By Kischel Nair, Actuarial Analyst at FNB South Africa.
In summary anyone can be an actuary. While a great deal of intelligence is required, a lot of hard work is equally necessary. The actuarial profession involves tough challenges which require a vast skill set as well as a strong mind and self belief. The actuary will develop to be multi-skilled and will be able to communicate solutions to complex problems effectively to all stakeholders involved while managing conflicts of interest. The thorough understanding of the variations in complex systems and what drives that variation is an essential skill of the actuary but the differentiating factor of the actuary is the recognition of customer value, holistic understanding of a business, it’s interactions and changes through time. The overall payoff from the actuarial path is tremendous. Actuarial science provides mental stimulation at all times (I must stress at ALL times), provides job and financial security (with a lot of satisfaction) and allows for personal growth as well as caters for all personality types.
So what should you do if you are at a party and a person you find romantically interesting asks you that dreaded question of what it is you do for a living or what it was that you studied? Should you tell them that you will write a series of articles and conduct several surveys? No, you can tell them that an actuary is a business person that uses mathematical and statistical tools to solve complex business problems, especially those that relate to the future or are subject to change. That is my simple concise (‘razzle dazzle’) definition of an actuary. That or you can stick with the definition that an actuary is a person who works with birds.