birth, disability, accidental injury, fire, damage to property, need for medical care, or premature death, and calculate the cost of financing these uncertain events by insurance or other related means. They use scientific actuarial principles so that the financial aspects of these uncertainties can be exchanged for the certainty of a premium payment.

However, actuaries are more than mathematicians. They apply not only mathematical, but also statistical, economic and financial analyses – all of which involve risk assessment to longer-term financial contracts – to make calculations and projections for a wide range of practical business problems. So while actuarial work involves a lot of math, actuaries are also up-to-date on business trends, social science, law, finance and economics. Incidentally, they have to be good communicators as well, since they often find themselves explaining to non-actuaries.

An actuary is actually a combination of a business executive, mathematician, financier, sociologist and investment manager. They are key players on a company’s management team.

Where can you find one?

In the Philippines, actuaries have traditionally practiced their profession in the life insurance industry. Over the years, the role of actuarial professionals has widened as more industries recognized the relevance and potential value of actuarial skills in the operation of a company. So much so that actuaries can now be found in companies belonging to diverse fields, from private sector to government, financial institutions to health maintenance organizations. As long as a company’s economic activity requires assigning financial values to random events that have financial impact, it is likely that such a company employs an actuary.

Although the areas where actuarial professionals can do their practice are not as diverse and numerous in the U.S. and other developed countries as in the Philippines, the landscape of opportunities for these Filipino professionals is nevertheless wide and continues to improve.