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Name: Duncan Clarke
Degree: BSc Mathematics and Financial Economics
Graduation: 2009
Employer: Jardine Lloyd Thompson Benefits Solutions
Job title: Actuarial Analyst


About being an Actuary

A career as an Actuary is one that very few people know about (I am constantly having to explain to people down the pub that it has nothing to do with bows and arrows...) but that most maths students would be perfectly suited for. In the most basic sense Actuaries are experts in risk management, using their mathematical skills to measure the probability and risk of future events. They work across a variety of fields in the financial sector, particularly in investment, insurance and pensions. It is a highly regarded career that offers great opportunities (both domestically and internationally) and high rewards and remuneration, with graduate-level students typically earning a starting salary of over £30,000 per year Unfortunately there is one small catch to all this - the exams! To qualify as an Actuary, you need to pass or be exempt from 15 exams. These are definitely challenging and not for the faint-hearted but nearly all employers provide support throughout the exams, including regular study days, providing study materials and the incentive of an attractive pay rise on passing each exam. If the prospect of another 3-6 years of further exams isn't enough to put you off the idea, then the following website gives a great guide on becoming an Actuary:

About my own job

As far as my own story goes, I qualified with a first class joint honours degree in Maths and Financial Economics in the summer of 2009. After a number of long, challenging and ultimately unsuccessful interviews, I managed to secure a job working as an actuarial analyst with a company called Jardine Lloyd Thompson who I remain with to this day. I work primarily within the pensions consultancy department (which isn't as dull as it sounds!) and I'm regularly involved in providing advice and completing calculations for companies providing final salary pension schemes. In particular, we are involved in regularly calculating the future expected payments required from a pension scheme (based on expected life expectancies, expected future levels of inflation), and ensuring that the investments that the scheme hold are appropriate and sufficient to meet these future payments. A poorly managed pension scheme can result in the insolvency of a company, therefore we frequently monitor the financial position of these schemes and provide advice to clients on the back of the results. As such, my mathematical background and the techniques learned at university and throughout the actuarial exams are used on a regular basis.

The application process

In terms of the job application process, this typically starts (for most employers) in October/November of the year you're due to be graduating, with employment beginning the following September. Due to the nature of the profession, the job application process can be quite lengthy and demanding. It typically involves at least one interview (sometimes several), submission of a CV, completion of a detailed application form, psychometric tests and, in some cases, a presentation or role-playing exercise. As such, it is well worth being prepared and giving yourself the best chance of success - a summer internship at an actuarial employer in between third and fourth year would certainly be useful (although not essential), both for yourself and any potential employers. Other than this, I would just recommend to find out more about the Actuarial profession - a career as an Actuary is not for everyone but could be perfect for you! If you have any further questions on life as an Actuary that I can help with, then please feel free to contact me at   duncan_clarke 'at'  . And good luck with the job hunt...

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