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What is so bad about being an actuary?

Over the past couple of months I’ve done some very informal research on what it means to be an actuary. From reading the Wikipedia article and also the Be An Actuary website it seems like a pretty interesting job. Here is where it gets surprising, though: nearly everyone I know in the insurance industry has communicated that it is a very lonely and boring job. This leaves my question to you: what is so bad about being an actuary?

Here are two other links I’ve yet to research: Society of Actuaries and Casuality Actuarial Society (thanks Dr. Rowe), and clearly I need to do more.


  1. John Cowan wrote:

    You have to go through a great deal of very time-consuming training, for one thing. A friend of mine dropped out of becoming an actuary after eight years of studying and test-taking, with two more years still ahead of him — it was just too much.

    Monday, November 2, 2009 at 14:14 | Permalink
  2. Aaron wrote:

    Boring and lonely? Hardly!

    A good friend of mine is studying to become an actuary. He chose the profession because it consistently ranks as a career with one of the highest job satisfaction rates. And he’s one of the most popular, social people I know.

    A John points out, the tests and training are indeed rigorous. My friend is 28 now, and has one or two tests remaining (out of eight, IIRC). He started training right after college at age 22. He says it’s harder than becoming a CPA, and easier than passing the Bar exam.

    The silver lining is that he gets ample time off work to study. He’s worked at two large insurance companies, and one of the big-4 accounting firms.

    Oh, and there’s this Craig’s list post about why actuaries are the perfect boyfriend:

    Math + Business = HOT

    Monday, November 2, 2009 at 17:20 | Permalink
  3. Grant wrote:

    John and Aaron: Thanks for the feedback.

    Tuesday, November 3, 2009 at 09:04 | Permalink
  4. a_nonpracticing_asa wrote:

    There’s a joke that FSA (Fellow of the Society of Acturaies) really stands for “Formerly Sexually Active”.

    Another common one is when you get your associateship, you lose your sense of humor, and when you get your fellowship you lose your personality completely.

    What it comes down to is this. You only get noticed when you make a mistake. For many actuaries, working in obscurity is too challenging.

    It greatly depends on what line of business you are in, and if you fall into the wrong “box”, it can be very lonely indeed. I think strong mentorship is needed as soon as one starts one’s career.

    One’s career looks much different if yone starts in consulting as opposed to working for a carrier. One’s career in reinsurance feels different than one as a primary carrier. And finally, the type of work in valuation and reporting can either be cutting edge, or it could be one more run through the same stuff we did last year. It does depend on a person and their own biases and abilities.

    This is because much work is more focused as much on reconciliation than on modeling. You can be slowed down in your analysis by all the different ways you need to make sure this year’s report is the consistent with last year’s.

    We’re told to compare actual to expected without being told what do do, and very often interpersonal skills of management is lacking. If you are told your first day “sit in a room by yourself and find out what this spreadsheet does”, well that’s pretty damned lonely.

    It’s not any one particular project, but the lack of progression that can get to people. How many small groups do you need to rate, really?

    I think at any given moment, a few areas can be dynamic with a broad frontier and an interesting audience, but most day to day work consists of seeing if last year’s reserves are consistent with this year’s. There are interesting questions in statistics inherent in many routine problems, but that doesn’t always mean management is interested in the area beause that’s “not the way we’ve always done it”.

    Some people love it, some hate it. It’s important, but it fosters a certain conservative (in the sense of cautious, not political) outlook that can be a bit dull if you make it your focus.

    The field is not for everybody just because it mentions “math” and “business”. In this letter, I have focused on the negative aspects. There were also parts I’ve enjoyed, too. I don’t mean to short-shrift the entire profession. This is just a personal experience and not intended to be an indictment of the profession as a whole.

    Furthermore, my experience may be just as much an indictment of my own biases and faults as with the profession in general.

    However since the focus of the main post was “why do people dislike it?”, I thought I’d at least ring in.

    If you read the NAAJ (North American Actuarial Journal) you might find some great mathematical ideas. But this does not mean day to day life is like the actuarial journals.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 10:17 | Permalink
  5. Grant wrote:

    N-ASA, thanks.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 10:49 | Permalink
  6. Former Actuary wrote:

    Hello, I’m a former actuary and here is my story:

    I first decided to become an actuary a year before finishing High School. I loved math, especially Calculus, and I was always good in Economics.

    I decided to major in Math and Finance since a lot of advisers and actuaries (on internet message boards) told me that getting a Bachelor’s in Actuarial Science was not worth it.

    After finishing Calculus III (Multivariate Calculus) and taking a probability class, I took the first exam. I passed it but was quite surprised by the lack of “mathness” in it. There wasn’t much Calculus and most of the questions were Physics or Chemistry type questions, except that for forces or chemicals, you had questions about accidents (insurance).

    The 2nd exam was extremely boring and tedious with lots and lots of questions on Finance, but the math was easy as pie (no pun intended). We had to do simple addition and subtraction and most of the work was done by a financial calculator.
    I went on to pass this exam and got an internship during the summer at a fairly large P&C company.

    I was really excited to work and earn big bucks, but the pay wasn’t as good as the DW Surveys claim it to be. I spoke with other actuaries and found out that most Fellows did not make more than a hundred grand. The work itself was very boring too, doing the same thing over and over and there was a lack of women at the workplace, plus most other employees had no desire in getting to know one another.

    I failed the 2nd part of the 3rd exam but eventually passed it and returned for an internship the next summer at a different company (reinsurance). At the end of the summer, I probably could have done with some pills for depression. I hated my job and once again, the pay was just about average.

    The fourth exam was like doing a Masters. The syllabus was long beyond imagination and this lead me both failing it and having to re-do some of my courses at University.

    I did persist, passed exam C and soon after got my ASA. I was 23, had a university degree and an ASA.

    Well, I got hired by a P&C company again, but once again I was wondering where the big bucks were. The work was boring the hell out of me and I had no social life.

    I did not feel like studying anymore for the exams and signed up for a masters degree in Math. Now I’m a teacher at College and the pay is quite good and the stress level is lower than that of an actuary. The pay, which I presumed to be quite low was actually pretty good, and it allows me to have a social life and go out.

    I have to warn you that just being good at math doesn’t mean you should be an actuary. There is very little math problems, but more business-related number crunching. If you enjoy having friends and family then this profession wouldn’t be for you. If you enjoy studying your life, not having friends and just shutting yourself inside a box, then this profession wouldn’t hurt that much. But you might lose the best years of your life (your 20s) when you really should be going out, meeting new people and enjoying your youth. However, if you make it through that, you should retire with a healthy bank balance.

    I decided I wanted to enjoy my 20s than my 70s so I decided to quit this profession. Hope this helped.

    Good luck,

    Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 17:06 | Permalink
  7. Michael wrote:

    It helped that I started this after I was married, so I had already abandoned ambitions of an actual social life :-).

    But seriously, that was well said. But I invite you to think about it in perspective. Do other professions in their twenties have it much easier? Lawyers don’t, I know, CPAs never wanted one (sorry, accountants – had to get a cheap laugh at your expense) Doctors may get many things, but sleep isn’t one of them.

    Perhaps the people getting the great social life aren’t all that they seem.

    Even still, I think your criticism of the profession is quite accurate.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 20:17 | Permalink
  8. meep wrote:

    FYI, I linked to your post at the Actuarial Outpost here:

    My short answer is that the profession is not for everyone, and it will make some people miserable.

    Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 07:47 | Permalink
  9. General Apathy wrote:

    First of all if you pass all your actuarial exams you are a straight up baller. You will have cash and women all the time and the respect of your coworkers from accountants to the marketing department. Being an actuary makes you know stuff about everything like cars and Waffle House. Actuaries are better than most people and animals too. FACT

    Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 12:12 | Permalink
  10. RENSHI G wrote:

    Spot on, GENERAL APATHY!

    Sunday, July 4, 2010 at 15:01 | Permalink
  11. PhildeFCAS wrote:

    Unlike me, what if you are dumb and don’t pass your exams? You are 15 years into your career and you have been laid off by a company and you never got your letters. Who wants to hire you? Suddenly you were the breadwinner of the family and now you may get to relocate to Hicksville to work as a career actuarial analyst because no one wants to hire you.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010 at 15:23 | Permalink
  12. anonymouse wrote:

    “nearly everyone I know in the insurance industry has communicated that it is a very lonely and boring job.”

    Most people in insurance don’t even know what an actuary is, much less what they do. I’m dealing with other people at least half the day. As for boredom, I could stand for a little less excitement in my job frankly.

    Most people these days could probably wrap up the exams in their mid 20s. Actuaries have a better shake than doctors and lawyers in their 20s, as noted above. If the exams are a turn off for somebody than I doubt their ambition.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 04:48 | Permalink
  13. n_asa wrote:

    “Most people in insurance don’t even know what an actuary is, much less what they do. I’m dealing with other people at least half the day. As for boredom, I could stand for a little less excitement in my job frankly.”

    If the actuarial profession does a poor or non-existent job of presenting its mission to its *own* industry, that’s a striking indictment of the state communication skills of the profession.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 06:08 | Permalink
  14. n_asa wrote:

    Just because something is long, doesn’t mean it is challenging or meaningful. A 1000×1000 crossword is long in that same sense.

    The real question is whether there is a more efficient way of certifying the same knowledge.

    The current exams 5 and 6 (or 5-7 for casualty actuaries) are little more than a poorly designed hazing ritual.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 06:11 | Permalink
  15. Scars wrote:

    N_ASA: Sounds like you weren’t quite smart enough to be an actuary. Some of us are able to pass exams and still have a life. Good luck with your teaching though.

    You know… those that can…

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 15:18 | Permalink
  16. n_asa wrote:

    Well, I could dispute that, but I think your insulting post made a case for the poor state of actuarial interpersonal skills better than any argument.

    Remember, this is a computer science blog, and people are judging actuaries form the outside here. This could have been a great place for you to make your case in an eloquent manner. Too bad you chose to miss that opportunity.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 19:27 | Permalink
  17. n_asa wrote:

    I mean \from the outside\, not \form the outside\.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 19:30 | Permalink
  18. Actuary #1 wrote:

    @ SCARS

    Dick move. Keep the profession honorable.

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 at 22:14 | Permalink
  19. General Apathy wrote:

    When computer science people are calling you lame, you know you got problems.

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 09:50 | Permalink
  20. meep wrote:

    ok, maybe it wasn’t a good idea for me to notify actuaries of this post….

    Friday, July 9, 2010 at 09:54 | Permalink
  21. Commodore64 wrote:

    I am currently an actuary working internationally. I can say that I am very happy with my career choice. The examination process is difficult; however, this means you are surrounded by extremely intelligent people. (Most of the time :) )

    The culture is slightly more social than computer science as a whole, but every position and company is different. (Think google vs. cobalt programmer)

    The pay is great and the work hours are less than other financial or investment positions. Job security is also sounder than working for a communist government.

    I think a big plus compared to CompSci is that experience transfers easily between roles and companies which allows lateral mobility career-wise without taking a pay-cut.

    If you are intelligent and up to the exam challenge, come join us!

    Saturday, July 10, 2010 at 06:44 | Permalink
  22. anACAS wrote:

    The biggest problem with being an actuary is relative: the barrier to entry is very high compared to being an underwriter, and the pay is often lower. The well publicized DW Simpson salary scale notoriously overstates actual compensation for actuaries, and even then good, experienced underwriters do better with almost no barrier to entry. Given that actuaries need to pass 7-10 (the number keeps changing as the acturial societies keep trying to get their acts together) exams that have pass rates around 35-40%, you can see why it’s one of the most difficult careers to get into. These things can always be debated, of course, but I’ve heard it reasonably argued that only an MD is tougher to get than an actuarial fellowship. (The post above that passing the bar is tougher than becoming a credentialed actuary is ludicrous.) Combine that with very low prestige (most people don’t know what an actuary is, most of the remainder hate them) and medium-to-high stress levels, and you have your answer as to what is so bad about being an actuary.

    Monday, July 12, 2010 at 20:41 | Permalink
  23. General Apathy wrote:

    This weekend. Bottle service at the best club in town…at one point had 7 or 8 chicks in our booth. I drove a Ferrari. I flew first class. I drank wine that you haven’t even heard of.

    I am a fully credentialed actuary

    Monday, July 19, 2010 at 10:33 | Permalink
  24. n_asa wrote:

    Hey, GA – do you exaggerate your claims cost the way you do your social life.

    The correct answer is “Yes, but I remember to deduct claims paid to date”.

    Monday, July 19, 2010 at 10:36 | Permalink
  25. General Apathy wrote:

    It’s not exaggeration. It is prudence!

    Monday, July 19, 2010 at 11:13 | Permalink

    I can confirm that General Actuary is not exaggerating his lifestyle. Not all actuaries are back office types. Someone who can understand the actuarial side of things and can easily digest and communicate it to non-actuaries can climb high.

    Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 19:56 | Permalink
  27. Check It wrote:

    N_ASA is just a troll. Ignore all of his posts. If it’s not obvious that he’s just mad he couldn’t hack it, well here’s me telling you that he’s just mad he couldn’t hack it. He either took a terrible actuarial position that paid poorly, took a teaching job that paid ridiculously well, or he comes from a wealthy family and a starting salary that singlehandedly places you above the median FAMILY income in most of the cities you would work isn’t good enough for him.

    The actuarial exams go about as fast as you want them to, but there will likely be times where you fail an exam. However, the preliminary exams are being offered with more frequency as they are moved from paper and pencil to computer based testing. Most college students graduate with three or four exams completed, then achieve their ASA or ACAS within two or three years of graduating college. I don’t know about the CAS side, but I know it’s not too difficult to get your FSA within three years after that. It does require a lot of study time, but good companies will give you a very reasonable amount of paid study hours leading up to the exam. Of course, they expect for every paid study hour you take, you will take two hours of your own time.

    As for the DW Simpson pay scale, I have heard people complain about it, but I have no complaints. I’ve lived in a very low cost of living city my entire career and have been in the top 50-75% of the pay scale the whole time. I will admit, that my perspective might be slightly skewed. My parents were farmers and teachers and my starting salary out of college was higher than what they made combined. As for underwriters making more money than actuaries, that’s just crazy. Whoever said that took the wrong position (or else their company is vastly overpaying their underwriters).

    Getting your FSA or FCAS is much more difficult than passing the BAR exam. It requires more study hours over a longer period of time. In the long run, doctors probably make more money than actuaries, but they do have more stressful jobs. They go to medical school after being an undergrad. They have to work their way up from the very bottom when they finally graduate working long hours and barely having a social life. If you don’t know any doctors, just watch the first three seasons of Scrubs, my friends have told me that the decisions of work over social life is pretty accurate to what they went through. The advantage that actuaries have over other professions where the education doesn’t end with a Bachelor’s degree, is that actuaries take a job that pays well, gives them paid time off of work to study, and promotes them as they pass exams. As for being a teacher being better hours than an actuary, no good teacher would ever say that. Good teachers get paid slave wages compared to the number of hours they put in outside of the class room.

    I didn’t have to trade much of my 20′s to become an actuary. There were a few months worth over that decade where I didn’t go out and just studied. However, it is dependent on your learning skills. I know people that achieved their fellowship by the time they were 25. I know others that are 30 and still working towards it.

    One of the most difficult things about being an actuary is communicating with other employees that are not actuaries. It’s difficult to really describe what an actuary is, because it is completely dependent on what position you are in. No matter what you do, non-actuaries always think they know better. Some days it seems like they intentionally try to get under your skin, tell you that you’re wrong and that the assumptions you’ve created are incorrect. In situations like these, you need to be able to explain complex mathematical analysis and decision making to someone who may have spent their entire educational life saying, “I hate math.”

    I’ve found that the best actuaries tend to be outgoing. It can be a tedious job and sometimes very boring, but if you’re outgoing, it helps you get through it. It’s much easier to explain a task to someone that is outgoing and willing to learn than to someone that is introverted and believes they know everything. When I was on the recruiting team is when this became the most obvious to me. Nine times out of ten, I would rather hire a college student that has two exams, extracurriculars and an outgoing personality than someone who has everything but the work experience required to receive their ASA and hasn’t even finished college yet.

    In response to the OP, I wouldn’t say it’s lonely at most companies, some companies only have a chief actuary, so I can see how that would be lonely. It can be very boring, especially while you’re still in the exam process. However, don’t ask non-actuaries to tell you about actuaries. It really is a profession that can only be described by other actuaries.

    Some facts to keep in mind:
    CPA stands for “Can’t Pass Actuarial”
    Actuaries are never wrong, just ask an actuary, they will confirm this.
    If you’re having a problem with your neighbor, build a fence and make them pay for half.
    If you want a good paying job in business that is a combination of mathematics and computer program, being an actuary is a good choice. You do not want to lose this deal!

    As always, keep ballin’

    Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 07:33 | Permalink
  28. Jay wrote:

    I am thinking about studying for the exams and taking them in my spare time to get a fsa. I have a ba in econ and took 3 semesters of calculus, in my early 30′s and have steady employment, just thinking for the future. If I recieved the fsa with no actual work experiance in the field, what are my career/job prospects with that qualification?

    Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 07:36 | Permalink
  29. meep wrote:

    Hi Jay

    I think you’ll get more/better responses if you go to the Actuarial Outpost. (if this site doesn’t link the site in my name, just google it – easy to find)

    Post your question in the Careers/Employment forum there.

    Monday, August 30, 2010 at 05:34 | Permalink
  30. meep wrote:

    Okay, trying the link again – should work this time.

    Monday, August 30, 2010 at 05:35 | Permalink
  31. Tim wrote:

    I’m currently an actuarial student and have 4 exams passed. I’m not happy at all in the career….I’m 24. I’m miserable. What alternatives are there as a math major with actuarial experience? I don’t want to go back and get a masters.

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 18:27 | Permalink
  32. Grant wrote:


    You might inquire on the Actuarial Outpost:

    Tuesday, September 14, 2010 at 19:12 | Permalink
  33. James wrote:


    I’m in secondary school (high school for all you americans) in the UK and the last few days I have been looking into the acturial proffession.

    I originally wanted to be a doctor, I love science (I do tripple science: chem, bio, physics) and maths and am one of the best in my school at these subjects aiming for A-A* in these subjects. I also plan on getting other gcse’s including: English- A, ICT- A*, Electronics- A*, Resistant materials- A. Please not the science count as three gcse’s and english counts as two (eng and lit)

    I wanted to be a doctor because it is science based an I an aware of the likely high salary I would be on working in this sector. However, it requires a very long degree (5 years study, 2 years residency, total = 7 years).

    An actuary, appears to me to be a very mathimatical, analytical job and I have read employers like science geeks.

    I have self confidence – I can easily speak infront of a group.
    I like number crunching and solving equations, gives me abit of a buzz in maths when i’m the first to solve an eqaution. I can also solve the rubix cube in 1 min 45 seconds ( kinda slow I know still practising).

    I play many sports for school so I can work as part of a team.

    I am also aware a degree required to be an actuary only takes 3-4 years. And that you need to pass actuarial exams to become a qaulified actaury (is this right?) that can take 3-10 years, but you can earn while taking these.

    Basically, I have no time to right anymore I have to revise. My questions are (please could an actuary answer these or someone that knows a relevant answer.. not some dude working in tescos that just done 5 mins actuary reseach)

    What is the pay of an actuary relative to exams passed an years experience?

    Do my preferences and skills suit an acturial career?

    And could you answer any questions or hinted questions I asked in the text above.


    (Please don’t say, \pay does not matter, choose a career you will be happy doing\. If all jobs paid the same, i’d go and work a part time job at my local store. Yes we pick jobs for pleasure but what if you want a ferrari like me? I have pleasure walking out into the carpark and seeing that beauty sitting there with my name on it!)

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010 at 13:52 | Permalink
  34. Chris wrote:

    Your commenting has been far the best in this forum. I have been wanting to become an actuary and am in a school that does in fact have an actuary program. I am very outgoing, am in a school club, work part time and still studying in school with all that workload.

    My grades haven’t been amazing this semester but my cumulative has been 3.1, I guess its decent. But the most important part is that I try to balance my life. I do realize working as an actuary is a grueling profession, with all the hard work necessary to become a certified one.

    However, I have a talent to break any material down into simple bits and pieces even for babies to understand. I am just that good with communication.

    The only thing I worry about is my gpa. It isn’t as high as many isolated studying people I know. I just want a successful career and I love numbers so I choose the Actuary field. I would like to hear feedback and I believe I would do very well in this profession.

    P.S. My internship in Prudential isn’t about actuarial material but I feel like I do amazing in PRU and do good/okay/mediocre in school. Is this good?

    Wednesday, November 17, 2010 at 00:15 | Permalink
  35. Keith Krugerud wrote:

    What is so bad about actuarial work? Well, to become an actuary is like playing russian roulette, for you will find that of the few actuarial positions available, many an other seeks the same position; therefore, you are at very difficult lottery playing odds. Furthermore, it is who you know not what you know, and, yes, if you are the son of the executives or know the executives of the firm, you stand the better chance. If you choose a math degree, you better support it with an accounting or computer science degree. Good luck!!! These power ball numbers 3-7-18-21-23; powerball 3 may do you better, though. Finally, being an actuary is to be part of the masterminds who developed these so call derivative securities and who claimed that real estate was infallible. Well, look at how well their predictions have faired in this (and yes their created) recession.


    Friday, November 26, 2010 at 16:13 | Permalink
  36. Aspiring Actuary wrote:

    Keith Krugerud, you are so misinformed that I am a 110% sure you aren’t an actuary, or that you even work in the financial industry.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 12:13 | Permalink
  37. General Apathy wrote:

    Actuaries are also responsible for Al Qaeda, the JFK assassination and much of the dark ages in Western Europe.

    Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 12:17 | Permalink
  38. The Drunken Actuary wrote:

    Great advice here.


    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 14:43 | Permalink
  39. Heathen wrote:

    Wait… I thought actuaries were responsible for all of the dark ages.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 14:56 | Permalink
  40. Quinn wrote:

    I am NOT dead or in a coma, despite what Buru Buru says on the AO. She’s making up a bunch of weird stories in her head. Truth is I just left that forum cause it was too lame, and I moved in with DumbDumb.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 20:09 | Permalink
  41. orion wrote:

    The best thing about actuaries, especially male actuaries is that they are ALL HOT. Every single one of them is yummy yummy HOT. Well, except EddieC. He’s a little creepy.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011 at 20:49 | Permalink
  42. Uma Karuna wrote:

    Despite what you might learn about actuaries by reading stuff on the Web, they are actually NOT all misogynistic, boob-obsessed booze-hounds in constant need of social validation. Some of them actually quite nice.

    I swear it.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 12:00 | Permalink
  43. Heathen wrote:

    Uma, I’m impressed you typed that with a straight face.

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 15:30 | Permalink
  44. That Goblin wrote:

    Hey Heathen, do you know who was never able to type with a straight face?

    My ex-fiancee. :tup:

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011 at 21:21 | Permalink
  45. Joseph wrote:

    What are plusses/minuses of each of the areas you can go into as an actuary? Life, health, pension, property & casualty?

    Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 21:23 | Permalink
  46. Vincent SS wrote:

    Um…I have read lots of useful stuff here, and I have some questions.

    I am currently choosing my course for univeristy. I am doing Maths, Physics and Chemistry in A-levels. I have thought about medical bit, but I did badly in chemistry and biology, so I don’t think it will be suitable for me; I have thought about doing law as well. But my grades are not good and so I know it’s unlikely for me to get into a good law school and hence won’t have a very good career; and for engineering, I do only fancy civil engneering. But the working conditions are bad, I might have to stand in the cold and rain all day!!!and the paid wasn’t that good in Hong Kong as well..; so at last, I think I will go to the business side. I have thought about Economics, Finance and Business. But I know every univeristies do have these kind of course, and if I can’t get into the top ten schools, I may not have a very good career. And so, I now have chosen actuarial science degree. I chose it just because this is a career which doesn’t matter which school you are graduated from, it depends on how many exams you have passed instead. And I think it’s a profession as well, high-paid!!! I choose this just because I don’t think there are other degrees for me to gain a sucessful career.
    I know I am not a extremely clever person, and I don’t have a good profile for me to go to univeristies as well. But I think that’s the last chance for me to gain a higher social position, and have a high-paid job. I am not that amazing in maths, but this is actually the only subject I am good at among the others, and I love probability and statistics, I love to use them to make decision and plan ahead for everything.
    So in order to gain my final chance to have a higher social position and a high paid job, although I am not that good in maths, I will try my best to work as hard as I can in order to pass those horrible exams.
    So, do anyone think that is a bad idea for me to go into this field? I do already have a condtional offer from an uni, which is in the uk. I just want to know is Actuarial Science the best choice for me at this stage? Thank you very much.

    Monday, January 24, 2011 at 16:38 | Permalink
  47. CAT wrote:

    Hi, just a quick question….what are the benefits of being an actuary?

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011 at 14:46 | Permalink
  48. Vincent SS wrote:

    REGARDING TO QUESTIONS POSTED BY CAT, Actuary is well-paid, highly respected, and also the one who can fit in any position in the business field.

    Friday, February 11, 2011 at 04:53 | Permalink
  49. Lukman wrote:


    please I will like to know how many subjects do we have under actuarial science program

    Friday, March 11, 2011 at 09:13 | Permalink
  50. lindiwe wrote:

    I am 30 years old now and i want to resign and study actuarial scince accounting is it a gud idea?

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 01:15 | Permalink
  51. meep wrote:

    Lukman: why not contact the university about that?

    Lindiwe: not sure what country you’re in. In the U.S., 30 is not too old to be switching to the profession (indeed, I knew one person who switched at age 50). That said, if you’re working in the U.S., we do want somebody with good English language skills, not just the good math skills.

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 02:14 | Permalink
  52. Vincent SS wrote:

    Could anyone list out why you choose actuarial science and why not here?

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 02:20 | Permalink
  53. lindiwe wrote:

    Thank u Meep , sometimes in life we need a shoulder to cry on and someone who can say it will be okay in lyf, your comment made my day and it relieved me from the stress of age , now i know i can make it.

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 02:29 | Permalink
  54. meep wrote:

    I didn’t mention it, but I started taking actuarial exams when I was 28.

    Lots of people come to the profession later in life. It can be harder to break in to that first job for a career changer, but it can be done.

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 02:40 | Permalink
  55. meep wrote:

    Again, here’s a good place for people to go to seek out information:

    We’ve got a pretty active community in that forum. Some people are very sarcastic there, though – watch out!

    Monday, March 14, 2011 at 02:43 | Permalink
  56. Lukman wrote:

    Hi Meep,

    thanks for your advice and since you’re also once an actuarial student, I want to tell me some of the difficulties which make the course fearsome.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 11:23 | Permalink
  57. meep wrote:

    Here’s the situation: the preliminary actuarial exams are very difficult because you need to be fast and accurate. It is not enough to merely understand the concepts, and there’s no partial credit.

    Except for the first few exams, where there are people who have no idea what they’re getting into, everyone taking the exams tends to be pretty good in math…. and yet less than half pass.

    The upper-level exams are difficult in a different way (those have partial credit), mainly due to the sheer amount of information you have to process for those exams, and the complexity of some of the concepts.

    If you check the link with my name, I’m associated with a company that has exam seminars — we do well in this business because even very smart and dedicated people have difficulty preparing for these exams. Even those who have majored in this subject often need to do extra preparation outside their regular classes.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:17 | Permalink
  58. meep wrote:

    Then remember you’re taking many of these exams while you’re working full-time.

    Some employers give you time off to study, but usually these study days are not sufficient prep time and you need to study before/after work, during lunch, etc. It’s a big commitment.

    The time it takes to go through exams varies by person. It’s not unusual for it to take 10 years or more from begin to end. It took me a little over 5 years, which is on the shorter end of things.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:18 | Permalink
  59. Chris wrote:

    MEEP, thanks for the insight. I am also an actuarial student at NJIT and let me tell you that that school is hard for actuaries. The math is terribly difficult and I never have time for my part time internship at Prudential and my social life. Now that you had given me the heads up on what would happen in the future. I will prepare harder and try to pass as many exams as I can in school. If you have any more advice, please share it with me. Its really helpful.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 13:50 | Permalink
  60. meep wrote:

    =Absolutely=, pass as many exams as you can while in school. Some people say not to get too far ahead, that you will be seen as being too expensive by employers, but if you adjust your salary expectations in line with your experience, you should be fine. I would concentrate on passing the exams, and don’t worry as much about the modules — those are easily done while working.

    (By the way, my company has student discounts on seminars….my real name is Mary Pat Campbell, and I currently teach the SOA AFE seminar….but that’s at the very end of one’s exam-taking ventures. ;))

    I also wouldn’t pick P&C v. Life while in school. Try to fulfill as many generic requirements as possible. Don’t shut off paths.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 14:06 | Permalink
  61. Vincent SS wrote:

    Hi MEEP, I have just read throgh all your posts and I found that they are absolutely useful. However, it makes me a bit worry now as I have just applied to the university for the undergraduate actuarial science course. Be honest, my maths isn’t that good, and just be able to cope with the A-level maths only I think. Would it be possible for me to work hard in order to pass those exams? And if I didn’t graduate from a very good univerisity,that means I dun have a good alevel results, but I have passed CT1-8 paper after I graduate, would it still affect my employment? Are there any thing I should concern about as well?

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 14:32 | Permalink
  62. meep wrote:

    Let me be clear: those for which math is easier will find these exams easier. Some people will have to work harder than others to pass.

    The level of math you need to understand for the exams does not go much beyond calculus and probability, though. The difficulty comes in making sure you follow all the details correctly. Conceptually, it tends not to be difficult … compared to stochastic PDEs at any rate! (to be sure, some actuaries work with stochastic PDEs… but not many. The Black-Scholes stuff that appears is not the full-fledged theory).

    I was talking more about the U.S. job market and the SOA/CAS exams. The Canadian market I know a little bit about, but I really have no clue about what UK employers expect and what sort of competition you have there.

    We’ve got a UK-section in the Actuarial Outpost, but it’s not terribly active:

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 15:04 | Permalink
  63. Vincent SS wrote:

    Thank you very much for your reply, MEEP. They are very useful to me. I actually come from Hong Kong, but just doing the Alevels in the uk. Just one more questions actually, to what extent do you think being an actuary can help people? Thank you very much for your valuable time.

    Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 15:22 | Permalink
  64. meep wrote:

    VincentSS: That question is very good, and very important.

    So much so that I’m going to put a blog post of my own together, and then link it from here. So just wait a few days, and I’ll have something for you to read on that.

    Friday, March 18, 2011 at 05:24 | Permalink
  65. Vincent SS wrote:

    Thank you very much MEEP, and I am looking forward to hearing from you again.

    Friday, March 18, 2011 at 10:31 | Permalink
  66. Grant wrote:


    Looking forward to your post!

    Friday, March 18, 2011 at 12:31 | Permalink
  67. meep wrote:

    Hope this isn’t a double-post.

    Life in the back office

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 07:07 | Permalink
  68. Vincent SS wrote:

    Hi MEEP. thank you very much for your help. However, as my boarding school has blocked your website for some silly reasons, would you mind posting your essay here? Or you can just list out some highlights here if you want to. I am sure that will be great. Thank you very much once again~

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 07:49 | Permalink
  69. meep wrote:

    And I’ve also posted it at the Actuarial Outpost.

    It’s very long.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 07:58 | Permalink
  70. Vincent SS wrote:

    Thank you very much indeed. So to conclude, we are the people’s “financial doctors”, and we are even better than that, as we can prevent the “disease” rather then just cure it. Am I right?

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 09:07 | Permalink
  71. meep wrote:

    Well, we can only really work in a preventive manner.

    Because once the disaster has already occurred, and no preparation has been made…. there’s not much we can do.

    I wouldn’t use that metaphor myself, though.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 09:26 | Permalink
  72. Vincent SS wrote:

    Oops……thanks MEEP anyway~ That was very nice of you~~

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 09:36 | Permalink
  73. Julia wrote:

    I am 15 and in year ten in highschool at the moment, and for the past few years i have been trying to decide whether i want to become an actuary, theres nothing im considering against it, but my head is telling me go for it but my family is telling me that ill not get a chance to have a family until my 40`s, any tip or information, basically i need something:/ by the way, someone mentioned not enough women, if i get any useful tips on becoming an actuary, there will be one more in the office;) xx

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 14:30 | Permalink
  74. Julia wrote:

    i have also got work experience at an accountants, will that help? xx

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 14:31 | Permalink
  75. meep wrote:

    Hi Julia — what country are you in?

    In the U.S., Canada, and in the U.K., there are plenty of female actuaries….and many of us don’t wait until we finish exams to have kids. I was two weeks from giving birth to my first child when I took my third exam — and had my third child before I finished up. It’s a good idea to get as many exams done as possible before the kids come (because they’ll mess with your notes!), but the great thing about this profession is that it’s not unusual to have people progressing at different rates at different ages. I’ve worked with people who entered the profession into their 40s, for example.

    Again, my experience is only with the career path in the U.S.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 14:46 | Permalink
  76. Julia wrote:

    im in the UK in Leeds, but im hoping it will work similarly, nearly everynight i get told different facts that are meant to put me off becoming an actuary but only one has every been of any significance to me, thats tonight when they told me that i couldnt have the kids i want, im still slightly worried, but thats normal for me, you`ve helped a lot, thankyou, any tips on how to prepare EG taking certain A levels?? xx

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 14:50 | Permalink
  77. meep wrote:

    Well, in the U.K., you can get a lot of the credits via university courses in an accredited program. More info can be found here on that:

    One can get exempted mainly from the “core technical” exams through university courses.

    Sorry, I don’t know anything about the A-levels.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 14:57 | Permalink
  78. Julia wrote:

    thankyou and thats fine, a realised just after i put it exams are different in the US. this website has been a lot of help, thankyou:) xx

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 15:15 | Permalink
  79. Vincent SS wrote:

    I am doing the GCE Alevels in the uk. Well, if you are interested in the actuarial science, obviously you need to do further maths, but if you didn’t do it, it’s also fine as I still got accepted whilst I am not doing Further maths. We can have furhter discussion.

    Sunday, May 8, 2011 at 15:59 | Permalink
  80. Vincent SS wrote:

    Futher to last conversation, I think the best GCE Alevels combination will be Further Maths, Physics and economics. I am quite regret that I didn’t choose this combination before. But I have to warn you, the requirements are quite high, 2A and 1B is the minimum.

    Monday, May 9, 2011 at 11:07 | Permalink
  81. Maxx wrote:

    I’m a fellow actuary, qualified through the UK and South Africa, and have worked in several countries over the past few years. I have also set exams and have been the external examiner for the Institute of Actuaries.

    The worst part of being an actuary is the studying, but thereafter there are rewards. I was fortunate enough to qualify at age 25, although it did come at a huge social cost.

    The pay is great, but I wouldnt say its at an executive’s level. There are actuaries that have made it big, but then again this is true in every known occupation. The main advantage is that you will always have a job, and that the minimum pay is at an above average level.

    Being an actuary is not about numbers or calculations, it is about problem solving skills. The students can do the calcs. Soft skills play a major role, and hence the focus in the exams on communication and taking decisions.

    When deciding to become an actuary it isn’t easy because very few people really know what an actuary is. Even students well advanced with their studies dont really know what an actuary does day to day.

    Only do it if your desire is genuine – find out what an actuary does day to day, and bear in mind that you will be working in the financial sector until retirement. Follow your dreams, there is nothing worse than dedicating a major part of your day doing something you do not like. I have met many successful people who did it without studying actuarial science, and who actually enjoy going to work.

    If you are planning on qualifying remember that there are no short cuts. It requires 5000 to 10 000 hours of solid work from beginning to end. Plenty of sacrafice but you will be compensated!

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 13:51 | Permalink
  82. Vincent SS wrote:

    Re MAXX:

    Your comment is really useful. And I do really hope to use this opportunity to know more about actuarial science. Thank you very much your time.

    1. Do you think I can say Actuary is the one who can perfect the insurance polices and also lead to a better financial protection for the public?

    2. I think you are amazing that you can be qualified at the age of 25 and I wish to be like you one day. Do you have any advice for me? I currently recevie the conditional offer from one of the UK universities doing the Act sci course, but I really want to know how hard the course is, and also what sort things do you think is the most meaningful in your job?

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 14:16 | Permalink
  83. Grant wrote:

    If it is any consolation, it has taken me about ten years to get good at my current profession. Would you actuaries say that it is about the same for being an actuary?

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 14:19 | Permalink
  84. Julia wrote:

    i really do want to be an actuary, and i am only in year ten so i will pick my a levels next year, i have been looking at what to take and think you have answered my question, by the sounds of it gran yes, but id wait for the people above to answer, wow this website has been so amazingly useful, i still dont feel like i know enough details about everyday things they do, but i know a lot more especially the things i need to know to further what i have prepared myself for recently

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 14:30 | Permalink
  85. Julia wrote:


    Tuesday, May 10, 2011 at 14:31 | Permalink
  86. Maxx wrote:

    The actuarial qualification is not actually a “knowledge based” qualification. I have met many accountants, legal people, consultants and other professionals who know more about insurance/pensions/casualty/banking/other financial fields than what actuaries do. The qualification gives you the tools to solve problems that others may not be able to solve.

    Actuaries work in many fields: pensions, long term insurance, short term insurance, healthcare, banking, finance, investments, enterprise risk management, and possibly others. They also deal with aspects like: pricing, reserving, marketing, product development, consulting, investments, modelling, experience analyses, setting assumptions, performing valuations, and the list goes on. Actuaries may work in any combination of the above industries and functions, they can even be generalists or specialists across fields, performing one or several different functions.

    In my experience you cant really choose in which industy or function you end up in. What type of actuary you become depends on what is available in your country and what the current market conditions are (e.g. currently Life Insurance Solvency II actuaries are needed across the globe). You will probably not end up in your preferred field when you start working. This is however not an issue, as mentioned above being an actuary is not knowledge based but a skill set, you would be able to apply your skills in any field and any aspect of it. Experience does play a major role when dealing with industry specific issues and technical aspects, but you will find that the further up you go the corporate ladder, the less you need to have technical and specific knowledge.

    I qualified at the earliest possible age under the UK and RSA system – I started working at 22 (RSA has a 3 year university degree, then a further 1 year degree) and then you need 3 years working experience. This was really not as expected…

    I was slow off the mark, I scraped through my first year and then slightly improved in the second, and was average in the third. These years dealt with the technical calculation subjects. Our fourth year dealt with the more advanced subjects, with little or no calculations, writing essays and wordy solutions. I did much better here. However, when I started working I had few exemptions (5 out of the 15). During my first year of working I had made no further progress, not having passed one subject. I then decided to rethink my approach. This happened over about a year until I finally figured out what works. I then started nailing the exams with time left over. I passed the final fellowship exam having studied the unseen subject over 8 weeks whilst working and only sleeping 3 – 4 hours a night (long story why). All other aspects of my life were also in turmoil. I only studied 1 hour after work, and 6 hours on the weekend, but it was effective studying.

    All actuaries that qualified young and lecturers that I’ve met agree with the aproach. Applying it in varsity would be more difficult because your vision and time is fogged by assignments, classes, projects, class tests, etc. Do well at these but mainly dedicate your time to the exam that counts. Whilst working you study through correspondence and there is only one exam and one chance so it is easy to focus all your attention on it. The approach will still work in varsity, and for both calculation and non-calculation based subjects.

    Passing an exam comprises of two parts: studying technique, and exam technique.

    Follow the below to the word and you will eventually pass all of your exams.

    Studying technique:

    1. Take roughly 2 weeks to read all of the notes and theory for the subject. Try to understand 80 to 90% of it. It is very unlikely that you will at this stage understand everything as this requires experience practicing exams.

    2. Get as many past exams as you can find (10 to 15 should do the trick) with the solutions. The exams should be at the same level as the exam you will be writing. Only do these exams.

    3. Do every question in the exams, excluding strait forward theory questions. At this stage do the questions under no time pressure. Do one question (including its sub-questions) at a time and directly after mark your answer. THE STUDYING IS ACTUALLY DONE DURING MARKING YOUR SOLUTION. It takes longer to mark a solution properly than to actually do the solution! Look at their answer and try to understand why it is correct. Try and see where in the theory (notes, books, etc) it comes from. If you can’t find it then add the point to the relevant section in your theory. You need to understand their argument and logic, after time their style and approach will rub off on you. Next step is too see why your answer is incorrect. What is it that you missed, or where did you go wrong and why? Make a mental note of why you are incorrect and why they are correct. As you can see the above takes a lot of time (most of the time actually), but over time you will develop a way of thinking.

    3. After you have done step 2 for all of the past exams, do it again! This time you leave out all of the questions that you scored at least 80% on the first attempt, or that you feel really comfortable with.

    4. Repeat step 3. Make sure you do the past exams at least 3 to 4 times. Each round the number of questions you do should decrease as you are improving your abilities. As you progress start imposing time constraints on the questions (and beare in mind the exam techniques below). By then end you should be puting yourself under more time pressure than what you will be under during the exam. Practice makes perfect.

    5. Take 7 to 10 full days in a row just before the exam to cram the theory. It is imperitive that you do this, you cant afford to loose a few marks on theory questions. You need to know everything off by heart (repetition does the trick). Find a way that works for you to be able to do this. In the exam you must be able to recall things quickly, and usually verbatim, to spare you time for applied questions.

    Exam technique (apply when doing the exam, and when practicing eventually):

    1. Decide what questions you will be doing first. Start easiest to hardest. You will need to read through the exam to be able to determine this – hence the 15 minutes reading time given during the UK and RSA exams.

    2. Apportion your time per question. Actually write the time (e.g 14h38) you must move on to the next question on your question paper. Be strict with this and force your self to move onto the next question when the time is up. It is easier scoring 90% of 100% of the questions than scoring 100% of 90% of the questions. You have to attempt every question in order to pass. The person marking your paper will notice if you left a question out and it will not count in your favour should you be on the border.

    3. Show intermediate steps in the calculations, even if you go wrong and your mistake carries through, you will be awarded markes.

    4. Always state your assumptions, define your variable.

    5. Understand the “do” word – e.g. define, explain, list, discuss, state, etc. These are normally a hint of what the solution should look like.

    6. Make your solution easy to mark, it should stick out from other scripts. Use plenty spacing, neat handwriting, logical layout and solution. Simple words, and easy to understand what you are trying to say. Dont say the same thing over in different ways. . As mentioned COMMUNICATION is critical. The examiner will be more inclined to search for marks if your solution complies with the above

    There are many more techniques, but you will notice them as your experience builds.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 14:42 | Permalink
  87. meep wrote:

    MAXX has excellent advice there, whether for the UK exams or other actuarial exams.

    For those taking SOA exams, I’ll point to this, which I wrote a few years back and has similar advice:

    FSA Exam Advice from a Grader (I no longer grade exams).

    Time discipline is a very important part of the exams — there is extreme time pressure on these, and too many people end up leaving problems blank b.c they spent too much time on other problems. Sometimes you just have to move on to another problem.

    Thursday, May 12, 2011 at 14:49 | Permalink
  88. Julia wrote:

    lucky that I usually have at good ten to twenty minutes left over in my exams then, I will tech myself to space my time out more and pratice ‘Maxx’s tips on my present exams so that I learn the basic revision method well and am prepared for when I go to university later on, thankyou, I occasionly struggle when it comes to revising and this is one of the best methods I have heard of yet.

    Friday, May 13, 2011 at 10:02 | Permalink
  89. Maxx wrote:

    Grant: i would say that for those that do qualify it takes an average of 10 years from beginning to end (3 to 4 years full time and 6 to 7 years part time whilst working). After qualifying the learning starts again, being qualified gives you the ability to sign off on things and to focus on higher level problems. You would need further experience, maybe 5 years, to be “good”. Some do it quicker and others never become “good”.

    Saturday, May 14, 2011 at 08:16 | Permalink
  90. Julia wrote:

    is there any particular kind of job you would feel is helpful to boost your chances whilst still trying to get the qualification?

    Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 13:44 | Permalink
  91. Mike wrote:

    I’m similar to maxx. Its highly likely we went to the same university in South Africa. I will be qualified at 24 although I finished the exams 3 months after university at 21 years of age. This was possible because I got expemt from most exams whilst at university. I still need to work for three years to say I am a Fellow.

    A couple of points:

    The UK exams are much harder than the US exams although qualifying as an FIA or FFA is more prestigious. Also better paid usually.

    If you want lot’s of money don’t do it. There are much better routes to that.

    If you want decent hours, decent pay, slightly stimulating work and job security this is a great profession.

    Find out about exactly what actuaries do. I didn’t, hated it and have now switched carreer paths. If you are Type-A and movitivated this is probably the wrong thing to do.

    I agree with maxx that it teaches great problem solving skills. Unfortunately many outside the profession don’t recognise this fully.

    Remember that the most importnt skill to have if you want to succeed financially cannot be taught through any course. This is salemanship, persuasiveness or whatever you want to call it. Sure an education helps but to succeed to need to be able to convince others of what you want. This is something few actuaries (and often technically minded people) ever understand.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 07:27 | Permalink
  92. Maxx wrote:

    Julia: one normally has to have actuarial experience (3 years under UK and RSA) so it is a good idea to do this whilst studying. An actuary without actuarial experience is unmarketable. The actuarial experience will also help you with the exams, particularly the later exams, although it is not essential.

    I agree with the points Mike raised. Dont do it for the money. What determines ultimate success is how likeable you are. If people like you then you will go far. People like others for all sorts of reasons – e.g. good performance, attractive, trustworthy, good sense of humour, maturity…

    The last one is quite important. I find the concept of “maturity” quite prevalent and an obstacle for young professionals. When trying to move to senior positions maturity is the overiding factor, ahead of performance. From what I can tell, maturity refers to demeanour, body language, communication skills, confidence, and appearance. You basically need to act like a mature 40 year old.

    If you are qualified and likable, act and look the part you will generally get the position.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at 07:02 | Permalink
  93. Julia wrote:

    okay thankyou I will keep a look out for an opportunity, all this has been really helpful, thankyou.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 11:17 | Permalink
  94. Amy D wrote:

    I am a 46 year old recent computer science graduate working in the vision insurance industry in Southern CA. I have been looking into becoming an actuary but have found very few educational paths in my area. Is it feasable to self study your way through the actuarial exams to any extent or is there an online study route I can take?

    Thanks for any info.

    Thursday, May 19, 2011 at 16:48 | Permalink
  95. VINCENT SS wrote:

    To Amy D:

    Surely you can self-study the exams. There are about 14 papers under the UK system, I don’t know about the SOA. However, in order to be qualified, you need to have at least 3 years working experience in the actuarial field. Also, if you want to self-study the exam, I strongly advice you to take some course in actuarial science, so that you can pass the exam easier, at least you know what the exams are about. Hope these info. can help you.

    Friday, May 20, 2011 at 00:38 | Permalink
  96. Amy D wrote:

    To vincent SS

    Thanks so much for the info. The problem I’m having is that there dont seem to be any actuarial courses out here in So Cal. I even went to my college and asked a couple ex professors. One had to look up actuarial science, the other knew what it was but didnt know of any programs. That’s why i was wondering if thee were any structured online programs. It seems there is a definite need for such. If I knew anything about it, I’d create one ;-).

    Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 10:34 | Permalink
  97. lukman wrote:

    Please, after the actuarial course isn’t there any place you work apart from in the insurance company?

    Monday, May 23, 2011 at 12:40 | Permalink
  98. VINCENT SS wrote:


    Of course not! Why do you think so? Actuary can work in the investment company as well. In additon, actuaries can help the planning of social policy. The skills of a qualified actuary is highly valuable, they can also work in different positions in the business world. If something involves uncertainity or risk, actuaries are needed by then.

    Monday, May 23, 2011 at 14:31 | Permalink
  99. Angrila wrote:

    I am also studying for the FM exam. I am a career changer from working for state government. Is there any work for an actuary in the entertainment industry? It is my dream to at least be able to see the industry through a glass window…….

    Friday, June 3, 2011 at 14:03 | Permalink
  100. brian o'neill wrote:

    i’m an actuary living and working in Ireland and i can honestly assure that being a qualified actuary affords you an extremely comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle.

    Sunday, June 12, 2011 at 07:58 | Permalink
  101. Victoria wrote:


    Does actuary involve a lot of communication?
    I am now about to choose my A Levels, but English is not my first language I am really worried of what profession to choose.
    For the five years I’ve been living in UK my English got better,I can understand more then 85 per cent , I got excellent communication skills, but sometimes shy to speak in front of public I don’t know (could it be a huge disadvantage).
    Therefore It really worries me.
    I really enjoy mathematics and choose to do A Level Mathematics and Further Mathematics at college.
    In school I’ve been quite a good student and achieve reasonable grades.
    A* Mathematics and B in English; which is the most important from my point of view.
    I enjoyed statistics a lot because I found it interesting to work with different topics like probabilities and etc In fact I enjoy everything that is common with mathematics.
    I was thinking of doing accountancy or actuary..
    Can anyone give me an advise about actuary job.
    *My first language is not english is it a big disadvantage ?
    *How much mathematics is involved in actuary?
    *How hard it is to pass all examination and how many exams do you have to pass?

    Thank You
    Help Much Appreciated
    (Sorry for any spelling mistakes)

    Friday, June 17, 2011 at 11:02 | Permalink
  102. Nick wrote:

    I am currently going into my senior year of college and am hoping to become an actuary. I am a Finance major with minors in Accounting, Mathematics and Statistics with a Certificate in Actuarial Science and Mathematics. My question is that I am concerned about my GPA. It looks like I am going to be graduating with around a 3.1 GPA. Is this high enough to get an entry level position if I pass a couple exams. I am hoping to have 2 finished by the time I graduate but do not want to put hundreds of hours of studying in to find out that I can’t get a job because my GPA is to low.

    Monday, June 20, 2011 at 04:31 | Permalink
  103. Nick wrote:

    I go to Penn State by the way.

    Monday, June 20, 2011 at 04:32 | Permalink
  104. meep wrote:

    While higher GPAs look better, obviously, generally above a 3.0 GPA is enough to keep your resume from going into the trashcan automatically in the U.S. (and there are plenty of below 3.0 GPAs that do manage to get entry-level positions).

    The generic advice is that if you do have something “odd” about your resume that may make it likely to get canned by an across-the-board HR screening rule, then you try to go a route other than through HR to apply for jobs.

    Monday, June 20, 2011 at 04:37 | Permalink
  105. Abhi wrote:

    I graduated from the University Of Maryland, Baltimore County in May (GPA:3.93/4.00) and am hoping to become an actuary. I am a Math major with a minor in Economics.An actuary was something I decided to do when I was in my senior year. I passed exam P right after my graduation in May, and I plan on taking exam FM in August. I have been actively seeking an entry level position for past 3 weeks, but I haven’t had any luck yet. The only thing I wish I had in my resume is an actuarial internship. I had an internship as an Accounting Assistant though.My question is that how hard it is to get an entry level position with one exam passed but no actuarial work experience, and where (location or company wise) should I apply to increase my odd of getting an entry level job?

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 22:26 | Permalink
  106. meep wrote:

    I wouldn’t worry too much about not having an actuarial internship. Where that can help is having an “in” with the company you interned with. Having the accounting internship can be helpful showing you have certain skills (for example, I assume you used Excel during your internship….)

    As for where to apply, you may need to throw the net wide geographically. And don’t necessarily assume that different offices for the same company communicate with each other on entry-level hires (they might, but many times they don’t.) I really don’t know how the entry-level market is doing nationwide right now, or by field. I know that several people I know have had difficulty in the NYC metro area (you should still apply there — there are =lots= of employers up here!)

    Wednesday, June 22, 2011 at 07:03 | Permalink
  107. Buns wrote:

    I’m interested in getting into the actuarial field. My undergrad is in education. Any suggestions as far as going back to school? Should I look for an actuarial science or math program for my masters? Do actuaries need to obtain a masters or should I look into adding on to my bachelors? Any suggestions?

    Thursday, June 23, 2011 at 21:50 | Permalink
  108. meep wrote:

    It’s probably best to come over to the Actuarial Outpost (either google it or check the link from my name on this particular post) to find out more about the profession in North America. We’ve got a very active group there, and lots of people have asked these sorts of questions before — check it out!

    Friday, June 24, 2011 at 11:47 | Permalink
  109. meep wrote:

    trying the link again – the wordpress (or whatever) software screwed up my link before. try clicking on my name.

    Friday, June 24, 2011 at 11:48 | Permalink
  110. kunal khanna wrote:

    i m going to take my first exams in actuarial science this november .i m 18 & just got admission in stats(hons) course. ON which thing should i concentrate more actuarial science or college??

    Wednesday, July 6, 2011 at 13:05 | Permalink
  111. Kendo_Master wrote:

    I was just wondering.. My GPA is 3.18 and I have P-1, FM-2, and MFE-3F passed with fairly good scores (7,10,8) and had an internship at the Largest P/C Company in So. Cal. (I learned Excel, Access, and SAS & SQL Programming intensively during the internship.) Right now I’m looking for an entry level position in So. Cal. but I don’t know how much I should ask for the entry level position. I was thinking of around 60k – 63k, not including year-end or sign-on bonus. Is this too little or too much? What do you think? Help me out here.

    Monday, July 11, 2011 at 21:10 | Permalink
  112. meep wrote:

    Best answer I can give (not having EL hiring experience) is to click on my name. Get an AO account (free and anonymous) and ask in the Careers/Employment section.

    We also have people asking about college majors, etc.

    Saturday, July 16, 2011 at 08:08 | Permalink
  113. AFK wrote:

    Its a very narrow profession;there simply are not many jobs available. Despite this, you are expected waste your time studying for and passing these exams while you are searching for a job even though they are completely worthless for any other career path.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 14:47 | Permalink
  114. Chris wrote:

    I currently work for a consultant firm and know a person who knows actuaries. Plain and simple, the career is on its decline in life and health side of it. For Property and Causalty, there are plenty of areas for it.
    I am taking my p exam in two days, it is a very grueling process and I have studied a lot and still have yet to finish it entirely.

    Sunday, July 24, 2011 at 18:58 | Permalink
  115. JUEUR wrote:

    Hello, I’ve learnt a lot from the comments above. I’m seriously considering actuarial science as my career now. I’m high school student now and I love travelling. My life ambition is to travel around the world. To make this happen, I need a job that have decent salary to support me.
    Can anybody who works in this area tell me above your life besides working and studying?
    I want to find a job that pays great and also gives me holidays.
    Do you have holidays every year? Or can somebody take GAP year to travel?
    I know many jobs are less demanding and less time-consuming, but they are as a result, less well paid.

    Can somebody answer my question?


    Wednesday, August 3, 2011 at 10:42 | Permalink
  116. Didza wrote:

    what are the progression levels for a career in actuarial scince

    Tuesday, August 16, 2011 at 14:45 | Permalink
  117. Maxx wrote:

    AFK is incorrect – actuaries are quite versatile, as mentioned in this thread being an actuary is actually a skill set of problem solving abilities. Actuaries in one field can operate in another field, and you get specialist and generalist actuaries operating in many fields. Actuaries can perform most “corporate” roles, its the ability to visualise, structure, breakdown, solve and communicate that is key to most senior positions.

    Jueur: actuarial science is extremely demanding and it is probably not a good idea to study it and travel at the same time. Once qualified as a fellow actuary (average of 8 to 10 years for those that make it), many actuary jobs require travel, or will provide you opportunities to travel to international events like conferences and meetings. Otherwise, you can always afford to take a holiday anywhere in the world every year.

    Didza: it depends in which country you are. But for most, there are only two types of “progression levels”: fellow actuary and student. Student varies from junior to senior depending on the number of actuarial board exams (from the actuarial body of your country) you have passed. You dont need a university degree, however it will go a long way in passing or being exempted from doing some of the board exams.

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 11:03 | Permalink
  118. ACTUARY 2 BE wrote:

    I am dng commercial subjects is it posible 2 stdy actuarial science at a university?

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 11:38 | Permalink
  119. Ping wrote:

    @Actuary to be:

    To be an actuary doesnt mean that you need to be an actuarial major. Possible majors for an actuary aspirant include but not limited to Statistics, economics, finance, mathematics and computer science. Whats cruacial are the proffesional exams which need to be completed with the respective bord of your country. But you must have a sound math backgroung especially in calcus and probability, and work torwads sharpening your computer skills and communication skills as said above in the thred.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 16:52 | Permalink
  120. Cory wrote:

    How is the job outlook for an aspiring actuary? Is it hard to find an entry level position? Also, must you live in a bigger city to find a job as an actuary?

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 22:48 | Permalink
  121. Guy wrote:

    What exams are better SOA/CAS or UK exams? Which are harder?

    Tuesday, September 27, 2011 at 16:35 | Permalink
  122. BlondeAccountant wrote:

    I think I might be ok with this job choice as I find most of the dry, satiric comments very funny… and I am quite content sitting at my computer working. I just need something new and interesting – that will travel!!

    Monday, October 17, 2011 at 07:09 | Permalink
  123. Alice Shen wrote:

    Is it meaningful to learn both actuarial science and accounting in college? I’m posting this question everywhere on black Friday to see if anyone can give me some valuable and professional advice.

    I’m a 2nd year undergraduate student in a top 30 university in US. My major is Math/Applied science-actuarial science. I’m also taking management classes. I once planned to minor in accounting but recently I learned that to be eligible to take CPA exams I need to have 36 quarter units in business related courses. If I want to get a CPA certification, I need to take many econ classes which means I need to double major in Business Economics.

    However, I have a another choice. Instead of taking econ classes, I can take some computer science classes and get a specialization in computing. To do this, my aim is to apply for master of financial engineering. But I’m not very social and might don’t have excellent writing, speaking, and presentation ability in English which is required for that master program (since I’m an international student).

    I’m so doubtful about my future. But now the most important decision I need to make is whether to take many econ classes to be eligible for CPA to give myself an alternative way besides actuarial science or improve my computer science skills using limited college units to get a chance to apply for the master?

    Friday, November 25, 2011 at 03:54 | Permalink
  124. Thuong wrote:

    Hi everyone,
    I want to self-study to become an Actuary. To be honest, I am not sure I understand what is Actuary…but Im comfortable working with math to solve problems.
    I find it very hard to know what materials/books I need to study for each exam? The SOA lists too many books. I do not know which one to start with. Please help me which choosing materials and how to study effectively. Thank you very much. I do not know anyone who is actuary. Any help is very appreciated.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 02:44 | Permalink
  125. jon wrote:

    I am an FCAS (Fellow of Casualty Society) and have a masters degree in math. I am published in peer reviewed actuarial journals and have over 10 years of actuarial experience. So i think I know the field pretty well. I will lay it out for you:

    1. Actuaries do not know graduate level statistics. They are number crunchers that do spreadsheets, divide and multiply. So if you know serious statistics then be a statistician as you will make a lot more. You will enjoy work as its meaningful than droning over the same triangles and no creativity or intelligence. Its a very boring job for math driven people but a good one for diploma mill graduates as they wont make it in a good PhD program.

    2. Fellows make 100K (starting) to 150K (retirement) in the midwest. In NY you can get some increase due to cost of living. The DW Simpsons surveys are totally baseless (I have been recruited by them). So pay is not impressive although its decent.

    3. Studying for insurance exams is a total waste of time as these skills are non transferable. So you become trapped in a box and cannot change easily if you choose.

    4. Social life sucks in general in a lot of fields and insurance is on top of that list somewhere. Two weeks vacation annually, 50-60 (sometimes 70) hour work weeks are common. The feel you are making “Big Bucks” – by that they mean the pay I mentioned! So you will be miserable in a whole year to make that much. I usually blow up a lot of cash in strip clubs to release the stress!!

    5. Most actuaries end up at the top of the workabee list – not executive management. They dont even make decision on reserves or rates (need management approval). Being better paid workers, most are yuppy and feel “better than others” mentality.

    6. Insurance generally is a field of losers. Who grows up to say I want to be in insurance? No one. People want to be astronomers, doctors, scientists, statisticians etc. Not insurance number crunchers. So you will end up working all your life with a bunch of losers that could not get anywhere in life.

    7. For the reason in 6, you will deal with office politics. Backstabbing, lies, poor management, victimization and racism is common. Almost ALL actuaries in higher jobs (relatively)are white. Most asians work as analysts (some have inflated titles with no real authority). I have yet to find ONE single non-white Chief actuary in a decent size insurance company (or ANY company). More than a third of P/C actuaries are non white. There are virtually no black actuaries.

    8. If you are someone like me who had no money for college and had to join this field to move forward then its different. Otherwise, please get a real scientific education if you are academically smart. For diploma mill graduates (there are lots of them in this country) this is a great field.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 19:39 | Permalink
  126. meep wrote:

    Trying to keep the competition down, eh, Jon?

    Anyway, it’s true that nobody should look upon this as some great missionary work. BFD. Most “careers” are just a series of jobs intended to make money to finance something called your life. That’s what the majority of human life has been like. Don’t be a crybaby.

    It’s a good idea to have a realistic idea of what’s going on here — if you’re an accountant, say, you can work almost anywhere. Companies that need accountants exist from the smallest towns to the biggest burgs. But actuarial work is highly concentrated in a few locations.

    This is definitely not a sexy field (which does help keep the competition down… no really, you don’t want to deal with regulators… be that pastry chef you’ve always wanted to have been). It’s a job.

    Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 19:52 | Permalink
  127. jon wrote:


    1. I have no interest in competition as I do not compete for entry level positions. So new graduates are not going to affect me.

    2. Careers are not “just intended to make money”. This just shows how unhappy you are! You need to have some meaning to your life.

    For someone mathematically smart (from a good program), I would think they want a higher paying profession (like statistician) with a more meaningful job than a mindless “link ratio pick” each day, much better social life in office (not dirty office politics and work with semi-educated insurance losers), no need to spend 5-10 years passing tests (they do not even apply elsewhere).

    3. If you do not believe me then call any reputable university that has an actuarial program (University of Waterloo, Canada) and they will tell you that they do not recognize actuarial exams and actuaries are not regarded as scientists. Further, they do not consider actuaries as competent to write or understand technical papers in statistics or risk theory.

    The actuarial programs in these schools are mostly statistics courses geared to solve risk theory problems. My experience is that students that cannot do graduate level statistics dropout and become actuaries.

    4. Actuarial exams are about rote memorization of formulas and regurgitating them on tests. Almost no actuary understands them or can derive them (they do not have technical background). On the job they keep slamming these formulas into spreadsheets and many do not even apply to the problem at hand(such as stock pricing formulas). So they mostly just “crank” out answers that management likes.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 09:56 | Permalink
  128. meep wrote:

    I have this thing, called a life. That’s where I get meaning.

    I actually find my work interesting, but it is a means to an end. Would you do this work if you weren’t paid? No.

    Those who do understand the math behind actuarial work can do very well for themselves in this biz, and the exams are not necessarily that bad (well, not til the written exams).

    If you don’t understand it, then yes, I agree it can be quite painful. Memorization sucks.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 10:19 | Permalink
  129. meep wrote:

    Oh, and yes – actuaries aren’t scientists.

    Neither are statisticians or economists.

    What’s your point?

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 10:22 | Permalink
  130. Chris wrote:

    Jon your comments are incredibly insightful. I believe Jon’s comments are the most accurate about the actuarial career. It gives you three false ideas:
    1. Success
    2. Shitload of wealth
    3. Knowledge
    4. Job Security

    1. You don’t become successful from studying exams all day and ignore your friends for a moment just to study. If you gonna do that why not go for doctor degree, you can make 300k easily and PHD is always more educational than actuarial exams. Education comes from experience, sitting in and studying all day takes your experience away. In the end of the day, what had you really learned?
    2. When I thought of actuarial career I thought you would be making close to millions. False, you really won’t.
    3. Knowledge? There isn’t anything you can learn that will help you apply it in many other fields. Statisticians don’t use it and this really is insurance law. So what is the real point about it? There is absolutely no reason for studying 5-10 years when the exams are always about cramming.
    4. I’ve heard from many people talking about how this career is so great and the job security is good. I agree the job security is amazing but what do actuaries really do? Nothing special. Nothing so important as to make differences in the way we do insurance. Not to mention that pension actuaries are being cut loose left and right. With harder hitting insurance regulations, actuaries are being cut down in job number.

    Don’t believe me? I am an actuarial student, taking these types of classes for 4 years and all I could remember is how much stress I went through to learn this material. Most of the time I wind up remembering this stuff and don’t understand it. All my colleagues study 24/7 have no friends and don’t realize that adopting this habit causes you to be antisocial and hurts your chances of gaining any other success other than being in actuarial science field. Trust me SOA and CAS just want your money, its a great profit for them.

    If you want to make a difference in life and actually be successful, don’t be an actuary. But if you like to study and make a guaranteed very good salary and don’t mind not having friends or even being depressed when all your friends have fun and you aren’t? Then go for the actuary career.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 12:37 | Permalink
  131. afk wrote:

    There is no security when you cannot actually get a job in the first place. Actuarial employment is a system of insiders and outsiders. Moreover, the unemployed outsiders are expected to continue to pass exams while they are searching for a job that might never come. With that in mind, I want to re-emphasize one of Jon’s points:

    ” 3. Studying for insurance exams is a total waste of time as these skills are non transferable. So you become trapped in a box and cannot change easily if you choose. ”

    Yes, the time you spend studying for the exams will be absolutely worthless if you can’t find a job as an Actuary. And in this economy, your chances do not look good. HR departments a very nervous and will only hire people that already have experience. Chances are if you are reading this, then you don’t this experience.

    If you like math and think you want to become an Actuary, do yourself a huge favor and consider switching to something like Engineering, Biostatistics, or Computer Science. You will have more job prospects, more interesting work, and be much happier.

    And for those of you that say I don’t have what it takes to become an Actuary-I do. This career just isn’t worth it compared to the alternatives I mentioned.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 13:05 | Permalink
  132. jon wrote:

    1. The Job security in insurance companies depend almost entirely on how much people “like” you. This means that semi-educated insurance losers with no technical background in math (yes that includes actuaries) are expected to “like” you. If you are one of “them” then of course there is no problem. Otherwise good luck on making friends out of yuppy actuaries that say things like “We dont care about Math here” or “All models are wrong and I already know the answer”. These comments were made by a Chief Actuary of one of the largest insurance companies.

    2. You will need to form a “group” that will protect your job. This means kiss ass of the ones above you and get your ass kissed by ones blow you. Make “friends” that will support your job. If you cant you will lose your job.

    3. Why is the actuarial environment so stale? A big part of the problem is that their employers are mostly insurance companies. To begin with, there is virtually no innovation in this field. Its the SAME insurance policy from ANY company. Its been that way forever. So they do not need brains to create.v

    4. Another issue is that insurance has historically been borderline fraud business. Companies do not pay claims easily (I have some stories to share!) and the premiums are loaded with excessive salaries of managers (incl actuaries) that could be replaced by lower paid clerks. For example rates can be filed by someone making 35,000/year than an actuary making 125,000/year. All you have to do is fill out SAME forms and file with insurance departments.

    5. Actuaries are very good at creating a scientific “image”. Almost all of them try to look smart by saying complex words like “predictive modeling” etc. If you ask them two questions on regression theory they will give you a quick witted insult (they are good at that). So they just know how to press buttons in SAS (cant use R as it requires knowledge of matrix algebra)and crank a report.

    5. Progressive insurance has virtually no actuaries (just statisticians) and have managed to be on top in auto insurance. This is an example of limited appeal and over compensation of this field even in the insurance industry.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 14:52 | Permalink
  133. jon wrote:


    Statistics is considered science and usually a branch of mathematics.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 15:00 | Permalink
  134. meep wrote:

    Nothing is stopping y’all from leaving the profession, you know. If “being a scientist” is important to you, you should go out and do that.

    I happen to have left (math) academia for an actuarial career, which I’ve found to be both more remunerative, and less political. If you think you’re going to be able to find any workplace involving people will not involve politics…. you’re delusional. Yes, this goes for statistical work, computer science work, etc.

    The truth is most jobs out there do not require huge intellectual chops to succeed in. The stuff you’re bitching about (in terms of people actually wanting to work with you) applies =everywhere=. Some of the stuff you bitch about applies to all specialized fields. You specialize in pharmacy? Guess what — you’re going to be working in pharmacies!

    Even when you’re in a “generic” area like, say, accountancy, if you want to get to very high levels of income, you’re probably going to have to specialize.

    That said, I will agree with warning those trying to enter the actuarial career: it is extremely difficult to get an entry-level job right now, except perhaps in pensions (and the reason that would be easier is because lots of people are trying to avoid that field.)

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 15:06 | Permalink
  135. jon wrote:


    The discussion here is about being an actuary. So you are acknowledging all of what I have said with the comment that “everything else is equally bad”.

    On your comments:

    1. Yes you can specialize in a field but they have more employers than actuarial field. For example, if you can change many jobs and still find new employers. Here EVERYONE knows EVERYONE because its too small. There is nowhere else to go!

    2. Politics in insurance industry is rather extreme. That is because the level of education is low in such places where there are losers (jails have worse politics than academia for the same reason). Of course there is some politics everywhere but if you are going to choose a field then you want to work with reasonable, educated and polished people. You want to be rewarded for creativity and hard work than ass kissing and link ratios.

    3. There is a decline in the US for smart jobs as more and more industry is gone to Asia. It seems that China will drive scientific progress in the future.

    We are increasingly left with cummy lower level jobs. That’s why you want to be careful to pick the right field. Why just jump into another lousy field?

    There is still demand for scientific jobs and I know statisticians from good graduate programs get plenty of offers for research type jobs.

    If you just cant get any job in the industry then you can teach or do research if you have a PhD. They start at around 75K and go over 100K. That’s a 8 month job, full benefits and you can do consulting on the side (or teach summer school).

    At any rate, I think choosing a career has a lot to do with using your brains and feel that you have accomplished something in life. Its shallow to view life as just a bunch of cash. Its like marrying a rich old woman and waiting for her to die!

    4. Like I said before, if you cant do rigorous graduate level math/stat and are good at office politics then this is a great field.

    I hate to break this out to you but its a petty field for petty people. Actuaries have neither invented anything of great value and neither will anyone miss them if they perished tomorrow. Its just a group of very yuppy people that somehow think they are better than everyone else just because they have taken some tests and maybe make a few extra dollars.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 19:05 | Permalink
  136. chris wrote:

    Not in any way shape or form am I saying actuarial science is plain bad. I am simply saying the actuarial field has misled everyone with their slogans and how great this career really is. Yes I know a job is a job but we must also think at what costs can we cut to make it up there. Taking exams is just an ego booster, making actuaries feel they are empowered with knowledge. In reality, actuarial exams are just illusions in our society.

    People often mention skills about the actuaries and how few understand. I don’t believe that, I believe everyone can do any job. With all the effort needed to put in exams, why not try becoming a CEO, CFO, or something even greater.

    It is similar to the American Dream, it falsifies what is really more important in life like friendship, relationship, experience and helping for the greater good as supposed to studying and making money after all those years.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 19:42 | Permalink
  137. jon wrote:

    Chris, insurance companies and actuaries spend a lot of time lobbying. Keep in mind that that’s what they are good at – politics.

    The American Academy of Actuaries lobbies in DC and that is pretty much their sole job. They are obsessed with a great image for the profession and make these bold statements about these math skills that are just untrue and misleading.

    Ask an actuary (Fellow) to explain the difference between uncorrelated and independent random variable and they wont be able to do it. Go ahead try it! That’s the level of statistics these phonies know… They cant even do basic stuff leave alone solving big problems.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 20:47 | Permalink
  138. chris wrote:

    Thanks for the reply jon. In terms of what the difference between uncorrelated and independent rvs, I actually do know the difference but I understand the point you are trying to make. I have taken an actuary exam and had not passed but as I was studying for them I was wondering if I was really learning anything. The answer was that I wasn’t.

    I am an actuarial science major and understand math-finance-statistics-economics. I was wondering what field should I try to enter. I would enter any those fields in detail but I would like to know which field do you see as a good field to be in? Good field meaning I can be successful in.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 21:03 | Permalink
  139. jon wrote:

    Chris, this depends on your interests. My two cents:

    1. Advanced Pure math gets abstract. So this is a good choice for theory lovers

    2. Statistics now has various specializations in PhD programs. First one usually is abstract and the others are applied. All of them usually have the same core courses – the electives get different.

    So you could focus on a Statistics PhD and then choose a finance track as a specialization. That will actually make you pretty versatile and also feed your appetite for finance.

    3. Pure Economics – I am not sure. I know that some programs are more mathematical than others.

    Jobs in Pure sciences tend to me more academic. I always personally felt that statistics gives a very “all around” feel as one could work both in academia as well as business. You can take or leave one later as you see fit.

    Just my two cents.

    Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 22:02 | Permalink
  140. Robert wrote:

    I am an ASA with 8 years experience and work in Life Insurance. I have decided to not take the last two Fellowship level exams because they are not about math but about memorizing Insurance Laws. I hate studying for exams.

    Some of you who mention office politics are quite right about it. I got all my actuarial jobs because I knew people, not because I was talented or something. The insurance industry is largely white-dominated. It pains me to say this because some of my best friends are visible minorities (I went to a multicultural high school in Montreal), but our company and a few other companies where I have connections deliberately trash resumes based on the person’s NAME! The reason? These people will apparently not “fit in.”

    As for long hours, I usually work 40-45 hours a week but during peak periods I’ve worked 60-80 hours.

    The worst thing about this career really are the exams. You basically give up the best years of your life to study for the exams. I didn’t enjoy university like my peers did. I would stay home and study while they would do whatever they wished (movies, books, hobbies, part-time work, party, etc).

    If I could do it all over again I wouldn’t choose this field. There are fields that give you a better bang for the buck.

    Monday, December 5, 2011 at 23:36 | Permalink
  141. jon wrote:

    I agree with Robert. Insurance companies use “fit in” and employment at will laws to discriminate rampantly. I remember how upset our VP actuarial got when he was told that we need to have “some” diversity in the deptt.

    1. If you walk around, you will find analyst level roles given to Asians (no jobs for blacks). This allows companies to appear “diversified” (covert discrimination). Political correctness and satisfying legal requirements is all that matters. They are not concerned about true merit and free competition. Proof? Show me non-white chief actuaries?? No recruiter has an answer to that.. I bet DW Simpson should also publish this surbey along with their highly exaggerated salary surveys!

    2. All higher actuarial (or even exec management) jobs are white and many of these individuals are mediocre at best (almost none can do statistics and are generally horrible managers). This is because they were selected for the wrong reasons. These companies give them management experience, raises and promotions while over looking bright, hardworking, creative and mathematically sound individuals.

    3. Over time, the typical stereotype emerges – the non white candidate lacks management experience, has possible turnover (if they are smart and constantly looking) and lacks “people skills” to get along. They actually were “groomed” to be this way!

    4. All of this results in a very lousy working atmosphere with no demand for rigorous work. I still believe that a properly run insurance company will need talented analytical people because they have interesting risk related problems. This can only happen if the upper management is savvy i.e hired and promoted on the basis of merit and not skin color.

    5. Merit and free competition form the basis of capitalism and successful enterprises. Without those attributes you get nepotism, office politics and communism.

    6. I have seen great non white employees been FIRED because no one “likes” them. Since when “liking” people is the basis of termination? I thought work product and ethics is what counts!

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 14:59 | Permalink
  142. Chris wrote:

    This is all very interesting and insightful comments from all of you. I have another question for you Jon. I am getting my BS in Actuarial Science by the end of December. I don’t want to be an actuary so what should I do? Go to some graduate school, work in an investment bank, or do something totally different like management jobs? I am sort of a lost soul and don’t know what I want in the future but the truth is, I want to be a leader.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 16:04 | Permalink
  143. AU wrote:

    Hi. Seems every body is very well experienced in this field(Actuary). I did my undergraduate in Engineering and now in am Graduate Research Assistant in bioenergy field. Honestly speaking I hate to read literature all the time. I have very good mathematics. I am thinking to become an actuary. Is it correct decision? can any one help me? Thank you.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 18:21 | Permalink
  144. Robert wrote:

    Well I don’t know about Blacks, but I find it very unfortunate that they would not find employment based on racism, but then again, I know that racism is a lot more prevalent in the United States than in Canada.

    We employ Blacks, Arabs and Asians in our company, but not in any important roles but in clerical roles. They work in claims, in data-entry and in administration.

    The part that I don’t like is that the “supervisors” of these departments are all white and have no more than a High School diploma. The minorities working under them all have Canadian undergraduate or graduate degrees and speak perfect French and better English than their supervisors and are maybe the same age as them!

    In fact, we have a Canadian-born Black girl working in our claims department and she has all the prelims passed and graduated from an Actuarial program 3 years ago and is yet to find an actuarial job! We recently hired a White guy who has less exams than her and is a couple years older! He got the job after being introduced to my boss by another guy.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 19:03 | Permalink
  145. AU wrote:

    Hello Robert. Can you suggest me about switching my career is right decision or not?197

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 20:02 | Permalink
  146. Robert wrote:

    Hello AU, I don’t know where you are located but Canada is a very bad place for career changers where even new graduates with more than 2 exams are having a hard time finding interviews.

    I wouldn’t say the actuarial field is that math heavy. I personally was bad at Math. I got D’s in my linear algebra and advanced calculus classes and dropped the only real analysis class I ever took after failing my mid term with a 28%. I passed the exams because they weren’t about math skills but more about hard work. I studied for hours and did hundreds of practice exams. In most cases I did more than 1000 problems per exam.

    I would say try to make some connections in the actuarial field if you can, but don’t waste your time after these exams if you can’t manage through all of them.

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011 at 22:40 | Permalink
  147. jon wrote:


    You need to be honest to yourself about your true talent and passion. Get the FACTS but dont let anyone make the decision for you. It has to be yours.

    The right answer must from you and within you. It will have passion, drive and power. That is ever more important than “right answer”. People that succeed do so because they truly believe in something. So ask yourself what do you truly believe in?

    As for being a leader, true leadership is not about wearing a fancy tie and having a big office. Its about serving people. People follow you naturally because they have respect for your knowledge, how your treat them with kindness, how you think from THEIR perspective, how you praise and appreciate them regularly. All this comes from an unselfish and honest desire to help others succeed.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 00:30 | Permalink
  148. AU wrote:

    Thanks Robert, Well I was planning to go in this fields as my mathematics is very good and I am really shocked after knowing the fact that Actuarial Exams are not on Maths based. I am in US (not citizen) from India. I read the posts of some guys saying that Actuarial job is very demanding and no social life and more over its very difficult to find a job even after cracking exams. I am in my first year of my MS Bio-energy and I think I will easily find a job with like 45-50K, do you think that Switching my masters in mathematics and spending 2 years in it and after passing 2 exams without any work experience I will be able to find a job in this field. I am really confused at this moment, well I don’t want to study after age like 30, I am 24 now. What is the average minimum exams required to find a good job in this field without work experience.

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011 at 21:24 | Permalink
  149. Robert wrote:

    Yes it’s very hard to find a job if you care about where you live. Most jobs are concentrated in specific locations and even there the competition is huge. 45-50k is good money. With 2 exams it would be hard to get a job cause most college students (non-actuarial students) graduate with 2 exams. I think if you can pass 4 exams then you might get a few interviews and then it’s up to you to convince the employer to hire you.

    Friday, December 9, 2011 at 15:57 | Permalink
  150. Chris wrote:

    Jon, I thank you for your insightful and thoughtful comments. I just needed someone with financial or similar to this field, experience to tell me how it really is in the real world(graduate from college). How different the world really is. I always struggled in school and my friends seem to do better in exams because he is a 3.9 gpa actuarial science student. But he has no drive or passion in his career. Because I am still in school, I feel school is everything. And I don’t feel like a winner or successful person(at least for now). I feel society prides on students with high academic standards, does this really happen?

    Anyone can respond to this question, it isn’t specific for Jon only.

    Friday, December 9, 2011 at 22:44 | Permalink
  151. jon wrote:

    I think students are looking for real world “attributes” to help decide becoming an actuary. Here is my opinion:

    1. Very good at rote memorization of formulas. Cant do graduate level math/statistics. Level of math competency at high school level. Mathematical intelligence is low compared to graduate stat/math students.

    Best way to describe an actuary is “Insurance MBA”.

    2. Motivated by money only. Will put up ridiculous hours and loves working in a semi-educated educated insurance environment as he/she fits in very well.

    Excellent pay compared to the level of education. In fact the pay is professional. This makes many individuals that cant do math very pleased as they would never make that much elsewhere.

    3. “Team player”: Specifically, person is a great office politician. This means person is preferably white, cut throat, motivated by money alone and will do what it takes (as long as its legal by company rules).

    4. All three above are essential for a successful actuarial career. If you don’t have any of them you will have issues:

    For example if you are truly great at math and you join this field, you will first of all be bored and mad. There is no math to speak of at work. Secondly, no one will like you or want to work with you because they wont value you. In fact they will label you as “incompetent” because they have no idea what you are saying!

    Another example. Suppose you have moral values. Then you will have a hard time signing actuarial opinions as they are largely just numbers management wants. No one really cares about your “actuarial expertise”. Rates are driven by market. Reserves are manipulated based on underwriting cycles. Actuary just helps get ball park numbers together. He/she is a number cruncher. Proof? Look at companies that went bankrupt. how many actuaries blew the whistle? And that is assuming they know what’s going on in those models!

    Saturday, December 10, 2011 at 23:57 | Permalink
  152. Robert wrote:

    I would actually agree with the “rote memorization,” “office politics” and “driven by money” criteria.

    The math you see on these exams can be learned through problem solving because it actually is presented in a somewhat “interesting” way. When it comes to graduate level math/stats and all you have in front of you is proving incomprehensible theorems then yes, that does take a very math-minded person to do. Most actuaries I know never went beyond doing stuff like partial derivatives or multiple integrals when it came to Calculus. Most don’t know what Real Analysis is, Linear Algebra was about learning what a matrix is so that we could apply it to stuff like Markov Chains.

    Office politics, well I guess it’s needed in most office jobs.

    As for being driven by money, yes I myself with all the actuaries I know have taken these exams solely because we wanted to get a decent paycheck. I even gave up on the exam process cause I’m satisfied at where I am. It’s fairly above the provincial average.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 00:32 | Permalink
  153. jon wrote:

    If you are a decent math student and want an applied field then why not go into fields like Statistics/Bio-Statistics, Engineering?

    The advantage is that you will create things and your math skills will be valued. Pay is excellent and if you are good then you will make more than an actuary. You will work in a very large industry and will have job satisfaction.

    Understand that while engineering and statistics are academic fields, actuary is a vocation (trade) like being a carpenter. People usually choose vocations over academic education when they have no money or they cant do rigorous academic work. Its a second option for people.

    There is office politics everywhere. The difference is in magnitude. Generally greater education, higher job satisfaction and security will reduce office politics. You want to save your precious life for more productive things than back stabbing people over petty raises and job security.

    Money is very important in life but that is not what you will remember when you turn 65. You must feel accomplished but not at the expense of other people. It will give you inner joy and peace to know that you were honest and sincere.

    If you just cant do math or have money issues, then yes you need to think about this field.

    Sunday, December 11, 2011 at 01:09 | Permalink
  154. jon wrote:

    Another two cents from practical experience. When deciding about the career, contact someone neutral and knowledgeable. For example do not contact recruiters for the following reasons:

    1. They are biased and want to place you and make money. At the very least they are not going to say anything bad about a field they get paid.

    2. They usually do not know a whole lot of math so wont understand your viewpoint.

    3. Most importantly, the salary data they get comes from HR job postings and requests. Now this is interesting – the HR of insurance companies posts INCORRECT data on job postings!

    For example salary ranges are greatly exaggerated, job description often has little to do with actual job! I have been told on actual job interviews to discount what the posting said!

    Like I said before, insurance is borderline fraud business. They are notorious for getting away with things they can, including claims. Their legal departments are very strong and so its their lobbying.

    By the way, on job postings you will find salary ranges like 100K to 250K! Its more like 100K – 140K if you are actually offered a job. The 250K is an insurance fluff to tell everyone to apply because they can make a ridiculous amount of money!

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 13:48 | Permalink
  155. Chris wrote:

    I am a decent math major, getting like 3.0. I know a few people from higher places because I had interned for like a year but I hadn’t got so lucky. Do you have a type of technique that would increase my chances of getting job placement? For example my friend told me a 3.0 GPA is sort of low,I don’t think so because it is math, nonetheless he told me to leave my GPA out, is this dangerous or no?

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 14:20 | Permalink
  156. Robert wrote:

    Yes avoid asking recruiters about the field. All the hype about Actuary being the best job was started by recruiters. The DW Simpson website is run by recruiters so that more and more people join the actuarial field. Their salary data includes bonuses which could easily be between 20%-30%.

    Do something you like. Don’t choose a career before you choose a major.

    P.S Chris don’t leave out your GPA from your resume. It will make the employer think that it’s lower than it actually is.

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 21:17 | Permalink
  157. jon wrote:

    Chris, more imp than GPA is the type of courses you actually took. Do you have solid matrix algebra (with proofs and real deal), calc I,II,III and real analysis?

    Try a graduate course in these subjects. See how much you like it. It will tell you if you are scientific material.

    The actuarial exams are not going anywhere. You can take them when you know for sure where you stand.

    The best way to decide on something that important is by actually trying and seeing results. No one can answer your question by just seeing your GPA.

    Plus a GPA does not mean you are a good or bad student. Its just a metric. You may know all the real stuff and end up with a B. All depends on where you took classes and what you took.

    These subjects I mentioned form the basis of statistics and mathematics. if you are in engineering, you may need more physics stuff and also complex analysis.

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 23:02 | Permalink
  158. Chris wrote:

    My list of courses:

    Freshman year fall and spring:
    Physics I, Comp Sci for Business(no Java or C++), Calc I, Humanities I & II, Intro to IT, Chemistry I, Intro to C++.

    Sophmore Year fall and spring:
    Physics II, Intro to Java, Calc II, Social Foundation(teaching course), Accounting I, Micro/Macro Economics, Calc III.

    Junior Year fall and spring:
    Fund of Corporate Finance, Differential Eq, Intro to Probability Theory, Math of Fin I, Intro to Management Honors, Advanced Corporate Finance, History, Linear Algebra, Statistical Methods I, Math of Fin II.

    Senior Year summer and fall and spring semester:
    Mathematical Modeling, Applied Numerical Methods, Derivatives Market I & II, Time Series Analysis, Advanced Calc I, Regression Analysis, Multivariate Distribution, Derivatives Market II, Stochastic Process.

    Super Senior Year(current courses taken):
    International Finance, Senior capstone humanities, Introduction to Partial Differential Equations, Actuarial Mathematics I, Stochastic Simulation.

    Monday, December 12, 2011 at 23:32 | Permalink
  159. jon wrote:


    Assuming the courses had proofs in them and not rote memorization, you would be an excellent candidate for MS Statistics with electives on a suitable track (stochastic differential equations, time series, GLM or other fun stuff).

    I do not know why you are so obsessed about the actuarial field when you have such bright options.

    Once you join an insurance company, you will lose your academic background and then its really hard to get back in the groove. So my two cents, get your masters.

    By the way statistics degrees are very applied and you will learn R software to do linear models. Data mining is another thing you could get into which has tremendous market value.

    You will be making a lot of money AND enjoying your life. Plus teaching/research will always be an option for you if you pick up your PhD.

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011 at 01:37 | Permalink
  160. AU wrote:

    Hi Jon, I read you wrote about R-software saying to Chris. I am from engineering background and doing masters in Bio-Energy in US university (I am not not US citizen). I am planning to switch my masters to mathematical field not only because of good mathematics, I have interest in this field. But the only this I am very confused is which field should I go, Actuarial or Statistics. I came to know that passing Actuarial exams needs lesser mathematical knowledge than other things? Is It really?.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 18:09 | Permalink
  161. AU wrote:

    I have studied R in one of my statistics course I have taken for my Masters. I was good. Is it easier to find a good job after MS statistics or after Passing 2 or 3 actuarial exams. Another thing can you please tell me that, is it easier to clear actuarial exams if you are doing MS in statistics or you are doing a MS Applied Mathematics(Actuarial Science). Can you please put me in right direction. Thank you.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 18:16 | Permalink
  162. Chris wrote:

    Jon, I really appreciate your commentary. As for graduate school I am still in between economics or statistics. And in terms of actuarial science, after realizing how the exams are I decided not to pursue in this education. And all my classes have proofs (not memorization), therefore I truly understand statistics, and math in general.

    If anything I am sort of a math guru, although I hate to even brag about it. I have seen the craziest math ever, involving multiple mathematical steps. Like if I saw physics math, I would understand it. The crazy partial differential equations, the concepts, the denotation of each variable and generally the rough idea of the math class.

    In terms of career, I don’t think I will go Phd because I am not very good in school and I stress out badly, to the point I get some(not too much) rashes from scratching. I think school is detrimental to my health but great for my education. Economics is the most likely graduate education I will go for.

    And I worry about full time positions for the future. It has been a growing concern since I have been applying since September and haven’t had great success with applying. How did you land all your jobs Robert and Jon?

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011 at 19:38 | Permalink
  163. Robert wrote:

    Chris, I was in a Co-Op program at my university so I had enough job experience prior to graduation and hence went back to the company I interned at.

    Don’t believe the hype about actuarial being the best job. It isn’t.

    I think the reason why Actuary, Mathematician and Statistician came out as the three best jobs is to ATTRACT THE NEW GENERATION TOWARDS MATH because Americans are very weak in Math, no offense.

    Thursday, December 15, 2011 at 20:00 | Permalink
  164. JACOB wrote:

    i’m in a confusing part of my life right now. i don’t know what i want to do for a career and i’m currently enrolled at the university of minnesota. i’m thinking about a major in mathematics with a specialization in actuary science. how is the job market for actuaries looking for the future?

    Monday, December 19, 2011 at 02:09 | Permalink
  165. Jesse wrote:

    Hey Chris and Jon,

    I’ve been following this thread for a few months and have been having second thoughts about the actuary profession.

    Your recent conversation really got me thinking about what I really want to do in life.

    Chris – I’m in almost the same situation as you. I’ve taken a few exams, didn’t enjoy them as they weren’t really math based at all. I’m studying Math with an actuarial option, stats and econ. I’ll be graduating in the spring with the actuarial degree but I haven’t found a job yet nor do I really want to be an actuary anymore. I’d really like to hear more of your thoughts and see what you’re looking into now.

    Jon – Thanks a lot for your sound and insightful advice. Your comments confirm many of the thoughts that I’ve had for some time about the actuary profession (my professor is constantly boasting about how great it is..he spent a lot of time lobbying in d.c., not surprisingly.) I have been trying to find something else to pursue as a career and would love your opinion.

    I am graduating in the spring but I have not had any luck finding a job or internship. I have never had any work experience..I spent the past 4 summers drumming instead of finding internships. I have always tried to work hard in school to make up for that. I have a 3.7 gpa and have passed 3 exams and our school has a great actuarial program, but I haven’t been able to find a job. I’m Chinese, but even though I was born here I feel like many potential employers are cold towards me. What annoys me the most is like you said, actuaries are recognized based on how well they “fit in” and not merit. I feel as though I can do great work but my talents won’t be recognized in this profession.

    Any comments or thoughts would be great! Thanks.

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011 at 22:52 | Permalink
  166. Chris wrote:

    Jesse, your gpa is very high and u passed three exams already… thats impressive. I had interned twice and gained a few experience in being a part of a business. You really shouldnt struggle to get a job because you have great academics and u passed a few exams. Maybe it is:
    a. your resume needs to be more refined
    b. im not sure if you done this, but you should try to connect and “bullshit” with all your friends by letting them know you want a job. I have so many friends with full time positions in Chase, Goldman Sachs, and in many other random companies. Knowing people is key
    c. Once you had graduate, so I have heard, thats when people start to really hire.

    This is my advice although it isnt very fundamentally solid since I too am looking for a job. But it is my experience and opinion. GL.

    Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 11:07 | Permalink
  167. jon wrote:


    Here are a few things to think about:

    1. Whatever you do has to be long term. Say you get an actuarial job. Then what? If you are not happy and switch 3 years later with 3 employers on your resume, its not going to mean anything. Not having a job is a problem but having a lousy job is a bigger problem. It will stress you out, create turnover and make you demoralized.

    2. So use this time figuring out what skills people are needing these days? Statistical packages (like R and SAS), solid statistical courses, data mining are all very much in demand.

    3. The main problem both you and Chris face is this: you have great undergrad math background but you have not shown any work at the masters/PhD level. In other words, if you good at math, then you need evidence to prove it.

    How? First you should be able to get a nice scholarship in grad school for masters or Phd in statistics or a related field. THEN you start differentiating from actuarial phoneys. At the moment, you are not too different than the guy that ends up being an actuary becuase he cant do math. Its all he said she said at the moment.

    4. Anything worthwhile takes time and investment. It takes energy and perseverance. Sure you can work as an actuary NOW and make a few dollars but in the long run you will be another loser. Get going on more advanced coursework and you will find employers contacting YOU. Think of yourself at the moment as a half baked cookie. Cant eat it now.

    5. Math people that take actuarial tests after undergrad and work in insurance are really math dropouts. These tests are completely useless.

    Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 17:30 | Permalink
  168. jon wrote:

    Here is a prediction.. Time will tell…

    My opinion is that sooner or later these actuarial jobs will be outsourced overseas China, India…). Its just another industry waiting to be outsourced.

    Does it really make ANY sense to pay someone 100K./year to make triangles? Why cant someone in India do it for 10K/yr?
    Also a lot of work is computerized so its a matter of automating it. Actuaries are still writing Visual basic macros in excel. All of this can be done much more efficiently…

    Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 17:35 | Permalink
  169. Ram wrote:

    Entry-level actuaries in India make around $5000 US per year. Full qualifed with 5-10 years experience make around $37,000 per year. An Appointed Actuary makes around $56,000 per year. Actuaries in India have to take actuarial exams from the Institute of Actuaries of India, or the Actuarial Profession (UK), or SOA/CAS.

    Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 18:05 | Permalink
  170. Jonathan wrote:

    I would like to hear Jon’s opinion on my current situation. I graduated in 2010 and was only able to land a temporary job this September in an insurance company. I didn’t like the work at all and was really a place I didn’t see myself in the future and was bad at it even though I came off as a smart person. (I Love studying math, especially probability and measure theory just to say.) The thing is I am likely to be offered a unique opportunity in a reinsurance company where the office has only 8 people and one other actuary (the one that hired me, and everyone takes part in many aspects of the business. My question is do you think that this job sidesteps the many negative aspects of the actuarial profession? I would also like to add that I’m very interested in the reinsurance industry notably catastrophe modeling…and this is a chance to break into that field.

    Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 23:24 | Permalink
  171. jon wrote:


    CAT models are not developed by the reinsurer – they just know how to use them. Models are developed by third party vendors like AIR. Some large “public” open source models also exist.

    You will be pressing buttons and reading outputs such as Probability of default Most of the work will be how to get the data in the model and run it.

    Reinsurers have interesting problems but they dont usually have a lot of data (hence using CAT models to simulate losses). Non cat reinsurance can be interesting (as they may have data from primary carrier) but they don’t like math – so you don’t have risk loads computed mathematically (such as constrained on probability of ruin and reinsurer rate of return). Its just some % load “driven by market”. Plus very few actuaries actually understand the math needed to solve such problems. So even if you came up with something they will politely smile and then tell you to go back and “do your job”.

    If you are lucky, you might get to build a model – but its just going to be an excel spreadsheet with a bunch of assumptions and you will choose some “factors” that agrees with someone’s idea of a premium (CAT model output will be part of that model).

    If you work for AIR or some company that develops CAT models it may be different. They actually have statisticians and other scientists. But then, you could work in many other places that requires real statistics.

    Overall you may more happiness that your current position (at least in the short run) and that needs to be matched with perhaps longer work hours (small places can have more hours). Seems like you “fit-in” as otherwise they would not have offered you anything.

    Friday, December 23, 2011 at 00:16 | Permalink
  172. Jonathan wrote:

    Thanks, Jon. Indeed, I would really like to work for RMS or AIR. At the same time, the way reinsurance is changing, e.g. the move toward cat bonds, makes it something in which I seek experience. Like I said, this is a very small office and I’ll be exposed to many aspects of the business and its operations, which I believe is phenomenal experience for someone my age (23). If by chance I don’t like my work there, I’d definitely go get a master’s (I had good grades out of undergrad) and open my options to a variety of other professions

    Friday, December 23, 2011 at 09:16 | Permalink
  173. Fox wrote:

    Actuarial science in the US is a joke. The UK and Indian exams cover far more material and has more advanced material. The US exams seem to be more about high-speed number crunching rather than understanding the theory and applications of actuarial science. Actuaries in the UK understand far more statistics and stochastic processes than their US counterparts. Canadian actuaries and actuaries from a UK-based education/actuarial system try to improve actuarial science in North America but the US actuaries refuse to change their ways. The North American actuaries then actually have the audacity to think than their actuarial system is better.

    Friday, December 23, 2011 at 09:27 | Permalink
  174. Fox wrote:

    I meant the US actuaries think their actuarial system is better.

    Friday, December 23, 2011 at 09:30 | Permalink
  175. Steve wrote:

    I’m not certain what the purpose of this thread is, but as one who was once in the actuarial field and subsequently left it, I’ll chime in with my own experiences and prejudices.
    With an undergrad degree in pure math from a prestigious school, I was unable to find a job and so I went back to school to get a master’s in actuarial science because I thought that was what I should do with a math background. I must admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 years I spent on my actuarial degree because it was mostly theoretical math. I interned with a large international firm that specialized in actuarial consulting, and upon graduation was offered a permanent position. I specialized in the property and casualty side and worked at this firm for almost five years when the boss called in into his office one day and simply told me that he did not see a future for me in the firm and gave one month to find work elsewhere. I am not the kind of guy who would beg and so simply accepted the inevitable without pleading for mercy.
    Let me fill in the details. Even though I enjoyed theoretical actuarial science and did well in school, the real world in consulting is much different. In consulting there is no time to dwell on theoretical stuffs and they don’t ever have time to teach you their way of doing things. I had to learn by osmosis. They only cared about getting a product out quickly. Instead, everything was about unsophisticated spreadsheet work involving additions, subtractions, multiplications, divisions, ad nauseum, and one had to do this drudgery without mistakes. It began to bore me and with the general lack of interest and lack of sufficient sleep, I began to make a few more silly data entry and spreadsheet formula errors than my co-workers and got noticed as a poor worker. Mind you, the errors I made were mostly not due to lack of comprehension of concepts, but were careless errors. This was a vicious cycle. The more mistakes I made, the more the boss didn’t like me and the more he didn’t like me, the more stressful the job became to me and the more I disliked my job and the more mistakes I made, and so on, until it reached a point when they decided to fire me.
    In the consulting environment, being able to recall very quickly everything you did in the last year or two is very critical. Your report or work product is never fully done until the client stops calling and asking questions about it, which could happen many months after the report was delivered to the client. I never directly dealt with the clients, which meant that whenever a client called my boss, I had to recall immediately and tell my boss in detail something I did perhaps a year or two prior, and I had great difficulty doing that because I never had a good memory.
    Most of my coworkers in that firm were bright and capable people, but a large percentage was pure crooks and generally very dishonorable people. My direct boss was a crook. They frequently inflated billable hours to get higher bonuses. My bosses also low-balled bids and wrote off losses in the first year in order to gain contracts. In subsequent years of a contract, they would bill largely the same hours as the first year even though by now their work in subsequent years involved nothing more than updating a few spreadsheets from the year before and so would only take half as much time as the first year. The difference between the hours billed to the client and how long it actually took to update was pure profit, illegal profit. One of my bosses frequently gave low loss reserve estimates to please his clients, and when it became apparent one a client company was in serious trouble due to deteriorating losses and dwindling reserves, he revised his reserve estimates drastically upward in order to appear his previous reserve calculations were not erroneously low all along. Reserve calculations are heavily judgmental. There is great leeway for the actuary to pick a series of low age-to-age loss development factors to get a low loss reserve requirement. He won a client that way by giving low reserve estimates and signed off the annual report.
    I would not slam being an actuary as a good career choice just because I didn’t make it. It pays really well for people who possess certain good qualifications, such as being accurate in your work, being good with spreadsheet work, being intelligent, being quick, being able to recall quickly, being able to bond with clients and your boss, having good oral and written communication skills, and being able to be motivated when doing really boring work. I have some of these key qualities but lack some others, and so didn’t make it in the actuarial field. In the years since, I switched fields and ended up being in engineering. I had an engineering degree from way back. I currently make about $120,000 a year as a senior level engineer in a government agency, which is significantly less than what experienced actuaries in consulting firms or even experienced (i.e. Fellow level) in large insurance companies make. But my work has security and is stable and the work is very low stress and I enjoy my engineering work, and to me the low stress level alone is worth its weight in gold.

    Sunday, December 25, 2011 at 14:17 | Permalink
  176. Tanzy wrote:

    Hi Jon
    You seem to be a typical American bloke. Cease giving demoralizing views. Stick to your lap dancing. I am a Chief Risk Management Ac, Have a blasting and balanced life. One should know, to market self. Just math is not enough. I own a Ferrari, and work in UK. There will be no respond for your further comments, from my side. God Bless all Acturies.

    Friday, December 30, 2011 at 13:00 | Permalink
  177. Steve wrote:

    Much of what Jon wrote is very accurate, but he’s not entirely correct in some areas. A quick search on shows that equally experienced actuaries get paid more(perhaps far more) than statisticians. If you have the brains, I agree that engineering is probably a more rewarding and exciting career choice, but many engineers have a boring existence too and I actually know of a few engineers who switched to the actuarial field because they didn’t like their machine-filled or laboratory work environments. They preferred the coat-and-tie clean office environments of actuaries.

    Most actuaries chose the field for the money and not because the work is interesting, but the same criticism can be heaped on medical doctors and dentists too for choosing their fields for the money. Money makes rotten jobs acceptable and even respectable. That’s how society works and there is nothing really wrong with that. What I have observed however is that most actuaries are generally only mediocre bright and capable people, nothing brilliant or impressive to write home about. Of course there are many exceptions, but generally this is true, they are only average people that I am not impressed by.

    As for Jon’s observation that minorities, particularly Asians, are overlooked for promotion to management ranks in insurance companies, that’s probably true too, but this is probably more a function of body stature than anything. Studies you can probably readily find on the internet have shown a strong correlation between height and getting promoted to management ranks, which has little to do with race per se. Fair or not, it’s human tendency to look up to (in every sense of the phrase) taller and more mature looking people. Combined with a shorter stature, most Asians also look very young for their age and so tend not to garner respect from upper management. It’s just my observation.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 11:06 | Permalink
  178. jon wrote:

    I think people have some wrong ideas about actuarial salaries.Experienced Fellows typically make 100K – 140K in the midwest. They can make 200K+ in NY but that is a cost of living adjustment.

    The salary comparison must be done with some caution due to these reasons:

    1. There is great disparity in salaries of statisticians as it is a huge field with much greater job variety and a large body of people. For example university jobs may pay less but these are 8 month contracts with great job security and work conditions.

    This tends to bring reported averages lower. Also there are many “Diploma Mill” statisticians that are reported as statisticians but cant do much (many end up in insurance companies).

    2. Statistics is a real science with scientific jobs. For example, how about working for NASA, Lockheed Martin or doing scientific research? Work with great minds, create things and have nice quality of life. There is certainly tremendous dollar value to that.

    What do actuaries create? Premiums and reserves? Both of these are set by management. Anyway no one in this world cares about these two things.

    3. Actuaries often work very long hours in uneducated insurance environment – no choice here. Statisticians can have choices like academic jobs etc where quality of life is great. So a little more actuarial pay is actually compensation for overtime work (its actually underpaid from that standpoint).

    4. Reported actuarial salaries are often inflated by recruiters, HR dept etc (see DW Simpson Survey) Also, some actuaries own their consulting firms, most work in expensive cities like NY where $200,000 salary is equivalent to 100K in the midwest – especially after tax effects are accounted.

    5. Still, after all this drudgery, you may make a few extra dollars as an actuary. I think Bureau of Labor gives better data on salaries:


    Actuary: The middle 50 percent earned between $62,020 and $119,110;

    Statistician: The middle 50 percent earned between $52,730 and $95,170

    5. Looking at these numbers, do you really think you can drive a Ferrarri by being an actuary? The few extra dollars after tax is just not worth the while.

    Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 23:47 | Permalink
  179. jon wrote:

    Steve’s statement on minorities:

    Your statement applied to women would run as follows (it actually is still that way in some places):

    “Since women have a different physical stature than men, they are perceived as inferior and people would not look up to them. Therefore it makes sense to not hire them for any management positions”.

    Well, I call this PLAIN sexist.

    2. So Asians in your opinion are inferior and not worthy of management roles because they do not have good tall physical stature. I will add another line.. they are also not Aryans and white and “lack” blue eyes and blonde hair. Is that not racism?

    3. By the way, there are numerous white CEO’s and managers that are short (many are also fat as well). You can look-up on Google for a long list of successful short CEO’s. But how come you do not have a SINGLE non white chief actuary in a major company? (I do not know of any actually).

    Sunday, January 1, 2012 at 23:59 | Permalink
  180. Logic wrote:

    Steve, how do you explain black actuaries not getting senior positions?

    Monday, January 2, 2012 at 23:13 | Permalink
  181. jon wrote:

    In my opinion, the actuarial field and insurance industry is a yuppy white field of racist people. These people feel better than everyone else. They feel entitled and demand (& get) privileges like positions and salaries. They do not deserve it as they cant do basic statistics problems and cannot compete with the best and brightest that are denied promotions and jobs.

    Such a culture produces these things over time: lack of competition, mediocrity (at best), low technical ability/intelligence and dirty office politics. It will make products and services expensive and inferior.

    Racial domination causes not just denial of rights to other people, its hurts white population itself and businesses in general. Why? Because entitlement creates incentive for people to not try hard, be creative and focus on unproductive things like back stabbing and office politics. The focus is no longer making best products and services by encouraging merit and competition.

    Only the most corrupt, racist, selfish and mediocre people will thrive in such places. Over time you will have over paid people that cant do any decent math and lack creativity and capability.

    In my opinion, racism kills free competition and destroys the spirit of capitalism. Unless the actuarial field embraces true merit (starting with a rigorous exam system that requires real statistics) this field is for losers.

    The worst thing about this field is not its exams (they are pretty easy to pass as the content is super easy – challenge is to study after a full day of such stressful office environment), its the bad experiences that you take with you. These actuaries and insurance industry are heartless, mean crooks.

    Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 16:09 | Permalink
  182. AFK wrote:

    Can anyone explain to me the reason behind all the hype for this field? I feel like the job prospects of this Actuarial Science are grossly oversold. I think the amount of misleading information approaches that of a scam. Many people have told me something along the lines of “Oh, theres plenty of jobs available if you can just pass a few exams.” This statement is simply not true.

    What is the reason for this hype? Is is the Actuarial Societies, possibly trying to boost their exam revenue, and/or increase the supply of actuarial job applicants so that insurance companies have a larger pool of unemployed applicants to choose from? Is is the recruiters that are overselling the job prospects. Who is behind this?

    Thursday, January 5, 2012 at 16:25 | Permalink
  183. Brad wrote:

    Unsure if I agree with many of the above posters. I’m an actuarial analyst with 2 years experence (taking exam 4/C). If there is so much racism why is my manager a black women associate actuary?

    Monday, January 9, 2012 at 14:02 | Permalink
  184. Todd wrote:

    In 2004 (back when entry-level competition was less), Towers Watson went out of their way to recruit entry-level candidates from the Caribbean to work in their US offices. If there was so much racism why would they do this?

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 14:21 | Permalink
  185. Robert wrote:

    Todd, Just because they hire people of colour doesn’t mean they are not racist. They are hiring these people to do menial tasks and they are reserving the good jobs for white people.

    Brad, exceptions don’t make the rule.

    Thursday, January 12, 2012 at 18:45 | Permalink
  186. Henry wrote:

    Look at this question I found on Yahoo Answers:
    “I am considering a Actuary (FSA) from Barbados for a Actuarial position. How do I know if he is any good?
    2 years ago
    Report Abuse

    Additional Details

    thanks guys, its for a life insurance company – i dont know if they have insurance companies in barbados all i see is beach, sand and sea”

    Friday, January 13, 2012 at 22:53 | Permalink
  187. BurgerKing wrote:

    About a third of US population is non white and around the same % is reflected in actuarial field (exams do not have names of candidates). At the moment there are thousands of non white credentialed actuaries in the US.

    If there is no racism, I would guess that around 1/3 of US chief actuaries (including large companies) are non whites. On the contrary, there is not even a SINGLE ONE.

    Bringing people from barbados or having a non white manager over a few students would be similar to slaves coming from barbados and black slaves as supervisors.

    Question is this: why arent non whites also groomed into REAL (not inflated titles and petty managers) over management roles? Yes there are SOME non white supervisors and managers (although ratio even here is very distorted with white managers having a lions share and many are taking these roles as they transition into higher actuarial roles) but they have no REAL positions of authority.

    How would you feel if you passed these tests, worked in this field for a long time, were hardworking and bright and NEVER moved up? Is that not racism?

    By the way a black actuary is virtually unheard of. Asians do mostly petty work and you will often find plenty of them if you walked around.

    Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 22:15 | Permalink
  188. KHOLZA wrote:

    Hi…i’m south african..and i want to do actuary but found out that the required number for undergraduates actuarials has been met…then m confused…on which degree i shud go for…mathematics, statistics and financial mathematics

    Sunday, January 15, 2012 at 23:23 | Permalink
  189. Matt wrote:

    I am planning on quitting my job as a software/electrical engineer and taking time off to study full time for some exams. How many exams do you think I should have under my belt before I start looking for work. Fyi, I am 32 years old with 5 years of experience as an engineer if that matters.

    Monday, January 16, 2012 at 20:06 | Permalink
  190. Matt wrote:

    I am going to be quitting my job as a software/electrical engineer and able to support myself full time in preparation for exams. How many exams do you think I should have under my belt before I start looking for work? I am 32 years old and have 5 years of engineering experience if that matters.

    Monday, January 16, 2012 at 20:10 | Permalink
  191. BurgerKing wrote:

    AFK question:

    The actuarial societies are memberships (like private clubs) and hence bound only their charter. There is very little regulation on such bodies. Their sole purpose is to maximize salaries for their members. They do this by

    1. Law requires only actuary can opine on reserves and certify rates. American Academy of Actuaries lobbies in DC to make sure this remains. This is the backbone of the profession.

    2. Media, publication, recruiting best possible people from universities etc ensures good image of the profession.

    The “inside” of the profession is rather nasty. It is controlled by a handful of white yuppies that hold board positions and the successful actuaries are the same. They got there not by knowledge but by politics. They cant do even basic statistics.

    The whole field is an extension of the insurance industry – also notorious for lobbying and cheating people. The government is stupid enough to give actuaries power to opine on reserves. Anyone can do reserves – and regulators have to check them anyway. Plus hardly any actuary has ever predicted reasonably in advance that a company is failing. Its always after the fact that someone comes forward and claims “I always said that…”

    So clever lobbying, a lot of hype, selfish interests of the recruiters creates all this. The insurance companies pay actuaries good money, not for their knowledge but to get their signature on reserves and premiums. All they care about is maximum premiums and reserve manipulation.

    In the end its all about $$$$

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 11:31 | Permalink
  192. Mark wrote:

    Would you guys consider doing CFA or ACCA superior/better than doing actuarial exams?

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012 at 21:42 | Permalink
  193. BurgerKing wrote:

    Mark, I am not an expert in accounting and my opinion is that you cant compare accounting with actuarial field.

    If you want to be an accountant then you have to be an accountant. Its a self contained field. On the other hand you can be a statistician or engineer or computer engineer etc instead of being an actuary.

    The actuarial exams contain extensive material copied from other fields. It is not a self contained field. Basically it a safety net for people that cant do math and want to make professional salaries. Being a white yuppy is a prerequisite to be successful.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 13:05 | Permalink
  194. Manuel wrote:

    Actuarial science in the US is a joke.

    Thursday, January 19, 2012 at 16:00 | Permalink
  195. Robert wrote:


    1) CFA and accounting are MUCH, MUCH easier than becoming a fully-credentialised actuary

    2) CFA charterholders and accountants are not geographically-limited like actuaries, they can work everywhere

    3) People actually have heard of of CFA and accounting so when you start a conversation with someone, that person will be able to relate to what you’re saying, compared to just giving you a blank look and ending the conversation when you tell them that you’re an actuary

    Friday, January 20, 2012 at 11:50 | Permalink
  196. Thomson wrote:

    I’ve been wondering about pursuing a career in the actuarial field for a while now. I’m still in high school and have conditional acceptance into an actuarial science program. I was mainly interested in the field due to it being advertised as math and business put together with a high salary. After doing a good amount of thinking and research I’m not sure if this is the career for me, my primary interests are in math and the sciences (specifically physics). I am obviously looking for good money in my career but I also want to be able to do something that will have a positive impact on the world. Right now I am stuck on continuing in actuarial science or pursuing a combined major with math and physics. I like to read about new advances in physics and math not the latest advances in insurance. Sorry if I’m going on a bit of a rant but the people on here seem to know what they’re talking about and I’d greatly appreciate any opinions on this decision.

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 03:48 | Permalink
  197. Eric wrote:

    In my opinion the discussion boils down to this: people in this field are low on advanced statistical/math skills. The problem with such people is that they are not too bright…. Working with them is like working at waffle house. Little reasoning prevails and the work is pretty silly.

    All issues about racism, office politics etc stem from this. They NEED racism to get jobs and get promoted. Its IMPOSSIBLE to explain to them that “dude this is racism!” – they don’t get it. Likewise its IMPOSSIBLE to get through on logical reasoning as it takes too much brain power to understand stuff.

    Insurance/actuarial is a non- intellectual suffocating environment for people with limited intelligence. Instead of working with low class, low intelligence people, make a career in an educated field like astrophysics or statistics etc where top companies pay very well with excellent working conditions and you actually do cutting edge stuff. This is the american dream and there are jobs out there for the bright and logical.

    This implies:

    1. They cannot reason things very well. So logic will not prevail very well.

    2. Working conditions will reflect those of low educated or low

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 08:45 | Permalink
  198. FILIPINO wrote:

    Hi, i’ll be graduating from high school in a few months and have been accepted in 4 universities. I decided to choose the university that offered BS Mathematics (I like math and have been going to various competitions in it). Should I pursue actuarial studies as a graduate course? I’d like to go to the USA because of $$$ :D My reason for taking BS Mathematics is that I am academically inclined. If being an actuary is not right for me, then what is?

    Wednesday, January 25, 2012 at 21:26 | Permalink
  199. Brady wrote:

    How important is communication skills in this career? I’ve noticed that UK exams have an exam called CA3 Communications and it has lower pass rates than exams like Financial Economics, Models, Contingencies, and Statistical Methods. Most people doing the Communications would have already passed these exams. The SOA/CAS also has communications module. There are so much tough communications requirements yet this profession is still seen as a profession for introverts.

    Thursday, January 26, 2012 at 14:14 | Permalink
  200. Brady wrote:


    Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 19:27 | Permalink
  201. BurgerKing wrote:


    Your questions have been answered in this thread:

    1. You would need the same level of communication skills as waffle house in an insurance company. No one knows math anyway. So basically learn office politics with a double dose of racism. You dont need a Harvard degree in communication.

    2. The profession is seen as “number crunchers”. is that not what actuaries are? So whats so strange about that?

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 19:36 | Permalink
  202. Burger King wrote:

    When choosing careers I feel that many people get “desperate”. They are looking for someone to say “actuary is a great field”. I think this is because they are finding it hard to get scholarships in grad schools (in quantitative fields like physics, engineering , statistics etc) and want to hear some good news.

    There is no gloom and doom for people with advanced degrees in quantitative fields as they work for companies that MAKE things. Examples: Boeing, Lockheed martin, NASA, IBM etc etc. America is really a different country for many who are logical (mathmatically) and TRULY gifted as they find great jobs. For the rest its tough.

    Lets remember that the next time you turn on your car, travel in a plane, turn on your computer or even TV etc its ALL math/physics. No insurance MBA (that is what an actuary is) has the brains to do such things. Working endless hours on a spreadsheet is like being a truck driver, not an automobile engineer.

    For those that are becoming actuaries, I can at least give them the good news that its better than waffle house. At least you are not working for $10/hr and in front of the stove. Other than that its pretty much the same. The average math ability of waffle house employee is close to that of the insurance employee. If you count waffle house executives, their math skills will be close to actuaries. Actuaries will beat them in spreadsheet building skills for sure. Although this is not a “math” skill.

    If you dont have the brains, dude this is all you get!

    Wednesday, February 1, 2012 at 22:32 | Permalink
  203. Burger King wrote:

    I am not sure if people get this: not getting advanced math is not just a “subject” issue. Its about being logically challenged. People with low math skills are hard to reason, work with and possess low intelligence. They will “butt” in your personal life, talk behind your back and truly do not understand what’s wrong with it. Its not that they are necessarily bad, they are just logically challenged. Its very very hard to explain simple things to them.

    Your work environment will reflect such behavior. If you fit in, you HAVE to be like them.

    If you are smart then hang out with smart people. Actuaries are not in that category.

    Thursday, February 2, 2012 at 08:12 | Permalink
  204. Filipino wrote:

    so, guys, should I pursue the actuarial career?

    Monday, February 6, 2012 at 03:21 | Permalink
  205. burgerking wrote:

    Check out jobs on American Statistical Association website. Plenty of over 100K jobs, lots of research positions and many high tech ones.

    They require solid knowledge of statistics. If you can do it, great future is ahead of you.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012 at 22:09 | Permalink
  206. Melissab wrote:

    why do actuaries get to be glorified yet all they do is about probabilities, not exact science or math even?

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 06:23 | Permalink
  207. Melissab wrote:

    Just wondering, if in less than 5 years of working in a health insurance company and passing 4 exams I get to be paid in 94K annually, does that mean after 10 years I should expect a salary of almost 200K US dollars? Sounds familiar? Of course, remember the housing market that people buy and flip in a matter of few months raking in a minimum of $50K profit? Tsk, tsk, tsk, why are we letting these “actuaries” play us in their good-only-in-encoding-spreadsheet-information hands?

    The so-called battery of exams are full of baloney because you can combine them in one-full day. If they are that good, why not try the engineering licensure exam given by the state not just by a club of people and see if they can work real and logical problems. Wait, probabilities are not good option in solving real problems and engineers deal with real life where one mistake could cost them their license. Could actuaries be held accountable as engineers do since they consider their profession as the frontier of determining what the future will be for us? They Should in my opinion! Then they deserve to be paid higher than doctors or people who find cures for cancers!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 06:48 | Permalink
  208. Melissab wrote:

    Filipino, use your smartness by choosing a career that contributes in making people’s life better not miserable because insurance companies are leeches of societies that’s why they created a necessity for actuaries. Actuarial science should not be specialized because there is already a science that deals with probabilities – old age degree of Statistics. Statisticians are the mother of all probabalities and their training is more rigorous than the self-glorified actuaries. One reason they only get to be certified by their peers not the state because they only deal with fantasy.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 06:56 | Permalink
  209. Crav wrote:

    Hats off to Jon, Burgerking and MelissaB – y’all nailed it! Young ‘uns and career changers should read your posts so they will not be blinded by the $$$ alone. Too bad for those real smart people waste their brains in the FAS manufactured bogus “actuaries-are-the-most-important-job-on-earth” – it is not even a real science but just a part of Statistics!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 12:53 | Permalink
  210. BurgerKing wrote:

    I feel that most people just dont know these things – at least I did not and wish that I did back then. I would have made better choices in life. The hype and lying DOES win if no one speaks up. So what I have tried to do is to avoid career disasters just because the actuarial society,recruiters and these actuaries have the time and money to dominate media and create hype and lies.

    This blog started with typical actuaries going in and saying the same non sense about “keep rolling” blah blah with no substance. Remember they have the self interest. So you will find a handful of people (if you are lucky) giving you REAL info. You see this in surveys too – the ones that respond are typically the ones that have a vested self interest. It is the ones that do NOT respond are often the ones you care about.

    Number wise it always the idiots that win. That is why someone said democracy is the best of the worst systems.

    If you want to hear how great the actuarial field is then call DW simpson or an actuary. They will “fill you in”. The strength of a field is only judged by their contributions – not he said she said.

    I am sick and tired of hearing from these actuaries how insurance regulation should be removed and how wonderful and fair these insurance companies are. I am sick of yuppy actuaries who think they are superior and smart when they cant do basic statistics. I am sick of the racist ignorant insurance/actuarial culture. I am sick of the actuarial society meetings where the speakers berate scientists and mathematicians – that is ignorance. I am sick of reasonable nice people being conned and humiliated by the insurance industry and actuarial community at large.

    I just wish someone would revoke their authority to sign reserves and premiums. Then these actuaries would be forced to make a REAL living. Guess who would kick them out first? The insurance industry! These greedy pigs would have NO real reason to house these actuaries as they cannot get them the rate hikes and reserves they want!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 15:30 | Permalink
  211. MelissaB wrote:

    Burgerking, Amen to that!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 17:12 | Permalink
  212. Crav wrote:

    Why not outsource this actuarial jobs to countries where labor cost is cheaper so our insurance premiums will not cost exorbitantly? Actuarial work as they want to mask it s harder than passing a bar exam, really? Why then it s not sanctioned by states and certification is only given by their peers? Multiple certifications are given in different types of industries and yet there are jobs that do require licensure by the state Because they are Really important! These actuaries created this illusion of being so important in our life that they did not even predicted that Lehman and AIG insurance are going to fail! So, do they really believe they are that good? Modelling of what are you doing? Modelling of how you will justify your enormous salary so we, the people, who really works hard, who uses our brains to create real things will pay almost half of our salary to the different kinds of insurance premiums? Yea, this time outsourcing of job is justified! We do not want to waste our money to pay your bloated salaries since your job does not require intelligence that will make our life better. Teachers deserve more to get paid with the kind of your salary because they are essential to mold a better tomorrow for the future generation!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 19:40 | Permalink
  213. Outsource wrote:

    “The high income is also a major attraction and in China, the average annual salary and earnings of an actuary can be as high as 500,000 to 1 million yuan ($73,176 to 146,352). Steven Mile from Ping An Insurance, whose annual income ranks the highest in this business, earns 3 million yuan a year.”

    “In order to become a professional actuary, a candidate should pass a series of stringent qualifying examinations.

    China held its first actuary qualification examination in 1999. A candidate will become an associate actuary after passing nine tests. Before getting the license, he or she has to complete another five professional tests, finish all the related professional training and courses and survive an oral defense.

    Qualification examinations held by the Society of Actuaries (SOA) and the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) in the United States are also popular in China.”

    Also somebody mentioned the salary in India in an earlier post.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 21:26 | Permalink
  214. BurgerKing wrote:

    Outsource, please quit creating hype. See this link for actuary salaries in China (average $15,000/yr):

    Why do you do this? Why are you spreading such lies? Do you know that in third world countries a salary of $100K is almost unheard of? Fully credentialed actuaries make like $20,000/yr in India.

    In India Property Casualty actuary is virtually unheard of. They have life actuaries and are seen as leeeches as no one like life insurance companies. Do not believe me? Talk to an Indian about life insurance in India and you will know! Even in the US, life insurance is sold through employers and most people dont buy on their own. Its just seen as a waste of money.

    No one in Indis and China is raising their kids to be actuaries. Chinese are making anything from Cars to air planes while we are suckers that are spending our dollars on insurance premiums and not on real industries.

    Anyway, there is an Indian Institute of Actuaries that is modeled on British Institute and the syllabus is similar except legal exams due to law differences.

    When they want to bring an actuary from the US to India or China, they may be willing to pay US wages – they have to. Otherwise Local actuaries get paid what people make in India and China and that is NOT $150,000/year!

    The “stringent exams” jargon that you copied is from some legal statute or syllabus and is considered standard lingo. It is not some proof of the quality of actuarial education.

    And please DO NOT show us DW Simpson surveys on Actuarial salaries in China or India!

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 22:20 | Permalink
  215. Outsource wrote:

    Meh, actuarial science sucks anyway. That Progressive insurance company don’t even hire actuaries.

    People are better off becoming statisticians, mathematicians, operations research analysts, or accountants, financial/investment analysts.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 22:28 | Permalink
  216. BurgerKing wrote:

    CRAV raises an important point. The actuarial jobs are NOT being outsourced to India and China because we are protecting the insurance indutry. It does not compete with anyone but itself locally – its a white yuppy industry. Why? here is why:

    1. In their rate filings the “overhead costs (including actuarial salaries) are allowed to be recovered dollar for dollar by the insurance department.

    2. This means that no matter what the insurance company spends on salaries, they can and will recover the money from the consumer.

    3. Insurance industry does not REALLY compete for lower rates and keep their over heads at around 30% of premiums (see ANY rate filing). Since people HAVE to buy insurance by law they HAVE to pay these prices.

    4. Insurance is perhaps the only industry where there is NO risk to the insurance company on overheads – just charge it right back to the consumer.

    5. There is NO shortage of business to write as people HAVE to buy insurance. So the industry is not forced to cut costs deep – they do compete for rates but on HIGH rates. Show me a large auto insurer that went bankrupt – NEVER! Losses are predicatable for large insurers, premiums are high (yes due to over heads) and they have plenty of profit.

    6. The only companies that get into trouble are they ones exposed to excessive hurricanes. And they recover those lost dollars in good years.

    7. At present loss ratio on auto insurance is around 65%. The remaining 35% is over heads. Well I intentionally missed the main profit in this – its called investment income of unearned premium reserves and loss reserves. Yes the insurance business genertes huge reserves to pay claims and all that investment income is on TOP of that 35% gravy.

    8. So if you pay auto insurance company 100, they will invest 100 and pay claims 10 years later (on injury claims etc). Say they collect $15 as investment income over 10 years. Then they rake $35 as over heads and profit. Total = $50 margin on that $100. Now do this on 5 billion dollars and they get to keep 2.5 billion.

    9. Warren Buffet knows this very well. Insurance is a game that builds money long term – just sit on reserves and keep reinvesting to write more business. People HAVE to buy insurance so charge those fools. Just write some staple line like auto insurance (accounts for around 33% of all P/C Premiums)and you will get rich!

    You do need large capital to start. So to play the game you have to have money. So this is a barrier to entry.

    10. The state insurance regulators are in bed with the actuaries (many are actuaries). So they keep approving 30% loading on rates for overheads. Never a single question asked! After a lot of fraud, insurance used to be federally regulated and that DID scare insurance companies. But they lobbied and got the states to regulate. Now each state has its puppet regulator who does nothing.

    11. To change all this create noise for insurance to be federally regulated (repeal the Mccaren Ferguson act).

    12. Reduce reliance on private insurance – no need for compulsory health insurance. Create government run pools at no profit no loss for routine coverages like auto insurance, homeowners insurance. No this is not about communism – insurance does NOT create value like manufacturing (where we NEED private capital). Proof? do you see any difference in policy from one insurance company to another? Its basically boils down to providing a cheap policy – so the government do it!

    13. Provide better disclosure so people understand where the money goes.

    12. The actuarial power to sign on reserves should be repealed and replaced by “qualified statisticians”. That includes PhD in statistics.

    13. Formula based rate filings rules like 30% overhead costs – need to be replaced with cost justification. For example larger companies need a smaller % as they can spread costs over more premiums (called expense flattening).

    14. Make is easy for people to sue insurance companies for fraud.

    Wednesday, February 15, 2012 at 23:00 | Permalink
  217. Crav wrote:

    Outsource – I do hope you were honest with what you posted initially because this thread aims to enlighten people, as they say to see both sides of the coin, in order for them to make the right decision/ choice in life. Grow up and leave the actuaries/insurance folks play their dirty tricks because I believe everything has a yielding point. We’ll just have to keep wishing it happen soon to free us from this senseless insurance premiums.

    People’s greed of money feed these actuaries of their ego by continually telling us that “They” are the savior of every country’s economy and prosperity.

    Why then there are so many foreclosures when these people who borrowed too much was actually mandated/obliged/required (forced) to pay for insurance solely to pay for the amount of loan in case they default on payment? Oh, I know why, suddenly there is this tiny/fine almost chopped print that they will only cover the top 20% of the loan amount. WHY then they allow these people to buy houses that no one can guarantee or “model” that in case of default banks will be able to recover their investment? Actuarial science, eh? Statistics is done by statisticians as to engineering is done by ENgineers. Why then not hire the real statisticians who went through the real form of training and education? WHy concentrate on one unit of textbook in statistics and create a “world of make believe science in actuary”? WHere did the word come from? Really?

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 06:49 | Permalink
  218. Filipino wrote:

    Thanks MelissaB! What career would you suggest which is non-statistical? :Dvve

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 07:33 | Permalink
  219. Jonathan wrote:

    Blaming actuaries for the financial crisis is about three steps too far. CDO’s, Asset backed securities and credit default swaps are not the result of actuaries’ work. Actuaries do not work for the credit rating agencies the deemed them safe. If they do, it means they’ve branched out of the profession, and no longer work as a typical actuary. You can, however, blame David X Li, the financial engineer/qualified actuary who used advanced math to create a pricing system for these securities. Flies in the face of your “actuaries can’t do math” rants though. Insurance premiums are expensive for many reasons, and assigning blame to a few actuaries in the company making low six figures is ludicrous. Fraud, No-fault insurance, insuring young drivers at significant underwriting losses, etc drives rates up. Not to mention doctors and lawyers fees.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 08:18 | Permalink
  220. Jonathan wrote:

    [Continued from above] The financial crisis was caused by bankers and mortgage brokers chasing quick bucks. It was known that Li’s model was flawed in the real world. Nobody cared. The bankers couldn’t wait for a better model. And without any historical precedence, warnings fell on deaf ears and deemed speculation

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 08:38 | Permalink
  221. Outsource wrote:

    @Crav, I was just pointing out that it is still hard to outsource because the salaries are still relatively high. Also, actuaries in other countries still have to go through similar training and exam process so they can’t just outsource it easily. Plus, Burger King mentioned no one (at least not enough people)in China and India wants to be an actuary any way so it would be hard to outsource.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:02 | Permalink
  222. Quantitative Finance wrote:

    Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street (Marije Meerman, VPRO Backlight 2010)

    The Minds Behind the Meltdown
    How a swashbuckling breed of mathematicians and computer scientists nearly destroyed Wall Street

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:10 | Permalink
  223. Burgerking wrote:

    Reply to Jonathan:

    Yes the actuaries are not responsible for housing crisis etc – they are too petty and never get to model big stuff. They are not even responsible for insurance company collapses as rarely any actuary is in top executive position. They are just number crunchers.

    That is all beside the point. The point is that actuaries (yes along with many financial analysts on wall street) lack statistical knowledge. Actuarial education is “diploma mill” bogus education and these people are academically inferior and seriously over paid.

    On the financial crisis: the chief cause is the absence of serious mathematical reasoning and modeling. The upper managements that made decisions to lend on sub prime mortgages are white, non math people – almost ALL of them. Lehman, AIG, CITIBank have similar cultures – white non math managements. One would expect some top professional to be the CEO of AIG right? Look up the profile of the guy on google – he was the CEO for around 40 years and now AIG has sued him! The whole story is a brawl!

    Look at Lehman CEO on google -some white guy with MBA type stuff. Just another loser that makes ridiculous money. The chief credit officers “hate math” and make jokes about it.

    These failed companies were shamelessly bailed out by our tax dollars. In a REAL capitalist system they would be replaced by new, efficient, non racist (hence competitive) companies. The same non math executives are STILL working in these companies.

    The actuarial profession has been modeling mortgage based risks also – they just dont get the math. The actuaries have been following BASELL I and II, european banking regulation and slappping formulae from those manuals into excel speadsheets as they cannot derive formulae for themselves! In the US here are virtually NO research actuaries that can solve problems mathematically.

    On your derogatory remarks about mathematical sciences: You are just plain wrong that statistics/math is useless in life/business. Applied Probability models are used extensively in fields like queuing, telecommunications, traffic problems etc. Sampling theory is used in polls, and biological sciences to make inferences etc.

    No REAL scientist is willing to work in insurance becuase they make a lot more elsewhere in an educated environment. No one likes to work with intellectual low class. There is a lack of real competitive workforce in actuarial/insurance in large part due to their racism and poor work environment. Its simple – when there is no demand there is no supply. Supply is triggered by demand – not the other way around.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:32 | Permalink
  224. Burgerking wrote:

    Jonathan – around 30% of written premiums are overheads. Yes actuaries are mooching along with al lot of others from this. Its not a magnititude but a priciple issue of overpaying actuaries in general.

    Getting rid of actuaries has actually been proven worthwhile. Progressive (relatively new company) generally does not hire actuaries. They have done very well and is now one of the largest auto insurers. Progressive relied on statisticians instead for their rate plans.

    By the way, much of the material in actuarial field is copied from other fields. So regression stuff is all statistics that actuaries have been copying and using. Rate making is now regression theory (thanks to progressive).

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 10:53 | Permalink
  225. Realist wrote:

    Most of the problems Burgerking mentioned are US-based. For example, actuarial science in Europe is more complicated and sophisticated. Actuaries in Europe and other parts of the world have better knowledge of mathematics and statistics than US actuaries. UK and Indian exams have fewer questions but the questions are more theoretical (and also more practical as well) and even involve proofs. They cover more material/topics as well.

    Economics students in the US are poor. Economics students in Europe and most commonwealth countries have to do courses in multivariable calculus, linear algebra, probability theory, econometrics, operations research etc. Most US econ students don’t know any of these stuff.

    Even the management/business student in those countries are much better. For example, management and business students from LSE have to know multivariable calculus in their first year of university. Most US business students don’t know what multivariable calculus is.

    The US is also a very racist country. Minorities with the same level of education and qualifications earn significantly less than their white counterparts.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 11:24 | Permalink
  226. BurgerKing wrote:

    JOnathan: Those high premiums reasons that you cited are memorized in actuarial exams and is the perspective of insurance industry.

    The REAL reason for high premiums are

    1. Large fixed costs – excessive salaries, bonuses etc to management. Impressive buildings. These expenses are NOT reduced as costs are recouped dollar for dollar in the expense ratio in rate filings. A 30% expense load is typical across the board. So a company with 10% load will be seen as “outlier” by the regulator and subject to scrutiny!

    2. Excessive Profit margin: on lines like auto there is very little “underwriting risk”. Yes some bad drivers etc but overall rate are is based on aggregate loss experience. There is large claims data available so variation in losses is small. Statutory profit margin is NOT 5% of premium – its more like 25% since all the investment income from loss and unearned premium reserves is pure profit.

    3. I would say that around 30% of the premium is just plain loot. That does not include the hassle to GET the claim – you have to hire a lawyer to fight the insurance company for that. So my opinion is to have a federally regulated insurance business (not state) and an option for people to buy insurance from a national federal agency. The salaries for this agency should be set by the statute. Private insurers will have to compete with this agency on premiums.

    4. The SOLE authority of the actuaries to sign on reserve opinions and rates need to be repealed. That just creates cost for people to pay them high salaries. Instead broaden the definition to “qualified” individuals. This will also bring discipline to rate making and reserving as there will be competition from the statistical field.

    5. Bring actuarial field and insurance industry in limelight for failing to meet diversity standards. That does not mean prosecution – it just means calling them out. I believe private companies can be racist – just let them go bankrupt and don’t bail them out.

    6. Federally run insurance programs should be subject to MERIT oversight for diversity, professional education requirements. That means board positions offered to university professors on a rotation basis. Board positions offered to public etc on a rotation basis. Open forum created to make “noise”.

    At present state run insurance programs are run by incompetent non math people. Head of actuarial departments have silly education like music majors or these “actuaries”. This needs to change and merit should prevail. Hiring and firing need to justified based on FACTS and not “we don’t like him/her”.

    7. Overall, bring statisticians to the forefront, open the field for competition, create alternatives to buy insurance cheaply.

    I STRONGLY RECOMMEND that people in this forum should create noise, write to you senator or congress person to

    (1) Repeal the power of actuary to sign reserves/rates. Open up this field to competition and diversity. Why cant an experienced statistician opine on reserves/rates?

    (2) Repeal Mccarran ferguson act so regulate insurance (like before) at a Federal Level. One single set of rules for EVERYONE.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 14:12 | Permalink
  227. Jonathan wrote:

    Before I begin

    A. When did I denigrate the Mathematical sciences? I love studying Math. In my spare time I often read books on measure theory and probability theory.

    B. “On the financial crisis: the chief cause is the absence of serious mathematical reasoning and modeling. ” The financial institutions began hiring PhD’s over a decade ago.

    D. “rarely any actuary is in top executive position” Search “President” or “CEO” etc on the SOA website. But you’re right, the highest you go as an actuary is chief actuary, otherwise you’ve branched out or are a c-level. You sound as though anyone with actuarial letters works as an actuary, regardless of what they actually do.
    Progressive is one example, but Intact in Canada is an example of the reverse. Not to mention the fact that progressive came up with usage-based insurance, giving it an innate competitive advantage. Besides how do you define statistician? Many actuaries have a graduate degree in stats. Your other point about non-math people in the c-level jobs is bizarre. First, it has nothing to do with the actuarial profession. (I refer to intact again. Largest insurance company in Canada, President and CEO is a qualified actuary.) People getting c-level jobs through connections, being outright dicks, etc. is as old as dirt. No difference from one industry to the next. Being good at math doesn’t imply being good at RUNNING a business. Nor do running a business well imply that you’re good at math. If it had been against the law to sell crap mortgages there would have been no bailout. People who are convincing get laws passed

    Your first line states that actuaries are too petty to have modeled the derivatives in the mortgage crisis…but the you state they model MBS’s in paragraph 6…So I won’t reply to that point cause it contradicts your first statement.

    I agree that the level of math used is not very high. But there is much research being done in the fields of risk theory and stats applied to insurance, and I agree that it should be incorporated more into the profession.

    I also want to say I’m not touting the profession…I’m trying to point out your exaggerations.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 15:07 | Permalink
  228. Quantitative Finance wrote:

    The Minds Behind the Meltdown
    How a swashbuckling breed of mathematicians and computer scientists nearly destroyed Wall Street

    Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street (Marije Meerman, VPRO Backlight 2010)

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 15:18 | Permalink
  229. Quantitative Finance wrote:

    Quantitative analyts (quants/financial engineers) are to be blamed for financial crisis. Most of them have PhDs in Mathematics, Statistics, Computer Science, Physics, Finance or Economics. Some of the newer ones have master’s degrees in Quantitative Finance, Financial Engineering, Financial Mathematics.

    You can the Wall Street Journal article called “The Minds Behind the Meltdown
    How a swashbuckling breed of mathematicians and computer scientists nearly destroyed Wall Street.”

    You can also watch the YOutube video called “Quants: The Alchemists of Wall Street (Marije Meerman, VPRO Backlight 2010).”

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 15:35 | Permalink
  230. MelissaB wrote:

    Ok, bottom line, scrap the actuarial science degree and instead only hire people with a minimum of 4-year degree in bachelor of science in statistics. Also, require them to be licensed by the state not just certified by the self-proclaimed actuaries. This is what really bothers me, why create a demand for a separate degree in actuary where there is already a degree in statistics that is undoubtedly received extensive educational requirement?

    Filipino, you could research different career path suitable for you as long as it will not only provide you good pay but most importanly at the end of the day you will feel some satisfaction that you contributed something to better the community/people around you.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 16:37 | Permalink
  231. Quantitative Finance wrote:

    Actuarial science degrees are strange since you can become an actuary by doing actuarial exams (you can have a degree in any discipline/subject). Unless the actuarial science degree is basically a pure math degree with extra compulsory courses in actuarial science, finance, accounting, economics, computer science then it is not worth it. Most actuarial science degrees are not pure math degrees with extra courses.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 17:07 | Permalink
  232. BurgerKing wrote:

    Jonathan: You are just throwing smoke to the whole thing. There is no exaggeration to what I said:

    B. There is no structured academic published literature for insurance. So you knowledge of markov chains is not going to apply to credit default swaps unless results were formally proved and developed. Why does anyone not develop results in insurance?

    There is NO demand. The managements are non math people. The actuary is considered a “Genius” mathematician in this rut of an environment. Who will develop results for this industry?

    Financial mathematics taught in universities is mostly academic. if you know real math, here is how the job goes for you:

    a. You produce something that says “Dont lend on Sub prime loans as the data shows that house prices do NOT always go down” (private mortgage insurance deals with this).

    b. The decision makers and actuaries say – well I have NEVER seen home prices drop. Plus we will make so much cash that if they do we are covered.

    c. To keep the job the analyst goes back and produces a report that says what the decision makers said.

    Do you really think that serious math will tell you to lend on sub prime loans? This is a basic question. other examples are complex and cannot be explained here.

    Lack of R/D, formal development of results from academia is due to lack of demand in this racist, stalled and stinking industry/actuarial field.

    Compared to the size of the industry, very few PhD work in insurance. Any graduate from a top program will tell you that insurance is the last thing on the3ir mind. Why? they will forget the subject in 3-5 years – just like forgetting a language if you dont speak. Plus the stigma and bad environment is too much to take. They have better choices.

    C. There is virtually NO P/C actuary in a CEO or even COO position in an insurance company. The self proclaimed consultants dont count. So again you statement is just wrong. Life insurance may have some CEO’s but life insurance has been dead for a long time.

    D. Actuaries having graduate degree in statistics… Again thats is not a PhD in statistics from a good program. I know a lot of people who cant do advanced statistics get a terminal masters and become actuaries. Masters in statistics is not considered a top statistics degree.

    E. The point about top positions based on non merit applies to the actuarial field very accurately. There is not a SINGLE non white chief actuary in the US. Almost a third of P/C membership is non white. Systematic racism eliminates qualified candidates. Plus the ones that are there, what they producing? What have your profession achieved? Did you predict any company’s demise? Have you proved invaluable in quantifying risks? None of that. You are just making money off of silly regulation that requires a signature of an actuary.

    F. Again you are just wrong about “being good at math does not mean good at running a business”? Then what is good for running a business? back stabbing people?

    To be a CEO of a major insurance company you MUST be a top risk professional with un-disputable credentials. Otherwise you will not be able to make decisions a you wont understand the research (if you have that department!) produced. Secondly, yes you need excellent management skills. These skills are ACQUIRED and companies groom people into these roles.

    By the way, these bosses that you are protecting are also known to be horrible managers. They are demanding, controlling, yuppy, ruthless, mean and corrupt. Read up on CEO profiles of Merill Lynch, AIG, Lehman, CITI. Do you emulate them? Do you want to be like them? You may say, “I DO!”. Actuaries feel that they have done no harm. Well, many people dont feel that way. I know its hard to get that but its true.

    G. Actuaries TRIED to model mortgage risks… perhaps in private mortgage insurance – a very small area. They just slapped some silly formulae out of Basel regulation on banks. I dont know if that changes anything about them not being petty???

    Some do work for rating agencies also. The actuarial models (they are plain dead nonsense and mathematically unjustifiable – just spreadsheets with selection factors) consistently showed a high rating for companies that went under. Typically the actuary is paid by the client (insurance co) to give them the desired rating. Period. Just check this fact before arguing with me.

    Finally, YES you are touting the profession. Its a sick field of sick people.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 18:15 | Permalink
  233. BurgerKing wrote:

    I think that I have answered the questions for the benefit of students that get carried away with “smoky” questions.

    In the interest of time, I will just say that these actuaries are hired guns for the insurance industry. No more no less. They define themselves and their industry as risk experts, honest, professional, mathematically astute, invaluable. Ask your yourselves, do you agree? What have they accomplished? Do you trust them to sign on reserves/rates? Do you want to pay them 100K/year? Would it make things better if statisticians entered this line of work?

    Most of them cannot tell you the difference between correlation and independence. That is their level of statistical knowledge. Enough said.

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 18:27 | Permalink
  234. McDonald's wrote:

    Burger King, what’s your profession?

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 18:33 | Permalink
  235. MelissaB wrote:

    I would think he has enough experience to help people see the truth behind this overly fabricated/ excessively paid actuaries that can never be compared to what a low-wage helpers of researchers achieved to at least find something to manage the symptoms of cancers. I don’t mind someone getting paid generously IF they really deserve it. Really, a number cruncher~ correct me if I’m wrong, encoder of rates in a spreadsheet gets to be paid almost $100k with 5 years of experience and passing 4 exams? It’s not being fair BUT if they deserve, that is the question!

    Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 23:21 | Permalink
  236. Sports Stars wrote:

    Sports stars are overpaid. People should complain about them. (I’m not an actuary nor a sports star)

    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 08:15 | Permalink
  237. glassjaws wrote:

    Being an actuary is only good if you like screwing around on the internet during work hours.

    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 12:42 | Permalink
  238. Andrew wrote:

    Maybe we need to take burgerking advice and write to senators and congress to take actuary’s sole signing power. Let statisticians sign also….

    Lets go to the internet and tell people about it…

    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 13:18 | Permalink
  239. Jonathan wrote:


    My initial post was about not buying your claim that actuaries caused the financial crisis. If a couple of actuaries working in a nontraditional mortgage insurance role came up with bullshit then yes they are to blame as they were part of the problem. And corruption happens everywhere. The rating agencies were totally corrupted anyway. CDO’s are not companies (which you claim actuaries rate for the agencies) and they were fraudulently graded AAA.

    I resent you calling me sick and in no way did i imply backstabbing is desirable or that I look up to the greedy execs that destroyed the US economy. If you can understand arguments in a structured way I wrote that (while I do agree they aare extremely helpful) math skills are not the be all and end all of a successful executive (which is off the point anyway) and that people will GET TO the top for a multitude of reasons apart for their technical abilities.

    And no, I was not touting the profession…show me where I made any complimentary remark about actuaries or the profession. I even wrote I agreed with what you said about academic research lacking in relation to insurance. I just offered a couple of counterexamples to your claims.

    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 13:59 | Permalink
  240. BurgerKing wrote:

    Jonathan: What you said in your post and what I said is all posted. Your information is plain inaccurate and you are resentful because you have nothing to argue. You are out of substance. I am not going to let you spread lies.

    I do see that you have taken a different tone in the new message. Anyway, I will reply to your comments. I cannot keep doing this as I am super busy. So this is the last time.

    1. You have found something to “win” on CRAV comments (that were inaccurate) about actuaries responsible for financial crisis. How many times am I going to say this: ACTUARIES ARE TOO PETTY.. THEY ARE NOT EVEN RESPONSIBLE FOR INSURANCE COMPANIES LET ALONE FINANCIAL CRISIS. THEY ARE OVERPAID NUMBER CRUNCHERS IN INSURANCE AND THEY HAVE NO DECENT STATISTICS EDUCATION TO SOLVE EVEN THOSE ISSUES.

    Actuaries are useless people and you are trying to get “attention & importance” by getting into arguments over a national issue. Its like me trying to argue with Obama to gain attention… No you are NOT responsible for financial crisis.

    What you ARE responsible for is

    a. Mooching our dollars in excessive salaries,

    b. Creating a stinking monopoly (based on silly regulation that ONLY YOU can sign on reserves/premiums),

    c. Creating a stinking racist work environment that is against our value system.

    d. Colluding with insurance companies, rating agencies, regulators etc to get the insurance industry the rates and premiums they want (you are a lousy hired gun).

    e. Lying about your math skills to all of us (you have none) and

    f. Creating hype and media attention to promote your selfish self interests.

    Make a clean living, compete with statisticians, get a decent education and no one will blame you.

    2. Your remark: Corruption happens everywhere… Well,
    people also get mugged and robbed everywhere. So next time you get mugged and robbed, we will make a similar comment. How does that feel? No we DONT want corrupt, incompetent, overpaid actuaries. Period.

    3. I called the ENTIRE actuarial field sick. If you are not sick then show us that you can compete in a fair way and bring value to our system.

    4. You are defending the profession with some passion. I think all of you actuaries are brain washed to think that you are not racist (its OK to have all whites in management – they “look’ better..hmm superior.. to non whites, its OK to have no knowledge and make 100K+ (hey there is wrong everywhere right.. plus i am just living my life), Its OK to play politics through keeping silly regulation on signing reserves, encourage corruption and rip people off
    (hey that’s just business), colluding with insurance industry and being their hired gun (thats my client dude).

    5. Seriously, get over the idea that management position should be offered to whites and statistics/technical education is secondary. In the 21st century, technology wins. You just have to be at the cutting edge. people with new ideas (yes technologically superior) win. If you dont reward innovation, science and brightness, you organization and then your whole economy will rot – jobs will be outsourced to those that create.

    The management of an insurance company needs to be the best technical people you can find in statistics. insurance is just a game of numbers nothing else so are a lot of things in 21st century).

    Here is a more difficult example for you… If you studied the housing data carefully, you will find inflation adjusted movements in housing values are cyclical and pretty volatile. So inflation helps keep the feeling house prices always go up. When inflation rate dropped real low (as now), REAL home price movements became apparent. Housing values are very cyclical. They always have been. Bottom line, house prices follow a time contuinuous stochastic process. THAT IS MATH. That white CEO with a MBA or an actuary with grade 10 math education will not be able to model this. You need stochastic differential equations, theory of transforms, advanced probability etc to do this.

    6. The reason you hate the idea of statisticians (esp non whites) in managements is that you KNOW what I am saying is true and flies on your face. If you cant do math, then why are you on this job? Give it to someone who deserves it.


    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 15:26 | Permalink
  241. Jonathan wrote:

    Burger King
    A. Ad hominem is not necessary. you don’t know who I am, what and where I work (not in the US or in insurance for that matter), Whether or not I’m a racist.
    I have just begun my career. I am not defending the profession. My argument on corruption was with regards to the cause of financial crisis. I wasnt condoning it. Again you accuse me of something false. Yes everything is posted. Learn to read properly. I did not issue one complement to the profession. I did not dispute the points you made about the profession in the US. I am not in the US and you keep yelling this crap about what goes on in your country. I couldn’t care less what goes on in the US.
    I am resentful because I do not like being insulted and accused of supporting things I do not. You are a nobody who puts words in other peoples mouths.

    POST 219: I stated that fraud and doctors fees drives rates up. Small remark. that doesn’t mean its the ONLY thing that drives rates up. And then you write this essay responding to a tiny remark that was off the point of my initial response. Yes everything is posted.

    I do hope the insurance system especially in the US changes drastically.
    Bottom Line. Read Post 219 again. That was my only point I wasn’t even responding to you. and I’m very content with the fact that you won’t respond to this message.

    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 21:12 | Permalink
  242. Crav wrote:


    I agree that this exchange of opinions should be brought to our representative’s attention regarding the falsehood of having actuaries signing off any important decisions. In engineering, only a PE (professional engineer) can sign any documents because if anything happens to their design they’re held responsible. Statisticians who attained a mastery of their degree and a minimum number of years’ experience should be the only qualified people to sign any documents that the public will use as a reference. Stastistics major should rise up and do not let these self-proclaimed intelligent actuaries lead us to oblivion.

    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 21:47 | Permalink
  243. aaron wrote:

    Friday, February 17, 2012 at 23:08 | Permalink
  244. Ogre wrote:

    Actuary is a great profession.

    Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 16:24 | Permalink
  245. jacobi wrote:

    The power to sign can be revoked and class action attorneys would love to take the case for free as it will be very profitable. These societies have deep pockets and their members (actuaries) have money.

    My suggestion on this lawsuit:

    a. The comments on this blog are mostly intended for property and casualty and health actuaries. Pension and life actuaries are a niche field and not too many statisticians would be interested in it. Plus life and pensions has been dead for long time. So focus your lawsuit on P/C and health actuaries.

    b. P/C actuarial certification is carried out by the casualty actuarial society (CAS) and health by the society of actuaries (SOA). The American academy of actuaries (AAA) represents both of them in DC so your law suit will be defended by AAA.

    c. To keep things simple start with suing the Casualty Actuarial Society. There are several reasons for this.

    First, do not open too many fronts at
    the same time. Win the easiest one and then move to the next.

    Second, Casualty Actuarial Society is much smaller (around 4000 members) versus the society of actuaries (30,000+ members). They are a weaker group. Although AAA will defend both of them, you can potentially exploit rift between both bodies. SOA MAY (not sure) not come to the rescue of the CAS if push comes to shove (especially if they see it as a sinking ship).

    d. I do not agree with Burger King to let these actuaries get away on racism. We should make this also an explicit part of the case.

    e. The case would be won pretty easily as the actuaries will have to prove their statistical technical competence. There is overwhelming evidence that they lack these skills. All they do is triangles and these can be done by just about anyone. No specialized education is needed to run triangles and excel spreadsheets. That needs to be the basis of the case. Plus new rate making and reserving techniques are all based on regression theory while is 100% statistics.

    Also highlight the other issues on this forum and you have a very nice case.

    Saturday, February 18, 2012 at 19:22 | Permalink
  246. Heart wrote:

    It warms my heart to know that you people are so dedicated to dispelling myths of this profession and not allowing young math/stats/business/finance students from making a grave mistake.

    Sunday, February 19, 2012 at 14:01 | Permalink
  247. Crav wrote:

    Kudos to Jon #153 post – Filipino and to other real math inclined people, you ought to read this…good advice!

    Monday, February 20, 2012 at 10:48 | Permalink
  248. Crav wrote:

    Ogre, is actuary a profession? Anybody who can pass the series of tests are only certified by their society not sanctioned by any government law, are they? I would rather call it a job not a profession because doctors cannot practice their profession unless they pass the medical board exam but they can have a job related to their field as long as it does not involve diagnosing/treating patients.

    Oh, by the way, actuaries in every blog I have visited claims that their tests are way harder than obtaining a PhD and a little easier to pass than bar exam. So, these people think they are really smart for having no rigid training of educaton similar to statisticians, engineers, doctors, and other “real” degree offered in universities.

    Monday, February 20, 2012 at 11:00 | Permalink
  249. Cant blv disthread wrote:

    My first mentor once told me “the role fits the person, not the other way around”

    If you don’t have the ambition or the creativity to make your job exciting through new ideas and an entrepenurial spirit, then yes it may be boring. If you are willing to challenge youself, then it is rewarding and envigorating. Yeah you have to stop going out on weekdays and getting drunk while studying – welcome to the real world.

    Monday, February 20, 2012 at 19:55 | Permalink
  250. Daniel wrote:

    I have been working as an entry-level actuary for the past 6 months.

    I graduated from university last year and had 3 full exams. I passed C in October and started the modules this year.

    Frankly, I think I will quit after I get my ASA.
    * I hate my job. I don’t feel like going to work and can’t wait for the day to be over when I’m at work. Sometimes I stress out too much.

    * The salary is nowhere near what DW Simpson claims it to be. With all prelims done I’m getting $45k a year. My friends with degrees in commerce are earning way more.

    * I hate the fact that I’ve to explain to everyone what an actuary is. I get absolutely no recognition. Best job my a**. It’s the best job when people actually know about it. People know that doctor, engineer, accountant, etc are top, top jobs. This “Best Job” bull**** that has been doing the rounds on the internet is nothing but recruiters trying to get people to commit.

    * I hate the fact that actuarial exams eat up the best years of your life (your twenties). You are supposed to enjoy your youth cause once you hit 30′s you’d pretty much have to start a family and lead a boring life. You are at your best (physically and intellectually) during your twenties. Don’t let it pass you by due to actuarial exams. I’m 22 now and I’m going to start enjoying life that I didn’t have during the last 3 or so years due to actuarial exams.

    Good thing I double majored in college. I’m gonna apply for a Masters program for Fall 2013, and with my ASA, at least have some credibility to warn young kids from falling into the “Best job” trap.

    You like math? There are tons of jobs for you, engineering in my opinion being the best one. You don’t learn anything about math in High School. You know what real math is? It is Linear Algebra, Real Analysis, Differential Equations, etc etc. All these classes require you to do nothing but prove prove prove. If you like solving problems then go the engineering route. Try finance if you want to go into business. If you really want “math” beside your name then do statistics.

    My job could be done by a High School kid. You just have to give him a one-week seminar on Microsoft Excel.

    I thought the preliminary exams were bad enough, but the FAP modules are really doing my head in. Thanks God I wouldn’t touch those wacky Fellowship exams.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 18:57 | Permalink
  251. Jesse wrote:

    I’m glad more and more people are weighing in on the subject. Daniel, I feel the same exact way as you. The past few months I’ve been getting away from the actuarial field.

    I’ll be graduating in the spring with 3 exams and a degree in Math/Act Sci. I’m cutting my losses and looking for a non-actuarial work in operations research or strategy consulting before I go to grad school.

    Hate is a very strong word. And honestly..

    -I hate having to explain what an actuary is. What a conversation stopper.

    -I hate pretending to like the work. How does everyone else play it off like they actually enjoy it? Anyone? Bueller?

    -I hate how uppity most of the people in the field are. The ignorance towards respectable sciences, the insincere “professionalism”, the entitlement, not to mention prevalence of racial judgement.

    -I hate how the exams test you on outdated material in an impractical way! Who needs to memorize 100 formulas and shortcuts if you understand how to use them? Maybe 50 years ago when they did everything by hand. Welcome to 2012.

    -I hate how there is no real learning. There’s no room or time for curiosity or applications. My professor teaches to the test for all these exams. Imagine how long it would take you to study if you actually tried to truly understand the hows and whys vs. the whats (what’s that formula again?)

    P and FM were ok. I felt that I learned something useful I could use in the future. MLC was just a waste IMO. The syllabus hasn’t had major changes in 26 years! Really? Seriously.

    I’d like to thank actuarial science for showing me exactly what I don’t want to do in life. I’m glad it only took 2 years and not 20 to figure out. To everyone else, I apologize if my post sounds bitter. Maybe you’re seeing some of your own thoughts in my words? Maybe.

    Daniel, Why are you planning on getting your ASA if you’re just going to quit after? Is it just so you can use it to help spread the truth about the “best job?” If so, you are awesome. Know that you’re not alone in that effort.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 20:50 | Permalink
  252. Towel wrote:

    Jesse and Daniel…here is my response: Most jobs suck at the early stages. But being an actuary suck 95% of the time in the beginning. I had an intern in an insurance company ( not sure about racism cause out of fever than 6 managers were of 3 different races…i don’t want to give hints as to which co.) and the people in reserving were in total denial about enjoying their jobs. Maybe the managers had it better, idk. Personally I feel I am lucky. I work in reinsurance in a very small office and Im exposed to some accounting, and other elements people with my experience dont see. I miss being in a school environment though.

    Another point is that schools are being irresponsible. All the marketing created tons of students and schools let them in. An insurance company doesn’t need more fellows than departments. A fellowship is totally meaningless. Just shows you studied what you’ll learn on the job anyway. And, as you mentioned it’s totally outdated. Academic advancements aren’t incorporated into the syllabi. This is due to the fact in the 50s or 60s or so when significant advancements were made, actuaries stuck to their traditions which were developed in the beginning of te century. I hate studying for it. Should I stay long enough to become appointed actuary at my firm, (likely cause it’s small), I made a vow to work in tandem with academics. But enough about me. 97% of students, many o fwhich are highly intelligent, will end up in pensions or insurance where they’ll do nothing creative and SEE nothing creative. The European system is MUCH better. They all get masters degrees to get accreditation, meaning They take university courses tailored to up and coming needs of the profession. Many require a thesis. instead of silly outdated tests. The first 5 of which are nothing more than a filtering mechanism.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 22:11 | Permalink
  253. Towel wrote:

    By the way to make it clear, more fellows than departments. Eans one for reserving one for rate making, etc. I don’t know what an FSa in pensions brings.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 22:14 | Permalink
  254. Towel wrote:

    Another suggestion| VERY IMPORTANT | Go to any career fair/ company event. (where I come from they’re usually in September but whenever you find one.) Ask the people straight up DO YOU LIKE YOUR JOB? most people are bad liars.

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 22:24 | Permalink
  255. IrishTrainee wrote:

    Hi guys,

    Just to tell you my story. I’m still training to be an actuary in Ireland, via the UK’s actuarial exam system.

    I’m 25 and finished a university degree in actuarial science at 23 where I got exempted from a few of the 15 actuarial exams that you must do.

    Anyway, I got a full time job as soon as I finished college right in the middle of a recession. Unemployment is at an all time high here in Ireland right now but there are more actuarial jobs than their are actuaries (well nearly!) and this has been the case for a long time. There just isn’t enough people able to pass the exams to cope with the demand.

    Anyway, after 1 year with that company, I left to work as an actuarial contractor (quite popular in the industry and not difficult to get into). My current wages are triple (no exaggeration) my nearest friends and rising extremely fast. Give a look at the contracting jobs advertised here to get an idea of the daily rates:

    I’ve made steady progress through the exams and haven’t failed any yet. I hope to qualify late this year if I’m lucky.

    Finally, I love my job, my life and I don’t know how I ever stumbled across the actuarial profession but I am so so so glad that I did. I wanted to do either a pure math / computing degree but didn’t want to be stuck researching math or typing code all day and someone mentioned an actuary. I’ve never looked back.

    It’s highly paid, very highly qualified, intensely difficult to be one but so worth it. If your the type of person who lacks motivation and intends to spend 7 or 8 years qualifying after University (of which I’d say 50% currently are) then I say don’t waste your life. But if your ambitious, motivated, driven, enjoy math, are excellent at communication (an essential) and want to be part of a very exclusive society then this is the job for you my friend. 4.5million people in Ireland and I daresay there are less than 300 actuaries here.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 03:46 | Permalink
  256. FILIPINO wrote:

    Should I take up a Ph.D. in Mathematics and become a professor instead. Teaching was my first love until I learned how low the salary is in our country. Also, shifting to Engineering wouldn’t be easy.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 03:52 | Permalink
  257. Larry wrote:

    As some people have pointed out the actuarial system in the UK and Europe is better. UK exams are written, have fewer questions, contain proofs, and test understanding. The US exams are about memorization and high-speed calculations. The material is more up-to-date as well.

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012 at 14:06 | Permalink

    In the US, the entry level job market for actuaries is so bad its appalling. Moreoever, unemployed job seekers are essentially expected to work(pass exams) for free.

    If you are thinking about trying to become an Actuary, then run fast, and run far. Get as far away from this lousy joke of a career as you can. It will be the best decision you ever make in your life.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 16:55 | Permalink

    If you don’t believe me, try searching for entry level actuarial jobs. They all require a minimum of 1-3 years of experience. Please explain to me how a position that requires 3 years of experience is considered ‘entry level’.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 17:01 | Permalink
  260. Finance wrote:

    CFA is better. Accounting (ACCA or CGA or CIMA) is better too.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 19:40 | Permalink
  261. Finance wrote:

    Operations research is better too.

    Thursday, February 23, 2012 at 20:27 | Permalink
  262. Navide wrote:

    What is wrong with you people? People need to realise that an actuary is a business profession. Also, why do some of you keep harping about not being government licensed? Are CFAs government licensed?

    Saturday, February 25, 2012 at 23:24 | Permalink
  263. jacobs wrote:

    Navide, I think you need to realize a few things:

    1. CFA’s do nothave power to sign – actuaries do so they are not an issue. Take the power to sign from actuaries and we dont have a problem with them either.

    2. Accountants have the power to sign but their accounting and book keeping technical knowledge is unqestionable. Plus accounting profession can only be replacced by accounting profession. There is only one field called accounting.

    3. The actuaries claim to be experts in statistics and risk but they cant even do basic statistics. The hype they have created about math is all bogus. So why give them SOLE power to sign when statisticians can do a much better job? Of course I am talking about P/C and health insurance. Life and pensions is a niche area….

    4. The actuaries are not a “business profession” They claim to be a “science” and claim to be more knowledgeable than a PhD in statistics. All that hype is created so no one questions their legal power to sign.

    Its just sick to see a few idiots get paid professional salaries!

    Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 03:25 | Permalink
  264. Neville G wrote:

    Wow, there are so many trolls in these comments. Some are sticking up for actuaries and some are not.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 11:14 | Permalink
  265. Statistician wrote:

    “Masters in statistics is not considered a top statistics degree.”

    How condescending of you!

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 12:42 | Permalink
  266. jacobs wrote:

    OK so lets be respectful to Statistician and many others and say this:

    “High School Diploma, Bachelors, masters and ANY piece of paper are all considered top statistics degrees. Does that make you happy now?”

    Conversely, is that respectful to someone that spent 6 years in a top PhD program and got published in top journals? Are you at the same level as he/she is?

    Another example – how would you feel if I declared a high school diploma holder as a “top degree in statistics” compared to your masters?

    Logic my friend, logic. Most people are just logically challenged. Seems like you would be a good actuary though!

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 14:30 | Permalink
  267. Statistician wrote:

    I actually have a PhD.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 18:46 | Permalink
  268. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    which actuaries are claiming to be top statisticians? Actuaries need a blend of quantitative and business skills to be successful. We work with statisticians and are able to explain what they do to business leaders in a way that they cannot. Perhaps we are not trained to the same level as the PHDs, but for the most part the best actuaries are the ones who would have been capable if they had decided to take the time.

    As for my story:

    I got a P&C actuarial job right out of college. I have under 2 years experience. I make a little over 70K base a year and have made over 10k in bonuses since I started working. If you enjoy math and believe yourself to have both quantitative talents and a general interest in solving problems this is a good profession to try. The career is changing but that does not mean it’s a bad thing.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 19:16 | Permalink
  269. jacobs wrote:

    Statistician: So Masters degree in Statistics IS a top statistics degree? You can claim to be a PhD in statistics or Albert Einstein in this blog and I have no way to verify.

    So since you have a PhD in statistics here is how the prof goes. “Top” means the best. SInce bachelors, masters and PhD degrees are distinct and have different levels of required competence they cannot be equal. Hence “Top degree” has to be the PhD. Too complex for you right?

    Here is a simpler solution. Call a PhD program and tell them you think master’s degree is a top statistics degree. Tell us then what they told you.

    Such linear comments are usually made by diploma mill graduates or actuaries. They have a hard time thinking in multiple dimensions (other possibilites). They hide under “this is just a business field”.

    No one else can reach such level of intellectual heights! Also many students who cant get PhDs drop out with terminal masters.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 20:03 | Permalink
  270. jacobs wrote:

    Cant Blv DisThread: OK so you agree that actuaries do not know statistics. Now this is where you run into trouble:

    1. If you power to sign reserves and rates are based on general business skills and high school math, then why not extend the power to statisticians? Surely they know business too if they work insurance and they are much more qualified in terms of math.

    2. If you next tell me that math just does not matter then why not then extend the power to sign reserves and rates to MBA’s? Surely they know business than you do and they know high school math (plus math does not matter right?)

    3. You are just trying to push the issue of “not knowing any real statistics” under the carpet. Look at P/C insurance. Class plans in auto and homeowners insurance based on modern regression theory. You have actuaries leading these departments and cant prove a single equation in regression. Matrix algebra sounds greek to them. They hire statisticians to do all the work.

    4. Reserves are increasingly based on regression models also. Again the same problem as above.

    5. All the actuary does is overall rates and overall reserves using the same old triangles that a high school graduate can do. Statisticians can pick that up in 30 days.

    You are only paid due to your power to sign. Are you telling me that as risk experts you dont need advanced probability theory, regression theory, multivariate statistics etc?

    Your bluff of “this is a mixture of business and math” is over. You are just another MBA with high school math and that’s all.

    Convince people in this blog to give you power to sign on insurance reserves and rates in P/C and health insurance and you dont know advanced statistics! You people are funny indeed. Very very funny.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 20:19 | Permalink
  271. jacobs wrote:

    All these over paid people are the ones sucking our system dry. Money is being spent on them than really talented people. This leads to a perverse incentive for people NOT to learn anything when they see such bad examples.

    These people are the ones that on welfare. Their point is that private industry employs us. Let the government revoke your power to sign and then we will see who employs you!

    These people are a creature of bad regulation. In P/C and Health insurance we need to extend the definition of a “qualified professional” (for reserve opinion and rate certification) to include PhD statistician also. Some years of experience in insurance industry can be placed a requirement.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 20:27 | Permalink
  272. jacobs wrote:

    Statistician: Let me guess your next comment. Your PhD is from an ivy league! How about a research paper in the ASA (no thats american statistical association and NOT American Scandanavian Airlines!) LOL! Man you are talented.

    I also find it very perplexing (non logical) when someone is a no show for an appointment and then later says I had a 105 temperature last night. Or my uncle died….

    I feel like telling them I had a 110 temperature and my brother died! Just don’t kill more people please!!!

    I think this thread is very amusing…Actuaries would do very well in the entertainment industry. And seriously all you need business knowledge and some math! LOL

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 21:23 | Permalink
  273. Jacobs wrote:

    You guys need to face the fact that actuarial science is a rubbish profession.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 22:28 | Permalink
  274. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    You are very ignorant.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 22:33 | Permalink
  275. jacobs wrote:

    Hey Jacobs in Post 273 – you stole my name! I am Jacobs.

    Your comment is welcome but use another name!

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 22:49 | Permalink
  276. A. Engineer wrote:

    How about you brainiacs choose a real profession. You guys should become engineers. If you guys aren’t confident in your abilities don’t even bother.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 22:56 | Permalink
  277. BurgerKing wrote:

    Every one of you is functionally unaware of the trolling going on this thread.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 23:12 | Permalink
  278. BurgerKing wrote:

    Now my name got stolen.

    These actuaries are now hijacking the website and posting stupid stuff under the names of people that actually told the truth!

    That is my point all along. This is called politics and NO ONE can beat them. They are a SICK, RACIST, CHEATING, INEPT, LOSER CLASS that knows how to manipulate.

    Dont worry, enough has already been posted already.

    I Suggest the web host to associate each username with a vliad email address. Only that person gets to post under that single name. Otherwise this nice blog is being trashed by these actuaries as they have lost the debate.

    Do that ASAP. Remove all posts after 273. You will regret it if you dont. This breed of people is as sick as it gets. White yuppies is all they are. These selfish people will kill all efforts to ensure no one educates these students.

    That is called HYPE! You are dealing with nasty animals here people…

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 23:21 | Permalink
  279. jacobs wrote:

    I am not posting anymore until this issue is resolved by the host. Please ignore all posts under jacob from here onwards.

    Monday, February 27, 2012 at 23:27 | Permalink
  280. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Please disregard posts for my name after 2/27.

    However Jacobs (hopefully you are still reading) from my limited experience, the reserving department is pretty small compared to pricing. I am not disagreeing with you that the “power” to sign can be argued to be given to anyone with the proper training.

    I’m not sure why you are completely disregarding math – most actuaries have at least a B.S. in math which i realize is not a PHD and may not mean anything, but lets give it at least a little more credit than an MBA with high school level math.

    Also, I tend to believe in free market and not all actuaries get paid all that much. They get paid what they earn. Most actuaries I know are just really good data people with a strong quantitative math background. I do not think that is a bluff of any kind because I did not mention the ability or knowledge to sign statements. I don’t know much about reserving yet – but like I said I agree with you that there is not a clear reason as to why only actuaries can sign statements. There’s 2 exams that handle reserving – if these MBAs you speak of us can prove they have the same knowledge and have mastered all the methods let them sign.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 05:39 | Permalink
  281. Badactuariers wrote:

    Cant Blv DisThread

    You are changing your tone. The message you are giving is not what the actuaries are giving the public. They claim to be experts in risk. In fact the ONLY experts in risk and insurance.

    Many of your statements are incorrect:

    1. In the US, bachlelor’s degree in math does not cover any serious math. Unless you have PhD in statistics, you cannot claim to be an expert.

    2. The power to sign need to be extended to PhD’s in statistics and not to MBA. You are scared of PhD statistics so want to go the MBA route. No the real expert in risk is a statistician.

    Once the power to sign is extended to statisticians your salaries will be cut in half. not to mention that finding jobs will be a problem. You will be like the MBA then!

    You make 100K – 150K for what? That is a lot of money for someone with a few silly tests and a bachelors degree.

    3. Most actuaries do not know ANY serious statistics beyond taking a mean on an excel spreadsheet. They cant write any math formulas or derive results. This is daylight robbery and needs to end.

    4. Its just a racist field designed to give us whites a way to make $ and tell everyone we are better.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 10:12 | Permalink
  282. Moderator wrote:

    I’m trying to work out a way to fix this problem so that each name is associated with a specific email address.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 17:06 | Permalink
  283. Cant blv disthread wrote:

    Sorry badactuariers, I’m not familiar with what Actuaries give to the public. As I’ve mentioned I’m fairly new to the field and I can only go off the experience that i do have. Basedon that, I do not see anyone claiming that they are smarter than PHDs or math wizards. They are quantitaive folks with a knack for explaining fairly difficult concepts in a simple manner. Out of the 80 or so people in the actuarial department, only 2 actually sign on reserves so I’m just not really understanding why you are saying that the ability to sign is the most important piece. What actuaries are experts of, and this i believe, is insurance. Actuaries know more about the industry than practically anyone else because of the silly tests. Sure a stats PHD can do all the same things, but only after the same training. Are there actuaries who passed all the tests and are still not experts? Sure, just like there are some stats PHDs that probably can’t really apply what they know to the real world. I think you are heavily undervaluing the math ability of SOME actuaries, the same actuaries that will excel and make it to the to (although i do see you said most). Perhaps I am in a progessive company, butg I can see that the glorified number crunchers that you are speaking of do not stick around because they do not add value.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 17:29 | Permalink
  284. badactuaries wrote:

    Cant blv disthread: You are seriously underestimating what power to sign brings:

    1. Yes only one or two actually sign but the entire department (100+ actuaries + students) works for those two to produce the numbers. The regulator approves those numners based on those signatures. The whole party would be over if statistician also had the same power. Then you would have statisticians in the reserving and rate making department.

    Salaries would now be based on actual work performed than just signing power. You say actuary is basically an interpreter to explain what statistician produces. Well, you will find plenty of interpreters that dont charge 150K/year!
    Plus many statisticians are well capable of explaining results.

    2. As insurance experts, actually underwriters have the most knowledge of insurance and their exams and tests are designed for that. Let me explain to you the CAS (casualty actuarial society) syllabus (since you are new and misled)

    a. First Four actuarial exams are just math formulae copied from books (rote memorization is needed to pass).

    b. Exam 5 is basically underwriter’s exam (CPCU) and ratemaking (trinagles and high school math which can be learned within 3 months on the job.

    c. Exam 6 is reserving – same comment as b.

    d. Exam 7 is accounting: Its introductory insurance accounting and you have CPA for that. Nothing to do with being risk experts.

    e. part 8 is investments: Unless you work in investment department its useless. It has little to do with insurance anyway. CFA is the qualification for that.

    f. Part 9: advanced ratemaking: has some manuals with formula slammed from other subjects. can be picked up by a statistician in 3 months if needed. Anyway no regulator uses them as there is no formal math behind them. Just some white clowns wrote these while working for insurance companies. No formal proofs or structure.

    Rules go like this: take square root of all the squared values and you get…. Who knows why!

    3. You have some wrong idea about actuaries saying we are just business people. These are MBA’s. Actuaries have made a very specific case to the regulators for being experts in risk (life, pensions, P/C and health). The last two are totally bogus. The first two are niche and they can keep it becuase no one cares!

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 18:11 | Permalink
  285. Cant blv disthread wrote:

    I’m afraid you are the one whi is midles on this one.

    The exam syllabus has changes and pretty dramatically at that. I have passed the first cfour exams and the only reason i did is because I understood the topics, not memorized the formulas. Exam 5 no longer has the CPCU material because CAS is moving away from rote memoraztion. The math is not difficult the concepts are not trivial – if they were there would not be a 30% passing ratio. Exam 6 is now accounting and regulation – understnading how to read the statutory financial statement is crucial for analyzing risk of other companies.I have not taken exams 7-9 so i can’t comment.

    To your earlier points, out of our 80 or so actuarial employeees only 3 work to help those who sign. The rest do not do anything for the reserving department.

    How much time do underwriters spend talking to business leaders and executive management?

    I believe in the free market = thus actuaries are paid due to their performance. The thing is, i’m not diagreeing with you. Legive trained satisticians the right to sign – the others will have to evolve. However from what I’ve seen, actuaries can do things many in the industry cannot and this has nothing to do with reserving. Maybe it’s because high level math students are not going into insurance – whatever the case may be the fact stands. Again i’m basing my ideas off of what I’ve seen at one medium sized company – the (good) actuaries are used to solve the technical problems with a business objective in mind. an MBA, accountaint, or pure statistician would have a difficult job of doing that.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 18:48 | Permalink
  286. badactuaries wrote:

    The exam syllabus is still all rote memorization. Proof: here is one. You have black scholes option pricing formula right? You understand it right? Now prove it!

    Dude, you dont even know what you dont know. The applied probability requires deep knowledge of convergence, transforms, matrix theory. You just learn the final formula and plug numbers in it. That is all you do in these tests.

    Most actuaries dont know the difference between correlation and independence. That is undergrad stuff!

    Pass ratio is low because these people are stupid – you can easily pass one exam each sitting. The exam numbers may have changed and also the material a bit but it still is all rote memorization.

    Tell, do you understand logistic regression? Can you derive equations? You need that for class rate making. You dont even scratch the surface with these silly tests. The hiogwash they give you in these actuarial seminars “tough exams” etc is all bogus.

    You still dont get the point about signing power. Actuaries do mostly two things – reserving and ratemaking. So the rwmaining 77 people in your department must be doing ratemaking then! The little stuff like made a nice excel spreadsheet for budget or used logistic regression (used SAS code to slam the result in a aprewadsheet!) are few and far between.

    Actually underwriters ARE the management in many cases. CPA also make it up to the top. You have no clue about that. There is hardly any P/C actuary in top executive management of an insurance co. Whio is the CEO and COO of your company? An actuary?

    If you believe in free market then the power to sign needs to be generalized.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 19:42 | Permalink
  287. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Again, I never disagreed with you regarding power to sign.

    We have a couple actuaries at the top, but mostly they come from consulting backgrounds.

    and yes, with a little time, i could prove the black scholes formula.

    and frankly, i dont disagree that there are many actuaries (particularly if you count students as actuaries) that are not up to snuff. they don’t make it.

    Have you taken these tests or are you just making things up? Sounds like you have taken them to me…

    By the way, I do niether reserving or rate making so perhaps I’m a bit biased and/or naive.

    Not sure how you know what I do and don’t have a clue about. I constantly work with management and know their backgrounds. I can tell you there are fewer accountants than actuaries at the top.

    You seem very angry/bitter about something, and despite this I agree with your ideas. Loosen up regulation and free up opportunities – The best people will still be the best people.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 20:30 | Permalink
  288. badactuaries wrote:

    You seem to agree on the power to sign – that is not a small issue. That is the reason for the existence of the field!

    1. You can prove black scholes? Proof requires graduate level courses in proability that are usually not even taught in regular classes (PhD students take as electives). You are bluffing. The theory behind it requires time stochastic differential equation, contin time stocastic markov processes to name a few! With a little time? what does that mean? 25 years? Like I said you have no idea what you dont know. Typical for people in this field as they are self declared geniuses (yuppies I mean).

    Without any knowledge of modern statistical theory, you cannoy model risk. I dont think you get that. You are an insurance MBA thats all. The power to sign if revoked will prove my point as you will not make a fraction of what you make.

    Look at MBA’s. They dont make like actuaries.. they dont get jobs easily.. Why? Because they have no power to sign.

    2. On your point about “couple of actuaries at the top”. My question was: Is he/she a CEO or COO? Inflated titles etc are not management. department heads are not senior executives. Who is the CEO. Give me their name and I can check if they are an actuary….

    On the P/C side, very very few actuaries make it to the top. Maybe small reinsurance company. Maybe. Consulting actuaries dont count. They are self declared presidents of their firms.

    3. Look at management of State Farm, nationwide, All state etc. No actury at the top. The P/C people are all accountants, underwriters or sales people. You have some warped idea about actuaries.

    4. I am angry about people lying in general. I hate yuppies that mooch the system and I also hate racist people. Its because I have repect for real talented people that work hard to make our lives better.

    Thank edison when yuo turn the light bulb. Thank graham bell when you talkon your phone….and curse the actuary when you see a qualified PhD unemployed because we spend too much on insurance.

    At any rate you agree on broadening the power to sign. Now raise this issue with the CAS and see that they say! Seriously, public needs to know all this. I think people just dont know anything about this field.

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012 at 21:13 | Permalink
  289. badactuaries wrote:

    Its a lot easier to debate/discuss with a mathematically logical person as they see things in multi-dimensions and are willing to accept results based on logic.

    The word “smart” means nothing. Smart about what? Making spreadsheets? Its the mathematical reasoning that most people lack. They cannot reason mathematically nor can they think multiple things at the same time. Its a gift that few have.

    Working with these actuaries is precisely this problem. They are mathematically challenged. They dont know what they dont know and will never get it. You just cant win even if you do!

    Working with them is like being in a zoo in a cage with monkeys. You cant understand them and they cant understand you. No logic works.

    Actuaries say: “we dont need statistics”. You say, dude this statement supposes that you know what statistic is in the first place. Second you cannot model risk without statistics. They say, “we dont need math”.

    Its a source of great shame and insult for all of us that we tolerate such racist incompetent people in our society and pay them well. We should all be ashamed of ourselves (yes that includes me). Such a society deserves to be second rated.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 03:56 | Permalink
  290. General wrote:

    “In the US, bachlelor’s degree in math does not cover any serious math.”

    “You can prove black scholes? Proof requires graduate level courses in proability that are usually not even taught in regular classes (PhD students take as electives).”

    This is true. In other countries, however, this can be learnt at the upper-level at undergraduate.

    I don’t expect any math people in the US to prove Black-Scholes with just undergraduate education. Math education in the US is poor.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012 at 04:42 | Permalink
  291. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    I am not bluffing –

    1) exam 3f has the proof
    2) I have a background in financial mathematics
    3) My dad is a former mathematician from Europe
    4) He is also an option trader

    so you sort of picked a sweet spot when it comes to Black Scholes.

    You seem to have some bad experience with particular actuaries, and I am sorry for that I too had have bad actuaries.

    I didn’t claim the CEO was an actuary. And He/She is not. Obviously i won’t give you the name that would be stupid. But most of the top people in my company are from consulting backgrounds, and a few underwriters. But there are quite a few actuaries who have vice president non-actuarial roles. I’m not quite sure what your point is on that one.

    I also have no idea where the yuppy/racists comments are coming from. Seem a big from left field to me.

    Don’t blame the actuary for PHDs spending 5-7 years in school – it was their decision. I would love to sit around and do math all day, however i had to make a decision that a more applied (and secure) field was the way to go.

    Here’s the truth – I could have become a PHD and many actuaries could have as well. They have the math chops if not the training to have gone very high, they just chose not to. And that’s key – they learn what they need. I agree with you, some are not up to snuff. Maybe in today world even the majority, the but the ones who stand out are the ones have the ability to learn quickly and have the brains to know what they do not know and to figure it out. Looks like you have had bad experience with a few people and are judging the entire society based on that experience. Irony…

    Anyway – give the power to sign to qualified people. My main point is that it will not matter. The best actuaries will find ways to use their brains and add value. Simple as that.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 21:20 | Permalink
  292. badactuaries wrote:

    Cant Blv DisThread: So you are claiming that these tests teach you things like Diffusion Processes, Brownian Motion, Stochastic Integration etc? Black Scholes is just an application in finance of this.

    To prove my point… So if I look at past actuarial test, I would find questions that will rigorously test my knowledge on these advanced topics right? Its in the syllabus right? I can send you a copy of the recent exam and its rote memorization with no concept. Nowhere near to a solid underdtanding of ANY concept. Most of the actuaries cant even compute basic stuff.

    VP is an inflated title. There are plenty of banks with VP branch managers. My point remains on this issue.

    I will put a lid on this issue with something simple:

    1. The Univerity of Waterloo has the best program in north america in actuarial. They have the best faculty and they offer a PhD which actually is very statistical. Its covers all the topics that I have said.

    Now U of Waterloo does not recognize actuarial tests AT ALL. In fact they claim that the standard of these tests is below undergraduate level. So if you are a Fellow, you will start with your bachelor’s degree at waterloo.

    You can call U of Waterloo to discuss directly. Its public info.

    1.” Your comment: we can do it if we want to”. My comment is going to be equally stupid. “Then do it and come back” or “when pigs fly” Ha HA.

    This is grade 5 conversation. Its like me saying if I worked hard enough I would do better than albert einstein.

    2. Your dad and his education, his trade and how much he makes etc is all grade 5 illogical converswation. Typical of someone of your brain level. What does this have to do with my anything?

    Hey my dad has a nice watch! Go figure! These actuaries really push my buttons…

    Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 22:11 | Permalink
  293. badactuaries wrote:

    To all people here… I think you have enough info to make your decision. Call U of waterloo to find the facts.

    No need from my comments any more. Plus I am out numbered. Bye.

    Thursday, March 1, 2012 at 22:15 | Permalink
  294. badactuaries wrote:

    Here is a link for the actual 3xam 3f questions AND answers on black scholes:

    As you can see these are childish plug and chug problems. Far from all that complex stuff….

    I must admit that “Cant Blv DisThread” is a true actuary – big at creating hype, politics, spreading lies.

    Friday, March 2, 2012 at 00:20 | Permalink
  295. badactuaries wrote:

    I think the problem with these actuaries is that they think this is all there is to learning. Like they have learnt it all by doing these tests. Thats a common problem with people with low math intellgence.. like frog in a well.

    By the way there is not a single non white chief actuary… so here is the racism part…. See old posts.

    Friday, March 2, 2012 at 00:23 | Permalink
  296. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    ok first of all, i merely brought my dad into this to explain why it is reasonable for ME to be able to prove black scholes. My dad has been through that proof with me several times.

    You seem like a smart guy so I think you realize you are really stretching things. You taking comments out of context just to insult me and the profession are one signal of that.

    Why would any college recognize exams for credits? they are separate.

    I did not claim exam 3F tested the material directly, but hte proof was shown. The exam includes stochastic calculus (brownian motion/itos lemmma). You are going out of you way to discredit this for no reason – not mention you chose a 4 year old test.

    And your last post is just a lie (again irony). Most actuaries will say the tests are a MINIMUM. All they do is show that you have SOME level of quantitative analysis and have the ability to learn SOME of the necessary concepts. I repeat, the exams are a MINIMUM. What does that mean – that there is much more to learn. You are talking in extremes and yes, I have met some fellows that think they are god’s gift to earth because they passed the tests really fast and made comment such as “i don’t need to learn this I already read a paper on it”. I think those people are exceptions.

    Are you going to tell us your experience with actuaries or not? It would help for these people “making up their mind” to understand the biases. I have shown mine – this is the career I have chosen to take and thus far I like it and will defend what I have experienced in the last 2 years. What are you biases?

    And sure, me saying that creative, hard working (passing the exams is hard work if the math is difficult or not) and quantitatively oriented people will be able to survive in the insurance industry with or without the power to sign deserves a thought out comment like “when pigs fly”. Well done.

    Friday, March 2, 2012 at 06:14 | Permalink
  297. badactuaries wrote:

    I will keep it short:

    1. U of waterloo says “these tests cover basic undergrad material & dont teach anything serious”. Call the program director. They are PhD’s and some have worked in the insurance industry also.

    2. The proof in your CAS textbook is NOT the real proof. Its a summary result for non math financial students. Complex topics are often stated with minimal detail for people who cant get math but need it for something.

    I think they use the “Derivatives” textbook that gives a half page writeup on Ito and bacl scholes. Its a basic basic summary result and is considered a handout not a proof.

    Most importantly no one even knows this silly basic writeup as all you need is plug and chug in the test. What matters is what shows up in the actual test – not a prescribed textbook.

    Send us a copy of the test on this post which rigorously tests these topics?

    4 years old is not 40 years old. In 4 years you have completely transformed the syllabus and tests? Your answer is yes right? show us the recent test then? Oh well I can get it if I want to… Another long thread on this….

    3. You are upset as all this seems to fly on the face of you and your dad who think that actuaries are geniuses. Its personal. No both of you dont know this stuff!

    Just back off: this field comprises of losers that dont know any statistics and need to have the power to sign genralized. You have no real understanding of modern statistics beyond high school or undergrad US.


    Friday, March 2, 2012 at 10:07 | Permalink
  298. Actuarial sucks wrote:

    Were you going to make a fourth point? I want to hear it.

    Wow, this post has so many comments while most of the other posts barely have any at all.

    Friday, March 2, 2012 at 11:04 | Permalink
  299. Cant blv disthread wrote:

    Still curious as to why you are avoiding describing your interaction with actuaries?

    What in the world regarding 3? I never said actuaries are geniuses. and my dad certainly deosnt think so (he thinks all americans are stupid for the most part). your points seem to be fully based now on twisting my words? When did i say actuaries are geniuses? I have noly sued the term “quantitatively oriented” and “creative”.
    Nor did i ever claim to be a genius in statistics. I only have an undergrad degree an. I am nto a PHD. None of us claim to be masters in stastistics you are either making this up or generalizing something you heard from a couple people.

    Also, i did not say that the tests require you to prove anything. Once again you are twisting a bit. I said I learn how to prove things and i feel that i needed to learn this properly understand the material. Onkly talking about me here and again not claiming i am a genius of any kind.

    By the way the tests are no longer released so no you can not get a copy of 3F which is a sahme in its own right.

    Here’s the deal for onlookers: I am simply sharing my experience and pont of views. I have 2 yeras experience, I really enjoy what i do, my work is challenging and intriguing. Studying is a huge pain but I knew what i signed up for. Are the tests impossible? No but they are challenging and require you to put in a ton of work if you are a genius or otherwise. Are the tests the best way to produce the “best” actuaries? probably not? Are they effective? I can’t say but they if you can get through them they prove A) you have a hell of a work ethic and B) you have some quantitative orientation and c) the way the tests are not designed they prove you have at least some creativity.

    The actuaries that do make it to the top generaly show a higher apptitude for mathematical reasoning, but DO NOT CLAIM TO BE EXPERTS IN STATISTICS. We have PHDs in our department for that reason. I agree with my argumentative friend BadActuaries that these skills alone + the tests should not make actuaries the only people that have the power to sign. Generalize it. Go ahead. Quantitaive people are quantitavie people and there is always use for them. Very few people in my company use their letters to sign anything at allso it’s just not as big of an issue as one would think.

    If you like math (that does not mean you need to be an expert) and you like to solve problems, consider actuarial as a profession. IT’s not the best profession for everyone.You will do some cool work, have some fun, make some money, and from what it turns out get bitched at by non-actarueis for either being a) too much of a nerd or b) not enough of a nerd. That’s the way it works make your own decisions.

    If your goal is to be a CEO one day, actuarial is probably not the best route. If you want to be a professor or a researcher in math/statistics, actuarial imay not be the best route although i do no at least one person who used actuarial experience to get into a PHD program. But i do suggest you investigate how many people use actuarial as a springboard to get into non-actuarial roles such as business management, portolio management, corprate development / M&A, and pretty much any insurance division. If the power to sign was teh only thing that mattered, then why is it that so many non-actuarial employers hire actuaries?

    Friday, March 2, 2012 at 12:54 | Permalink
  300. badactuaries wrote:

    From your post it seems like you are finally beginning to understand a few things. According to your long post,

    1. actuaries are not experts in math and statistics,

    2. PhD’s in your departments are experts in these things

    3. Tests test creativity and problem solving “skills”

    4. Actuaries dont become CEO’s

    5. Actuaries cannot teach math/statistics as they have no knowledge

    6. The power to sign needs to be generalized

    I agree with all these points! However, actuaries are not hired in non actuarial roles (some people may have jumped the ship as they may have another degree and so dont count). They work insurance/consulting. These facts will be confirmed by SOA or CAS in fact!


    1. An actuary is a non math field. Its an insurance MBA.

    2. Its desighed for people that cant do serious statistics.

    3. They make money due to silly regulation that gives them SOLE power to sign. They get their clients (insurance cos) maximum rates and reserves of their choice.

    4. They are very very over paid people.

    5. They are low educated, low mathematically intelligent people.

    6. They are racist, yuppy and mean individuals that think that they are better than everyone else.

    7. Since no one is interested in life/pensions these comments apply more to P/C and Health Actuaries. Life and Pension actuaries is a dead field anyway.

    Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 19:24 | Permalink
  301. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    again you go with the the insults – i never claimed any of these things to be false.

    i suppose i would agree with the 1-6 of my own stuff, although it’s a bit generalized. For example, there are actuaries who are probably experts in statistics. but yes, just because one has attained fellowship does not mean they are an expert nor do they claim to be.

    Regarding your summary of points 1) though 7)

    Saying actuary is a non-math field is only true if you count math to be a purely academic subject.

    It is “designed” for people who can get htings done. There are certainly actuaries who could very well spend the extra time in school to get their PHDs. I am one of those who chose not to do it. why? i felt i would rather make money then sit and do research.

    3) is wrong. Actuaries do way more than what is required for signing. Also, if you claim that actuaries only produce results per management request, then why would they even need to be experts in statistics anyway? Not that I’m agreeing with you, just pointing out a slight contradiction.

    Saying they are overpaid is subjective. I see no reason why they would be paid so much if they didn’t deserve it. If it was only to sign statements, then why so many actuaries in one company? You could have one actuary sign reserves, one sign all filings, and have the rest of hte people be MBAs or whoever else you think is capable of churning out the work?

    Low educated is again subjective. If you really believe that going to school for x amount of years is what makes someone useful or important or smart then so be it. I do not believe that’s true but it’s just my opinion.

    I still dont know where the racist yuppy or mean comments are coming from. But you can have your opinion on this one because it’s just that – an opinion. I have never witnessed anything of the sort, however I have been told that sometimes you don’t see those things if you are not paying attention. But seriously…”mean”? Did some actuary bully you or something?

    I guess I’m glad i didnt do life/pension.

    Saturday, March 3, 2012 at 23:34 | Permalink
  302. badactuaries wrote:

    1. Here is a dictionary definition of an actuary:

    “A statistician who computes insurance risks and premiums”.


    OK so all your mumbo jumbo that we dont really know math but can do useful things and deserve high pays etc etc flies in the face of this definition. The CAS and SOA have histroically argued their case to the congress that they are statistcians. That is why you have power to sign.

    If you dont know statistics, you are Mr. Nobody.

    2. If you dont know statistics then what is your core skill set? Making reports, spreadsheets and general insurance knowledge. That is all MBA stuff. MBA’s are not making 100K – 150K and finidng jobs. You are getting all this due to your signing power.

    3. Why have 100 actuarial and students? Each state requires a different rate and form filing. You will need an army to do all the rate filings – somtimes they do it twice/yer for each state.

    Actuaries can GET these filings approved. The regulator (also an actuary in many cases) looks at them favorably if they are prepared by another actuary. Why? Because they both get paid as long as the insurance industry is alive and healthy. The power to sign is actually a power to keep the insurance business going. The companies PREFER actuaries due to this symbiotic relationship between the state regulators and actuaries.

    I have never seen a company called out before they went under. I have never seen expense ratios being questioned by the regulator as long as they are around 30% pf the rates. I have never seen regulator challenge a rate filing because the company is making a killing in profits each year.

    The NAIC comprises the regulators nationwide and their representatives are typically actuaries in DC. These so called regulators and actuaries lobby extensively in DC and work hand in hand.

    All this creates a reason for insurance companies to hire actuaries and pay them well. The actuaries “job” is to get the best rates and reserves approved from the regulator. On top of that, ALL the salaries paid to actuaries and office overheads are recouped dollar for dollar in these rate filings.

    If the power to sign was given to statisticians also then this party will be over. Why:

    a. There are too many statisticians so its really hard to monopolize and create this “clout” to get rates and reserves approved. Plus many regulatory positions will open to statistivians also and that will further help.

    b. Salaries of actuaries will fall dramatically as there will be more people available for the same position. Actuarial jobs will also be harder to find with just these tests. Companies will prefer a REAL statistician as that gives them a double benefit – sound analysis plus power to sign.

    c. The insurance industry will be closely linked to academia as PhD’s may write papers and contribute. This may induce creativity and perhaps better rates for all. IT will also open up criticism and open dialogue on insurance rates.

    d. Working environment may improve as educated people may enter.


    All this is bold because it does not easily sink in. See numerous old posts.

    4. An actuary can be a good assistant to a statistician. Experienced Fellows could make 60,000 – 80,000/year with good experience. That is typically what MBA make of the same level of education/experience.

    5. Anyway all this is talk. I dont think anyone (including this blog) is going to do anything so you can keep ripping people off!

    Have fun doing it. Yes your dad is right Americans are stupid!

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 00:39 | Permalink
  303. badactuaries wrote:

    You are making a fool of your self in this blog. Do you like being kicked around? I have been hammering you left and right in the last gazillion blogs. You have no case, no point. You are just whining about yourself, your dad and these actuaries.

    You cannot win from me. If I say anything I know what I am saying. Have some dignity and self respect and shut up. You dont know math and leave it at that. You may not be smart in brains but you have some money. At least you have something.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 00:48 | Permalink
  304. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Quite the difference b/w you and I – I am not attacking nor do I feel attacked. I also have no idea what you think I was trying to “win”. This was simply an open ended discussion and you have proved nothing that wasn’t already obvious (i.e. people who don’t have PHDs are not PHDs – how thought provoking).

    I don’t recall whining about anything, only sharing my experience for onlookers who may interested in joining the field. You make generalized and grandiose statements with not even an anecdote to explain how you came up with your ideas.

    You seem to be proud of insulting people while I have no reason to try and “fight” back. I don’t know you – maybe you are a good person outside of the interwebs. You are making things up for everyone here to see (e.g. me whining about my dad????) so the one point I really would argue is that you are the one making a fool of yourself. Perhaps that is why you are hating on the actuaries – maybe you could not get a job because you come across (not saying you are or are not b/c I don’t know – you might be just have fun trolling) as an elitist academic instead of the intelligent person that you probably are. Unfortunately, every time I asked for a shred of your experience you do not comply but I am quite interested as to where all this hostility is coming from.

    Lastly, I think if anything you may have helped convince people to go into the field and I can’t help but laugh at that. All your baseless attacks have only showed that the academics are angry at the actuaries because they make more money without the same schooling and the only weapon left is to resort to random accusations to bring others down. Wild guess – you supported Occupy Wall Street?

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 08:25 | Permalink
  305. badactuaries wrote:

    My pouts are supported by FACTS. Yours are just illogical he said she said. These are FACTS:

    1. Actuarial tests do not cover any serious statistical knowledge. Source: actual tests, U of waterloo.

    2. Actuaries do not know graduate level statistics however they claim to be statistidcians. Source: SOA, CAS, Dictinary definitions, general media blitz.

    3. Actuaries are yuppy racist people. SOurce: our of 5000+ CAS members, there is no knows non white Chief actuary in a decent size (or any that I know) company.

    4. The power to sign creates monopoly, creates higher salaries and jobs. Source: MBA’s with similar experience and education do not make as much.

    5. Actuaries are not CEO’s or top management people. DW Simpson Surveys are inflated. Their real salaries are between 100K – 150K. SOurce: Cited by government survey on this thread earlier.

    6. Statisticians make about the same dollars. SOurce: same government survey as (5).

    7. Many statistian jobs pay more than actuaries. They have tremendous choice of positions. They enjoy excellent working conditions in places like NASA, Lock Heed Martin, academia where you get months off with 6 figure incomes, creativity and highly educated working conditions.SOurce: American Statistical Association, surveys on university statistical placements.

    8. Statistics is a science. Actuarial field is a vocation. SOurce: U of Waterloo.

    9. Actuaries work to the benefit of the insurance industry to get them rates and reserves. Is that an obvious thing? No becuase they have a fiduciary responsibility to protect public interest.

    Why am I interested in all this. ANY intelligent person will be angry for this ongoing actuarial hype and lies. People need to see the truth of this fabricated field. It makes people angry to deal with such lousy people.

    Many people in this blog find this new and useful information. See old posts.
    This is not a discussion. It is a debate where you defense of the actuarial field as some great field has been disproven.

    If you dont know any math, what are you charging people for? These salaries are recouped dollar for dollar in rate filings (source: rate filings). Its just a useless field of losers.

    After knowing all this many people have quit this field.

    Your comments are ignorant and baseless. Forget my background, wall street, your dad blah blah. Show us counter proof. Show us something that refutes all this.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 11:41 | Permalink
  306. badactuaries wrote:

    I would invite some other people to chime in. Is there anyone who disagrees with Cant Blv DisThread?

    I know that there are many “actuarial friends” so please dont bother to agree with him. I just want to hear that ones that disagree. I know that I am outnumbered by these actuaries.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 11:46 | Permalink
  307. badactuaries wrote:

    I think we have both made our points. The jury is the public and the judge is the moderator in this forum. Let them decide from here….

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 12:01 | Permalink
  308. Actuarial Sucks wrote:

    I agree with you Badactuaries. However, the actuarial profession outside of the US is a bit more sophisticated and the actuaries know a lot more about statistics than their US counterparts. Even though it’s better in these countries there isn’t a lot of hype to this profession like there is in the US.

    The weird thing is that the US actuaries think their own system is superior when it is actually the most inferior actuarial system in the world.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 12:44 | Permalink
  309. Grant wrote:

    TO ALL:

    What started out as a simple curiosity for me seems to be ending with a lot of people sharing their experiences in and thought about the field.

    Thanks for sharing your experience and opinions.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012 at 17:07 | Permalink
  310. badactuaries wrote:

    Just wanted to add that the threads with Cant Blv DisThread show how impossible it is to communicate with non math people. They cannot understand you. It is not that they are necessarily bad. It is just that mathematical logic is rare to find. It is is very difficult to explain to someone of that intelligence that the “proof” that you read is actually not a proof but a result. A few sigmas throw them off!

    If you work in insurance, you will deal with thousands of such people. No logic will work and you will literally feel like an animal in a zoo. In the end you will lose, outnumbered. Is this what you want out of your life?

    Do something meaningful. Make meaningful relationships, enjoy your life, create things, discover. Proudly show others what you did. Emulate people that are scientific geniuses. Make money in the process and feel like a million bucks each day! Thats the American Dream!

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 02:52 | Permalink
  311. badactuaries wrote:

    The issue of racism and other social nauseating problems stem from animal like behavior in such people. By that I mean they feel perfectly entitled to push, shove and jolt people to get what they want.

    Facts like out of 5000+ CAS memmbers and 1/3 non white membership there is no non white chief actuary, do not resonate. Why? Because their minds resort to animal like instinct – get what you want because you can.. you are superior. In the absence of mathematical logic, human being is a little more than an animal.

    Working with such populations can make you develop animal like tendencies also. You will be judgmental, racist, rude, selfish. To get a promotion you will do what it takes. This happens a lot in low intelligence environments like insurance/actuarial as well as waffle house.

    All these count towards the “quality of life” and your job and health. The saying goes “birds of the same feather flock together”. What are your feathers? Of course all this is weird for the actuaries as they are comfortable in this culture. That’s home to them..

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 03:05 | Permalink
  312. badactuaries wrote:

    Statisticians, physicists work in world class companies. Many get tons of time off especially in research roles, flexible hours, research-creative work, learning opportunities and similarly mathematically minded people around them. Many work with other researchers, physicists, Biologists etc.

    Many make over 200K. Salaries of 100K+ are not uncommon and you will love the work.

    Compare that to the actuarial salary of 100 – 150K after passing these tests, you get 2- 4 weeks of vacation, 50- 60 hour week work days (because you supposedly make a lot!), a horrible working environment.

    Getting top statistics/physics positions is not a piece of cake. You have to have a PhD from a good school, proven research skills and demonstrated mathematical ability (great dissertation helps). Many drop out with terminal masters. Many make it only to bachelors. May get PhD’s from diploma mills with little skills.

    For such people and for many other losers like music majors, there is the actuarial field.

    I am just against their signing power and racism. Otherwise no one envy’s the cesspool!

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 03:43 | Permalink
  313. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Badactuaries, I’m going to make a separate post so that you have no reason to ignore it:

    Please show (also in a separate post) a single point or case that I have tried to make that consisted of illogical arguments. Copy and pasting or direct reference to a post i made is preferable. Just saying I’m using “he said she said illogical” arguments does not mean that’s the case.

    Show everyone how wrong I am and the silly logic of any one of my arguments.

    My other responses are coming in a subsequent post. I did this because you seem to ignore certain parts of posts at your disclosure.

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 19:23 | Permalink
  314. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    1. If high level statistical knowledge is PHD level, then i agree, the tests do not cover them. I have never disagreed.

    2. PHDs are experts in statistics. check.

    3. so this is a fun one:

    “Actuaries are Yuppies”. You have said that numerous times and well, that’s all you’ve done. I also like the “actuaries are mean”. You must at least smiled when you wrote this minutes before talking about proving things?

    No chief actuaries that are non-white.

    In your infinite statistical knowledge, you must know that a univariate analysis can be loaded with biases. Per your logic, there are so few non-white quarter backs because the NFL is racist?

    Oh, and there’s also the little issue that the chief actuary is not appointed by other actuaries but by executive management (which you claimed yourself consist of very few actuaries).

    However, i cannot say for sure that you are wrong about the racism part. Like i said before and you chose to ignore and call me stupid/oblivious or whatever, is that I have not noticed this or done the research in my experience at one company. It’s not impossible. I can tell you we have a few non-white actuaries, but they are not in top-level management roles so once again, maybe it’s true.

    4. Again, univariate approach. There are MANY more MBAs than actruaries (less than 4000 FCAS) so perhaps it’s selection bias and has nothing to do with signing power. I.E. people sometimes get their MBAs becuase they don’t know what else to do. People don’t spend 800 hours a year studying because they thought being an FCAS may be useful some day but b/c they want to be actuaries.

    5. You are absolutely right, DW simpson is quite inflated. I’m a bit confused here because before you were claiming actuaries are overpaid now you are saying they are not as high paid as people think.

    For the most part, i think the average actuaries makes quite a bit less than 150K. Why? Because people aren’t going to pay you for nothing or even just cuz you can sign an actuarial statement.

    6,7: Go be a statistician. Sounds like a cool job (my plan B if actuarial doesn’t pan out).

    8. U of waterloo doesn’t give actuarial exams credit so that means they are saying it’s not a science?

    9. Perhaps a sad truth, however I do not have experience to comment. I have seen actuaries who both vehemently make sure everything they di is actuarially and stastically sound, while others do fold under the pressure of management.

    From my end it’s still a discussion. As I’ve said numerous times, I’m quite new to the field. How can i be so ademant about saying it’s glorious and wonderful despite not even being sure if I want to be an actuary or not. I’m only commenting on what I’ve seen. The big thing – the actuaries who are talented business folks with a quantitative mind get paid quite a bit and have varied responsibilities. For the most part, those who don’t fit the description, don’t get paid much and dont have a lot of responsibility.

    and for the upteenth time, I have disagreed with very little of what you have been saying given your definitions. I know this means that you have “hammering” me and that I cannot “win”. If you fail to actually read the words I’m saying, then so be it. You win congrats! Me and my feeble non-math mind are out matched by your brilliance!

    Out of curiousity, and this even goes to the guy named ActuariesSuck, can someone else confirm that I am being illogical, stupid, illiterate, etc? If that is so baseless hostility is preferred to actual (albeit limited) experience, I suppose I’ll just back off completely.

    Also, as a last hoorah, I will say again that I do enjoy my work, and (for the time being) decided not to go for a PHD due to my limited funds at the time. I do not regret my decision. That does NOT mean actuarial is the best field or something awesome or better than being a quant or a biologist. It just means that I have enjoyed it thus far. But what do I know? According to BadActuaries and his vast and intimate knowledge of my life, experiences, and accomplishments I’m not even a math person.

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 19:54 | Permalink
  315. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Oh one last thing, I also agree with BadActuaries regarding most people in insurance. Despite per BacAturies that I am one of them, there are quite a few people that will drive someone quantitative bonkers. But unless you do work in an environment surrounded by other math majors I’m guessing that is the norm rather than the exception.

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 19:58 | Permalink
  316. badactuaries wrote:

    If you see your posts you will see that your opinion has been shifting. If I am unsure about something then I stay out of it and listen. If I know something then I say it. The problem you ran into is that you pitched yourself as a defender of the actuarial field. If you had a valid defense this would have worked.. but its hard to defend it.

    Each of your questions require a rather long answer. So I will limit myself. Read the posts as a lot has been answered.

    Yours view seem increasingly convergent. There are still issues though. For example the NFL example does not apply. NFL still has non white quarter backs, not to mention that you are dealing with a very small population of NFL quarter backs. So its not a large enough sample to make inferences.

    On the other hand a 5000+ membership with over 1500 non whites, hundreds of insurance companies and NO non white chief actuary? The probability of this happening can be shown to be roughly zero! Unless there was some systematic reason such as “all non whites are stupid” or “racism” etc.

    Your comment on “management appoints to chief actuary” is not entirely correct. To be a Chief actuaries in large company you have be accepted amoong actuaries as leader first. In many cases you rise through the ranks. Most white actuasries take it as a matter of personal insult to have a non white chief actuary. So these people are never seconded on the grounds that they “lack” people skills. This is another way of saying people hate them!

    The management will not appoint the chief actuary that no ones like or seconds. Plus management in these insurance companies is racist too as they are usually non math illogical semi educated people. No logic works. White is better. period. Keep it christian, keep it white. Period.

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 20:15 | Permalink
  317. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Again you ignored my simple request – show me what case i’m trying to make and what illogical comments i have made. I will stop asking i guess b/c it’s futile. You choose what you feel like answering and not answering.

    What has my opinion me shifting to? and from what?

    there are less than 4000 FCAS (the only ones i imagine can become a chief actuary). Pretty small population particularly when you consider some companies don’t even have a chief actuary. Where does the “personal insult” comment from? Why are they insulted? Who says? Why do you think that? you are stating these things as fact and perhaps they are true. Could you share some personal experiences that would suggest that’s the case?

    So all insurance people are racist? Isn’t that a bit extreme? I guess at that rate pretty much all people are racist? Which may or not may be true, but at the very least, no reason to isolate actuaries.

    At least you said “not entirely” correct, first glimmer of thoughtfulness.

    Also, my chief actuary is NOT christian.

    Anyway, i guess i’m done here unless others request otherwise. If you think that my experience is not worth talking about it in a thread that is asking about life as an actuary, and you are pretty much the only other person on here, then there isn’t much point. Should be studying anyway…

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 20:45 | Permalink
  318. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    by the way, can you provide any sources regarding

    race of FCAS members
    race of chief actuaries?

    I am curious.

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 20:49 | Permalink
  319. badactuaries wrote:

    Its just that you take a lot of effort to get any point. Plus you dont get math so it gets tough. I will try!

    Lets say out of 5000+ members and 1500 non white actuaries there is a 1/3 probability of a non white chief actuary. Lets say t hat there are 100 insurance comapnies with a chielf actuary (there are a lot more actually as large subsidiaries also have chief actuaries). Since each insurance co in independent, this is a This is a binomial Dist with p=1/3, n=100. Probability of 0 non white chielf actuary = 100*(1/3)^100!. This is close to zero.

    Your illogical comments are numerous. Here is one. You start by making a case of actuaries know proof of black scholes. Then you are explained that the proof is not a real proof but a result. After a lot of arguments you say actuaries are not statisticians and do not claim to be so. Then you go back and say that new tests cover black scholes. Then we go again to explain that the tests do not cover REAL proof. Then you argue again!

    Another example. It is usually sufficient for a math person to underdtand the proof I gave as they will derive it themselves. Its simple. You want to keep arguing the very simple fact that its a very remote chance that NO non white chielf actuary exists.

    Your treads do not show any citations. Just argumentative style. That is considered illogoical.

    Why are white actuaries insulted by non actuaries etc etc. There is some systematic reason non whites are not chief actuaries (I said that). So here I gave my opinion that no other possibility exists beside racism. Now if you read up on racism (Wikipedia) then you will see that numerous peer revieewed studies show that such racism
    on jobs is common in low educated environments and happen, because whites feel insulted to have a non white superior as they claim racial superiority.

    Race of FCAS and Chielf actuaries? You get a published handbook each year from the CAS. All chief actuary names are American. While you also see around 1/3 names are either Chinese, Indian etc. Why is there not a “Lee Dong” Chief Actuary?

    You might say there are black chief actuaries. Fact is that CAS themselves published that “we need diversity as there are almost no black actuaries!”

    Dude like I said you absorb stuff very very slowly. No offense. It would take me years to get through to you.

    Read up on Binomial distribution. Its in Wikipedia also. Independence is NOT uncorrelated unless you deal with normal distributions.

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 22:00 | Permalink
  320. badactuaires wrote:

    Before you get excited. Its (1/3)^100.

    Monday, March 5, 2012 at 22:26 | Permalink
  321. badactuaries wrote:


    man my brain is mushed!

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 00:29 | Permalink
  322. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Ok this is what i was waiting for. Show me ONE place where i said actuaries know proof of black scholes. Just because an exam shows it, doesnt mean people understand it. You can’t because i didnt say it. I told you that I could get the proof of black scholes because i have a special background which you twisted into me whining about my family.

    You are making things up and twisting words. Anything else?

    The rest of your post is on the racism thing which I admitted to have no knowledge about. And I understand the probability issue, however the sample size is still not that big. Still wondering on the source – the CAS saying we need diversification does not mean it’s a racist environment. Every company and their mothers say they need diversification. Some extrapolation going on here – oh wait i can’t know what that means.

    Oh and I know it was just a silly example, but you assuming that chief actuaries are essentially chosen at random from all FCAS is what’s wrong with this world. yes yes i know it was just to make a point.

    American names…i’m sure you realize you can have a non-white actuary with an “american” name. It is the melting pot after all. And I know what you will say to this, but Chief Actuaries need EXCELLENT communication skills which SOMETIMES becomes difficult when english is a second language. It’s the bitter truth and probably not racism.

    Who considers actual experience illogical? Particularly over such things as “all names are american”?

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 06:18 | Permalink
  323. Cant Blv DisThread wrote:

    Oh and out of curiosity agian, how do you define a “math” person. Should have asked this from the beginning.

    Is it a way of thinking, or a set of accomplishment?

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 06:30 | Permalink
  324. badactuaries wrote:

    1. Your statement (post 291):

    “I am not bluffing – 1) exam 3f has the proof”.

    This statement means that the actual proof is in exam 3f. ITS NOT THE ACTUAL PROOF!! Dude read a REAL stochastic model textbook to see the proof. Even the derivatives book (I am not even talking about tests here) in the CAS syllabus does not have the real proof. Financial people get a high level sketch with they THINK is the proof. Your problem is that you lack broad knowledge of statistics so anything looks like a proof.

    2. Your Post 322 – “sample size is not that big”. Dude the probability I calculated using the binomial formula adjusts for sample size! n is part of it! Thats what I mean by stupid non math actuaries. You just dont know even basic probability and make 100K as expert statisitcians? What a sick joke.

    3. Race – CAS said there are virtually no BLACK actruaries. Not about general diversity, about BLACK actuaries. And this statement was only made to preepmt your objection that maybe american names are black names. The case I have made is crystal clear. No non white chief actuary = racism. This is a non math equation for you.

    4. Your comment “Non whites can have american names”. Dude here agin its your very very non math dum mind again. Logic use logic.

    1/3 of the cas membership with names like rashid and wong are not chief actuaries but those that ARE have an american name like Peter.

    According to you super computer this is not due to race but the fact that SOMEHOW ONLY those non whites with american names became chief actuaries! Funny.. By the way, as a ratio, very few non whites have both first and last names as american unless they are black (I have already ruled out that possibility).

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 11:46 | Permalink
  325. badactuaries wrote:

    TO ALL

    We have wasted a lot of time here on this actuary called Cant Blv DisThread. He is a typical actuary and the ONLY reason why I kept commumicating with him is to show you proof of the level of math, intelligenceof these actuaries.

    You will work with people like him/her. It gets very nasty if they know you.. then they will victimize you – gossip, lies, back stabbing etc due to jealousy and animal like behaviour. You will lose, outnumbered. Stupidity breeds more stupidity. Its hard to prove that but you are welcome to try and find out!

    Choose your career wisely.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 11:54 | Permalink
  326. Cant blv disthread wrote:

    Lol always easier to insult than to explain.

    I know i have showed oso many animal like qualities like baseless hostility and paranoia (oh wait, was that me?).

    For anyone interested in what it’s like to be an entry level actuary at a P&C insurance firm, please feel free to email here: I just created this account for this purpose only. I will not be sharing any information about my specific company or location, but I can just tell you the truth about the kind of work entailed and people you get to work with (the good and the bad). If interested please feel free to ask me anything and I will answer as honestly as I can.

    And for the record, I need to make sure the say that i am NOT an actuary – one caannot call tehmselves actuaries unless designations have been attained.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at 14:16 | Permalink
  327. Mike wrote:

    The proportion of jews in the world is about 0.2% of the world’s population. They are very over represented in academia, senior business positions etc. There is probably an even smaller chance of some of these things happening than there being no black CAS chief actuaries. Does this mean the whole world is racist against non-jews? By badactuaries logic it does.

    You cannot conclude that the low representation is the result of racism unless that is the only possible reason – which obviously it is not.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 02:29 | Permalink
  328. badactuaries wrote:

    1. Statistically I showed the probabillity os close to zero of having NO non white chief actuary. It will be almost zero even if there are a few (there are none).

    2. As for Jews, your argument will work if NO non Jew ends up in academia etc.

    It is very possible that 0.2% of the population can have 0.4% of the academic positions. In fact based on just sampling error the confidence interval will be more than +/- 0.2%! Such variation in proportion estimates is normal and happens due to inherent randomness and social attitudes of people etc. It may even show Jews to be more academically inclined etc.

    But it is not likely that 1/3 of the non white actuarial population (around 1600) ends up NOT getting ANY chief actuary position from a sample of 5000. COnsidering that they are equal in education (FCAS etc) and work in the same industry, some EXTREME systematic arrangement can only produce such results.

    What can that be? Non white actuaries are dumb? They are handicapped? They are deaf? They wear stinky shoes? What is it? Do you have a suggestion?

    The exact proof of the Jewish example can be also be calculated.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 04:55 | Permalink
  329. badactuaries wrote:

    By the way, you actuaries are supposed to be experts in risk. You can do much harder stuff right? Is this calculation too hard? You make 100K/year and I am sure with all the tests that you pass you can do this simple undergrad calculations. I am sure you can slso solve the jewish problem you posed.

    Can you please give us non actuaries a mathematical proof and show us that the probability is zero of 0.2% of the Jews can be 0.4% in the academia?

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 04:59 | Permalink
  330. badactuaries wrote:

    The level of statistical education of these actuaries is appalling and evident in these posts. These people are just dirt bags in the system.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 05:02 | Permalink
  331. Mike wrote:

    Dude where did 0.4% come from? The number of jews is anecdotal since I am referring to top businessman, CEOs top bankers and top academics like Larry Summers and Ben Bernake. I don’t know what the proportion is since I have not defined the numerator and denomiator but we are talking very high. Much much higher than 0.4%.

    Anyway you talk like 100K is a lot of money? I work in finace, am 24 years old and make much more than that. And I am a low earner here since I am still quite junior. More senior guys make $1M-$2M. These guys are not generally actuaries and have lower “quantitative skills” than the average actuary.

    Highest earning actuaries that I know work in consulting. They do not sign anything so free market forces apply. Why would they be paid if they did not deserve it? In my country P&C insurance does not need an actuary to sign. Yet planty are employed in pricing and reserving.

    I do agree that if you are highly statistically or mathematically inclined it is better to pursue a PHD in these fields and try get a good research post.

    I do not work in the US and am not at all familiar with the CAS system but I can assure you that the UK exam system is academically rigorous. The US actuaries I have come accross have not impressed me at all and I notice many more students from top UK universtiries go into the field vs. students from Ivy League and other top unis in the US.

    Something that could bias selection of chief actuaries other than racism could be that non-white actuaries are on average much younger than white ones. I have no idea if this is the case but it is just one reason why your racism conclusion might not be correct.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 05:39 | Permalink
  332. badactuaries wrote:

    Non white actuaries are not young and t he CAS graduates all people in the same exam. The CAS membership handbook shows membership year and there is no difference.

    The 0.4% was taken to be twice the number you gave to demonstrate that even double the population will not matter.
    Like I showed the probability of non white chief actuaries = 0, yo need to to show us some proof with your fantastic knowledge of statistics where you make 1m – 2m /year!

    I have heard that 1m – 2m /year before. My cousin makes that too and he has been saying that since he was 18! Grow up man this does not work. If you are such a hot shot 1m – 2m guy what are you doing on this site? Most people in UK done even make 70,000/year and taxes are crippling. They just live hand to mouth. There are no treasures just becuase “I work in finance..”

    By the way I think you are in the US and not UK. British dont talk the way you do. I know actuaries and you are a typical american. My opinion because I know your intellect from your post.

    Challenge: If you can provide a soubd mathematical proof that the probability that 0.2% of the Jews have disproportionately high academic jobs is close ZERO, I take all my posts back and rate actuaries highly. THis is an open challenge. Prove it and shut me up!

    Consulting actuaries do anything BUT sign. That is all they do! Deloitte, Milliman, Towers etc. In fact big four accounting firms have actuarial departments becuase they need the signature a part of the accounting audit!

    Your intelligence is similar to that of an actuary. You ARE a US actuary. I KNOW IT!

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 14:04 | Permalink
  333. badactuaries wrote:

    Higher education awareness etc may be causing Jews to be more successful. It is NOT illegal or undesirable for a group of people to be education focused.
    So even if we assume that its systematic then its not illegal or undesirable. In fact others should emulate!

    On the actuarial side, they are all members of the same society. Same education. So one group is not getting higher positions then they are being denied equal opportunity.

    The probability I calculated considered random sampling and that just a random sample from a homogenous population cannot statistically produce such a result. It has to something systemtic like racism.

    Your parallel with Jews is totally a useless analogy.

    Wednesday, March 7, 2012 at 15:08 | Permalink
  334. Mike wrote:

    You call actuaries “mean” but you are the one who insults evryone else. Nevermind.

    This is the last post I am replying to. You have your ideas so good luck to you.

    Say more than 5% of these “successful” postions are held by jews. Anecdotally this does not seem unreasonalbe. The prob. of a jew in such a postion in a random world is 0.2% (0.002). So using a cumulative binomial distribution function we can back out that out of 100 trials the chance of 5 or more success with a 0.2% prob of success is about 0.0001%. This is prettty close to zero. Of course as you point out it is not random sampling and is impacted by socail factors etc. So are chief atuaries. Racism may be one reason but there may be others.

    I never said I make 1M. I make about $150K depending on exchange rates. I said senior people at my firm do. Any top securities firm pays this or more to senior employees in trading, equity research etc. (Goldman sachs, jp morgan etc.). Hedge funds and pe firms pay a lot more. I am not british and don’t work in Britain. I am an actuary under the Brtitish system (ie an FIA) and don’t work as an actuary. Consulting firms generate more revenue from advisory services than assisting on audit. At least the ones here that I am familiar with do. You are bitter and that is clear. I don’t wish to reply any more.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 06:06 | Permalink
  335. badactuaries wrote:

    Mike: Your experiment on Jews will just show that Jews are disproportionately represented in top jobs. OK but how that prove racism against non jews?

    To prove racism against non Jews for top jobs you will need to look at a population with similar characteristics – except religion.
    Then sample from that population and make a inference.

    1. For example “Salaries of Physics Professors that got PhD in Theoretical Physics from Ivy league schools with 3.0 + GPA in US that Graduated in 2000″.

    This population will be similar to my example of “FCAS designated P/C actuaries in the United States” that graduated in the same year.

    2. Then you will have a hypothesized p (%of Jews who are in this group. Might be around 5%). Then do your binomial calculation and you will see that the probability is not zero.

    3. Its very important to “know your experiment” before you do the calculation. For example in the PhD example above you might find that in the US there is no evidence that Jews are being given preference in academic jobs – adjusted for their level of education.

    4. In another population you MAY find Jews being racist against non Jews. A lot is published each year on different topics but all studies MUST adjust for obvious differences and sample from a homogenous group. In practice, regression models achieve this.

    5. On my being bitter: I see no blog or area where truth is being about actuaries. Its all about “top salaries” “top statisticisns”; “scientists” etc. It bothers me that something fake is being passed around and no one knows!I am not impressed with 100K or 150K salaries personally. I think its about equal from my perspective. That is as far as I can share on my own life.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 13:40 | Permalink
  336. badactuaries wrote:

    A lot of actuaries are yearning for respect. So are prostitutes and undesirables. To make tall claims, charge all kinds of money, benefit from regulation and lobbying, engage in racism, be grossly incompetent for being an “expert statistician” AND then demanding respect is not right.

    You feel I am mocking you? I am mean? Think of how much damage you cause by lying to people you recruit, many of us that pay your salaries in premiums, racism that costs us. Hype and lies. Is that fair?

    Of course you keep denying all this. I have shown evidence, raw evidence in terms of your technical knowledge (or lack thereof), racism and silly regulation that makes money for you.

    To take away from people that really contribute – real scientists that work hard to get a PhD from a good school.

    The level of statistical education is apparent from these posts. You are angry because I blew your cover. That makes you bitter and feel bad about yourself. This is because you have nothing to argue. You are bitter because you lack what it takes to be a REAL professional.

    We all praise heros like Jacobi, Euler etc. These are our mathematical heros. We love them and emulate them. YES math and science matters! We will not let you steal their name and plagiarize it. Your comunity is stealing the reputation from REAL scientists.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 14:51 | Permalink
  337. Actuarial Sucks wrote:

    This entire blog only gets around 500 page views per day so a lot of people will miss out on this information.

    Thursday, March 8, 2012 at 15:10 | Permalink
  338. Scott wrote:

    “On the other hand a 5000+ membership with over 1500 non whites, hundreds of insurance companies and NO non white chief actuary? The probability of this happening can be shown to be roughly zero! Unless there was some systematic reason such as “all non whites are stupid” or “racism” etc.”

    There are probably a handful of chief actuaries employed at any time. And since there are more than three times as many white actuaries as non-white actuaries, you would expect to find more whites employed as chief actuaries (ceteris paribus). But you’re assuming that everyone in the running for chief actuary is equally qualified. Maybe the non-whites who applied for that position were less qualified than their white colleagues? You don’t know what everyone’s credentials are.

    Monday, March 12, 2012 at 19:10 | Permalink
  339. badactuaries wrote:


    You are inadvertently making my point. If these people graduate with the same degrees, get FCAS designation and work in the same insurance companies then how can you have a race divide? Yes the non whites end up being less qualified in terms of management experience and that can only take place if they were not given equal opportunity.

    On the P/C side there are hundred’s of chief actuaries. Large companies like AIG have many subsidiaries, each with a chief actuary. It just means “chief manager over actuaries”.

    Its impossible to have such an extreme race divide. I can understand that non whites night have a smaller percentage for some reason but 0% is impossible to justify.

    Manger level positions or some inflated titles are possible for non whites. There are some rare instances of a self employed non white consulting actuary who may call himself/herself president (might as well call themselves a Obama!).

    There are no reported cases of non white chief actuaries period. I would go further and say that to prove non racism in this field there should be reported cases of on white chief actuaries for mid to large companies with any real authority. Such cases should occur with some frequency, though non necessarily exactly 1/3 of the times.

    Racism is a serious issue. It actually is a crime. Unfortunately its hard to prove on a case by case basis as companies have gotten smart with political correctness. They actually sometimes interview non whites candidates for management roles and then turn them down. The management roles are reserved for whites. Its a classic slavery model under the new political correctness world of MLK.

    As whites gain more management experience the case for the non white manager gets closed. They are just not qualified for those jobs due to “lack of experience”.

    Welcome to “Equal Opportunity Employer”. And all this applies to Asians. Blacks are discouraged so much so that they are almost non extant. I think there are less than 10 blacks out of 5000 CAS members. I am not sure on the exact count but its very very low.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 00:28 | Permalink
  340. badactuaries wrote:

    And on the manager level roles for non whites let me be clear. There are very few non whites in these roles also (% basis or nominal terms).

    If you speak to them in private, they will acknolwledge things like “last maanagement was racist” Well they will say the same abiut this one once its gone!

    Also the non white management roles are pretty petty laborious positions with virtually no power (maybe a few students).

    Mostly the whites take these roles as they are transitioning into higher positions within actuarial. Its just very very racist.

    Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 00:32 | Permalink
  341. Scott wrote:

    “If these people graduate with the same degrees, get FCAS designation and work in the same insurance companies then how can you have a race divide?”

    Just because a group of people hold the same academic degrees doesn’t mean they’re equally productive. The degree itself is a piece of paper; it doesn’t make a person productive. Productivity is a mix of intellectual raw material and work ethic. All lawyers must take the bar exam to practice, but does that mean that all lawyers are equally competent, just because they’ve passed the bar exam? Similarly, just because actuaries have passed the casualty exams does not mean they’re equally competent. To say that insurance companies are guilty of racial discrimination you would need access to information you don’t have.

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012 at 19:03 | Permalink
  342. Badactuaries wrote:


    This is what you are saying: “The non whites do not have the intellectual raw material and work ethic. Similarly, just because actuaries have passed the casualty exams does not mean they’re equally competent”.

    According to you, whites are a superior class a whole due to their higher intellect and work ethic. How do you then explain this:

    1. Japan, China are the second and third largest world economies. Asian countries have larger economies that Europe. Asian made products such as cars and electronics are superior to US and european made products.

    2. Top US universities employ a very large % of non whites as professors and researchers. In many top schools, non whites are over 50% of math and engineering departments and in many cases department heads. Unlike insurance system, our university system is considered one of the best (possibly the best) in the world.

    4. Advances in mathematics and sciences are increasingly done by asians. You see theorems and results by Chinese and Indian names.

    5. Historically (see wikipedia) much of modern algebra, mathematics, astronomy, agricultural sciences, avionics etc have been credited to middle eastern, greek scientists and philosophers. The word “algebra” is actually the name of an middle eastern person. Likewise the entire real analysis and numbering system is also middle eastern (the word 0 derives from zephr which is arabic).

    Your perspective of white racial superiority is based on 200 years of colonialization that subdued other races and peoples. Asia is rising and taking its place over Europe and the US. In fact US itself is now 1/3 non white.

    There is no scientific evidence of racial supremacy either. It seems that people cannot be classified based on outward looks and the system does better when people compete in a fair way and the best and brightest win. This is also called capitalism.

    6. In the united states we bring in a lot of immigrants each year, many of them non white. Many have shown to be the best and brightest, they are hard working and contribute. Your statements defy our value system, culture and who we are as Americans. We are all equal in this country and on jobs we discriminate on merit, not race. Equal opportunity means equal opportunity.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 06:23 | Permalink
  343. Bad Racism wrote:

    African mathematics is very extensive as well. Africans came up with binary code and they use fractal geometry in their art and architecture among many other things. Whites and Europeans ignore contributions of other people.

    In the US, blacks are discouraged from doing anything math-related.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 13:30 | Permalink
  344. Badactuaries wrote:

    Contrary to what a lot of whites think, the case against racism is NOT about power sharing or sharing white wealth. Its about the competitiveness of the economy and capitalism. When ALL people compete and the best is the winner it sends an inspiring uplifting message to all – work hard and show merit and YOU can do it too! So it sets a cascading effect of free competition that drives new ideas, growth and a prosperous economy.

    The opposite happens (as with actuarial field) when racism and entitlement sets in. Here the winner leaves a feeling of unfairness, cheat, deceit and selfishness. Its sends a message that to win you must stab, nudge and play unfair. The remaining people stop working and start playing office politics and games instead. The system rots under high costs, large salaries to those that know nothing more than division and multiplication.

    The rotting P/C actuarial field is a glowing example of this. There is virtually no creativity in this field, no real merit in terms of statistical knowledge, no problem solving that leads to better our systems – just getting high rates for the insurance industry. Its a classic example of how white yuppies can manipulate the system to get free entitlements under the false disguise of “capitalism” and private industry.

    Thursday, March 15, 2012 at 17:56 | Permalink
  345. Scott wrote:

    “This is what you are saying: ‘The non whites do not have the intellectual raw material and work ethic. Similarly, just because actuaries have passed the casualty exams does not mean they’re equally competent’.

    According to you, whites are a superior class a whole due to their higher intellect and work ethic. How do you then explain this:”

    You’re setting up strawman. No, that is not what I’m saying. I don’t know how qualified the non-whites who applied for chief actuary positions are because I’m not privy to their resumes. Maybe they were the most qualified applicants. You’re assuming they were, even though you don’t have enough information to make that judgment.

    To make matters worse, you accuse me of white supremacy and then make a long case for Asian supremacy! That is total hypocrisy. You are projecting your own racism onto others.

    Friday, March 16, 2012 at 23:51 | Permalink
  346. badactuaries wrote:

    well lets me understand your argument:

    1. out of 5000+ members and around 1600+ non white actuaries and well over a hundred chief actuary positions NONE was given to a non white person because somehow NONE of them were qualified enough. Even though equal opportunities were provided to ALL of them, somehow NONE of the non whites qualified.

    All this, according to you was not due to racism but something that need to be “investigated”. All resumes of non white candidates should be reviewed to make any statement. Unless that was done we should prevent actuaries of accusing of racism.

    2. I will leave it to the readers to think if your statement makes any sense. To me it does not.

    Studies on racism do not usually ask people on a case by cases basis. They study populations. In fact the case of actuarial racism is a slam dunk case as the numbers are overwhelming. In most studies you can find non whites, just no enough of them – and that is called racism! Here there is no one!

    3. I never said that asians are superior. In fact i stated that

    “It seems that people cannot be classified based on outward looks and the system does better when people compete in a fair way and the best and brightest win. This is also called capitalism.”

    4. It seems that unless you were allowed full reign to discriminate other races, any objection simply becomes a case of “Asian Supremacy or “Black reverse racism”. Your statements devalue non whites and yet you say its not racism.

    How would you feel if the roles were reversed? That out of ALL the white actuaries, NONE became a chief actuary? Would you be OK?

    Saturday, March 17, 2012 at 12:54 | Permalink
  347. WhatsAnActuary? wrote:

    Scott, read the rest of this blog. Talking with people like BadActuaries is pointless and waste of your time. Thought I would chime in although I’m sure you have figured that out already.

    Sunday, March 18, 2012 at 17:54 | Permalink
  348. DOUBLE TROUBLE wrote:

    I’ll never forget Reagan asking in the debate “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” I had more money to go more places and do more things when I had a paper route in 1971 and worked at Jack-in-the-Box in 1972 than I did in Silicon Valley in 1980 and 1981 after having been admitted to the Michigan MBA and hired to be an actuarial student with no exams both in 1979.

    Thursday, March 22, 2012 at 17:42 | Permalink
  349. CONFUSED wrote:

    Help here guys! Which is much more beneficial and better in terms of salary and job opportunities? Actuarial Science or Accounting(CIMA) ??

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012 at 07:50 | Permalink
  350. Reverse wrote:


    Both you and burgerking have used the term “white” as a derogatory and negatively connotated adjective to yuppy and racist. I take offense to that. Racism is race neutral at the source and your blatant negativism towards “white” people in the actuarial field is exactly the type of racial insensitivity that causes the discord that you’re so vocally adverse to.

    Monday, April 2, 2012 at 10:11 | Permalink
  351. Math Grad wrote:

    I find it quite funny that Badactuaries touts to be so brilliant in mathematics and yet cannot do simple binomial distribution which is one of the first things you learn in an intro probability course.

    “This is a binomial Dist with p=1/3, n=100. Probability of 0 non white chielf actuary = 100*(1/3)^100!. This is close to zero.”

    By your same logic switch the (1/3) with the remaining (2/3) ratio of “white” actuaries and repeat the same calculation. The probability, P, of zero “white chief actuaries” is also so close to zero it is nigh impossible.

    Maybe it’s time you find something useful to do with your time instead of trolling on this board. Like actually learning the math you talk so highly of yourself knowing.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 16:28 | Permalink
  352. badactuaries wrote:

    I corrected it in my next post that its (2/3)^100. The first post was a typo.

    It gets too tiring to keep posting the same stuff over and over again -especially with long obvious stuff. One gets sick of repeating themselves over stuff that is self explanatory. You don’t even need a binomial calculation for this!

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 16:40 | Permalink
  353. badactuaries wrote:

    On aa side note only idiots and actuaries claim to be experts in statistics/mathematics. Even “Student T Distribution” was developed by a person who chose to call himself/herself a “student”. I very humbly submit myself as no more than a student, nothing else. There are giants that know much better. I am fortunate to know a few of them and can attest to their humbleness.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012 at 16:45 | Permalink
  354. Just Me wrote:

    Bottom line of this thread: actuarial profession is over hyped that they get paid with salaries almost similar to medical doctors who really are doing something productive than their “guessestimating” work. Well, for one they may be on the top tier of lobbyists that sucks the breath out of this country (US). Like they say, some guys have all the luck and in this case these actuaries make sure they get all the luck because that’s all they can have. If insurance business do not exist I wonder what talent they can offer to work in any private entities. Encoding all the numbers in a spreadsheet can be done by a middle schooler, all they need is some training. Oh, that’s what actuaries have – JUST TRAINING!

    Thursday, April 5, 2012 at 15:16 | Permalink
  355. Tim wrote:

    Bad actuary:

    Where I work in the UK, as an actaury, non whites make a up a much greater proportion of the workforce than is representative of the population.

    If you’re after a black chief actuary, go look at prudential..

    Saturday, April 14, 2012 at 11:55 | Permalink
  356. mario arguello wrote:

    “I corrected it in my next post that its “(2/3)^100. The first post was a typo.”

    To BadActuaries:

    The above must also have been a typo, since the REAL answer is 2.1E-16, compare to the answer derived using your method, 2.46E-18. You erred by a factor of “only” 85, CONGRATULATIONS!

    The distribution is NOT Binomial, the correct answer is derived by dividing C(3500,100) by C(5000,100) which is equal to

    For someone who is complaining about Actuaries’ mathematical skill, you sure are lacking in those same skills.

    You and somebody else (“Jon” I think) make some good and accurate comments, but you in particular have overgeneralized based on what I presume is interaction with a few “bad” actuaries.

    Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 14:12 | Permalink
  357. bad actuaries wrote:

    mario arguello

    There are many approaches to sampling – not one:

    1. What you did is called draw by draw without replacement. The conditional probability of success changes as the underlying population alters with each draw.

    2. What I did is called simple random sample without replacement. Here the experimenter draws a sample from a finite population (at once – single draw). This is a binomial experiment since 100 draws are made at once out of N (5000), each with success probability p.We are interested in probability of x=0 successes in those 100 draws.

    3. Continuing the simple random sample, if you wanted to know the probability of a given count of non white actuaries from a draw of 100 (out of 5000) that would have a hyper-geometric distribution.

    4. In finite population simple random sampling, quantities like “mean number of non white actuaries in a population” require population correction factors (N-n)/N. Variance estimates and standard errors of those estimators also involve those correction factors.

    5. Another similar problem can be calculating estimating total number of non white chief actuaries among a population of 5000. Here you would need estimators of the form y/p where p is detection probability of finding a non white actuary and y are the sampled non white actuaries among N non white actuaries in a population or sub group. There are many estimators for doing this also and what I have given here is just one of them.

    Anyway, you need to understand that there is no ONE RIGHT answer in statistics. There are many estimators, each with their properties. In design based sampling the estimator is developed based on sampling approach to the problem.

    As an actuary, you memorized something and found that as the RIGHT answer. Regurigate that in that test and wallah! Where is my 100K? I am genius statistician!

    Statisticians DERIVE results based on situations. That is the difference between high school nut head (actuary)and a real statistician.

    Now go back talk to some more people and come back with something else. This is not working. And please don’t tell me “I am not an actuary blah blah”. What are you doing here then?

    Thursday, April 26, 2012 at 15:20 | Permalink
  358. bad actuaries wrote:

    All information is verifiable. The problem is people of low mathematical IQ is that they are too stupid to logically understand anything.

    Working with intelligent people its super easy. You make a logical argument and either they oppose you with data and facts or accept your case (provided you have backed yours up with facts).

    With stupid people nothing works because their mind is like a rock. If you hit it, its YOU thats injured. Same for dogs – no point biting a dog as it will ALWAYS win. You cannot bark louder or even bite harder.

    Cant convince an actuary that they are a bunch of overpaid, bigoted, incompetent losers that are sucking entitlement and dragging our capitalist system down. You just cant win! Nothing will sink in. Period.

    Friday, April 27, 2012 at 14:02 | Permalink
  359. hey wrote:

    Bad Actuaries, are you a statistician or mathematician? I want to know what industry you are working in. I agree with you that actuaries are overrated btw.

    Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 14:28 | Permalink
  360. bad actuaries wrote:

    Hey: Thanks for the compliment. This blog is not about me. Some actuaries are trying to take me down personally – typical behavior of stupid people when they have nothing left to talk.

    Its about the topic. Think of me as a computer nothing more. I am giving you guys/gals information thats verifiable. Information that no one gives or is willing to give. Leave it at that. I have no personal agenda and even if I was a grade 2 dropout, it would not change a single thing about the actuarial field. Its really meant for your benefit.

    Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 18:25 | Permalink
  361. Poke wrote:

    If you’re a math person and want to work in business you can try and go into operations research or quantitative finance.

    Friday, May 4, 2012 at 22:28 | Permalink
  362. WhatsAnActuary? wrote:

    Operations and quantitative finance are indeed very solid and rewarding professions!

    Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 19:06 | Permalink
  363. Roahn.S wrote:

    OMG! I decided not to even think of doing this..I will do my higher studies in Maths & become teacher…cool life..

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 05:05 | Permalink
  364. bad actuaries wrote:

    Firstly, Operations research is not a profession, its a branch of statistics and hence an academic field.

    PhD in statistics from a good school makes in the low 100′s and have tremendous demand (see American statistical association website). These jobs have low stress, lots of time, research oriented and come with job security. Even NASA, Siemens, bio tech firms, pharmaceutical companies hire lots of top statisticians. You actually work with educated people and not racist uneducated people like insurance clerks and actuaries.

    Best jobs, in my opinion are academic jobs (to your ignorant sarcastic comment on math teachers). Stat PhD’s make in the low 100′s and work only 9 months in a year. Even that’s a breeze as course material is pretty much the same. Lots of job security, people around you are very accomplished, excellent park like working conditions and a very nice state funded retirement and medical plan.

    So instead of dealing with sick office politics, you actually have a life and plenty of money to enjoy! Of course for a mediocre white yuppy, actuarial field is the best as that requires no brains and a sick vindictive, selfish, conniving, racist, self righteous mindset. This field PAYS for such a sick personality!

    For the genuine individual actuarial field is as sick as it gets and totally not worth the time/effort. Its very very overrated. You will hate your life once you get into it and you can easily make more money elsewhere.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 12:26 | Permalink
  365. anoshey wrote:

    hey people i am in my Alevels and i am interested in pursuing a degree in Acturial science.i want to ask a lot of questions to the people who are more experienced as the above comments confused me .firstly…i am planning to do bachelors in “Acturial science and Mathematics”.its a four year programme.what should i do after this to excel further???do we really have to sdudy 7-8 years to hav a successful career and does it have a scope for girls i mean women???if i dont live in UK where will i take my SOS exam…???

    Monday, May 21, 2012 at 17:01 | Permalink
  366. anoshey wrote:

    hello people here .i have a great confusion deciding my career.i am in grade 11 doing my Advanced level and would like to pursue a career in Acturial science.i want to clear my doubts regarding this field.Firs of all,i want to do BAchelors in “Acturial science and mathematics”from university of malaya, Malaysia.Is this a good idea,its a 4 years programme.What should i do after this to excel in this it true that one has to study 7-8 years to become an actury.cant we just do a 4 years bachelors @ one years master in this field.?i really want to know because i am bewildered.and yes lastly,does it have a scope for women all over the world??

    Monday, May 21, 2012 at 17:07 | Permalink
  367. SomoKajio wrote:

    I am a career IT guy with 20 years experience and an MBA. Can I break into this career with 2-4 exams and make 120k minimum?

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 10:29 | Permalink
  368. happyhappy wrote:

    Yea you will start out with at least 150K and move up to 250K – 500K in five years (is that enough for you?). Most experienced actuaries make in millions after that. Just call DW Simpson or talk to an actuary. Some actuaries are making billions and about 10% of them are in Forbes list of billionaires. But you need to pass these very very tough tests. Actuarial field is so advanced and scientific that only geniuses can make it. Its much more difficult than PhD in Statistics or theoretical physics from MIT. In fact Albert Einstein was an actuarial dropout!

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 13:22 | Permalink
  369. WhatsAnActuary? wrote:

    no but milton friedman is :D

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012 at 14:51 | Permalink
  370. WhatsAnActuary? wrote:

    Somokajio, it’s a tad asinine to expect that kind of money for a field you know nothing about don’t you think?

    Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 01:43 | Permalink
  371. Orthi wrote:


    I’m about to take the first exam in July. I will be starting my senior year in the top university in the state as a Economics/Math major. My biggest question is how much I’ll enjoy being an actuary.

    I’m a very social female, and despite finishing two majors in four years with a good GPA, I’ve NEVER had to sacrifice a social life for school. I go out a shameful amount compared to those in either of my majors alone and I’m the VP of a very time-consuming student organization. I’m very time-efficient and have a knack for figuring out the precise amount of time necessary to study for anything. Also, despite that I have made it clear that I value my social life quite a bit, I prefer to work alone and do my best problem solving by myself. Of course, I don’t expect to be nearly as social past college, but can emphasize that I’m pretty good at not letting one aspect of my life conflict with another.

    I’m a math and econ nerd and unlike others in my departments, my favorite classes are the theoretical ones. Microeconomic Theory and Real Analysis are no doubt my favorite classes in college.

    Also, I’m quite beastly at standardized tests. If I could have a high-paying job centered around SAT’s and GRE’s I would take it. I have great communication skills and can be demanding when necessary, so hopefully this means I won’t be cooped up somewhere performing the most tedious of tasks.

    What do y’all think? Will working towards being an actuary suck out all that makes me sparkle and shine?

    Sunday, May 27, 2012 at 21:29 | Permalink
  372. what's an actuary? wrote:


    I think you may enjoy actuarial work the only thing I caution is that everyone gets humbled by these exams – particularly the later ones. You have to decide if minimum 300 hours per test is something you are ok with. I for one thought I was then when it actually came to it realized that 300-400 hours every 6 months leaves very little for anything else because I have to put in an extra 20% to load in daydreaming and what not. If you truly believe you can just bang out that time and still keep up the life you want then go for it. Your other skills will absolutely be used and come in handy. In fact, I would say your knack for theoretical mathematics will give you an advantage as you will be eager to learn things that the other actuaries who fall in to the bin described by the haters here want to stay away from.

    Good luck on your test! Again I really caution you to go into this thinking you can somehow take shortcuts – I did that based on similarly good grades in school and testing in general. The upper level exams are not like any exam you have ever taken, but that’s not a bad thing! Just another challenge to overcome. By the way for reference I have passed 5 exams and failed 1 so I think these exams are doable but it takes a different kind of effort.

    Best of luck!

    Monday, May 28, 2012 at 07:29 | Permalink
  373. badactuaries wrote:

    Orthi, dont lie. You’re not that great at real analysis. The only reason you come on here telling people how great you are is because you are insecure. This insecurity stems from the knowledge deep inside you that no way in hell you could cut it as a PHD and so the idea of becoming an actuary comes naturally…

    Monday, May 28, 2012 at 09:46 | Permalink
  374. Orthi wrote:

    What’s an Actuary:

    Thanks! Everyone speaks of the amount ofhours it takes to study but it doesn’t seem much different than all the hours I put into schoolwork, internships, organizations, etc. right now and perhaps the fact that I won’t have to do it my whole life will be enough to pull me along. These are all things I’ve considered and probably, like everyone else, won’t know if it’s for me until later in the game.


    I don’t know anyone whose really great at RA but I’ve most definitely stood out in my analysis courses.

    I don’t understand from where you are making these presumptions about me. I mentioned the few positive aspects about myself that I think could make me like being an actuary. I’m not great at Differential Equations or Government but I didn’t mention that because I thought it would not be relevant. I would not be considering being an actuary if I didn’t think I might have what it takes.

    Being a PhD would be great, but it isn’t for me no matter what my qualifications are. I am motivated by seeing the results of my effort as I go along rather than a far off prospect that one day it will all pay off, even if it means I’ll end up having a smaller salary.

    I do have confidence that I’ll be able to do well on the exams as I don’t do things with hesitancy, and only inquired as to whether I’ll be able to still enjoy life to a healthy extent while an actuarial student.

    Monday, May 28, 2012 at 10:41 | Permalink
  375. badactuaries wrote:

    “I don’t know anyone whose really great at RA but I’ve most definitely stood out in my analysis courses.” Doing well in a real analysis course is not the same as solving research level problems, few are cut for research. You are not. You speak as if you are Terrence Tao, you might need a healthy reality check.

    Monday, May 28, 2012 at 12:24 | Permalink
  376. bad actuaries wrote:

    I have never posted anything from post 371 onwards. These losers (i.e actuaries) are copying my name and typing stuff.


    Monday, May 28, 2012 at 15:25 | Permalink
  377. John wrote:

    It very shameful conduct to copy someone else’s name and type stuff. Its one thing to use a different name and totally another to spoil someone else’s name.

    Bad actuaries has given us insights that I find to be true. Why cant someone speak the truth and not be crucified? Bad actuaries has made correct statements about this field.

    Monday, May 28, 2012 at 15:49 | Permalink
  378. Honest wrote:

    Orthi there is no real analysis or math in the actuarial field. No one ever uses higher statistics on these jobs and tests dont require that also. Its mostly rote memorization of formulae. So your math ability does not matter if you choose to be an actuary. Success in this field largely depends on these things:

    1. Rote memorization of formulae
    2. White skin color
    3. Professional office politician
    4. Ability to relate to insurance environment (low/semi educated). Cut throat.

    Salary ranges from 100 – 150 for a fully qualified experienced actuary (Midwest). You will make more in the east or west coast but that is a cost of living adjustment. Starting salary for a graduate is around 50K.

    Actuarial field is not for someone analytical who likes real analysis. No one you will work with will relate to you or respect for this kind of knowledge. Finally, no business or management skills are needed as long as you are super awesome with the three things I mentioned.

    Wednesday, May 30, 2012 at 07:51 | Permalink
  379. Elise wrote:

    All reading through all the comments here, I cannot believe I was actually contemplating becoming an actuary, shows how little I knew about this field and people who are in.
    I would like to thank Jon, Burger King and Badactuaries for enlightening us about the realities of this so-called ‘profession’. Phew…a narrow escape for me!

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 19:52 | Permalink
  380. Mumm-ra wrote:

    What do you guys think of a career in enterprise risk management compared to finance, accounting or actuarial science?

    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 00:04 | Permalink
  381. what's an actuary? wrote:

    Regarding Honest’s (BadActuary) comments:

    Higher level statistics are used, but not in all roles. I suppose not even in most roles, but there is definitely some surrounding the predictive modeling aspect. That’s why I said if a person shows above average ability there is more chance they will be put into one of these more specific roles. But Honest is right, in general, the large majority of the work will not require high level math/statistics. Subsequently that means that SOME people will have a hard time “relating”, but they will certainly respect you and again assuming strong management they will recognize what you bring to the table.

    Regarding Honest’s comments about success – and I’m not sure how this person defines success –

    You will have to learn formulas. Some choose to memorize and yes may get by that way. Some choose to understand and are definitely better off.

    Not sure what else can be said that hasn’t about the skin color thing.

    Unfortunately, if you want to work in the corporate world, office politics have a part. It’s the bitter truth. Not specific to actuarial in anyway. They are a b*tch but it is what it is. In that regard academia is definitely superior.

    Relating to people that are of lower [mathematical] intelligence is an important skill to have for an actuary this is very much true. You need to able to dumb things down yet make a case – quite challenging. That does not mean your talents won’t be recognized.

    Salary is on point for the typical credentialed mid-level management type actuary. I think that range is about right for east coast actually too. High level managers will make closer to 200 with maybe some chiefs making 250.

    Management skills are very highly valued and will separate an experience actuary who does technical work all day to an actuary who eventually has entire departments working under them. Basically any field though, from computer science to banking to actuarial, management skills will help you.

    I have personally seen geniuses and very high level actuaries who just could not manage. Nothing wrong with that per se, just depends on what you want to do and where you want to go.

    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 01:10 | Permalink
  382. Honest wrote:

    Your statements seems to negate one another. I will only state a few:

    1. “large majority of the work will not require high level math/statistics. …but they will certainly respect you”

    You are saying this field does not require scientific education. If its that uneducated, I dont believe people will respect me because I know advanced statistics. For example, people at Mc Donalds wont respect me just because I have PhD in statistics.

    2. “Predictive models” are purely statistical models used in auto insurance and they are managed by statisticians, not actuaries. Im fact progressive insurance does not even have very many actuaries. Also, these models are just plain lame duck “run of the mill” models and not some advanced cutting edge research. Just about any standard statistician can build them. No actuary understands them as they cant even do matrix algebra, let alone multivariate statistics!

    3. Race issues are clear from the threads. You need to read them from an open mind and not a white person’s opinion.

    4. “High level managers will make closer to 200 with maybe some chiefs making 250″

    This is east coast salary and not the pay of a typical Chief Actuary. Also actuaries are not “high level managers” and just middle management with fancy titles.

    5. “Management skills are very highly valued”

    You got done admitting bad politics and low educated environment. I dont know what management skills these low IQ people would need beyond Burger King’s management style!

    I just think that bad actuaries has the correct perspective and its real.

    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 10:46 | Permalink
  383. what's an actuary? wrote:

    You’re saying you are not bad actuaries?

    Just because it doesn’t require it, doesn’t mean there are those who don’t have higher than average intelligence and can recognize high levels of intelligence. Look I agree there is a disappointing amount of low level folks in this field, but that’s not all. A good manager would recognize your talents. There are exceptions. The insecure manager may actually be threatened by your skills. I don’t think that’s unique to actuarial – managers come in all vaerieties. From my experience – there would be someone to notice some real talent, and in actuarial, particularly for strong analysis. Not because you have a PHD, but because you really good.

    Like I said, there will be a few actuaries who are good enough to truly understand these models. I agree with you it’s NOT the majority, and in fact maybe a significant minority, but those who show the talent will be recruited for these roles precisely because there aren’t that many people who would go this route instead of doing research/academia.

    You could be right about the east coast thing – makes sense.

    Politics doesn’t imply having talents and skills is useless. I realize it sucks and would be better if it didn’t exist, but having useful skills will still create opportunities and will be recognized by the right people.

    Brilliant or not, you need good managers. Bad manager get quickly weeded out, with or without politics. If they can’t produce results from their people, they won’t make it. If numerous employees of one manager complain this won’t go unnoticed (I’ve seen this happen).

    Saying that politics is the only thing matters in corporate world, and skills are irrelevant, is just too cynical. Sure there’ some truth but at the end of the day, if you make yourself useful it will be recognized.

    Saturday, June 2, 2012 at 11:04 | Permalink
  384. Jerks wrote:

    Majority of actuaries are jerks.

    Sunday, June 3, 2012 at 10:47 | Permalink
  385. Melturpin wrote:

    What a pleasant surprise it was to discover this thread today! I often have similar discussions about the actuarial profession and their lies in the Comments sections of various popular Actuary videos on youtube. Just search “actuary” on youtube and see the top onese that pop up.

    I wasted over a decade in the profession and if I can do anything to discourage people similar to myself from suffering a similar fate, I’d love to help!

    My big beef has always been the professions INSISTENCE on recruiting “people who LOVE MATH!!” into their ranks. I, personally LOVE Math and I majored in Math in school. There is interesting Math on the early exams, but after that it is mostly finance and economics. Despite the promotional efforts of the SOA, you hardly ever use mathematics on the job. And that is the truth! Any actuary who tells you he or she is some kind of mathematical wizard with special unique powers that nobody else would understand is totally full of bullshit! Knowledge of IT issues, accounting, finance and corporate buttkissing are MUCH more important to success and happiness in the job.

    If you love accounting and number crunching (Math is NOT number crunching by the way) and just happen to be good at math you might like being an actuary.

    If you REALLy love Math/Statistics, RUN! Run NOW!! Do not waste time! It’s not better at a different company, so don’t just switch companies! It’s the SAME everywhere!

    I personally found my happiness as a Math teacher, and I’ve been doing that now for over 6 years. I love the work, and it’s the kind of thing I would LOVE to continue doing even into my old age years. I’m in no hurry to get rich and retire as young as possible to escape cubicle hell as soon as possible.

    One thing I disagree with is that the insurance industry needs more serious statisticians, though. Lets put our brightest mathmaticians and statisticians to work doing more USEFUL things. Let the accountants opine on reserves! Their isn’t anything that complicated about it!

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 05:37 | Permalink
  386. Honest wrote:

    Melturpin, Makes sense what you say. On the last sentence, my beef is that they should not have the sole power to sign reserves and certify rates. That legal power need to be extended to include other individuals like statisticians.

    With the legal power gone, these actuaries (=insurance MBA) would be making max 50 – 75K/year. That is their true pay. Many would be jobless as there would no need for them.

    There are many “third class” statisticians that would take an actuarial job. They currently do work insurance companies as no one else would hire them. Insurance companies are one of the worst places to work and may be suited for low level statisticians.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 08:26 | Permalink
  387. Jerks wrote:

    I think people would be better off if they were in finance or operations research compared to actuarial science.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 13:44 | Permalink
  388. wiserforthis thread wrote:

    I’m glad I came upon this thread. I think I’m wiser for it. I’m in a math PhD program. It’s hard, tiresome work sometimes, and I was thinking of leaving to work as an actuary (if I could find work doing that). The comments here have definitely given me pause. I still don’t know if academia is for me, but I think I’m convinced that insurance is beneath me.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 17:06 | Permalink
  389. wiserforthis thread wrote:

    One thing I want to weigh in on: someone suggested that actuaries believe the work involved in passing all the actuary tests is harder than earning a Ph.D. That is laughable. Do you realize that earning a Ph.D. means proving substantially original results? It’s not just learning stuff that other people figured out before you. It’s not just taking a lot of classes. You have to find a problem that no one solved before and solve it. There isn’t any standardized test or series of tests that can compare with that.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 17:38 | Permalink
  390. HONEST wrote:

    This whole recruiting the “best math” people needs to end. Its a lie and ruins lives. People get misled. The Casualty actuarial society does this to promote their reputation as they need this lobby in DC (to preserve their signing power).

    The whole web of lies revolves around this signing power. Take that away and this game is over. The insurance companies would not pay these actuaries either as they cant get them the rates/reserves.

    If the CAS came out and said honestly that we are just insurance MBA’s, do you think they would keep their signing power? Someone would challenge that. They are truly stealing the name of statisticians and mathematicians to make money!

    They should be taken to court for racism as well.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 18:02 | Permalink
  391. Terence Tao wrote:

    ORTHI, excuse me, are you effking serious? No one in the world, well except me, can really party crazily while studying RA. And you’re from a good university? Hella, really? Are you somewhat relative to Alexandra Wallace? Shes from a good university too, I am sure shes a big time party girl, and yeah she is smart like you.

    Thursday, June 7, 2012 at 18:48 | Permalink
  392. Melturpin wrote:

    While I am TOTALLY on board with the notion that actuaries are NOT math wizards and shouldn’t lure bright young mathematical minds into the profession, I find the assertion that the field is particularly racist to be unsupportable by evidence.

    There is CERTAINLY racism/sexism in corporate America, but the actuarial profession is no better and no worse in this regard. Native English speakers are going to have communication advantages (NOT analytical) that push them towards management more easily than non-native speakers.
    I’ve found that many women go very far in the field, but they often find the same barriers near the top that women do in ALL corporate jobs. There are just not a lot of African Americans who get degrees in math and stats, and I’d say the proportion carries over into the actuarial profession. My 1st company actually had 2 African American actuaries and they went on to do very well in their careers (now Senior VPs).

    But I WOULD be copletely FOR the idea that it’s not necessary for actuaries to legally sign off on reserves.

    Friday, June 8, 2012 at 02:00 | Permalink
  393. wiserforthis thread wrote:

    Terence Tao: “No one in the world, well except me, can really party crazily while studying RA.”

    I suspect you don’t really know what you’re talking about. Your comment also seems disingenuous, but I just wanted to correct your nonsense.

    Undergraduate “real analysis” is basically the material of the calculus sequence but with proofs, and it really doesn’t matter if you’re at a “good university”. Any mathematician at any university could teach real analysis. It’s not super-hard stuff that blows the mind of every student. It’s calculus with epsilons and deltas.

    By the way, I’m a mathematical analyst, meaning mathematical analysis is my specialization and research area.

    Friday, June 8, 2012 at 03:11 | Permalink
  394. Addy wrote:

    What Melturpin said is actually true. In the US, Asians can earn between 8% and 29% lower than white men with similar educational background and qualification. Blacks earn less and people who are Hispanic earn the least.

    Friday, June 8, 2012 at 08:24 | Permalink
  395. Honest wrote:

    Melturpin, your statements contradict:

    “I find… racist.. to be unsupportable…
    There is CERTAINLY racism/sexism in corporate America, but the actuarial profession is no better and no worse in this regard”.

    You are acknowledging racism, but justifying it with “hey everyone is doing it so its OK”. ITS ILLEGAL TO BE RACIST. NO COURT WILL UPHOLD THIS ARGUMENT! ITs like saying “hey people get raped in this city, so get over it!”

    Secondly, there is a difference between corporate america in general and this so called “profession”. Actuaries have fiduciary responsibilities to be ethical (to keep power to sign) and uphold high standards. They claim to be honest, educated people who protect public interest. Corporate america does not not have such “professional” rules.

    Then why not come out and say “we are no different than rest of corporate America”. In that case we all say “lets take you to court on racism and take your legal power too!”

    Thirdly, your claim on non-whites “english is not good enough” is not correct either. Many are now born in US, many come from english speaking countries. The fact that NO NON WHITE makes it to the chief actuary level and above is not evidence for you?

    Fourthly, your statement: “. There are just not a lot of African Americans who get degrees in math and stats” is incorrect for two reasons

    1) Math/Stat degree is NOT needed to be in the actuarial filed. You have been saying that yourself! Also, a large % of actuaries are not math/stat majors.

    2)There are around 20% african americans in the US and most “black schools” have a math department. If you just counted the total graduating from these schools (plus some are also in white schools), the % will not be 0%. Currently there are around 0% black actuaries!

    The two VP’s – Usually a VP is just an inflated title. Swiss Re, St.Paul travellers etc have numerous numerous VP’s. Can you provide us their names so we can verify that they are even african american!? Do you know any african american chief actuary?

    Look, its tough to relate if you are white. I know a white actuary who went to a non-white country and came back complaining of racism because non whites were given preference. I agreed with him also because racism is racism. Its wrong wherever it happens.

    Friday, June 8, 2012 at 08:43 | Permalink
  396. Scorpion wrote:

    “There are just not a lot of African Americans who get degrees in math and stats”

    That’s just stereotyping.

    Friday, June 8, 2012 at 23:23 | Permalink
  397. Honest wrote:

    wiserforthis thread: Shut up or put up, show us your research or i call bullshit on you being a PHD.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 04:58 | Permalink
  398. HONEST wrote:


    Losers will be losers. The actuarial myth has already been busted. Plus you are showing your colors by doing back stabbing here on the blog. Just proves my point that these actuaries are racist, mean, selfish, stupid, incompetent and worthless junk that are white yuppies. You are mooching dollars and bleeding our system.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 09:46 | Permalink
  399. Melturpin wrote:


    It’s really sad that you’ve clouded this otherwise useful and “honest” thread with the racism issue. If it’s such a lame career choice (and it is as we’d both agree) for those with truly inquisitive mathematical minds, why would you WANT more minorities in that job? I wouldn’t wish a future career as an actuary on my worst enemy! Let whitey have it!

    Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 20:09 | Permalink
  400. Melturpin wrote:

    Here’s a directory WITH PICTURES of the Math grad students at Harvard. How many black people do you see? There are certainly many black people at Harvard. They’re not here, though:
    Pick any other random math graduate program. Many online grad school directories have pictures. Do these universities have black people in their student bodides? Yes, of course they do. Is the same proportion of black students represented in the Math/Stats grad schools?
    Show me one school where it is.

    Saturday, June 9, 2012 at 20:14 | Permalink
  401. Scorpion wrote:

    Melturpin, here’s an example at the same school (postdoc).

    The NBA player Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest) was a math major.

    There are probably many more examples. Also, there many people that do math/stats undergraduate degrees that don’t go to graduate school in math/stats. They might go to school grad school in finance, computer science, and sometimes even law or medicine.

    Also, you don’t need a graduate degree in math/stats to become an actuary. You do not even need a math/stats degree. There are actuaries with humanities degrees.

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 00:59 | Permalink
  402. Scorpion wrote:

    @400, it’s because whites are making easy money off this career while systematically keeping minorities from prospering in this “profession”.

    @399, my other comment is awaiting moderation. It has a few examples.

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 01:24 | Permalink
  403. CocaCola wrote:

    melturpin – the race issue is not about putting “whitey” down. I am white myself. Not all whites are racist either. This is about:

    (1) Killing competition and competence in the work place. By promoting and paying 2-3 times true wages for race /politics, the system encourages people to play games.

    This results in high premiums as the mediocre (at best) people try to jack up rates, stifle creativity, play games to get promoted and keep their jobs. Technical competence and management is replaced by filth over time. The whole organization rots. In the end you see expensive products that are low in quality and service.

    (2) While we are forced to pay these premiums and salaries through regulation (insurance is required), our dollars are allocated to wrong places. Instead of paying more to teachers, researchers etc we spend on these “professionals” Consider how much we spend on insurance each year!

    Bad allocation of dollars bleeds the system. Entire country suffers.

    (3) By allocating dollars to such incompetent jerks we are sending a wrong signal to the workplace. We are saying that in America you dont need schooling, you need white skin. This old model has been proven to be failure in 21st century as asian ecnonmies are picking up. Hiring and promotion needs to be on merit only.

    (4) Racism also produces justifiable ill feeling and anger in the society. Competent people work hard to make less and incompetent jerks play games to make more based on their color. Societies that “don’t care” lead to backlash. This anger comes out in different ways on the streets.

    A healthy capitalist system will encourage merit based competition. We need to:

    (1) Take away their sole signing power to open more competition and supply.

    (2) Investigate why non white actuaries are not moving up. At entry level, how many non whites are hired (that is the time when people have no experience). Find out why non whites are not being promoted?

    (3) Open old cases where non whites have filed for racial discrimination against an actuarial employer. Find our from those that were fired/left why they left. Is that due to racial discrimination? Ask for evidence. In many cases its easier to ask someone that has already left as they have little to lose at that point.

    (4) Conduct closed door interviews of actuarial employers and find out feelings and opinions of employees. This can more easily be done for government agencies than private.

    Equal opportunity creates healthy companies. It lowers wages due to competition and supply. It raises standards of the workplace.

    I am not suggesting giving actuarial job to someone because they are non white. I am saying hire people of all races in entry level positions. From that pool we need to see why is it that only whites becomes chief actuaries (esp in a field that requires so little brains)? This promotion and hiring based on race needs to stop.

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 11:52 | Permalink
  404. Scorpion wrote:


    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 15:09 | Permalink
  405. Scorpion wrote:

    This is ridiculous. Post 401 was written by me. Post 403 is an imposter.

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 15:58 | Permalink
  406. CocaCola wrote:

    Scorpion, these actuaries are losing and thats what happens when they lose – they will play politics. This is their “profession”. I know that 401 was yours.

    To deal with this, my advice to the webhost: link each name to the unique email address (it has to be valid). That way no one can copy another’s username. For example, if I copy someone’s name but my email address is not the same, it wont post and will say (username already taken).

    Sunday, June 10, 2012 at 16:14 | Permalink
  407. Melturpin wrote:

    You make many good points. There is certainly a great deal of racism in the corporate world, but I still don’t buy the fact that this is a particularly actuarial phenomenon. It spans ALL professions.

    I would imagine you’d find the same lack of minorities in the office of CFO, CIO, Human Resourses executive, and Chief Council.

    Monday, June 11, 2012 at 18:18 | Permalink
  408. CocaCola wrote:

    Melturpin, we in the US still excel in research. Our research labs consist of well diversified and talented people and we have some of the world’s best brains. Look at NASA, Lockheed Martin, Boeing etc. look at our universities. We all need to be proud.

    Yes, you are right about general rampant racism and lack of competition in corporate jobs – especially in sick industries like insurance. The higher up you go the worse it gets. The CEO’s and managements of these insurance companies are all white, very very mediocre with no astonishing accomplishments, draw exorbitant salaries/bonuses while their products and services suck. We are forced to buy insurance it here in the US due to regulation (its required).

    Do you want to continue this? The actuarial field is an extention of the insurance industry and their sole purpose is to leverage their signing power to get the highest premiums/favorable reserves for their clients. Do you want to continue supporting their excessive salaries and incompetence? Do you want this lobbying business to continue?

    The actuarial field IS racist and very very overpaid. It needs to end because its just plain WRONG and ILLEGAL. Is that not good enough a reason?

    Monday, June 11, 2012 at 19:22 | Permalink
  409. wiserforthis thread wrote:

    It’s true that there are very few black people in mathematics (in academia, I mean). Personally, I believe the reasons for this are complex and sociological. I don’t see racism keeping black people out. What I see is not many black people trying to get in.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 06:51 | Permalink
  410. CocaCola wrote:


    The actuarial field does not require math. Its just not a math field and many actuaries are not math majors. So african americans can be actuaries and the whole math major issue is irrelevant.

    Have you seen these tests? First few tests require no delta epsilon proofs, no real analysis, no matrix algebra. You will be lucky to be asked a determinant of a 2×2 real matrix! Its rote memorization of some statistical tests. They give you some numbers to plug in a formula. After those tests, its just some general finance stuff and accounting. CAPM is memorized and some results in finance like black scholes. The rest of their lives, these idiots keep slapping these formulas in speadsheets and cranking out “models”. They claim to be geniuses.

    They have no knowledge of sampling theory (see thread above), no stochastic processes, no regression, no time series etc etc. They are a joke!

    Blacks are kept out because they discourage them on these actuarial departments. Hiring is rare and if they get hired no white manager is willing to work with them. If they were encouraged, blacks would become actuaries.


    That said, what about Asians? Why are’nt they becoming chief actuaries? For example Indians speak fluent english as India was a british colony, many are born in the US and many have lived here a long time. Not a single asian chief actuary? Still race is not an issue?

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 08:00 | Permalink
  411. Leko wrote:

    Blacks are simply discouraged from pursuing anything math related (math, stats, computer science etc.). Whites and blacks overemphasize black achievement in sports and entertainment. Whites also stereotypes blacks as being bad at math. If people begin to believe these stereotypes a self fulfilling prophecy might occur.

    Actuarial “profession” is believed to be math related (even though you don’t use much math in your job). So blacks won’t go into the profession. Those that get in would probably do menial work and don’t get promoted.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 12:29 | Permalink
  412. Leko wrote:

    Blacks may also pursue accounting and finance than other business fields as well.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 12:35 | Permalink
  413. Leko wrote:

    *pursue it less

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 12:36 | Permalink
  414. wiserforthis thread wrote:

    I mentioned blacks in math departments in academia because someone had pointed out that there aren’t many. And that’s true, but I don’t think it’s because of racism.

    Regardless of whether the work of an actuary is truly mathematical, it is perceived to be a job for people with strong math skills. For that reason, the makeup of math departments in universities is certainly relevant to this question.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 12:39 | Permalink
  415. Coca Cola wrote:

    Leaving the black and math issue aside, how would you explain other non whites? Why are’nt they becoming chief actuaries? For example Indians speak fluent english as India was a british colony, many are born in the US and many have lived here a long time. Not a single asian chief actuary?

    Still race is not an issue?

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 12:51 | Permalink
  416. Leko wrote:

    It might be from racial stereotypes and self fulfilling prophecy.

    I once heard of a study where they gave a black and an Asian a test (either a math test or IQ test or both) in the same room. They knew from the beginning that the black guy was smarter. However, he performed significantly lower than expected and the Asian performed higher than expected. When they started the test the black guy thought the Asian guy was smarter.

    So if everyone is taught from a young age that blacks are bad at math and Asians are good at it the black may be discouraged from that early age. These are racial stereotypes from racism of previous generations. So it is not directly because of racism why they are a few blacks but indirectly from socialization.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 12:54 | Permalink
  417. Tim wrote:

    All so silly.

    I really don’t get why there is this racism debate here. The actuarial profession is the most classless non racist profession I know. Our auditors a much more likely to be white, rich etc.

    50% of our graduate in take is ethnically from the Indian sub continent.

    I’ll admit that there aren’t many black people. Its about 4% where I work, but this is still more than would be representative of the population at large.

    I’d say the lack of a black chief actuary is more to do with the average age of chief actuaries than anything else. In the next twenty years there will be far more non white chief actuaries.

    I work in the uk.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 14:12 | Permalink
  418. what's an actuary? wrote:

    Another thing to consider, particularly regarding the Indian population, is that sometimes the accent really gets in the way both from a communication perspective and a confidence perspective. Some accents, even for those who learned in school, prohibit them for being as effective communicators as others. Also, and perhaps more importantly, a thick accent often leads to a lack of confidence when speaking English. I’ve seen this first hand coming from an immigrant family.

    Other have mentioned good points too which could explain the lack of non-white chief actuaries. No need to jump on the racist conspiracy bandwagon quite yet.

    Also curious – which actuaries claim to be geniuses?

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 14:23 | Permalink
  419. Coca Cola wrote:

    The whole race question has been thrown off by the black math question.

    The main question is not about blacks. Its about non whites in general. Currently about a 1/3 of CAS members are non white. Why is there not a single non white chief actuary?

    Age? Not really. Many chief actuaries are young. The word “Chief Actuary” just means manager over actuaries.

    English? Not really. Indians speak excellent english. Many asians come particularly those that are born here or have lived here speak great english. Also many have learned english. Remember you need a certain mastery of english even to attend a US university. Also, we are not talking some big shot position. Its just actuarial chief actuary positions!

    If this is not racism then what is? How much proof one needs to show that you just cant have a situation like the one I have explained!!! Diversity and inclusion will create opportunities for people across the board. Not create “pockets” of races grouped together.

    Whites in the actuarial field are getting a free entitlement They need to go and make an honest living.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 14:29 | Permalink
  420. Coca Cola wrote:

    what’s an actuary? You mention thick accent. Do you say the same about southerners (Y’all)? How about yankees with their twang? How about Texans?

    So unless someone was from the US, they are white in color, any other person with an accent is just lacking in confidence!

    Also lookup the CAS handbook of members and call the Indian names. Many speak English with a US accent as they were born here or have lived here since they were 15!

    On your genius question: I think we all agree on one thing: Actuaries do not know math/stat. They are insurance MBA’s. The power to sign need to be generalized. Its the race issue that being discussed, not competence of a P/C actuary.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 14:50 | Permalink
  421. what's an actuary? wrote:

    I’m not saying all, I’m just saying having a thick accent can have that effect.

    And I never disagreed with the insurance MBA thing – but you are saying that Actuaries claim they are geniuses (or was it Honest?). I was just wondering where that came from? I mean which actuaries are saying that? I’ve never heard that.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 15:13 | Permalink
  422. Pool wrote:

    I’ve heard many actuaries say what they do is overrated and they say to other actuaries that they don’t have to study that much because the exams are mainly undergraduate math (without proofs; UK exams have proofs though).

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 15:31 | Permalink
  423. Tim wrote:

    You don’t need a lot of maths to be an actuary.

    Or an engineer

    Or a scientist

    Or a statistician

    Or a maths teacher

    Or a software developer

    You only need maths to be a mathematician.

    I know people who qualified as actuaries without going to university.

    Now everyone goes to university, of course you’ll need a maths degree.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:05 | Permalink
  424. Tim wrote:

    Coca cola.

    You lose credibility when you say actuaries don’t study time series, stochastic processes or regression.

    I admit it’s not in depth..

    Please see ct3 ct4 ct6 ct8 and st6 past papers.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:19 | Permalink
  425. Coca COla wrote:

    Tim, we need you here! By the way “ask” is incorrect and “aks” is the correct word english. So my genius actuary (you need to be paid more by the way as long as you are VERY VERY white), I am “aksing” you to just be quiet. #422 that you wrote is a master piece and can qualify for a nobel prize. Just aks your chief actuary!

    #423 is also a winner but I am aksing you to again keep it to your bright actuarial friends. Since you know regression so well, why dont you make the time machine? Seriously regression is about making a time machine. I am not aksing you I am telling you!

    Oh and do you know the difference between correlation and independence? Correlation means men relating to women. Independence means “July 4th”. I love your “maths” by the way.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:34 | Permalink
  426. Tim wrote:


    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 16:47 | Permalink
  427. Stupid wrote:

    This entire thread is stupid.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 19:41 | Permalink
  428. Coca Cola wrote:

    What do you want me to comment on 422? That math is not needed in statistics or physics?

    Dude, Statistics is ALL math. So is physics. Its not about memorizing the formula for linear regression. These are derived using algebra (that is math).

    This entire thread is not stupid – actuaries are stupid. That’s not the same thing. You people dont know anything and make over 100K/year. Plus the entitlement and yuppiness. It just makes me puke.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 22:40 | Permalink
  429. Stupid wrote:

    The thread is stupid because the OP already got his answer and didn’t want to be an actuary anyway. You are just wasting your time arguing with actuaries and actuaries are wasting their time arguing with you.

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 22:43 | Permalink
  430. Coca Cola wrote:

    Stupid – thats not true. There are many people here that just dont know about this field. They have never been told the truth and I am writing for their benefit. Some of them are great stat/math students and would waste their lives in this “profession”.

    There are many that suck at math and come here only to argue. They keep insisting on being an actuary and also on their great math skills. They feel bad that they cant do math and want to make money.

    The ones that argue are actuaries. They know very well that they cant do math and are there for their skin color and office butt kissing. Their ignorant, stubborn and racist comments help the first kind that see what I am saying – in action. This is a small picture of the real actuarial world when you will work with such people all your life!

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 23:27 | Permalink
  431. Stupid wrote:

    Oh okay

    Tuesday, June 12, 2012 at 23:31 | Permalink
  432. Seeker wrote:

    Is being an actuary different in Canada or UK? Are these problems restricted to the US?

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 01:13 | Permalink
  433. Philosopher wrote:

    “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

    Translation: If you love math and get a job in that has a lot of math you will be happy.

    “If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”

    If you are an actuary and realized it was a mistake then you should change jobs.

    “Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

    “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

    “Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human. At best he is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe, and not make messes in the house.”

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 18:57 | Permalink
  434. Zoner wrote:

    I can’t believe this! Why would they rate actuaries as the #2 job in USA? They are tricking young people!

    Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 19:23 | Permalink
  435. Melturpin wrote:

    I know, its scary sad isn’t it? Actuary is usually ranked in the top few professions every year by various surveys.

    There are many people in this world who just don’t require much of a mental challenge to be happy. They’re not really interested in doing something good and worthwhile to create value for others in the world. They just want a secure, well paid position that doesn’t require the movement of their fat asses too much. A position where one can spend a great deal of the day just surfing the internet and pretending to work would be ideal. The actuarial profession is perfect for those with such aspirations.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 00:50 | Permalink
  436. Melturpin wrote:

    If all actuaries died today, the world would be perfectly fine. In fact a mass extinction of actuarios would impact the world to a lesser extent than the mass extinction of ANY OTHER PROFESSION.

    Accountants would simply dig into the actuarial files, find there IS NO magically complicated incomprehensibly mathematical theory behind reserves, modelling and pricing, and go on with operations and financial reporting as before…..using whatever numbers make management happiest.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 00:58 | Permalink
  437. JONES wrote:

    Jesus Christ, people are still talking in this thread

    Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 14:48 | Permalink
  438. Zoner wrote:

    Software engineer is the number one job.

    Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 20:16 | Permalink
  439. Carlo wrote:

    Hi! I am currently graduating from high school and entering first year university next year. I’m going to take computer science, algebra and vectors in uni as my first 3 courses as they are mandatory. I believe I have the option of taking 2 elective courses and I was wondering what should I take that would help me succeed in the actuary profession?

    Thursday, June 14, 2012 at 20:29 | Permalink
  440. Melturpin wrote:

    Take accounting. My accounting courses were only ones that actually helped me with my actuarial job. Math courses only helped with exams. Actuaries are really just glorified accountants.

    Friday, June 15, 2012 at 05:32 | Permalink
  441. what's an actuary? wrote:

    Carlo start with probability courses. Melturpin had an unfortunate position it seems like – I used material from probability courses every single day (in a research role however). That being said, you will have to learn those same concepts for the exams but it’s better to take it in school via instructor led session. Malturpin is also correct as understanding financial statements will be helpful as well, but this will be picked up on job more so than anything else.

    Friday, June 15, 2012 at 11:00 | Permalink
  442. Melturpin wrote:


    I held the most stereotypical positions within the actuarial profession one can imagine. 3 different companies (large, medium size) within pricing areas and in reserving. Your research positin sounds to me like the one that is outside the norm.

    Friday, June 15, 2012 at 21:17 | Permalink
  443. Coca Cola wrote:

    what’s an actuary: what did you research on that was used by the company? What was the topic? What probability theory did you apply that was so advanced that it needed to be “researched”?

    If you work in reinsurance and copied some “probability of ruin” from some CAT model and applied a “management factor” and then made loss projections based on premium and expense assumptions, that is NOT an example of research. I am not aware of ANY company where actuaries do anything remotely research related. Neither is any knowledge of probability needed.

    The closest you will ever get to research is at ISO (Insurance services office) or NCCI and what they do is not research. Its just some “feel good factors” that will get rate filings approved. Once in their lifetime they used some elementary distributions (high school stuff) that no one understands completely and nothing is derived mathematically anyway.

    Table M and L are considered the most “work” for an actuary and very very few actuaries even understand them. These tables are not considered advanced enough to be published in academic journals (they are like old “log” tables that people used to use before the calculator came).

    I think that its about time for an honest acceptance that actuaries do not know math/stat. Whats the shame to admit if you just don’t know something? Also, the CAS needs to STOP recruiting and harping on “math skills” as it misleads people. Its just plain wrong to lie. You people are insurance MBA (they know high school math also).

    I think in your mind as an actuary you are doing some very very advanced work. That is because you are not aware of modern statistics theory. So its easy to self judge and proclaim as a “statistics professional” when you know nothing. You have nothing to compare it to. Its a frog in a well.

    The problem is our silly regulation that is paying you over 100K/year and that is like heaping gold on a donkey! IT does not make the donkey smart in any way but will make it more boastful, yuppy and arrogant.

    Friday, June 15, 2012 at 22:31 | Permalink
  444. Melturpin wrote:

    Coca Cola,
    I don’t know if you ever hang out at the Actuarial Outpost, but you might find this recent thread quite entertaining!

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 00:24 | Permalink
  445. what's an actuary? wrote:


    You are correct I shouldn’t have implied that what you experienced is odd because frankly I don’t know. I’ve only been in a research role and at least where I work this kind of role makes up…<10% of the department. So there is my bias whenever I say that those that are interested in more technical work, the roles are available but I should probably disclaim that this is not the norm. However, I have seen that those that start in the more traditional places and show a high level can ask for these types of roles.

    CocaCola – It wasn't the probability theory that needed to be researched, it's more about researching new ways to improve, look at, and/or understand the business where probability theory is very useful.

    I never said it was "advanced", but the person asked for what classes to take so that is what I suggested because it's what I use. I personally fully realize I am not doing PHD level statistics work and would never claim something like this – I don't know who would other than someone completely out of their mind or in self denial. However, I really don't feel that most accountants could understand it. Yes they could plug their way through a formula, but would have no idea what is actually going on which is not a bash on accountants it's just not what they do. I doubt accountants even know the difference between a stochastic and deterministic model which is basic yes?

    That being said, there are other research roles with more experienced folks that to my knowledge go into more advanced topics (still not PHD level I am sure) such as building GLMs and other forms of predictive modeling. Additionally, they have a very hard time filling positions in this department because there are not so many actuaries that have these capabilities, and not enough people that have the statistical capabilities who also have the insurance base.

    Clearly I am just a yuppy, arrogant, boastful donkey so don't listen to me I'm probably just making this crap up as I go! I don't even know why I'm posting I should be throwing myself off a bridge or something because I contribute nothing to this world. In all seriousness though I am considering going back to school for PHD – CocaCola can I count on you for a reference?

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 03:30 | Permalink
  446. Coca Cola wrote:

    what’s an actuary? If you are seeking research roles and want to make $ then actuarial field is the wrong place. Get a nice PhD and you will find yourself getting offers left and right for over $100K jobs. Any decent school will do (does not have to ivy league).

    Predictive modeling roles are open because good statisticians are not interested in insurance. On top of that many of these PhD’s from these programs are non whites. These insurance companies want them to work UNDER a white manager (many cases an actuary) that has no knowledge of statistics (leave alone GLM). Why would someone make less, work in a racist culture, a ignorant boss, work in a cheap third class insurance environment, gain useless non transferable experience, get stressed day in and day out about job security, office intrigue/politics, let their skills get stale with no publication?

    Their statistical skills will get stale and useless if they don’t publish or something useful after graduation. Insurance companies are micro managed environments and there is threat of job security as the “white manager” and your white colleagues will intrigue against you if you “take time off” for research. You cant take classes (on paper the HR will say you can), write papers etc as no one will give a crap. They see it as “why is he getting it?”. STOP HIM!!! He is wasting our money!

    Plus here is the deal. Once you build these GLM models, you are supposed to formally train your white boss so he/she gets a promotion. Once that happens, you are seen as redundant and will be booted out. Basically you got screwed and used.

    So I know that these predictive modeling roles are open and will remain open. There is nothing cutting edge about these roles either. Its basic SAS/R programming with standard graduate level stat courses. Experience here is not really transferable to other fields so after 5 years in this position you will become an insurance dud yourself.

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 09:02 | Permalink
  447. what's an actuary? wrote:

    Unfortunately, your last paragraph is very true. I have come to terms with that. Insurance is not exciting, but look down on me for this, it is secure and will always be around.

    Your first paragraph – research role is pretty much my dream job. However my reasons of going into actuarial:

    1) I really didn’t want to keep going to school for 5+ more years
    2) I was completely out of money and needed a job
    3) I thought all of actuarial involved predictive modeling type work

    I was placed into a research role because I had some experience in programming and was clear in my interviews that’s what I was looking for but did learn that I was very off in number 3.

    I enjoy my job and I still can’t quite justify spending all that time not making money and being in school for an increase in sophistication. I fully realize that I will most likely be stuck in insurance if I stay much longer, but it’s not THAT bad and has the perks I discussed. Additionally my political views push me into working in the private sector.

    But I do enjoy my job despite realizing I may be under utilizing whatever potential in Math I do have but for now, I can live with that given I am still learning new things even if they are not the things I dream of doing. New things are always challenging to some degree.

    Another thing about my job – I have an absolutely FANTASTIC manager that goes against everything you stated in your other paragraphs. He makes it 100% clear to all who does the work and who deserves the credit. My manager is more focused on developing the people who work under as opposed to pushing for self promotion. I was recently promoted and I believe I will be promoted again very soon if things continue because my manager does everything correct (assume I keep up the good work of course). You had a bad experience (or several) in the corporate world – or perhaps I have an unusually good experience, however speaking to my colleagues they generally share the sentiment. Perhaps I am in a uniquely fantastic environment but the point is, these roles and companies do exist.

    That being said, the Corporate world is still an unusual and cut throat environment. I have seen some ugly acts by corporate employees, in and out of actuarial community. I fully believe the best people will be rewarded, but the problem is that undeserving people also find ways to be rewarded.

    I should also mention a PHD works for my manager and seems to enjoy it despite being more knowledgeable in statistics. This PHD also recently got a promotion.

    I know I can’t change your mind – it’s already made. I am still forming my own conclusions and opinions and you clearly have more experience than I do. In the experience that I do have, what yo are saying, especially about the undisputed backstabbing by managers to their employees, has not happened and the exact opposite has happened. The best people are rewarded – and the people in charge (at least in terms of actuarial) are the best people in the department and fully deserve to be where they are.

    I should mention too though, we have people from other companies, and they do discuss some of the things you are talking about such as rampant nepotism.

    At the end of the day, to each their own.

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 09:34 | Permalink
  448. what's an actuary? wrote:

    Another thing Cocacola – I am firm believer of self improvement. Of course I won’t be able to get as much time to learn as I would in a PHD program, but I will have some and will be able to progress my mind and my skills and use those to move ahead. I have seen at least one case of this where someone constantly read up on the most recent and advanced statistics literature and found ways to implement this. This person at a very young age is the lead of an entire department yet still continues this continuous improvement. I am sure this person could have stayed in school, gotten their PHD, went to work in robotics or genetic or wherever, but chose insurance and is making a hell of a career out of it. This person was quickly recognized for their talents and thus progressed very fast.

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 09:42 | Permalink
  449. Coca Cola wrote:

    what’s an actuary? You seem to imply that your company is very nice and manager is nice, there is some real stat work going on, research opportunities exist, PhD’s are moving up etc etc. I have heard that over and over. They ALL say that! Most actuarties give the same mumbo jumbo sales crap. Its totally false.

    All this is happening in your mind and perspective because you “fit in” and have nothing to compare it to. Its your perspective. You ARE a typical actuary and have not gone through a PhD program yourself. So you “hear” stuff from your colleagues (office gossip) and see stuff that suits you. You are white, have a non math background (bach degree in something is non math) and have worked as a programmer in the actuarial field. You are not qualified to say that this field rewards genuine math skills. If it does show us where? what do actuaries do (including the employed PhD) that is so advanced? You are being promoted along with other white guys and so are all the others in actuarial field. Of course they make you feel you earned it.

    There are many “run of the mill” PhD’s in the insurance business. They should get power to sign too! How much has this PhD guy published? Show us a reference of how good a PhD is he/she. I bet he/she could not find a job elsewhere.

    You can base your claims on facts not gossip. Show us evidence. What is the background of your fantastic boss? Another bachelor degree white guy with office politics or he/she have something we can all see and admire?

    You make it sound like “if I want a PhD I can go and get it”. Dude LOTS of people drop out of decent PhD programs (not run of the mill schools). You have to do something original and have to take some advanced courses. You have to pass qualifying exams. You are in actuarial because you CANT do it. Of course that’s not what you want to hear. My beef is why are they paying you 100K+? This regulation needs to change so you can make a living suited to your education and talent. Its just plain wrong to someone that has a REAL PhD and makes the same as you do.

    Your comments and that of others mislead people. Careers and lives get ruined.

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 11:03 | Permalink
  450. what's an actuary? wrote:

    I am obviously not going to display public information. You want me to tell you my name, my bosses name, my colleagues name? Really? Tell you what I’m working on and for what company? You know I’m not going to do that.

    You know that. Like I said it is clear you have made up your mind. Everything I say to you is false, made up, perceived, etc.

    Why would I even do that? I have no agenda. I am not a qualified actuary. I am new to the field and have yet to make a final opinion on the quality of the actuarial profession. According to you I am trying to lie and make things up but for what reason? You have made up your mind and your agenda of fighting corporate america is clear. I made it clear, in addition to Meltrupins not hating, logical, and civilized comments ( thank you sir/madame) , that my situation may be relatively unique. That doesn’t matter though I just want to send students to a corporate grave for some unknown personal benefit.

    You have absolutely no idea what I’m capable of yet you assume I can’t do it. You call actuaries sick and disgusting? You can’t even try and hide your elitism.

    My reasoning of not wanting to be in school of not being able to afford it means nothing to you. Your claims that people of high math IQ like yourself are easy to talk to but you have proved that your agenda supersedes your logic which I am sure exists somewhere deep down past your hatred. I mistakingly thought you were capable of having a civilized conversation.

    How dare I have confidence in myself and believe I could indeed get a PHD? No one but you can do it how silly of me! Given how many professors insisted I go for it and avoid actuarial is irrelevant to you. I must be stupid because I chose to not to continue my education (perhaps temporarily) for the prospect of a well paying job that would allow me to support a family in the immediate future or save up enough to let me go to school. I guess I made all that up to.

    By the way I graduated with a statistics degree (magna cum laude).

    I will limit future comments to civilized conversation only.

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 11:26 | Permalink
  451. Coca Cola wrote:

    what’s an actuary? Its not possible to boost your ego through this forum. This place is for people who wants to know facts. Most actuaries say “I can get a PhD if I wanted to”. Go ask someone how easy it is get one from a good school. Most PhD students ARE good students and many drop out. Its not a joke. Try publishing something in a decent journal and you will find out!

    “Make me feel good” is a selfish thing. You need to acknowledge that you dont have a PhD, that it’s not easy to get one and the simple fact that in the actuarial job you or anyone else is not doing any cutting edge stat/research work. A PhD working at Lockheed martin with publication in ASA (american stat journal) can make the statements that you make. Your arrogance is too much. Have you heard me saying stuff like “I can do it if I want to?” Have you seen me say stuff like “Oh I do such and such advanced work” Blah. This is just ignorant stuff. You don’t have the know how and are too arrogant to accept that. Then you say I AM RUDE!

    On the job they make you feel good, you make nice money. But that does not mean you know math/stat or “can get a PhD if I want to”. That just demeans people who are are REAL professionals. That is disrespectful since you dont have something and make tall claims about it.

    You are defending the actuarial field on one hand and on the other hand bemoaning the fact that you need to get a PhD once you have money. That just means you KNOW that it does not have math/stat in it.

    If I wrote all this stuff to researchers at Siemens (a private corporation by the way), I would be laughed out of the room. Siemens makes REAL products. They have cutting edge researchers and some very very bright people. Its just the insurance and actuarial that sucks! The more you defend this stupid “profession” the more you will get upset as there are no answers!

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 12:20 | Permalink
  452. what's an actuary? wrote:

    I am arrogant because I believe in myself? Did I say PHD was easy?

    Yes I think I can do it. That statement offending you only reinforces the effect that you are an elitist academic.

    Apparently according to you us little people should bow down at your feet, accept your greatness, and realize we are pathetic until you give us acknowledgement due to accomplishments you believe determine intelligence or success.

    I don’t need a PHD. I would be interested in continuing my education. Statistics interests me more than insurance. Actually abstract math interests me more than statistics. I’ve already explained my reasons for making the choices I have made.

    Oh and everyone without an agenda can read that I explicitly said what I work with is not advanced or PHD level math.

    Guys this is the person you are listening to. Actuarial has it’s downsides and is not for everyone. If you can only foresee yourself doing “cutting edge” work then it’s not for you, but it has some fun and lots of benefits and you should make up your own mind [note after 2 years I unfortunately still have not made up my mind]. Elitist people with anti corporate agendas and superiority complexes should not make up your mind for you as much as they would like too. An internship is a great way to help.

    Nothing more to say. I am out.Good luck all!

    Saturday, June 16, 2012 at 14:30 | Permalink
  453. Zoner wrote:

    Carlo, you can take economics as well.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 09:37 | Permalink
  454. Zoner wrote:

    What’s an actuary?, I think you can do a PhD in math, stats, or CS without paying for it. You would just have to do a teaching or research assistantship.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 15:07 | Permalink
  455. what's an actuary? wrote:

    Zoner – I was actually referring more to the opportunity cost. I was in a bit of debt after undergrad so needed income. Thanks for looking out though.

    Also agree on economics comment – if you are interested in actuarial, take a look into the VEE requirements it is easier to get these out of the way in school and economics is part of that.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 15:22 | Permalink
  456. Bi racial dude wrote:

    To the original Badactuaries, I’ll be quite frank. As a kid growing up I had something of a better aptitude at math than most but not as good as the top guys, sorta a middleman. I looked at the actuarial profession and the hype my dad made it out to be and started studying it. I said, well my actuarial advisors and professors claim I need a 750 + SAT score in math or my Cs in multivariate Calc are a Sign I need to quit. I told myself I could pass and they can shove it up their @$$ and made them sign me up for actuarial potent courses although I’m a math-stat major. One semester I took a class called Adv. Financial Mathematics II that was a course designed to pass MFE taught interestingly enough by a Quant and NOT an actuary. This man taught us to DERIVE and not memorize, and by golly I understood everything. His approach and derivations in the subject was incredibly superior to that of the actuarial professors I’ve had. He showed us how to derive basically everything from black scholes SDE/PDE into the ornstein-uhlenbeck (spelling?)processes. I still genuinely believe that this man was far more intelligent than any of the actuarial professors I’ve ever had and a few of my actuarial colleagues in the actuarial discourse agree. I’ve had no prior courses in Stochastic processes or real analysis however I’ve taken Adv Linear algebra (proofs and all), Differential equations and basic probability/stat courses in the undergraduate. And my view towards pursuing profession drastically changed thanks to you and you’re cohorts insights.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 18:16 | Permalink
  457. Bi racial dude wrote:

    Another fun fact, I chose actuarial because it required less gpa and with less hard mathematical concepts to pursue. No masters,pass exams make quicker money.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 18:23 | Permalink
  458. Coca Cola wrote:

    Bi racial dude: Liked your story. Your talent comes out when someone teaches you proofs. Then the real mathematician comes out in you! Once you understand proofs and deep stuff, you understand what you missed all along. Actuarial field does not have proofs. Its spreadsheets for people that cant do stat/math. But want to make money and be “respected”!

    Unfortunately most people don’t have brains to understand mathematical proofs. Continue your passion for statistics and see where it takes you. Race will not matter once you are among the right people.

    Actuarial field is a waste of your talents. I hope you are over the “low GPA” and “hard mathematical concepts” syndrome. Nothing that is worthwhile comes easy – no matter how smart you are.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 18:59 | Permalink
  459. Bi racial dude wrote:

    In my opinion, I think actuaries are specialists in a certain area of focus. And since that area of focus seems to have a gap in population because it comprises a very specific combinations of “high level subjects”. I wouldn’t necessarily look down upon them if they devote their time to mastering those specific topics and quantitative processes. But if they were to look down upon me regards to race/skin or in believing their examinations entitles them to possessing ultimate prowess, I very much detest that. There could be many actuaries that are bright people I’m sure, but were taken into the profession because of seemingly good pay; I don’t blame them without subjecting themselves to prolonged schooling. From what I understand, actuaries from back then, had more rigorous studying into graduate level topics. Thanks to technological advances today, the bar seems to be dropping in those high tier levels, and the need for number crunching subordinates thus tailoring the academia of current actuarial candidates to the lesser form it has today (I suppose the US predominantly).

    The US has a highly skewed distribution in terms of pay and quality of jobs/labor in this country with many professions. It’s ruled by the market and demand. The trends starting to shape into people acquiring a masters for a decent standard of living as a norm. metaphorically similar to the law of arbitrage, sooner or later the actuarial profession will be forced to innovate their standards because of their seemingly high payrate and quality of work compared to MDs in stats and other related studies.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 19:21 | Permalink
  460. Coca Cola wrote:

    Bi racial dude: I note your points. One key point is the “power to sign”. If today this was generalized to “ANY qualified experienced professionals” the pay will come in line with the actuarial work.

    The P/C actuarial field cannot innovate.
    What are they going to do? Introduce advanced stat courses? Then why not get a degree in statistics? Basically its a MBA in Insurance and does have a place in an insurance company at 1/3 of the pay. They can do leg work, make spreadsheets, business related soft fluffy stuff, write excel macros etc.

    Regulation can force silly price hikes. Actuarial salaries are an example of this phenomenon.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 19:35 | Permalink
  461. Bi racial dude wrote:

    Well if there are many actuaries being pumped out thanks to simpleton actuarial curricula in recent, (because of the current job market) and there’s an overflow of actuarial qualified people; I’m almost positive actuarial salaries must come down. A society can’t keep track of them all and will make their curriculum more rigorous to keep their numbers in the few.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 19:42 | Permalink
  462. COca Cola wrote:

    The number of passing CAS actuaries are controlled by the CAS. The exam passing rate is set low enough to control supply. There are thousands of P/C companies and all of them need signature on reserves/rates. You will never see salaries drop as they are clever enough to control supply.

    The syllabus cannot be made mathematically rigorous for many reasons:

    1. There is no demand. All insurance companies need is their signature. Reserves are just “triangles” and need no math. Accountants can do them. Rates are the same. Some fancy capital and DFA models are not something anyone cares about. Plus capital is seen as a regulatory and accounting issue.

    2. If math/stat was introduced, current actuarial students will revolt. They are low class students. Also, current actuarial departments do not have any need for that education for (1) above. So these students will find themselves getting “upset”.

    3. If you want Math/stat why not get a stat degree? So they need to keep it different somehow.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 21:32 | Permalink
  463. Bi racial dude wrote:

    1. Yeah I believe that’s government regulated STAT/GAAP stuff you’re referring too? That’s a fair point.

    2. I mean don’t actuarial types do a bit more than reserving? rate making/asset liability management I mean they learn alot of crap from these exams that can be tied in rather just the insurance end of it. Investment/pensions other risk quantifying fields etc..

    3. It’s a strange degree, my university offers statistics, mathematics, and then Mathematics-Statistics. Undergraduate wise there’s a more distinct emphasis on the stat courses, but It seemed the degree offered more versatility in the field types. Since I have a profound interest in both quantitative finance, statistics, and mathematics The degree title seemed to offer a versatile specialty. But I suppose the bachelors type doesn’t have a HUGE impact seeing as I’m going for graduate degree anyhow. Just not for actuarial anymore, I’m going with Stats. As it was adequately put, I’ve seen and read about statisticians making historically significant findings with wider impacts to society (including fundamentals of actuarial practice)compared to the limiting scope of risk and insurance for Actuarials. I find it highly motivating and interesting to study game/ruin theory and continuous models for failure. Stuff that can innovate how statistical methods are applied in the world today.

    Sunday, June 17, 2012 at 22:39 | Permalink
  464. Future Actuary wrote:

    I am considering a career change to become an actuary. I graduated college 6 years ago with a Finance degree. I have been in insurance since, but not in actuary. Should I go back to get a degree in Actuary Science or should I study for the exams? Are there classes you can take just to help study for the exams?

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 10:09 | Permalink
  465. Zoner wrote:

    I am not an actuary but you do not need to go back to college. You can go on the SOA or CAS or beanactuary . org website to look up the syllabi and recommended textbooks of each exam. I think there are also some study manuals such as BPP or ASM for each exam. You can also go to Actuarial Outpost forum and get advice from actuaries and student actuaries (as well as former actuaries).

    P.S. You can also look at the UK based Actuarial Profession website (there aren’t that many exam centres in North and South America though). The UK exams are also probably tougher since they contain proofs and are not multiple choice.

    Tuesday, June 19, 2012 at 16:12 | Permalink
  466. RightOnTime wrote:

    The UK exams are significantly easier than the US ones. Compare the pass rates and check out the # of students who come out of colleges with exemptions from most of the CT exams. It’s no wonder that the UK Fellowship has a shorter travel time.

    Monday, June 25, 2012 at 03:12 | Permalink
  467. RightOnTime wrote:

    Also note that UK General Insurance track’s syllabus was remodelled based on the CAS syllabus at the time. Google GRIP report and see for yourself.

    UK-GI track was considered to be seriously lacking in education. I have no doubt that the actuaries were able to learn a great deal on the job, though.

    Monday, June 25, 2012 at 03:20 | Permalink
  468. Jimbo wrote:

    Anyone familiar with the education systems knows that is complete rubish.
    UK system has 15 exams which is more than CAS and SOA. Pass rates are usaully c. 35% depending on the exam.
    Quality of students writing UK exams are a lot higher – many Oxbridge and LSE math graduates.
    Actuaries are also a lot more valueed in UK/commonwealth countires – not confined to insurance. They also typically earn more.

    Monday, June 25, 2012 at 03:23 | Permalink
  469. ... wrote:

    fact is that neither the UK nor the US have high standards. Danish actuaries are forced to read measury theory and functional analysis. Ask some acturay from the US or UK what measury theory and the answer you most probably will get is geodesy

    Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 07:50 | Permalink
  470. *** wrote:

    For UK students it depends on where you get your degree from so some would know measure theory. I don’t think many would know functional analysis. Danish students have to know it. Danish > UK > US

    Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 19:39 | Permalink
  471. ... wrote:

    Yes but nowhere in the UK are they FORCED to read it, it is only elective as far as I know. If I am in the wrong here, please provide some source

    Thursday, June 28, 2012 at 23:46 | Permalink
  472. *** wrote:

    Yes, I know. That’s why I said SOME would know it.

    Friday, June 29, 2012 at 01:06 | Permalink
  473. *** wrote:

    I think I read somewhere that the US system barely meets the minimum requirements. The mainland European system in various countries are probably the best and then followed by UK system. I heard Japanese system is hard too.

    Friday, June 29, 2012 at 01:17 | Permalink
  474. fresher wrote:

    I completed my under-graduate studies in comp.Sc last year. I wanted to know if doing an MS in Actuarial Science will boost my career options as I m working in Insurance project in an IT Consultancy as Senior Software Engineer. Also, I would like to ask which is better, doing an MS or appearing for Actuarial exams?

    Monday, July 2, 2012 at 01:31 | Permalink
  475. Coca Cola wrote:

    My last post. I will not be posting anymore. Any post from here onwards under “Coca Cola” is NOT MINE.

    Sunday, July 8, 2012 at 10:09 | Permalink
  476. Zoner wrote:

    Why do these trolls continue to steal people’s names and do stupid things?

    Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 14:23 | Permalink
  477. ADAM LAMBERT wrote:

    I think everything should be based relative to opportunity costs for become an actuary. The average time it takes to secure an FSA designation is about 4 – 7 years. These years include no social life, no family time and constant guilt that you aren’t studying enough. It’s sad that most young college students that go in to this profession skip out on their youth years to hit the 100K.

    Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 19:55 | Permalink
  478. Kalman filter wrote:

    Everything Coca Cola had said is right.

    Actuaries are:

    - weak, low level students from a no-name midwestern university

    - many of them can not program to save their lives

    - many are mathematically weak

    - “monkey see – monkey do” exams are based on the pure memorization and tricks

    - PhD quants kill actuaries any time of the weak, any time of the day, twice on Sunday.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 08:52 | Permalink
  479. kelseap wrote:

    I’m not exactly sure if this is the best place to ask these kind of questions, but I’m in need of a little help.
    I’m going to be a Junior in college at a small university. I have an excellent GPA (around 3.85) and I am majoring in Mathematics and Computer Science and hoping to pick up a minor in Business Administration if all goes well. Not trying to brag, but I am very smart and motivated, and I have managed to learn while still having a great social life. I absolutely love Math and problem solving and am very fun and outgoing.
    People are constantly asking me what I plan on doing with my education, and I have never really been able to give a straight answer. I have had a few IT internships but decided that is not the job for me. I have been looking into being an actuary for quite some time now, but I’m not exactly sure where to start. The tests seem very difficult (although I do love a challenge) and you hear many mixed opinions about the field. I also don’t know how to start studying along side my current workload – I feel like I would probably need a little help starting out.
    Any advice on figuring out if this is the career for me and help with studying would be greatly appreciated! Thanks so much!

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 11:35 | Permalink
  480. MAD wrote:

    What do you guys think of high frequency trading?

    Thursday, July 19, 2012 at 23:28 | Permalink
  481. ... wrote:

    Kalman filter: there are actuaries outside the US…

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 01:08 | Permalink
  482. *** wrote:

    It is strange how people from the US think that almost everyone on the net is from the US.

    Most of the problems highlighted are US-based.

    Friday, July 20, 2012 at 12:38 | Permalink
  483. Kalman Filter wrote:

    My sample was also based on actuaries in UK.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 11:44 | Permalink
  484. Kaito wrote:

    @Kalman Fliter, Why did mention “no-name midwestern university”? You should have just said poor universities.

    Kelseap: ” Not trying to brag, but I am very smart and motivated”

    There is no such thing as bragging on the internet.

    Actuaries are bad. They help insurance companies to rob people.

    Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 12:04 | Permalink
  485. OWais raza wrote:

    ammm….actually i want a little help…em a student of A level and I’ve heard a lot of this actuary and yes em interested in it…kindly plz suggest me which subjects to chose which will help me in my future career…

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 04:35 | Permalink
  486. PoorActuarialStudent wrote:

    Myself: I intrigued by quants’ stories so I really want to be a quant working on the Street.
    Problem: I studied at a Canadian University. It may or may not be in top 10 of Canada. It is tough to get to the Street radar from here.
    Problem 2: I did not have a great motivation at school so my GPA is bad (roughly 3.1/4), also my degree is not from hard-core science, it is business degree.
    Solution 2: I was entering the second semester of my junior year and I decided to do a second degree in applied math to increase my chance of landing a job on the Street. So I will be doing both degrees at the same time and I will graduate with 2 degrees (with probably 3 majors – Finance, Applied Math, and Statistics). I have gone through 2 semesters since I started doing 2 degree simultaneously and I am doing pretty good (last 2 semesters my gpa is 3.7+). I believe I will graduate with at least 3.6/4 if I keep working hard. I know 3.6/4 is not enough to get into good quant finance program (master) to stand a chance of getting quant job.
    Problem 3: My chance of getting into a good master of quant finance is low if I don’t have work experience. That’s why I am thinking about actuarial job for a couple of year. I have passed the first 2 exams and planning to take MFE this Nov.
    Question: If I have to start with an actuarial job, what field would you suggest if my end goal is becoming a quant? I mean what field of actuarial science that is more quantitative than others? One of my prof was working in ALM, and he told a lot about working directly with traders and portfolio managers. To me, it sounds like ALM is good if I want to get a quant job. Is it true? Are there any other departments in an insurance company uses more quantitative stuff than ALM?

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 10:40 | Permalink
  487. aft wrote:


    Abandon all hope. To get hired as an actuary you basically have to be a flawless candidate or know something at an an insurance company. The fact that you have some “problems” does not bode well for you. And if the insurance company even gets a whiff of the notion that you really want to be a quant, they will definately never hire you.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 12:10 | Permalink
  488. Frequency wrote:


    What about going to a quant program in Canada such as Toronto or Waterloo? They ask for B+ average. What about working in Canada?

    You can go to quant websites to ask for advice.

    Some examples are Quantnet, Wilmott Forums, and globalderivatives. You can just google them.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 15:27 | Permalink
  489. pooractuarialstudent wrote:

    @AFT: I secure an internship at one of a major insurance company in Waterloo-Kitchener this Fall. It does not mean I will get a job from them after my internship, I just want to point out that in my opinion, it is not that impossible to land a job at an insurance company.

    @FREQUENCY: I am not sure about the admission process at UofT MMF but I know some graduates from Waterloo MQF. Those guys were very competitive students when they were in undergraduate. Most of them get 3.8+ (A-A+) so meeting average requirement does not give me an edge. It does not mean I cant stand a chance to compete with them, it is just tough since there are less quant school and quant jobs in Canada.

    I have been to their website and most answers I got was something like “If you want to be a quant, apply MFE degree, dont bother about working as an actuary”. They seem to be bright guys with near-perfect gpa at undergrad so they do not really understand my situation.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 19:10 | Permalink
  490. Frequency wrote:

    Well, if you want a field in actuarial science that is the most quantitative you could probably ask on the actuarialoutpost website what they think is the most quantitative.

    B+ was the minimum admission requirement for MQF that Waterloo’s Faculty of Mathematics have on their website. You could on their other programs on their website. For example, some of their master’s students in Computational Mathematics work in financial areas. Computational finance is a research area in the department of computational mathematics. Their MQF is in their Statistics and Actuarial Science (SAS) department.

    Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 19:39 | Permalink
  491. FREQUENCY wrote:

    There are actually people that work in high frequency trading and automated trading with only a bachelor’s degree. Max Dama’s guide is on quantnet. roundhouse27 is on Reddit

    Friday, July 27, 2012 at 03:32 | Permalink
  492. Kalman filter wrote:

    Student, ALM is just an optical illusion. A made up word by actuaries so they “appear” smart. So is FSA, FCAS, CERA and other shit designed to protect no talent, overpaid, territorial bureaucrats amd their salaries
    to the tit.

    I would investigate the bioinformatics field.

    Saturday, July 28, 2012 at 11:46 | Permalink
  493. Xena wrote:

    Kalman Filter, ALM is not a made up word and it wasn’t invented by actuaries either.

    ALM mainly uses hedging and securitization. The hedgins used stem from the delta hedging concepts introduced in the Black–Scholes model and in the work of Robert C. Merton and Robert A. Jarrow.

    Black, Scholes, Merton and Jarrow all have PhDs. Black has a PhD in applied mathematics. Merton and Scholes won Nobel Prizes for their work.

    I don’t like actuaries but to say they came up with ALM is just silly.

    Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 12:51 | Permalink
  494. Really wrote:

    XENA – I dont agree. ALM (Asset Liability Management) is an actuarial Life insurance term that teaches how to match assets with long duration liabilities like life insurance. Basically its just making sure that for a 10 year duration liability you need a 10 year duration portfolio. Thats it. Nothing to do with black scholes, Phd’s or any other thing. Its done mostly by fund managers at life insurance.

    Blach scholes is a formula that calculates the price of options. Its a statistical result. You are mixing things up. Black scholes formula is derived using stochstic differential equations. Other related topics include brownain motion, diffusion process etc. It has NOTHING to do with actuarial ALM stuff (as you say).

    To do ALM you need a high school diploma.
    Dude to be honest, you are clueless about all this. Without knowing proper statistics why do you make these statements?

    Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 15:56 | Permalink
  495. Oh wrote:

    Both of you are only partially correct but Really is more correct.

    ALM wasn’t first used by actuaries. Other professionals used ALM before actuaries.

    Recently, some professionals started using derivatives to help in ALM. They have to price derivates using BS model. However, this is problematic since derivatives pricing has to be done a risk-neutral situation.

    Monday, July 30, 2012 at 00:25 | Permalink
  496. KALMAN FILTER wrote:

    Who gives a shit who invented the ALM first?

    Monday, July 30, 2012 at 08:14 | Permalink
  497. KALMAN FILTER wrote:

    REALLY described perfectly what the “ALM modelling” is in the actuarial world. A high school graduate can do it and do it cheaper.

    Monday, July 30, 2012 at 08:16 | Permalink
  498. REALLY wrote:

    I agree with Kalman Filter. The topic is: is ALM modeling some scientific stuff? Answer is No.

    On a side note (because ALM and black scholes are unrelated topics), Black Scholes and other statistical results apply under certain assumptions in option pricing. Plus these are not things actuaries understand – let alone invent them. All they do is to slam the formula (memorized in tests), plug and chug the unknown values using some “data” and bingo. Get an answer. Slam that into a spreadsheet and give it a fancy complex sounding name. Then apply a “factor” that make it closer to what management wants and there you have a genius level work!

    ACTUARIES CANNOT DERIVE STATISTICAL RESULTS BASED ON PROBLEMS AT HAND. I see that as a problem for someone making over 100K/yr and calling themselves a “risk professional”, “statistician” or some “scientific expert” That person is a phoney, liar, a cheat at best. These people are also downright racist, territorial, bigoted and very very narrow minded. Actually the yupiness comes as a side benefit for such uneducated low class people.

    Monday, July 30, 2012 at 09:38 | Permalink
  499. KALMAN FILTER wrote:

    REALLY, I love your posts. Those were exactly my experiences in the actuarial world.

    - Dump the data into a spreadsheet, with one *deterministic* formula and call it the cash flow testing/liability modelling whatever heck they call it nowadays.

    When I tried to build their reserving models using some time series or optimal filtering approach, they had that lookat me like a deer in headlights. Before that they would lick their finger, stick it in the air, and set their reserves by guessing [triangle method].

    Overpaid, no talent, mediocre bureaucrats is what they are. Their profession and the societies that molest people via exams are an optical illusion.

    Monday, July 30, 2012 at 11:13 | Permalink
  500. REALLY wrote:

    Kalman Filter – very accurately stated. Its reality and easy to verify. There are many many chief actuaries that do not know what a confidence interval is! These people are being promoted paid more because of office politics, race and power to sign. Ass kissing, back stabbing and a culture of lies, deceit and intrigue surrounds the actuarial departments. At the helm of all this are these “societies” that are being funded by membership fees to lobby, advertise and retain power to sign.

    Monday, July 30, 2012 at 11:34 | Permalink
  501. REALLY wrote:

    I am big fan of merit and less regulation. Generalize power to sign. That will remove the actuarial power to “get rates/reserves approved”. Then let actuaries compete with all others. Fair and Simple.

    If still someone wants to pay them 100K+, I have no objection! I wonder who will…

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 11:58 | Permalink
  502. LOL wrote:

    Really, no one would employ them. Progressive Insurance company does not even use actuaries.

    Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 19:10 | Permalink
  503. KALMAN FILTER wrote:

    You need a critical mass of people like REALLY and others to expose actuaries for what they are – overpaid, no talent and no personality bureaucratic paper pushers.

    If it is true that Progressive does not hire actuaries as you say, I hope the other companies follow. Send the actuaries to where they belong – unemployment line.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 06:55 | Permalink
  504. KALMAN FILTER wrote:

    By the way, that “power” to sign the reserves are “adequate” is an optical illusion too. Many of the reserves on the P&C sides are set using the triangles to organize data but often the IBNR factors picked are purely guess. That’s because the “on the ground” data does not behave the way they assume in their CAS Exam 5. So you need other techniques to model the reserves – time series, stochastic difference equations, optimal filtering and linear systems to mention a few. But many of them have no clue what that is. It is not taught in the exams and so you have the overpaid bureaucrats set their reserves by guessing and really overpaid bureaucrats signing off they are adequate.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 07:08 | Permalink
  505. REALLY wrote:

    Kalman Filter is correct – we need critical mass. Insurance companies are not going to fire them as actuaries have a very “comfortable” relationship with the regulators – many are actuaries themselves. The power to sign is no joke – a 10% rate increase means hundreds of millions of dollars for insurers.

    Here is the litmus test. In areas where their power to sign does not count but statistical and “risk modeling” knowledge is valued, are these actuaries employed? Answer is NO. Pharmaceutical companies, banks etc are some examples. They get employed by insurance industry or something that deals with insurance indirectly (like rating agencies, regulators etc) due to their power to sign and well established relationships.

    I think no one is willing to stand up to this. There is no gain. Maybe some class action attorney..maybe.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 14:12 | Permalink
  506. Career wrote:

    Good careers

    Computational Biologist

    Software Engineer
    Database Administrator
    Computer Systems Analyst
    Computer Scientist

    Operations Research Analyst

    Financial Analyst

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 02:52 | Permalink
  507. Career wrote:

    Information Systems Analyst

    Saturday, August 4, 2012 at 02:53 | Permalink
  508. scam wrote:

    “The Insurance Geldscheisser

    by Eric Peters

    Recently by Eric Peters: Garage Security

    Insurance is a con. Worse than Social Security, even – because you pay in and (normally) never get anything back.

    Consider: You pay say $800 a year to insure your car. Over a ten year period that comes to $8,000. Gone. Out the window. You’ll never see it again.

    Think about this. Most people don’t have major accidents. Insurance companies know this – and bank on it. For every dollar they pay out (grudgingly and after much-ado, usually) they take in probably ten more. Insurance companies are hugely profitable enterprises. I won’t call them businesses, because businesses – properly described – provide a useful product or service. They also don’t force you to to be a “customer,” as insurance companies do, having successfully egged on their bought-and-paid for agents in state government (that is, politicians) to pass laws making insurance “coverage” mandatory.

    It is no coincidence that the bankrupting of America has tracked parallel with the rise of FIRE (Finance, Insurance, Real Estate). When you add up car, life, health and home insurance, many people are spending $10,000 a year or more for …. nothing! They’ve been gulled into believing they’re “covered” but they’ll be disabused of that notion if they ever have to file a claim. Yes, the insurer might pay… something… eventually. But if it does, it will also double – or cancel – your premiums for future “coverage.” Ask anyone who has filed a major claim. Even after decades of just paying in. As soon as the math starts working out in favor of the insured – even a little bit – the terms of the relationship are swiftly altered to correct the imbalance.

    Now let’s talk about car insurance specifically. It was made mandatory on the argument that it’s just not right to permit people to operate potentially lethal and always dangerous motor vehicles on public motorways without the driver having the means to compensate potential victims for any damages or injuries he might cause.

    But that was just window dressing. The real motive was to create a coerced and captive “customer” base that had no choice but to pay up. Government-enforced cartels are secure from market pressure; they don’t have to worry about pleasing people – because the people have no choice. Oh, they can shop Tweedledee, perhaps. But he’s not much of an improvement over Tweedledum.

    Well, how about a real alternative?

    Why not return some market discipline to the insurance racket by making it mandatory only for those drivers who cannot demonstrate the financial means to cover damages equivalent to current mandatory state minimums for basic liability-only coverage?

    In Virginia, the minimum liability requirements are as follows:

    $25,000 bodily injury/death of one person;
    $50,000 bodily injury/death of two persons;
    $20,000 property damage;

    Ok. So what if you have the ability – in an emergency – to cut a check for $75,000? Many people do, especially if you factor in home equity and 401k savings.

    And if you do have that ability, then you have exactly the same “coverage” as the law in Virginia requires – only with a very key difference: Instead of pouring money into the insurance cartel’s pockets every year for the rest of your life (or at least, as long as you drive) you have all your money – every last cent of it – in the “bank.” If you never have an accident that damages the property or harms the person of another, then you will still have all your cash. With insurance “coverage,” you’ll have… nothing at the end of it all. Literally, thousands of dollars – possibly tens of thousands, over a lifetime – gone. Or rather, transferred. From your pocket to the pockets of the insurance cartel.

    And that’s what it’s all about.

    Ask yourself: Is there any rational reason why a person with the means to pay out a sum equivalent to the mandatory state minimums ought to be forced to buy the same “coverage” from a shyster insurance company? Will it matter in the slightest to the person whose car is damaged whether the repairs are paid for by the owner of the other car – or by some shyster insurance company (whose “adjuster” will do everything he can to lowball the amount paid out by such practices as using junkyard parts to fix the car – or, even better – total out the car and give the owner/sucker a check for two-thirds the fair market value)… well, the answer’s obvious:

    Keep the cartel safe. Force people to pay.

    It’s not about “safety,” folks. If you want to argue the point, then consider this: Virginia (and some other states) will let you drive without any coverage or demonstrated capacity to pay for damages at all. Just pay the state rather than the cartel (or not really, because like the Democratic and Republican parties these two are just different “wings” of the same foul bird) a $500 annual fee and you can drive all you want. You can be otherwise indigent and have no means of paying out one red cent for any damages you might cause to others.

    So much for “safety.”

    As always, it’s about money. Das Geld. And everyone who wants to drive a motor vehicle is what the Germans roughly call a Geldscheisser – literally, a money shitter. Crank his arm and out pops a coin. The state – and its buddy-boy, the insurance company – do the arm-yanking.

    You do the coin-pooping.”

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 02:26 | Permalink
  509. really wrote:

    SCAM: very nicely said and explained. Particularly in auto and home (accounts for more than 2/3 of total premiums income) there is no need to buy coverage but to self insure.

    Problem is that banks require insurance if you have a loan on any of them. Legislation needs to change and people who have assets should not be forced to buy insurance even if they have a loan. For example on 50K loan on a 150K home, one easily self insure the 50K loan – with 401K or something.

    Cars can be self insured like SCAM said. At any rate, one can easily drive a smaller fully paid car.

    Auto Physical damage is optional anyway and current laws do not require it.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 10:36 | Permalink
  510. Bi racial dude wrote:

    I am in full support of the actuarial career being unfit and academically limiting (& potentially fraudulent). However not all forms of insurance’s are scams. Such insurances as catastrophe insurance/life insurance and such are sometimes necessary. Even if you throw out premiums on low risk profiles, people elsewhere in high risk profiles receive the excess premiums to cover their losses. Risk pooling/reinsurance are ways the world as a community can be “good neighbors” and share the costs of disasters together as communities should. But you quants/analysts should know that insurances are all bets just like options. They are to protect against adverse events even in low likelihood. Insurance wins if there is not adverse event, you win if there is.

    Example: Marty Macfly, in Back to the future II. Guy hit a rolls Royce for no reason and screwed his life up paying such a sum until mid-age. Insurance seems necessary for lower-middle class and below who cannot afford to save/hedge against their own risks.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 11:57 | Permalink
  511. Really wrote:

    Bi racial: I dont know why you are throwing a sales pitch for the merits of insurance. All we are saying is that it should NOT be MANDATORY by law if you have assets. Its up to the person to decide if they need one.

    Personally life insurance is the most stupid of all of them. Very few people are “dying at an early age”. So forget the “Life coverage” part. Plus the over head costs, “safety margins”, profit margins blah blah in rates is something I would rather keep in my pocket.

    And the investment? Well life insurance companies invest in bonds. Why I cant I do that directly if I really wanted bonds? All bogus ways to con gullible people that’s all.

    In commercial lines in P/C such as workers compensation, again it should be a choice. If employer has deep pockets there should be no need to mandate insurance.

    Like SCAM explained, many of us would rather keep our monies in our banks. If you love paying to insurance companies, we have no objection. Just don’t force the rest of us!

    By the way, juts to explain to you that insurance business thrives on people that dont claim anything. These people would leave the insurance pool if they had a choice. Insurance companies will be left with the ones that bring claims. Serves them right!!!!

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 17:06 | Permalink
  512. Bi racial dude wrote:

    I’m not throwing a sales, pitch if your goddamn miner working a mile below ground and you have a high fatality rate, get bloody life insurance so when you die your family can sustain themselves with the income they rely on for a few years. If your working in an office, don’t bother with life insurance. I’m just trying to express there ARE necessities to insurance or at least once upon a time, there was. If you live in suburbia you probably won’t need auto insurance. If you live in the city driving a crappy car, where the there a high risk of smashing into a rolls royce, maybe insurance isn’t a bad idea. However having auto insurance by law regardless of context of setting, is pretty goddamn ridiculous. We should reserve our right to insure ourselves when WE feel the risk is appropriate. But as you said that would mean collecting less premiums from low risk profiles of which insurance companies do not benefit. It’s a travesty indeed.

    Sunday, August 5, 2012 at 22:59 | Permalink
  513. really wrote:

    Bi racial: we are on the same page it seems. What you are sayng is that the poor risks or low income groups need insurance and that is exactly what insurance companies avoid! The miner by the way needs workers compensation insurance – not life insurance.

    Low income groups dont care about insurance in many cases and are under or insured. What do yhey have to lose? They have no assets, no money to garnish etc. So insurance companies avoid them. They just suck monies from people that actually do not need insurance.

    Monday, August 6, 2012 at 06:54 | Permalink
  514. Posers wrote:

    From Mathbabe:

    “Statisticians aren’t the problem for data science. The real problem is too many posers
    July 31, 2012
    Cathy O’Neil, mathbabe
    Crossposted on Naked Capitalism

    Cosma Shalizi

    I recently was hugely flattered by my friend Cosma Shalizi’s articulate argument against my position that data science distinguishes itself from statistics in various ways.

    Cosma is a well-read broadly educated guy, and a role model for what a statistician can be, not that every statistician lives up to hist standard. I’ve enjoyed talking to him about data, big data, and working in industry, and I’ve blogged about his blogposts as well.

    That’s not to say I agree with absolutely everything Cosma says in his post: in particular, there’s a difference between being a master at visualizations for the statistics audience and being able to put together a power point presentation for a board meeting, which some data scientists in the internet start-up scene definitely need to do (mostly this is a study in how to dumb stuff down without letting it become vapid, and in reading other people’s minds in advance to see what they find sexy).

    And communications skills are a funny thing; my experience is communicating with an academic or a quant is a different kettle of fish than communicating with the Head of Product. Each audience has its own dialect.

    But I totally believe that any statistician who willingly gets a job entitled “Data Scientist” would be able to do these things, it’s a self-selection process after all.

    Statistics and Data Science are on the same team

    I think that casting statistics as the enemy of data science is a straw man play. The truth is, an earnest, well-trained and careful statistician in a data scientist role would adapt very quickly to it and flourish as well, if he or she could learn to stomach the business-speak and hype (which changes depending on the role, and for certain data science jobs is really not a big part of it, but for others may be).

    It would be a petty argument indeed to try to make this into a real fight. As long as academic statisticians are willing to admit they don’t typically spend just as much time (which isn’t to say they never spend as much time) worrying about how long it will take to train a model as they do wondering about the exact conditions under which a paper will be published, and as long as data scientists admit that they mostly just redo linear regression in weirder and weirder ways, then there’s no need for a heated debate at all.

    Let’s once and for all shake hands and agree that we’re here together, and it’s cool, and we each have something to learn from the other.


    What I really want to rant about today though is something else, namely posers. There are far too many posers out there in the land of data scientists, and it’s getting to the point where I’m starting to regret throwing my hat into that ring.

    Without naming names, I’d like to characterize problematic pseudo-mathematical behavior that I witness often enough that I’m consistently riled up. I’ll put aside hyped-up, bullshit publicity stunts and generalized political maneuvering because I believe that stuff speaks for itself.

    My basic mathematical complaint is that it’s not enough to just know how to run a black box algorithm. You actually need to know how and why it works, so that when it doesn’t work, you can adjust. Let me explain this a bit by analogy with respect to the Rubik’s cube, which I taught my beloved math nerd high school students to solve using group theory just last week.


    First we solved the “position problem” for the 3-by-3-by-3 cube using 3-cycles, and proved it worked, by exhibiting the group acting on the cube, understanding it as a subgroup of and thinking hard about things like the sign of basic actions to prove we’d thought of and resolved everything that could happen. We solved the “orientation problem” similarly, with 3-cycles.

    I did this three times, with the three classes, and each time a student would ask me if the algorithm is efficient. No, it’s not efficient, it takes about 4 minutes, and other people can solve it way faster, I’d explain. But the great thing about this algorithm is that it seamlessly generalizes to other problems. Using similar sign arguments and basic 3-cycle moves, you can solve the 7-by-7-by-7 (or any of them actually) and many other shaped Rubik’s-like puzzles as well, which none of the “efficient” algorithms can do.

    Something I could have mentioned but didn’t is that the efficient algorithms are memorized by their users, are basically black-box algorithms. I don’t think people understand to any degree why they work. And when they are confronted with a new puzzle, some of those tricks generalize but not all of them, and they need new tricks to deal with centers that get scrambled with “invisible orientations”. And it’s not at all clear they can solve a tetrahedron puzzle, for example, with any success.

    Democratizing algorithms: good and bad

    Back to data science. It’s a good thing that data algorithms are getting democratized, and I’m all for there being packages in R or Octave that let people run clustering algorithms or steepest descent.

    But, contrary to the message sent by much of Andrew Ng’s class on machine learning, you actually do need to understand how to invert a matrix at some point in your life if you want to be a data scientist. And, I’d add, if you’re not smart enough to understand the underlying math, then you’re not smart enough to be a data scientist.

    I’m not being a snob. I’m not saying this because I want people to work hard. It’s not a laziness thing, it’s a matter of knowing your shit and being for real. If your model fails, you want to be able to figure out why it failed. The only way to do that is to know how it works to begin with. Even if it worked in a given situation, when you train on slightly different data you might run into something that throws it for a loop, and you’d better be able to figure out what that is. That’s your job.

    As I see it, there are three problems with the democratization of algorithms:

    1.As described already, it lets people who can load data and press a button describe themselves as data scientists.
    2.It tempts companies to never hire anyone who actually knows how these things work, because they don’t see the point. This is a mistake, and could have dire consequences, both for the company and for the world, depending on how widely their crappy models get used.
    3.Businesses might think they have awesome data scientists when they don’t. That’s not an easy problem to fix from the business side: posers can be fantastically successful exactly because non-data scientists who hire data scientists in business, i.e. business people, don’t know how to test for real understanding.
    How do we purge the posers?

    We need to come up with a plan to purge the posers, they are annoying and making a bad name for data science.

    One thing that will be helpful in this direction is Rachel Schutt’s Data Science class at Columbia next semester, which is going to be a much-needed bullshit free zone. Note there’s been a time change that hasn’t been reflected on the announcement yet, namely it’s going to be once a week, Wednesdays for three hours starting at 6:15pm. I’m looking forward to blogging on the contents of these lectures.”

    Monday, August 6, 2012 at 14:07 | Permalink
  515. Really wrote:

    POSERS: like your post.. On your comment:

    “We need to come up with a plan to purge the posers, they are annoying and making a bad name for data science”.

    My take is that you cant win from stupid. The REAL problem is silly or rather stupid regulation that gives these actuaries power to sign. Unless you generalize that power, forget “purging” anything.

    Monday, August 6, 2012 at 21:52 | Permalink
  516. REALLY wrote:

    There is a perverse incentive in actuarial/insurance to:

    (1) Encourage, support, promote low class, uneducated, racist, yuppy people

    (2) Why would it be better if we have given these actuaries power to sign ourselves? Why would anyone go to school or do math/statistics? Why would you have creativity, intellect?

    Entitlement is what all this creates. Entitlement for yuppy, uneducated bigots. Thats all.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at 07:13 | Permalink
  517. Really wrote:

    This is my last post. Any other post with Really is not mine.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 14:33 | Permalink
  518. Dai Texas wrote:

    In the UK Actuary exam system, there is a CA3 communication practical exam with very low pass rates. Also the SA series exams have very low pass rates, from 15% to 35%. Why? It’s all quite deliberate I think.

    Now consider also that the UK Actuary Profession has told the UK Government that Qualified Actuaries are “in shortage”. Is it any wonder, then they stop so many people from qualifying? I’ve seen people with excellent communication skills left with broken careers as the Profession cruelly refuses to pass them on the CA3 exam which is a very expensive exam costing £740 to sit and £500 to resit.

    The implication of Actuary being classed as “in shortage” in the UK means that UK Actuary jobs are left wide open to worldwide competition. That’s exactly what the Insurance industry wants as it can then import cheap labour from India, China etc. to the UK.

    Then the UK profession boasts that more than 50% of its student membership are overseas. But overseas members can take the exams and study materials at half price. Why is this all happening? I can only conclude that there is an agenda by the Insurance companies to reduce Actuary costs so they want to import cheaper workers or eventually export the whole actuarial function to China, India. As others have noted, most Actuaries don’t do anything very skilful that you can’t teach someone in China or India to do for a fraction of the labour cost.

    I have a lot more to say on these issues but have enjoyed reading the debate so far.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 23:04 | Permalink
  519. Dai Texas wrote:

    Someone wrote that the Actuary societies are nasty little clubs. That is my experience too. If you ever try to complain that an exam question was unfair, or even try to obtain detailed feedback on why they failed you in an exam, you will not get serious help at all and will have to pay £hundreds for what in the end is very limited feedback. They cash in big time on failing 65% of entrants and from my experience integrity is not at the top of the agenda as complainants are dismissed no matter how strong their case for appealing since they won’t volunteer a loss of face.

    Furthemore, the UK system means that you must appeal against a fail grade within 10 days of the exam result and pay a fee of £250 to do so. But you are given no information or feedback on why you failed in those ten days. You may get Exam counselling but if you then complain after exam counselling about your grade, perhaps as you’ve spotted something in the exam counselling notes that seems unfair, they will just turn round and say it’s too late the 10 days have now passed! What kind of a rip-off system is this! Clearly they don’t want people to appeal but to pay to resit.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 23:10 | Permalink
  520. Dai Texas wrote:

    Many people comment on racism. Well over here the policies are anti-British since they want more foreign members and more foreign workers to come into Britain to take Actuary jobs for lower pay. But yes, it is a valid question to ask whether these people will ever be promoted to actuary bosses or stay as analysts.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 23:12 | Permalink
  521. Dai Texas wrote:

    The Actuary exam system is hideous and combined with boring unsatisfying work contributes to the undesirable personalities of most people working in Actuary.

    On the one hand you have those people bitter that they’ve spent all spare time in their 20s and haven’t finished the exams after trying very hard. They’re angry because their career is now extremely limited and they’re quite stuck being given all the crap work no one else wants to do. The career which started off promisingly with good graduate scheme salary has now turned into an extremely average salary 10-20 years later and very dull work.

    On the other hand you have those who have qualified as actuaries who are also bitter for similar reasons to the above. Some of these people are also extremely arrogant thinking that because they’ve spent 10 years trying to qualify that they have reached genius level, that they no longer need a personality or be courteous, and that they’re right on every topic in the universe including things they have no idea about. I’m an Actuary I know best mentality. They seem to go out of their way to take the opposite view of whatever anyone says – except when it comes to more senior actuaries who they just suck up to and agree with everything they say. Hideous personalities folks due to a miserable existence.

    I have only met very few ‘normal’ actuaries qualified or otherwise. It has never failed to intrigue me how one profession could attract so many miserable know-all types who have so many social or personality issues.

    Friday, August 10, 2012 at 23:24 | Permalink
  522. Dai Texas wrote:

    Another thing I’ve noticed in general about actuaries is that you cannot trust in them. Their social skills are so appalling that if you do confide in them about something, the likelihood is that they will use any such information for their benefit not yours in order to damage you and promote themselves. I often wonder what these people were like when they were in school or university, I suspect they were thoroughly disliked and people avoided them, as they have so little empathy or respect for others.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 07:18 | Permalink
  523. Gillotine wrote:

    @DAI TEXAS: I assume you’re one of the people who wasted multiple years of his life trying to be an actuary but failing? Or maybe the British are just a generally miserable and bitter people? The actuaries I know are a combination of awesome and hilarious.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 17:15 | Permalink
  524. Dai Texas wrote:

    In every workplace I’ve been at, I look at the actuaries more senior than me. They’re all miserable, nothing interesting or positive to say, look like people full of regrets and so on. They won’t even turn up to the work’s Christmas party. Gillotine sounds like one of these people who think that people who tell it like it is about actuary are somehow not clever enough to be one. Actuary is not about being clever but being a polly parrot memorising all kinds of nonsense and past exam questions to repeat on an exam paper and be willing to resit the later exams over and over again until finally qualifying then wondering what all the fuss was about as you’re in an extremely tedious job, can’t even explain to others what you actually do, with no maths. Just a glorified spreadsheet monkey.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 17:34 | Permalink
  525. Dai Texas wrote:

    @Gillotine. I am bitter because this so-called profession where you “use your maths” has been mis-sold to me. One has to ask why Actuaries are that dishonest that they mis-sell the profession in this way.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 17:38 | Permalink
  526. 11pecans wrote:

    Dai, you seem like a bitter person filled with nothing but putrid bile with your disdain for people in the actuarial profession. Some of the nicest people I’ve met are actuaries. For example this guy from Florida I know who goes by the moniker Tom. Super nice guy.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012 at 20:16 | Permalink
  527. wonderfulcow wrote:

    As a young student writing his second exam I think you guys are all forgetting that this job is a way to make a living by being decent at math. You have to make a living somehow.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 07:12 | Permalink
  528. Dai Texas wrote:

    I’m not saying all actuaries are socially dysfunctional, arrogant, malicious back-stabbing boring bitter little ****, only 90% of them.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 09:43 | Permalink
  529. Dai Texas wrote:

    An actuarial job might be tolerable if you spend 90% of your time working with non-actuaries. Being in an actuary department having to deal with actuaries 90% of the time is as enjoyable as pulling your eyes out, frying them then eat them for breakfast. You will have to deal with deliberately awkward colleagues who, whatever you say, try and argue the opposite or pick faults at everything you do even if you don’t do things right because they never explained it properly in the first place. It’s a bizarre collection of socially inept numpties who thinks passing a few actuary exam makes them a genius and general courtesy or empathy is no longer required towards others who they consider beneath them. Or they just sit in a corner all day minimising how much they speak to other human beings and just backstab at every possible opportunity. I have worked in actuary for 10 years and not made any friends – go figure, I have loads of friends in all my other walks of life.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10:03 | Permalink
  530. Dai Texas wrote:

    After a while you start realising that the slightly higher salary, if it’s higher at all compared to normal jobs, is more like COMPENSATION for having to hang around with actuaries all day every day and deal with their awkward ‘personalities’.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10:05 | Permalink
  531. what wrote:

    if you can self insure then self insure. If you can prove to the bank when you are borrowing the house (until you pay it off) that you can pay for all damages then you can get around insurance (for example if you hold the entire balance with the bank).

    There are also way to self-insure your car. If you don’t want to pay for insurance, then don’t; but you still be must responsible for your losses.

    Also, just how profitable do you people think insurance is? Most companies aren’t even making 10% return on equity.

    Stop your corporate hating.

    PS this has nothing to do with actuaries but the hatred of insurance companies on here is insane. I know too many people (including myself) who left insurance because it’s not profitable enough.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10:06 | Permalink
  532. what wrote:

    also my time spent in insurance, generally the nicest people I met were actuaries. go figure. I also assumed it was because their jobs were pretty much as secure as can be, so they had no reason to be jerks to get ahead.

    Depends on where you are I suppose.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10:09 | Permalink
  533. Dai Texas wrote:

    As for people thinking it’s racist against non-whites, I’d say it’s the opposite over here. Clearly there is an agenda to replace whites with Indians and Chinese imports. Maybe not at the higher echelons, yet, but it’s only a matter of time until these non-whites start asking why there’s no non-white chief actuaries and accuse companies of racism in order to get more of their own people up the hierarchy. The only losers from this situation are the whites who will find they have to work for less money as actuaries due to worldwide competition. Also the UK professoin allows student members in China and India to do exams 50-60% cheaper… is that racism against whites, it seems so.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10:15 | Permalink
  534. Dai Texas wrote:

    Remember they’ve already exported jobs from customer serice, admin, IT to places like India so what makes actuaries think you’re so special that they won’t export your jobs too? You really think those spreadsheets you work on can’t be coded by Indians earning a third of what they pay you in America or UK? This is part of the reason I suspect that actuary exams are being made cheaper in those countries so that the work can be passed there instead of employing mainly white Brits and Americans in UK And USA as they used to. So if you want a debate about racism don’t pretend whites are not being targetted.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10:17 | Permalink
  535. Dai Texas wrote:

    I’ve worked more than 10 years in Actuary and you’re on your second exam. I have more experience to draw on and make these statements. Like Mel Turpin I thought oh maybe I’m in the wrong company, the wrong kind of actuary job etc. but when you been around you realise it’s all the same and the awkward actuary personality dominates 90% of every actuarial workplace.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 10:19 | Permalink
  536. what wrote:

    I guess then the easy answer: do what you have to do to find the 10%.

    I should also mention: I worked in the UK with a partner company – the actuaries were the funniest and nicest people there. Some were incredibly intelligent and a couple had PHDs

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 12:31 | Permalink
  537. Dai Texas wrote:

    A PHd is completely wasted in Actuary unless you work as a researcher in an University. I do not find Actuaries to be incredibly intelligent, maybe because I am more intelligent, maybe because intelligent people see through the Actuary lies and find a genuinely more intellectually stimulating career. Increasingly Actuaries have to follow prescribed rules how to calculate things e.g. solvency 2, so intelligence not required.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 13:17 | Permalink
  538. Dai Texas wrote:

    In fact the most intelligent people I’ve seen in actuarial departments are the people who couldn’t qualify as actuaries. Which makes me wonder if the exam system is the meritocracy it is made out to be. Seems like employers would rather keep the ingelligent technically proficient people to do the coding whilst the inept get promoted as they won’t bother asking hard questions to senior management.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 13:19 | Permalink
  539. Dai Texas wrote:

    And it is very tragic and embarrassing to see people who had to give up the exams being managed by less intelligent people who had somehow, God knows how, passed the exams.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 13:25 | Permalink
  540. what wrote:

    you do realize that Solvency 2 is exactly the opposite of what you said right?

    Solvency 2 allows the company to decide to how to calculate it’s capital requirement, even if they do specify the measure to be used (99.5 VaR). The older systems just had a formula. Perhaps that’s why you couldn’t hack the exams – didn’t feel like actually learning anything and just took it at face value?

    Easy to call someone stupid when they are more accomplished than you? Some people have made real points, you sir are just a complainer and find people to blame when things don’t go your way.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 14:30 | Permalink
  541. Dai Texas wrote:

    No they don’t have complete freedom in solvency 2 like you say, I suggest it is you who learns more about it. Regulator can overrule their results and demand more capital held. Their internal model has to gain approval from regulator etc. no original thoughts required.

    I can hack the exams but have more brains than those who think it proves anything of worth to pass them all. It’s a mug’s game.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 18:40 | Permalink
  542. wonderfulcow wrote:

    DAI TEXAS can’t hack the exams. He’s just mad because he doesn’t have strong logical skills like the people he met and now he’s butt hurt and crying about it. Passing exams requires a certain type of intelligence. Maybe your metric of intelligence is based on things besides what exams test. Obviously the SOA think an aptitude Actuaries require is tested by these exams, since they create the tests. I think you need to reflect on your own thoughts and stop trying to rationalize your own shitty perspective. Maybe these guys don’t like you because they think you’re dumb like everyone else on this planet.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 19:54 | Permalink
  543. Dai Texas wrote:

    Can’t hack the exams? But I’ve passed all of them except one which I didn’t bother trying again. They always make sure people have to resit their last one at least 3 or 4 times as they only want brown nosers qualifying. I decided not to bother and build a more intelligent career elsewhere. You keep on thinking people who pass these things are geniuses – they’re not! Just sad freaks who have no courage to really test themselves in a real job.

    Sunday, August 12, 2012 at 20:10 | Permalink
  544. Dai Texas wrote:

    The actuary field is perpetuated by myths, lies, such as that they are mathematicians, that those who qualify are geniuses, that those who do not qualify are because they are not intelligent enough, that leaving actuary means you will suffer financially, that actuaries earn enormous salaries compared to other professions, that actuary jobs are safe from cheap foreign labour etc.

    Monday, August 13, 2012 at 05:13 | Permalink
  545. wonderfulcow wrote:

    You sound like you want to make your job your life and make it completely comprise who you are as a person. Some people work to live, not the other way around.

    Monday, August 13, 2012 at 07:54 | Permalink
  546. Dai Texas wrote:

    Wonderful cow. If like me you have spent more than 10 years in this line of work you will surely come to the conclusion you dont want to spend another 30 years doing this. Most people are stuck and can’t escape. Many have not found the courage to leave and regret.

    Monday, August 13, 2012 at 08:14 | Permalink
  547. wonderfulcow wrote:

    Cool well I live at home with my father whom I don’t like and I’m trying to become self sustainable. I find this profession attractive because I like math and the exam process appeals to me because I’m a good test taker and it will help me achieve my goals. On Maslow’s scale maybe you’re higher up than me but as it is I’m “stuck” right now and this will set me free. Maybe you misunderstood my prior post about how this is a way to make a living using math.

    Monday, August 13, 2012 at 08:36 | Permalink
  548. Dai Texas wrote:

    Wonderful Cow that’s fine, Good luck to you. I’m not saying it’s not for everyone, clearly it is for some people. In a few years it will be interesting to see if you come to similar conclusions as me.

    Monday, August 13, 2012 at 08:38 | Permalink
  549. Dai Texas wrote:

    Post #22 – ANACAS. Spot on there. You have really touched on something very important. Whilst an Olympian will happily spend 4-8 years working hard, unsociable hours, perfecting their sport… it has a serious reward and recognition. The problem with Actuary is that people don’t know what it is that you’ve sacrified your social life for, and once they find out- after you’ve painfully tried to explain what you do- they’re not really that impressed or inspired. Personally I don’t like talking about my earnings but the only way to make it look good is to start saying how much you earn. But even these days that can backfire as salaries are not that impressive compared to the norm. Perhaps consulting fees are good but not even that impresses people as they view you not having long-term security. People underestimate how important having a job perceived to be prestigious is to the individual’s self-esteem and sense of achievement.

    Monday, August 13, 2012 at 15:48 | Permalink
  550. Alex wrote:

    Some interesting discussion here. The actuarial market in Asia is booming and very different to the more established markets in Europe and US. If anyone is interested in learning more then please do get in touch with me at

    I have included a speech below which i delivered to the Chinese Actuarial Society in London. I’d appreciate any thoughts you have about what i’ve said here.

    Chinese Actuarial Society – Inauguration 2011

    I’ve identified four main topics which I think would be most useful to discuss within this forum:

    • Past, Present & Future of Actuaries in Asia

    • Market Split and Current Demand in HK and China

    • Language Requirements in HK & China

    • Salary Levels in HK & China

    History of Actuaries within Hong Kong and China

    Traditionally actuaries in HK and China have largely been employed for statutory purposes, and therefore the roles have often been very technical, back office roles.

    As the Asian insurance industry and actuarial profession develops however, there has become a huge demand for actuaries to be involved in a much wider focus of duties often in front office commercial roles. (A good example is the Risk Management and Capital Management, with Solvency II at the forefront of many actuaries’ minds). The issue many companies are facing in Asia though is that they struggle to find this skill set within the local market, purely as local talent have never had the opportunity to develop these commercial skills.

    So, what exactly do I mean by a more commercial actuary?
    Underwriters, Risk managers, finance professionals, senior management, these are all people who get huge amounts of value in understanding the work actuaries are doing, so we need actuaries who can help them understand it, people who can communicate complex actuarial terms to a non-actuary.
    A lot of people here will probably take this skill for granted, but it is this skill set which is in huge shortage throughout Asia.

    On a more technical note the markets outside Asia are much more heavily regulated, Europe being the best example of this (Solvency II, IFRS GAAP). As the regulations continue to develop in Asia, and International companies continue to expand throughout Asia the experience of working throughout Europe and other heavily regulated industries is what companies are looking for, and again the skill-set which is in shortage in Asia.

    The last point I feel important to mention in this section is qualification. My advice to all of you here would be to get qualified before looking for work in HK or China. Local universities started doing actuarial degrees about four years ago, so companies find it very easy to find good quality (and cheap) junior candidates, where they can train them up internally. If you look for jobs there before you get qualified then you will have no natural advantage over local graduates and students. Instead I advise you to learn your trade in this market where you can start developing all the skills I have mentioned previously, then once qualified you can enter the markets in Asia with a competitive advantage.

    It is however VERY important that you get qualified and ideally don’t take too long doing so. If you are not qualified you will never get the role of a qualified actuary in HK or Asia as you would fail to get the respect of qualified people working in your team, or worse so underneath you. This creates too much politics so all of our clients demand qualified candidates for manager level and upwards.

    Market Split and Current Demand

    Roughly speaking in HK the % of actuaries in:
    Life insurance is 80%
    General Insurance is 10%
    Investments is 5%
    Health, Pensions and other non-traditional fields is 5%

    As it is plain to see, Life insurance very much dominates the industry and in China it is even more weighted to life insurance.

    In HK, the insurance market has been growing at an approximate rate of 25% annually. Life insurance has seen consistent growth but it is General Insurance which is growing at the fastest rate. This is a positive development for any of you who work in non-life, as in the past opportunities have been scarce.

    Health insurance is also growing swiftly as residents of both China and Hong Kong become more lucrative and seek private health insurance policies, as well as an increasing number of ex-patriots moving there. However, these opportunities may be better suited to candidates within the US and Europe as there is a limited need for health insurance actuaries within the UK.

    Requirements for pensions actuaries are few and far between. If you work in pensions and are sure that you would like to move to Hong Kong or China then the best advice we can give is to transfer to a life insurance business, even if it means taking a step back on the ladder.

    Demand within the Market

    Much of the demand that we are seeing is coming from consultancies.

    In the past consultancies have traditionally been focussed on audit, valuations, statutory reports and M&A due diligence. However, recently the key players in the consultancy market have been forming advisory teams to help satisfy demand within the industry concerning new capital requirements and a general advancement in the techniques being used. There is also an elevated awareness towards Risk in its many forms. One example is a member of the Big Four who are currently building a brand new advisory team of 25 actuaries to service Hong Kong and parts of Mainland China. They are very keen to fill these roles with candidates from the US and UK as the ‘softer skills’, which I mentioned earlier, are vital to their success in a service driven market. Adding a little more detail to this statement, they need candidates who are happy facing off to clients and can create innovative solutions to meet a client’s issues, rather than someone who purely enjoys the mathematical side of the role. This is much the same as the consultancy advisory teams operate here.

    In Asia, a majority of the insurance businesses do not have fully formed in-house actuarial teams. It is only the companies with a global presence who are ‘ahead of the curve’ and have departments you would recognise as being similar to those you currently work in. As a result of this the consultancies’ services are hugely in demand to assist businesses without the current infrastructure to satisfy their new needs.

    Hence in general, it is actuaries working within the consultancies who, for the most part, are doing the advanced actuarial work whilst the industry catches up and formulates its own in-house teams.

    Language Requirements

    Within Mainland China a very high percentage of business is still conducted in Mandarin. This is unlikely to change in the near future though English is still viewed as a strong benefit (especially in consultancies) as it allows people to tackle any international aspects of a role.

    In Hong Kong Cantonese, Mandarin and English are used as day to day languages. Mandarin is of course less commonly used but this is slowly changing as more people move across from the mainland. English is very much the primary language used in business and good communication skills will be a necessity to succeeding within this market. Cantonese is seen as an advantage but rarely a pre-requisite for roles. Any regional roles including coverage of mainland China and Taiwan require Mandarin as a must.


    One of the first questions that a majority of my candidates ask me is regarding salary so I’m sure this is something that you are all keen to learn about….. and….. in truth, there is good news and bad news.

    Before discussing this in more detail I feel it is important to highlight a key matter. If you are interested in working in China and to a certain extent Hong Kong, it must be for reasons other than short-term monetary gain. Whether it be the desire to be able to make a difference within the actuarial industry or the want to work in a new market, as long as it is not purely a decision based on the size of the package.

    So, in view of this and my previous statement about good and bad news, let’s start with the bad. Salaries within China are rarely competitive with those of the UK. In fact, the gap is quite substantial. Salaries are very low and although there are exceptions for high level positions (CFOs or Chief Actuaries) you must be willing to take a big hit on salary.

    The good news is in Hong Kong the “take home” salary levels for qualified candidates are similar to those in the UK. Whilst salaries are slightly lower, once the lower income tax rates are taken into account (i.e. your net salary), there is little between the UK and Hong Kong.

    However, salaries are moving upwards as the industry grows and, in the long term, this situation will only improve.

    It is very difficult for me to give you specific salary details, and this is for a number of reasons.

    Firstly, there is no official market rate in Hong Kong and China. Different businesses are paying varying packages depending upon the role and experience required. The current period is very much a learning process for companies looking to employ qualified actuaries within commercial roles.

    Secondly, how much someone is paid comes down to the skills of the individual and the value of their experience to the business. Without being able to understand each of your skillsets, your experience and your softer skills, it is very hard to produce an ‘off the cuff’ estimation.

    If you are interested in discussing this in more detail then please contact me in the future and I’ll be able to give a more precise range once we’ve had the necessary conversations.

    Another important issue to note is that ex-pat relocation packages tend to be a thing of the past unless at very senior levels. There may be some assistance provided with making the move but nothing comparable to those being provided ten or twenty years ago. This is because there is increased competition for roles and they simply don’t have to offer relocation packages in order for a candidate to accept an opportunity.

    Once again I would like to emphasize the fact that if your main motivation is short-term monetary gain then you may not find what you want. If however you are interested in the opportunity to make a difference within the actuarial industry and to enjoy swifter progression into more commercial roles, then it is absolutely the right decision to consider making the move.

    In summary actuaries from Europe, the US or Australia who have made the move to Asia are enjoying swift progression up the corporate ladder and have found it refreshing that they’ve joined an industry still in its development stages in which they can actually make a difference. This issue of ‘making of difference’ is one that arises often when speaking to UK candidates as it is something that many people find hard to do here. So each one of you here will be delighted to know you are in the right place, and the future is bright for you.

    Monday, August 13, 2012 at 22:01 | Permalink
  551. Joker wrote:

    I think this joker Alex is a recruiter and notice how nicely he is selling you the “profession”. Reading his total BS garbage makes you think these actuaries are some leading, cutting edge statistical wizards. “Moving up the corporate ladder!”.

    I happen to know Asian markets and they think P/C actuarial is 100% bogus. Rates are set by market forces and they want diploma mill underwriters by the dozen. Life insurance employs actuaries but the asians have a particular disdain for this “fraud” business and most asians do not carry life insurance.

    Regardless, actuaries in asia are not bosses. They are not even bosses in north america!

    All else set aside, this is NOT a field for someone mathematically intelligent and is grunt work most of the time. Working conditions are poor with high levels of stress, filthy, filthy undesirable people to work with in “insurance business”. Very low education level. A moron of a rut grows up to work in insurance/actuarial. People aspire to scientists, statisticians, engineers etc.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 00:23 | Permalink
  552. abc wrote:

    I doubt that he read a single post..most likely he has a standard format and is cutting pasting everywhere.

    Its called marketing!

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 00:28 | Permalink
  553. Alex wrote:

    Yes, i’m a recruiter based in Hong Kong (we also have a team in Europe). If anyone wants to discuss my comments with me then please do send me an email and we can arrange a chat. Very happy to hear constructive feedback and your thoughts about what i’ve said. For those who enjoy the actuarial profession please do get in touch.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 03:45 | Permalink
  554. Dai Texas wrote:

    I found it harder to make friends with actuaries rather than non-actuaries in an insurance company. So not sure I understand the comments made about ‘morons’ by joker. My happiest job was when I was the actuary type working amongst non-actuaries. As they respected me and sought my advise on calculations etc. whilst actuaries always try and bring you down and find silly faults or be awkward with everything you do.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 10:03 | Permalink
  555. JOKER wrote:

    DAI TEXAS: I think we are on the same page regarding actuaries although I do not have a good opinion of insurance industry in general.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 10:23 | Permalink
  556. Dai Texas wrote:

    Yes Joker. It was only once place where I felt a friendly atmosphere. In other places I would tell the boss I had no work to get on with and more often than not I would be ignored, sometimes for days. Then after a while you learn to not ask for work and just stall on whatever you’ve been given since that keeps people happier. But ask yourself – is that a good situation, really? People might say you get paid be lucky. But I do tend to think that no, it’s not a good situation. All that time sat in an actuary office not doing much could be spent elsewhere doing something productive and interesting.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:36 | Permalink
  557. Dai Texas wrote:

    One question for Alex – there has been much debate about racism on this board. I do question therefore why there is a need, and why your agency, felt fine to sponsor a networking group for Chinese people in the UK? I have no problem with Chinese people but I fail to see why it is fine for them to set up networking groups whilst British, especially white British, would not be allowed to and described as racist.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:40 | Permalink
  558. Dai Texas wrote:

    Let me elaborate more on post 556. One thing they don’t seem to care about in actuary is developing your skills on the job in any hurry.I must have spent years doing extremely mind-numbing tasks like check data or checking things. After a while you realise that when you tell your boss you’ve finished that you just get given more or even more dull work to do. There’s not much hurry to give you more advanced work to do. And none of this seems to change with the exams you pass. It never happens that you pass a few exams then get given better things to do, probably still doing the same old thing. But this could be to do with that there is so little maths to do on the job that students think once they’ve passed the maths exams there’s better work to do. But that doesn’t seem the case. That’s one of the things I’ve found most disappointing about the career to date. Also many companies are too scared to train you up in actuarial software as they’re concerned you’ll take the skills, leave and work as a contractor or work as a perm for someone else.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:45 | Permalink
  559. Dai Texas wrote:

    But then you’ve got the other scenario which is that if you show you’re too good and too keen doing coding work, that this can lead to a limited career as they’ll just make you into a code monkey meaning you will struggle to get promotions into more general roles or develop credentials as a people person. So often you find that the people who struggle to code or do more mathematical tasks are left to do those things, whilst buffoons get promoted.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:49 | Permalink
  560. Dai Texas wrote:

    Alex – could it be you sponsor the chinese network because you want to take advantage of the profession being on the shortage occupation list to bring more chinese actuaries to work in the UK?

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 11:50 | Permalink
  561. Alex wrote:

    Hi Dai Texas – there are a lot of actuaries of Asian origin working in the UK. Some of these actuaries are now looking to move closer to their families in Asia and take advantage of their language skills, we want to be able to help facilitate that move when the time is right (whilst also helping British candidates to make the move as well). You will find different networking groups all over the world, there are many FIA networking groups that exist outside of the UK.

    Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 18:20 | Permalink
  562. Amy wrote:

    Ok, I am NOT an actuary. I am a person who was researching the profession because I was considering it. Many of you who ARE actuaries come off as a**hole bullies and it is a huge turn-off to probably a lot of people. You are really not flattering the profession.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 07:59 | Permalink
  563. Paolinho wrote:

    It is funny how the other articles on this site barely get 1 or 2 comments but this one gets well over 500.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012 at 14:47 | Permalink
  564. Ryan wrote:

    Well, I’m not sure what to do at this point in my life. I would really like to enter the actuarial field. However, I’m 45 years old and have been out of college for many, many years (since 1994). Received a Bachelor’s Degree in Business at the time. I returned to college in 2003/2004 and retook Calculus I and II. Went from a B+ to an A in Calc I and from a C to a B in Calc II. I took a career test a few years ago and scored HIGH in the area of interests for actuarial science. My present jobs are as a credit union teller and as a cashier. Feeling like I’m not really making use of my talents and abilities in life. Should I retake certain classes all over again? Should I go back to college? Or should I just study for Exam P all on my own if I decide to pursue becoming an actuary? Finally, should I even consider becoming an actuary at my age?

    Sunday, August 19, 2012 at 18:23 | Permalink
  565. HIGH HORSE PARADE wrote:

    This whole thread has morphed into something unrecognizable. Get off your high horses, everyone! The whole thing has turned into a competition of who is the greatest in the land.

    Unnecessary and INFANTILE! Get over yourselves.

    Since when can people just agree to disagree?

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 23:31 | Permalink
  566. HIGH HORSE PARADE wrote:

    *Since when CAN’T people just agree to disagree?

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012 at 23:32 | Permalink
  567. Struggling_Actuary wrote:

    I’m an actuarial student that works in a life company, well, i think most people think that an actuary earns big bucks is actually depends on how big is the bucks you want. A qualified actuary (with not-very-high position) earns less than a businessman but at the same time more than others who works in different area at the same ranking; accountant for instant. However, to be qualified to not an easy job if you want to have your life in 20′s but on the other hand, you can be qualified very soon if you put your life aside for few years. Hope this help. :)

    Thursday, August 30, 2012 at 02:11 | Permalink
  568. dd_actuary wrote:

    I agree with most of the negative comments that have been made against the actuarial profession. I’m currently a mid-way through my exams and never I thought that the jobs demanded anything special from the person, maths or non-maths. It requires you to be an accurate calculator and be able to sit through boring and mundane day-to-day work. Actuaries definitely are over-rated and there are certainly better paying jobs that serve better purpose in life. It really suits those people who are inept to become anything else like me.

    I don’t think there is much problem with actuaries having limited set of stats skills – most accounting and valuation work never involves too much maths as it can be difficult to apply, harmoniously across jurisdictions and difficult to interpret the results. The most forms of insurance should be nationalised as that will reduce the cost down significantly as there won’t be bullshit expenses on marketing, commissions, profit requirement, HR and administrations. Especially the vehicle and healthcare insurance which I think is a rip-off. I think pension market is too big to be governed by a single government so it makes sense to have as wide range of providers as possible.

    Thursday, September 6, 2012 at 07:45 | Permalink
  569. Underwriter wrote:

    I just took a job as an assistant underwriter with hopes of becoming a contract underwriter in time. However, I have also completed my first actuary exam, so I may try and pursue a career in that field upon completing the 2nd exam. Any help on choosing the correct profession would be greatly appreciated! And yes pay difference could away my decision

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012 at 12:06 | Permalink
  570. Sprite wrote:

    Europe based

    I am a PhD trained financial economist with research on DFA/ALM for life insurance. I also have an undergrad in actuarial science. To begin with, I love actuarial science, it is one of the most beautiful fields in both maths and economics.

    I despise actuaries and actuarial practice. First daily actuarial practice can be performed by anyone, be it accountant, economist or a liberal arts graduate with a major in econ/maths. There is no deep math behind, except techniques which you apply over and over again.

    Although there is a tendency of the old deterministic models to be replaced by stochastic ones (i.e. Solvency II legislation), the old guard of actuaries (corporate dinosaurs) resists, simply because they don’t want to learn new things. They do not want to learn new things for two reasons. First actuarial practice is time consuming and they do not have the time, second they have no mathematical skills. I have come across actuaries who do not know how to apply the central limit theorem and as a result a reinsurance model that I built was trashed just because the chief actuary did not understand it.

    The job is extremely boring; all you have to do is triangles, run off projections and reserve reconciliations. Nothing special that a monkey cannot do. However there are these crooks named actuarial societies which lobby relentlessly to governments in order to keep the business closed. Therefore the exams are not a proof of intelligence, but a supply control mechanism which keeps salaries of actuaries artificially high. If the profession was liberalized and technically qualified people without being actuaries could sign, then salaries would drop immediately.

    One good development is the new European insurance legislation which establishes a risk management practice within insurance companies but without the necessity of an actuary to head it/sign for it. If the law moves towards more advanced stochastic modeling requirements, then there is a chance that actuaries will move only to pricing and product development and leave the interesting risk management issues to quants/econometricians etc. Then I do not see a reason why the sign privilege will not go to the chief risk officer and with this privilege taken those arrogant accountants (actuaries) will eventually get the low pay they really deserve. It is no coincidence that actuaries never work outside insurance since they do not have the skills of a quant or a bank/HF risk manager.

    Eventually I quit my actuarial job and I move to economic policy research where I am really happy.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 02:40 | Permalink
  571. wonderfulcow wrote:

    So you’re telling us you couldn’t pass the exams and had to get a job that pays less?

    Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 05:12 | Permalink
  572. Sprite wrote:

    This is the typical attitude of a actuary. Once they passed these exams they think that they are entitled to imperial worship. As a PhD economist I had to go through ten years of education starting from undergrad, then going to masters and eventually going to PhD. This means ten years of examinations with progressively increasing difficulty. I have presented my work to universities and public policy institutions. This is something that an actuary will never come across in his life. For particular family reasons and in order to finance my final year PhD, I went to work in insurance as an actuary; however I did not get into the process of examinations since this was a temporary solution for me.

    Regarding the exams, I really wonder how such an exam can judge people like Bill Ziemba (google him) who have been legends in DFA/ALM research and are hired by insurance companies to do the stuff that actuaries cannot do.

    In terms of salary, a PhD fin.econ in an international organization as the one that I work for, earns 80-100K for start and tax free. Now you can go back to your number crunching task that you think as advanced mathematics and earn your 100K after 20 years of work. If you don’t believe my salary numbers ask how much a junior economist with a PhD makes at Kansas Fed. I tell you it is 90K+. It seems that there people who are paid more than you actuaries.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 07:41 | Permalink
  573. Sprite wrote:

    However I think that an actuary could be a wonderful profession with many challenges and interesting work. But the examination procedure would have to change significantly. For example triangles, certainty equivalent scenarios, traditional life insurance mathematics etc would have to get out of the curriculum since they are outdated. A modern actuary needs knowledge of quantitative macroeconomics, stochastic projection methods, a lot of interaction with the asset side of the balance sheet meaning understanding of asset and derivatives pricing, scenario generation techniques and Monte Carlo, DFA/ALM software design and implementation.

    The problem with the 21st century actuary is that this knowledge cannot be expected to be given in a series of examinations like the current ones. How can you prove in an examination that you can set up a successful DFA model? It takes months to design it. How can you prove in an actuarial exam that you understand how to prove in a theorem-proof manner the Black-Scholes formula?

    To get this knowledge one needs rigorous university education at least at the master’s level. Therefore the examinations would be simply obsolete and the profession would open. Therefore there is a vested interest for actuarial societies to live in the 19th century and do number crunching instead of risk management which in fact is what an actuary is supposed to do.

    Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 07:59 | Permalink
  574. wonderfulcow wrote:

    100K after 20 years of work? You claim to know how to do complex projects that actuaries can’t do but you don’t know how to use google to find salary percentiles for an actuary.

    You feel awesome with your academic background and think that university teachings are superior to actuary work but you forget that the people who created the mathematics actuaries use were great mathematicians and economists that would kick you and anyone you’ve ever and will ever work with out of the water.

    The fact you are trying to show that your line of work is superior to that of an actuary is very insecure and claiming to know what’s good for the industry is pompous and ignorant.

    Friday, October 5, 2012 at 17:16 | Permalink
  575. Actuary Wife wrote:

    My husband works at milliman. He hasn’t failed a single exam or course yet and he loves his job. He has always been one of those people that doesn’t have to try to succeed, though. They pay very well and bonuses and raises every exam/course passed in addition to yearly raises. They also give bonuses to all for additional hours worked. He has great hours, which he is able to manipulate to his desire. The bonuses are what really make the job pay so much because it’s easy to get a good 20k extra a year and one guy even gets 300k in just bonuses every year. The job pays well. No question. Everyone there owns audis/bmws/etc and some have million dollar homes. Everyone talks about which country they are going to visit this year. The top dogs have multiple houses and take month long vacays and make well over 300k a year not including bonuses. My husband loves his job and they frequently have work parties and forums in really cool places. So far, I’m impressed. I don’t really know what other companies do as far as payment goes, but most people make triple digits wihtin 5 years at milliman. Also, it is a firm that collects work from clients, so there is definitely collaboration between coworkers and some socialization. However, a job is about work, not socializing. I don’t really know what it’s like, I’m just the wife, but I know my hubby is happy with it. You should never choose a career only for the money. You should have a talent for it and passion for it.

    Monday, October 8, 2012 at 13:35 | Permalink
  576. SPRITE wrote:


    As i said, i love actuarial science but not actuaries. The pioneers of the field like De Witt, Harald Kramer and the rest are not like the average Joe actuary. They were proving theorems as part of their everyday job!

    Second the economics of insurance were not developed by actuaries. Karl Borch, Kenneth Arrow, Gerard Debreu etc were not actuaries.

    State of the art ALM insurance models are being developed by non actuaries like Georg Pflug, Bill Ziemba, Roy Kuwenberg and others.

    Obviously you do not know the literature and those who contribute to active research in actuarial science. Of course this research comes in extremely slowly and only by the push of regulators. Therefore is suspect that in the near future actuaries will adapt or die. But adaption means becoming quants and risk managers who can be bought in the end cheaper from the market.

    Read Solvency II the most thorough insurance legislation in the EU. To do Solvency II you do NOT have to be an actuary! Actuaries are slowly being delegated to pricing only!

    Monday, October 8, 2012 at 15:18 | Permalink
  577. SPRITE wrote:

    One of the few professional recent actuaries with active research contribution was the late Erwin Straub from ETH Zurich, who was more of a mathematician than an actuary.

    Monday, October 8, 2012 at 15:24 | Permalink
  578. ex-actuary wrote:

    Sprite makes excellent points. One can appreciate actuarial science and the academics who built it, and quite rightly dismiss joe actuary as a dismal overrated number cruncher not fit to lick their boots.

    I am based in the UK and completed all but two examinations from the fifteen. After the mathematical exams (CT series – 8 exams) are done with, you enter a series of non-mathematical exams which involve a lot of dismal list learning and odd exam ‘technique’ where you learn how to waffle and invent reasons to justify often imaginary or out-of-date scenarios presented by examiners even in exams which are supposed to test ‘real life’ knowledge. As these exams progress you get to the SA exam which is more vauge which means marking is far more subjective – how convenient for them. There is no purpose in such a thing except to delay qualification time and of course they make sure 60% of people fail each of those exams to achieve this whilst they cash in on the resit fees. It’s not unusual for people to have to sit the final SA exam 4 times before qualifying. I failed this exam once then decided that it would be too boring and a waste of my life to resit it again and again. I felt I made a very good attempt first time but did not receive any convincing reasons from the Profession why I had failed the exam which I found very suspicious. Instead, I went to University and pursued a Masters degree and now a PHd in a different mathematical field which were far more challenging and fulfilling than studying for a stupid actuary exam ever was. So yes, I could have tried to resit SA and the other exam many times and maybe in 1,2 or 3 years be a qualified actuary but it would not bring me any satisfaction or pride. Instead, I considered spending 1 years on a challenging Masters and 3 years on a PHd to be a better use of my time both intellectually and otherwise as the fellowship and companionship at University is far better than the arrogant nobodies at actuarial departments who somehow think they should be worshipped for primitive spreadsheet work. The thought of next 10 years in Actuary bothered me very much as I saw what the other more experienced Actuaries were doing day by day and it did not inspire. I often wondered why Actuarial departments were often full of miserable, resentful, one-dimensional people with personality issues. My conclusion is that these are people who could not succeed elsewhere and whilst the graduate intake may consist of interesting or enthusiastic people, over time the more intelligent ones with more normal personalities see through the actuary career fraud and pursue a more genuine mathematical job or something else entirely.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:21 | Permalink
  579. ex-actuary wrote:

    Sprire – I’d be intersted in your thoughts about their claim to the government that actuaries are in shortage. I think this is a lie. The actuaries I’m still in touch with say that actuary jobs are scarce, that no one is really recruiting unless they have to. Yet the Profession told the government that due to Solvency 2 there is a shortage and that the government should allow people from outside the EU to take up UK actuarial jobs just as easy as an UK person could. My theory is that there is an agenda by insurance companies to replace actuaries with cheaper versions from e.g. india or china and outsource their actuarial functions there. Because after all, they are just numbercrunchers so maybe even the insurance companies are realising they are overpaid and that cheaper versions abroad are available with an internet connection. But wouldn’t this go against the closed shop way of life I hear you ask, my response to that is that the selfish baby boomer generation cares not a jot about the next generation’s work being outsourced to India as long as their pensions will be big and fat. They will gladly sell out British graduates’ futures in favour of Indian or Chinese outsourcers if this benefits their own pension.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:32 | Permalink
  580. ex-actuary wrote:

    It saddens me that the Actuarial Profession are trying to lure young mathematics graduates and promising to them in youtube videos and elsewhere a career with much mathematical content. Apart from the CT series exams there is no maths of any substance (spreadsheet input/output number crunching is not maths). Even if you need to run a stochastic model, very little coding or no coding is required as you just populate a front end and run the thing then look at the output. I wonder what the Advertising Standards Authority make of how the Profession promotes itself? As I think it is sly promising a maths career to maths graduates who end up doing nothing more than spreadsheet calcs which anyone with GCSE maths could do.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:40 | Permalink
  581. wonderfulcow wrote:

    That’s a very interesting post, thanks a lot. As a student with no work experience this feels very insightful and confirms things I already thought. That is, people with true passion for academics don’t become actuaries because the beauty of mathematics cannot be found in an actuarial department. I bet you pursue beauty and elegance don’t you?

    Looking at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you’re just higher up than people who want to be an actuary. Personally, I’m doing it to create a life for myself and gain freedom I don’t currently have. I need money and I’m decent at math, good fit right? lol

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:44 | Permalink
  582. ex-actuary wrote:

    Even the CT1-8 ‘mathematical’ exams are a scam. For subjects like CT5 especially, it’s not maths but a number-crunching exercise. They set you number crunching exercises that should reasonably take 4-5 hours to do but give you only 3 hours in the exam with a calculator, lol. I remember having to crunch calculations right down to the last seconds of these exams, exhaused, no time to check over your work or double check any answer. What does that prove? I say nothing. To pass them you also have to learn the shortcut identities to speed up the number crunching. I find no mathematical ability being tested there and in this computer age it’s ludicrous that you spend 3 hours having to learn I counted up to 300 number crunching formulae to pick and choose from to answer those questions. This does not seriously test any mathematical ability. You are essentially like a chicken on a chicken farm expected to lay more eggs than 60% who enter to get into that 40%. And the fact they still refuse to reveal how they magically arrive at roughly 40% passing all these exams is particularly out of order. In an University everyone is taught with the idea of trying to get everyone to do as well as possible – that is a GENUINE education system.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:45 | Permalink
  583. ex-actuary wrote:

    But wonderful cow, in years to come sprite’s CV will get huge respect and he will have contributed to the world’s knowledge. Meanwhile, you’ll find yourself out of work as insurance companies will have passed your numbercrunching job to someone in India who’s better than you at Excel and has an internet connection.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:47 | Permalink
  584. wonderfulcow wrote:

    There’s a really good chance that you severely underestimate what people call “soft skills”. You seem to think an actuary is just a number cruncher and that might contribute to why you left.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:54 | Permalink
  585. ex-actuary wrote:

    Soft skills? LOL. Everyone can make a presentation or write an email etc. that is most certainly not something Actuaries have any advantage on others or certainly any flair in.

    The main reason I left Actuary, even though some thought I was nuts leaving with just a couple of resits left to qualify, was because having a PHd and working in a more genuinely mathematical or academic job means your future cannot so easily, or at all, outsourced to Indian wizzkids with Excel and an internet connection. Sprite’s work cannot be passed to them – yours can. Think about it. Sure I could have persevered with those two narrow fails and spent a few years studying the same rubbish over and over until they decide to let me pass- but by then I could end up in a career where jobs are leaving the country vs having a PHd and exciting research career and become genuinely valuable in society.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 17:59 | Permalink
  586. wonderfulcow wrote:

    So you wanted better job security than that of a qualified actuary? Considering that it’s actually ranked as the most secure job to have not including only the most specialized things, like what you’re doing, you do look kind of crazy for leaving with that fear.

    Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 18:41 | Permalink
  587. ex-actuary wrote:

    How can it anymore be considered a secure job when it just involves modelling cashflows on Excel or some input/output actuarial such as Moses or Prophet? This stuff will get passed to India in the next 10 years since they can use software and Excel.

    My main problem with the Actuaries is the sly dishonesty that takes place. In the exam notes, what they describe as being an Actuary or how an Actuary is supposed to think is a scientific approach i.e. collect data, make assumptions, build and code the model, generate results, then form conclusions ON this. But in reality, when you deal with Actuaries e.g. if you complain about an exam question being unfair or anything else that the Profession has done which has been unprofessional, wrong or unfair then you will get your complaints dismissed out of hand with some bogus or desperate ‘reasoning’ given to fob you off. That is quite worrying because it seems they do things in reality the opposite way: conclusion first, look for data/reasons later. This does not inspire confidence at all in the Profession nor the integrity of Actuaires. They will go out of their way fanatically to defend ALL of the Profession’s actions, all of their examination questions including the ones which are unfair or out of step with what the exam is supposed to be testing. There is a rather sickening and laughable arrogant approach that any complaint from a ‘student’ actuary must be wrong and dismissed. Even in the notes they brainwash people subtly into this submissive way of thinking because any question that starts “A student commented…” tells you immediately that the statement is in error, whilst a question which says “An Actuary declared…” is one which is always 100% correct absolutely! It is breathtaking arrogance and permeates the whole profession. The real reason they dismiss complaints about exam papers, questions or grades is because they don’t want to lose face, they want you to know your place as a student and they can’t be bothered to do the right thing and mark the papers properly and fairly. They rather you just spend another 400 hours studying for the exam again and pay them instead of them spending even a few hours seriously considering your complaint for integrity purposes. Ask yourself, do you want to join a profession like this? This is one reason why I would not feel any pride, joy or satisfaction about qualifying in this profession even though it is ‘only’ a couple of papers I have to resit to achieve it.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 15:40 | Permalink
  588. ex-actuary wrote:

    So what I’ve discovered is they don’t really want seriously intelligent free-thinking independent thinkers. Nor do they particularly want excellent mathematicians. What they really want are conformist non-questioning sheep who will just go along and numbercrunch without asking too many awkward questions or point out too many flaws in any of the processes or assumptions. Many times I pointed out errors in data but the Actuaries simply ignored and became hostile towards me. Yet, as they teach in the exam notes, all results depend and rely on good quality data. I have many more examples where I had identified incorrect calculations taking place which meant a party was losing out but the Actuaries just swept it under the carpet and kicked it into the long grass. That is not the behaviour of a professional with integrity. So the more I’ve been in Actuary, met Actuaries, pointed out flaws in the exam questions or calculations in the workplace, the more I’ve been fobbed off and dismissed, ignored and treated in a hostile fashion. Integrity is not something I associate with Actuaries anymore.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 15:45 | Permalink
  589. ex-actuary wrote:

    For example, if they have a spreadsheet, system or process calculating something and they’ve been using it for the last 10 years. You come along and look at it and spot a flaw. I would bet that 90% of Actuaries would dismiss your finding with some bullshit reasons. Especially if that Actuary has been working there for the last 10 years and is responsible for that calculation. They would rather continue with a flawed calculation than correct the calculation and make the retrospective adjustments to all those other calculations for the last 10 years which may have gone against the customer or clients. They rather keep it quiet and pretend you never found the flaw. So I do ask, what is the point even putting people through exams and professionalism courses and so on when in reality Actuaries behave in a sly way covering their own backs all the time with not much regard to the integrity of the calculations they are responsible for?

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 15:52 | Permalink
  590. Steve wrote:

    In reply to post #575 by Actuary Wife, I have this to say:

    I used to work at Milliman as an analyst and thank God I no longer do. Some of your points aren’t in agreement with my experience there. When I worked there, hours were brutally LONG during those crunch times such as year-end and the concept of overtime pay did not apply to us. In fact the managing principal at our office put out an official statement that “As professionals you are expected to work overtime without extra compensation”(or similar words to that effect).

    The bonus is highly dependent on the profit center, your boss, and the field(life vs. pension vs. casualty). One should not look at the $20000 a year bonus that your husband received as the norm. I got nowhere near that amount and I worked my butts off during my years there. Maybe your husband’s office is uniquely profitable, I don’t know, but everyone there certainly did not own Audis/BMWs or have million dollar homes, unless they are the partners or fellows with lots of experience. SOME (repeat SOME) star performers in highly profitable centers may do really well and rise very fast, but most people there make a mediocre salary, (which in relation to the stress and effort is not worth the money). And I never met anyone at Milliman who did not have to put in LONG hours and still got big bonuses.

    I slaved there for a little over four years and left and change fields. I had a completely unprofessional boss there that I totally despised. Overall, working at Milliman for me was an ordeal I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemies. Okay, well, maybe for my worst enemies I would recommend Milliman. It’s a miserable profession and a miserable place.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 15:52 | Permalink
  591. ex-actuary wrote:

    I would argue that bullshit generation is something that is actively tested in the latter Actuary exams. They call it ‘idea generation’ but really a lot of the questions are an exercise on the same theme of “suggest reasons why this might be…” etc. with virtually no information in the question to go on. So they want you to make up reasons and bullshit without sufficient information. I don’t consider that a respectable skill at all and it is soul-destroying to spend 3 hours in an exam and hundreds of hours preparing for it only to write nonsense such as “maybe this situation came about because of this and that, maybe this could be an action”. Utter tosh. A profession for bullshitters, not mathematicians.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 15:59 | Permalink
  592. wonderfulcow wrote:

    Does all the world seem like this to you ex-actuary? Where is truth and virtue? Only in mathematics will you find the truth and ideals you pursue. The reason your ideas would get swept under the rug is because what they have works, and the world is kept in order because people do things that work. Socrates was killed and he was probably correct about everything he ever spoke of. Maybe you should either use your awesome brain to create new theorems, discover the function of dreams, figure out what the function of life is, why does the universe create us?

    Just go make babies and do what makes you happy if you can’t answer big questions. If you can answer big questions, then do humanity a favor and answer them in ways they haven’t been answered before.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 16:56 | Permalink
  593. ex-actuary wrote:

    I really dislike a profession putting itself forward as respectable, mathematical and with integrity when its actions don’t demonstrate this. Yes that’s why I returned into mathematics. No my point is that what they had was incorrect but they rather pretend that errors were not found and just continue with incorrect calculations. When that happens a few times you realise that an Actuary is not a respectable occupation.

    Wednesday, October 10, 2012 at 16:59 | Permalink
  594. wonderfulcow wrote:

    Maybe it was just your company. You can’t say the integrity of the whole profession is compromised because of the way your employer operated.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 05:12 | Permalink
  595. ex-actuary wrote:

    I’ve worked at several organisations who employ actuaries. They’re all frightfully similar.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 09:08 | Permalink
  596. wonderfulcow wrote:

    Did you ever sit down and have a 1 on 1 conversation with someone about your concerns?

    Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 09:10 | Permalink
  597. ex-actuary wrote:

    Sure I did. But there’s only so much you push these things before you find yourself out of a job.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 09:12 | Permalink
  598. FuzzyNerfPopscicle wrote:

    Yo, what up peoples?

    I’m in my early 30′s with a masters in math. I need to get a job and move out of my mom’s house. I’m considering actuary or information technology. I think the Cisco CCNA test would be a lot easier than the actuarial exams. But if the actuarial profession is worth it, then the extra study is no prob.

    Hit me back, peeps.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012 at 10:09 | Permalink
  599. Shabba wrote:

    I’ll give my two cents here on the actuarial field. I’ve worked for about ten years in the health actuarial field and got my ASA. I’m the type that is good at math, but struggles with memorization and English related skills and so I never passed my FSA exams. I recently quit my job and started graduate school in engineering at Columbia. I did an undergrad in math. The exams are difficult for sure, my graduate degree so far is much easier than the exams.

    Being an actuary is all about passing exams unfortunately. If you don’t pass exams and get at least an ASA you won’t ever be promoted very high in the actuarial world. Lots of smart people fail these exams. I worked with several people who had undergraduate math degrees from Berkeley and good grades that couldn’t pass the exams and eventually quit.

    I never liked the job and absolutely hated insurance companies. It’s a worthless industry and a magnet for for horrible employees. The work was boring, tedious and And not interesting at all. It just isn’t the type of work where you need the skillset that is required to pass the exams. I worked in some higher level jobs too, so it is not just the job level. It really is the nature of the work.

    The bottom line is that if you have the skill set to pass the exams you have a lot of options ahead of you. I would consider something else. This is a great job for people that w desire job security and predictability. If this is what you’re looking for then this might be a good fit.

    It definitely Is a respectable occupation, and it pays fairly well. I just decided I would be a lot happier doing something else. Sure wish I would have made a different career choice coming out of

    Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 09:45 | Permalink
  600. Shabba wrote:


    It’s a secure job because of the exam system. It doesn’t sound like you have any experience working as an actuary so I doubt you have the experience necessary to judge the integrity or the competence of actuaries. And I have never ever known an actuary that claims he or she is a mathematician. I have worked with tons of actuaries in several states over ten years and have never heard anything like this.

    Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 09:56 | Permalink
  601. ex-actuary wrote:

    Shabba: I actually have a decade experience in Actuary. Your comment “It’s a secure job because of the exam system” certainly has been the case. But going forward? These Actuarial professions are selling these exams to folks in India and China, who will spend an awful long time studying thus passing the exams and will work for a lot less. Don’t think Insurance companies have not noticed this. So if the exam system is exported and more people pass these things, then the job is not as secure.

    Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 11:23 | Permalink
  602. Shabba wrote:

    It’s possible. It’s probably uikely that an American insurance co, would relocate it’s HQ overseas. The actuarial jobs will follow the HQ because the types of decisions an actuary makes are important and done with high level management. I’m sure if lots of people start passing they will ratchet up the difficulty. The soa claims they don’t work on a quota, but I don’t believe that at all.

    Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 21:09 | Permalink
  603. TWO CENTS wrote:

    Shabba: The discussion makes no sense to me. Firstly, “Job security” is a relative term that means nothing. If a statistics PhD works in the actuarial field, they will have no job security as their skills will not be valued. On the other hand a high school graduate (I know of many) that have passed all actuarial exams will have job security if they rote memorize, great at politics and gossip (aka people skills) etc.

    The fundamental point is that this is NOT the field for statistics and mathmetics students. In your case, you have an undergrad degree in math (does not count for much) and have been doing number crunching (which is NOT math/stat) for 10 years. The graduate edeucation in engineering is NOT math oriented. Engineers use undr grad physics and at the gradate level it becomes MBA type stuff. If you were getting a PhD in statistics at Columbia, that would be different but they wont admit you with your background as its too weak in mathematics.

    Secondly, these actuarial exams are a piece of cake for many people. I passed all of them in first attempt. They are NOT a test of intelligence but a test of memorization, after a long day in a lousy working environment and very very long office hours.

    On out-source to India/China: What is it that these actuaries “decide” with senior management? Reserves? They adjust over time anyway. Plus the management “decides” on them and accountants can set them. All the acrtuary deos is pick some link ratios that suit the management. Anyway you can have a chief actuary in the US (one person) and have an army in India/China reporting to him.her. Similar comments on rate making. Insurance company is one of the last American “dinosaurs” that is 100% US workforce. The costs are too high and service sucks. The new insurance companies can be far more profitable of they followed some horse sense and out sourced this useless “profession” to India/China.

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 07:55 | Permalink
  604. Shabba wrote:

    LOL two cents. You have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about. And I really mean NO IDEA. You’ve never worked as an actuary obviously. Actuaries price insurance. Do you think the prices insurance cos set on their products impacts them? Do I really need to explain this? Do you think that having a timely reserve estimate of claims before they run-out effects pricing?

    And I call total BS on high school grads passing these exams. There is also federal and state regulation that actuarial principles have to be followed in rate making and reserving and that an actuary must sign off on the reserves and rates. And statistics PhDs will pass the exams. Engineering isn’t math intensive? Seriously? So I guess the only occupations and degrees that are math intensive involve a Phd in Math/PhysicsStatistics?

    Look, I originally posted here to give my perspective on being an actuary. I then saw all the BS and pointed it out and tried to correct it.

    If you’re really the brilliant Phd you claim to be why the he11 are you wasting you’re time here trashing actuaries? Something smells fishy!

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 10:27 | Permalink
  605. TWO CENTS wrote:

    Shabba: I have nothing against you. Just pointing out facts and I understand your anger as that’s not what you want to hear.

    P/C rates are set by market forces, not actuaries. For ex. in a certain class (say auto) if company A comes up with a rate of $200 and competition is $150 the actuary applies “factors” to get to 150! Actuaries themselves say ratemaking is “art”. I call it fudge based on market forces and no need for a number cruncher. In fact in many markets overseas there is not ratemaking P/C actuary!

    Losses/gains on reserve experiences cannot be used to credit/debit rates. This is insurance regulation and also actuarial precept promulgated by American Academy of Actuaries. So reserves only become relveant for a company going bankirupt in which case the regulator becomes involved. In the past there is rarely (not to my knowledge) any case where an actuary blew whistle well in advance that a company’s reserves were deficient and it was going bankrupt. Its only after the fact that he said she said comes. Until then they just keep signing on opinions as long as the client “pays”. After about of decade some “cutting edge” actuaries are beginning to understand the statistical concept of confidence intervals on their reserve estimates! It has not even been in the syllabus either. At any rate they cannot even dream of mathematically deriving confidence intervals. Its a stupid field.

    Engineering is an applied field and is not a hard science like Physics/math/stat etc. Engineering ends with bachelors degree and after that its mostly MBA type stuff. Rarely will someone do a MS Engineering. They go for a MBA. With your undergrad math background and a 10 year gap from any serious math, no good math intensive program will take you in. Can you recall Laplace transforms from calc II theory class 10 years ago?

    PhD in statistics has nothing to do with actuarial. Actuarial spreadsheets require basic high school algebra that most people can do.

    There are many high school grads that hold FSA designation. Go to SOA website under membership and search there. Many are very experienced actuaries. They cannot compute determinant of a 3×3 matrix let alone any multivariate statistical analysis.

    The level of math education in the US is generally poor (with the exception of top universities). So many master degree students from even the math/stat programs have really “purchased” these degrees. Universities are forced to give them diplomas to get their tuition dollars or they will “complain to the dean”. Proofs are omitted in lectures and computer programming is encouraged to make it easy. People graduate not knowing real math/stat.

    Unless you have a solid PhD from a decent university in a quantitative field and have published in a decent journals like American Statistical Association, you cannot claim much. There are some diploma mill PhD n insurance companies that have not published a single thing. They belong there as no else would take them in.

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 11:24 | Permalink
  606. ex-actuary wrote:

    Shabba said: ” The soa claims they don’t work on a quota, but I don’t believe that at all.”

    Then isn’t it terrible that they lie about their activities? There is no place for that kind of secrecy when such huge sacrifices are expected of people. The IoA only pass around 40% on each paper. When 60% fail that means a lot of resit fees…

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 11:30 | Permalink
  607. ex-actuary wrote:

    Two cents: yes that’s what I fear will happen in Actuary, they will employ armies of numbercrunchers in India/China reporting to a chief actuary in a western company.

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 11:37 | Permalink
  608. Sub-Zero wrote:

    This is where Scorpion first entered the mortal realm. What was he doing here? What is this place?

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 13:39 | Permalink
  609. Sub-Zero wrote:

    Two Cents: “There are many high school grads that hold FSA designation. Go to SOA website under membership and search there. Many are very experienced actuaries. They cannot compute determinant of a 3×3 matrix let alone any multivariate statistical analysis.”

    That is really poor of them. I could do compute the determinant of a 3×3 matrix since I was in high school.

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 13:41 | Permalink
  610. TWO CENTS wrote:

    SUB-ZERO: well congratulations. That makes you a genius among actuaries.

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 18:56 | Permalink
  611. Sub-Zero wrote:

    Well, I didn’t actually say I am an actuary. Computing 3×3 matrices is a high school topic in Commonwealth countries.

    Monday, October 15, 2012 at 20:31 | Permalink
  612. SPRITE wrote:

    Ex Actuary

    I am now on the regulator’s side now and my PhD was in the intersection of finance and actuarial science. I worked for a while as a life actuary (non qualified) and especially in Solvency II.

    Regulators now have become more technically focused, they hire quants, former risk managers and in general people with math skills. Regulators regularly consult academics from math/stats departments. I have even heard of a quant being hired as an economist at the Fed.

    Having said that, regulation will move to very technical and mathematical paths to the extent that actuaries will be delegated in the near future only for pricing and product development. The role of Enterprise Risk Management, that of the risk officer who can have no actuarial qualifications whatsoever becomes more and more important.

    In fact Solvency II is explicit on this. There is no actuarial qualification needed for the implementation of Solvency II. ERM departments use actuaries for cash flow reporting, while ERMs themselves make risk calculations. I can’t see in the future why run off projection cannot be outsourced (you only need a yield curve and a mortality table to do it) externally.

    I have argued many times to actuaries in vain, that opening the profession is the only way to stay relevant in the future. Only by accepting as actuaries more technically trained people who will diffuse knowledge to them, will keep them competitive. But short sightedness and a sense of exclusivity makes them arrogant. Not too much time left!

    Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 15:34 | Permalink
  613. Sprite wrote:

    It’s funny because those lousy actuaries want to move into ERM.

    Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 17:54 | Permalink
  614. SPRITE wrote:

    Last moron took my nick. Sprite at comment 613 is not the Sprite is 612 and the above comments.

    Saturday, October 20, 2012 at 07:08 | Permalink
  615. truth seeker wrote:

    It has just come my attention that the Director of Education and the Chief Executive of the UK Actuarial Profession are not Actuaries themselves. I find that really quite strange. How can they possibly sympathise with the problems and issues with the Profession and its members when they never have had to go through the gruelling nightmare of doing those awful exams?

    Sunday, October 21, 2012 at 20:39 | Permalink
  616. Ex-actuary wrote:

    In my experience, without doubt that in Actuary, as with almost any other line of work these days, the bullshitters are the ones that get promoted. The only difference with Actuary is that you have to pass exams first before the bs game really begins. The people with the best grasp of things, those who were best at writing programs or generating results etc. are kept in those jobs whilst the useless bullshitters get promoted and walk around as Chief Actuary in a few years, probably laughing at everyone in their departments thinking that doing good work in the office is the way to get ahead.

    Monday, October 22, 2012 at 10:05 | Permalink
  617. KAY wrote:

    First I wanted to study petroleum engineering cuz am very good in maths. Later, I had a lot of professional guys talking me into actuarial science. I haven’t started nothing yet but with all these comments, am half motivated and half discouraged. Which field should I actually stick to?

    Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 21:40 | Permalink
  618. FCAS wrote:

    @KAY stick to petroleum engineering, the actuarial field is not promising

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 00:50 | Permalink
  619. FCAS wrote:

    I have attained the FCAS designation, and I must say that my mathematical skills since undergrad years haven’t improved. Hence, it is true that this field’s examination process does not improve your math knowledge or skills.

    I have about five years of experience in the field, based in Toronto (Canada). My opinion about this field is as follows:

    1) Actuaries are over rated.

    2) Actuaries do not deserve to be in the top five jobs ranking that are being published every year. As a FCAS, I do not earn anything close to the lower end of dwsimpson salary survey.

    3) Actuaries are stressed at work. It is not a low stress or stress free job. Deadlines, meetings with upper management need you to be constantly top shape and know your project inside out.

    4) We are not mathematicians nor statisticians. Those who claim to be are fools and do not know what an actuary is.

    5) The day-to-day job is not self fulfilling as other jobs like being a doctor. This job is what most would say “boring”. However, I know some people that love what they do. I guess the grass is green where you water it. For myself, this profession will never as fulfilling as many other interesting jobs. It is much harder to have passion about insurance ratemaking & reserving than technology innovations, cancer research, or building bridges.

    6) The examination process is hard, because you are restricted on time and need to know a lot of topics all at once. This can be done by memorizing everything if the candidate chooses to. Unfortunately, I have not been able to just memorize and perform well at the exam. The reason is because my memorization skills are horrible, hence I needed to be able to derive everything at least once as the original paper showed in their appendices in order to convince myself of the final formula to be eventually memorized for efficiency purposes in an examination environment.

    7) Actuaries are more business professionals than scientists. Often, the public perceives Actuaries as some kind of scientists who are able to calculate about anything and are able to provide answers to about any probabilistic questions. This is false. Actuaries do not do that, scientists do.

    8) Actuaries are more like jack of all trades as we tend to know a lot of subject but are never a master of it.

    9) Actuaries have knowledge in mathematics, statistics, economics, laws & regulations, underwriting, finance, programming etc. They are able to put them all together, analyse, suggest changes and make decisions.

    10) Actuaries are not accountants. Accountants deal with historical numbers and make sure it balances properly. Actuaries deal with historical numbers to try and predict the future.

    11) Actuaries are not arrogant people. In fact, most of the people I have met are very nice and very outgoing.

    12) Where I work, I have not witnessed a single person being victim of racism. In fact, I look at my colleagues and we are pretty multi-cultural here.

    13) We only have one Chief Actuary and yes he his white, however he is by far the most competent Actuary I have ever met throughout Canada.

    14) The CEO of the company is an Actuary. Many other C-suites are also Actuaries.

    15) Are Actuaries over paid? Honestly, it really depends how you define the term “over paid”. The process is for most candidates to sacrifice their 20′s in order to be fully qualified. Regardless of how efficient is the examination process in increasing the skills level of the candidate, just because of the need to sacrifice your 20s already eliminates a good portion of potential supply. Hence, using basic economic principle of supply and demand, actuaries are perhaps not overpaid but underpaid. Many other professions need to sacrifice their 20s and get much higher pay than Actuaries.
    Now, if we are evaluating if Actuaries are overpaid on the basis of what they are providing to the society, they are most likely overpaid. However, they are not alone. Many lawyers at big firms are overpaid, hollywood stars are overpaid, professional sports players are overpaid, many members of the parliament are overpaid, optometrists are overpaid, pharmacists are overpaid and I can go on. Actuaries are paid whatever they are paid because their job is somewhat boring, not easily done by a good portion of the population, requires sacrifice of their 20s etc.

    All of the above are my opinions. They are my true opinion of how I perceive this field after five years of experience and being a FCAS.

    Do I recommend this field? No, not really. There are many other fields that can earn way more money, be extremely fulfilling and interesting. So the question is why am I still in this field? I honestly have thought of changing careers, however some days I find some passion about it some other days I despise my job.
    Life isn’t just about work, there is family, friends and many other factors. And quite frankly, all those other factors are pretty good so far.

    You be the judge.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 01:40 | Permalink
  620. me wrote:

    @FCAS: Lets review your opinion in light of some facts. I will list a few.

    “4) We are not mathematicians nor statisticians. Those who claim to be are fools and do not know what an actuary is.”

    This is wikipedia defn of actuary:


    “Actuaries mathematically evaluate the probability of events and quantify the contingent outcomes in order to minimize financial losses associated with uncertain undesirable events…”

    So you are saying Wikipedia is foolish?
    The actuaries have sold the world on their math skills. They cannot stop beating the trumpet for recruiting math graduates and demand power to sign from the government based on that. Now you are telling us that all this is “our own fault?” Also lets take away your power to sign as “mathematical risk experts” and see how salaries go!

    YOUR STATEMENT: “7) Actuaries are more business professionals than scientists. Often, the public perceives Actuaries as some kind of scientists who are able to calculate about anything and are able to provide answers to about any probabilistic questions. This is false. Actuaries do not do that, scientists do.”

    What are these actuaries selling than exactly to get this power to sign? If they cant do math/stat then why do they claim this to be a math field? Why do they demand exclusive signing power? It is this power that raises salries – not some “rigorous exam system”.

    (3) YOUR STATEMENT 15: “Too long to state…”

    The medical, legal field has no competitor. You cannot replace a doctor with some paramedic. Also there is a constant supply from universities and their qualifications are not challenged by anyone. The services they perform are considered valuable.

    Actuaries make $ by clever regulation to get rates and reserves approved. Thats just robbery! No talent, no skills, no brains! Why not let others do it too?

    A few athletes make money and majority go hungry. To be a NFL super star is not easy and requires a lot of talent. Maybe athletic talent but talent. TO be an actuary requires no talent of any sort.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 05:57 | Permalink
  621. FCAS wrote:


    You are perhaps right, but don’t hate us, hate the game. Those were the rules that were set out. We followed a path that they promised us to be very mathematical. We are victims of the game itself.

    To say that Actuaries don’t have skill is not right. I don’t think you can find a single other professional who knows how a insurance company works inside out which takes into consideration marketing, IT, economics, finance and the mathematics.

    I have never worked in the corporate department, so I can tell you little about reserving. In terms of ratemaking, a pure mathematician or statistician will need to study more finance, economics, underwriting in order to be better at making decisions. Unless, you want them to just analyse numbers.

    Even, in the corporate department, the reserving method are not some chain ladder like I have read in the posts above. In fact, I would say the reserving methods are quite close to the latest articles found on the syllabus. I would probably need to study it again to fully understand it.

    You are foolish to think that doctors or other health professionals have unquestionable qualifications. In fact, they have their own organization who protects them even if they make mistakes. They have an organization to control the supply. They have a society to control their salary.

    Don’t tell me pharmacists are not overpaid, they do pure memorization for four years, and start making 120K+ on their first year. And if they decide to take OT schedules, they make 85$/hour (and by the way this is in Canada where our salaries are suppose to be much lower than the states). What do they do exactly? A lot of them look at their smartphone for the descriptions of all possible interactions between your medication, and they just spit it out to you.

    I would really doubt that the best statisticians can replace the Chief Actuary at the company I work at. It is not just mathematics that is involved.

    If a mathematician or statistician wants to become FCAS I am sure he/she will be able to. And it doesn’t take that long, I know many people who finished universities with one exam or two away from being FCAS (that’s about 22-23 years old?)

    So why hate the game? Just do like we all did, play by the rules and achieve what you want to achieve. Complaining about the rules for 600 posts is not a quality of an Actuary.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 11:56 | Permalink
  622. FCAS wrote:


    We all know wikipedia needs to be taken for what it is.

    I am not sure where your frustration comes from.

    If it is because you think that Actuaries take up all the mathematics job opportunity, I really doubt so. We are roughly 5000 members in the world, and we have the most “boring” jobs. Why would a passionate mathematician or statistician go into this field?

    If I were a mathematician or statistician, I would rather work for companies like google, facebook and credit card companies, their data is just sitting there to be analyzed.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 16:43 | Permalink
  623. wonderfulcow wrote:

    I think the actuarial profession is for people who want to work to live and not live to work.

    If you’re a passionate mathematician or statistician then it won’t be a fulfilling job, I think we know that. If you want a gig that pays well, has a decently tough barrier to entry, and doesn’t have you dealing with either dirty things or the public ( both in many cases) then it’s great from what I hear.

    It seems the people complaining on here are those who wanted life fulfillment from their careers and never found it as an actuary.

    I just want a job that pays the bills and is respectable so I can do things I want to do like play poker, make music, have sex with fine ladies in a nice apartment or in a nice car, and eat well.

    If you’re an intellectual who lives to work, don’t be an actuary. I think that’s clear.

    It just feels like people here are coming from different perspectives and arguing over things that don’t matter.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 17:01 | Permalink
  624. tonythetiger wrote:


    I agree with your observations completely. There is one aspect of your description I disagree with.

    Firstly, primary insurance, particularly personal lines, is a boring industry. From top to bottom. Consequently, the actuary’s work in said industry is boring. No sane person “enjoys” worrying about getting a car insurance rate approved by the government of Newfoundland. I realized about a week into my first internship in an insurance company that, although I wanted the CAS side more than the pensions, GI was DEFINITELY not for me.

    The jobs in the CAS field outside of GI, either in the various consulting firms, brokerages, reinsurance, can be quite interesting. They can teach you a lot about niche branches of the industry and provide much more valuable experience early on in your career. Some can be high-stress (i.e. auditing firms), others more calm. All in all, personal lines, and GI for the most part is to me unstimulating work.

    I realize the number of jobs in the areas I listed is limited, and I personally have had the good fortune of landing one. I would nevertheless say that it is those jobs that make this side of the profession “worth it”.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 17:52 | Permalink
  625. me wrote:

    @FCAS: you acknowledge that you dont know math/stat. Why not come out and say it openly? Let CAS go to the goverment and say it “look this is not math..its just business”. Do you know what will happen: you lose power to sign as others can do MBA type stuff too! Then your “advanced insurance skills” will be just as worthwhile as a MBA who has worked in insurance for 10 years!

    CPA knows much accounting much more than you do. Insurance companies dont want a half nut actuary making accounts, doing their taxes. They have CPA for that. Likewise lawyers know more law than a nut wit actuary. They hire lawyers for that. So your legal knowledge on an exam is useless. Underwriters can do much better underwriting than you do.

    You people LIE about your math skills to government and try to kep your signing power. Its a mirage.

    Doctors have unquestionable qualifications. You need to check this before saying stuff. A single malpractice case for a doctor can ruin their career. Plus the issue is not their salary. The issue is that they are not lying about their skills. They do what they say they do!

    Ratemaking and reserves are nothing but triangles. To do anything else requires knowledge of probability and math. Good luck with that!

    In fact progressive insurance did not even have an actuary for a long time and they are one of the top insurance companies in the US.

    Ratemaking is just market rates. You dont even need any calculation.

    At any rate, companies can hire these “geniuses” and I have no problem with that as long as you openly declare that you are not a math/stat field. The power to sign needs to be generalized. Then I have no issue with your lobbying (like doctors etc) or even your salary. GO have fun!

    Let me tell you. You have some wrong idea about “math/stat skills”. If you tell the public that you dont know math/stat, the goveernemnt will revoke you monopoly power to sign.If that goes out of the window, good luck with you lifestyle! YOu guys are phony jerks. Thats all.

    Anyway I am rather busy so this is my last post. I will let other folks debate with you.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 18:03 | Permalink
  626. wonderfulcow wrote:

    How coincidental! I’m a Newfie! lol I never read the rest of your post because I’m set on passing these exams and getting the job so TL;DR for the rest.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 18:33 | Permalink
  627. wonderfulcow wrote:

    @ Me….If you’ve written an SOA exam you’d know that we need to know at least some math/stats. It feels like we need to solve puzzles on them and display clear logical thinking because that’s what they want in the work place. We solve puzzles in the context of math and statistics but we aren’t required to know all that much about the subjects themselves.

    I believe it’s possible for someone to know more about math and stats but still not be as smart as someone who can pass the actuary exams because it’s not knowledge that’s tested.

    Saturday, November 10, 2012 at 19:02 | Permalink
  628. FCAS wrote:


    I have been in personal lines the whole five years, I do start feeling bored. Which department you recommend me to switch to?

    What do you want me to do. . ? Stand outside Wallstreet and say that I suck at math? Your issues is with the definitions that is associated to actuaries. Why don’t you start something similar to occupy Wallstreet?
    You’re hating at the wrong people in the wrong place. I agree with a lot of things you say, but what do you want us to do here? Stop whining on the internet and be proactive

    Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 12:48 | Permalink
  629. ex-actuary wrote:

    Wonderful Cow’s message #623 has hit the nail on the head.

    After 10 years in Actuary I’ve decided I don’t want another 30 years of this boredom. So I’m in postgrad world. And I do get intellectual stimulation there that I never got in an Actuary office. I mean ffs people get impressed in an Actuary department if you can write an Excel macro. That is so primitive and easy compared to serious C++ coding trying to solve ode’s or pde’s numerically, for example. No actuary would have a clue about doing that. Just Excel work. It’s not bad pay for Excel work but seriously I doubt anyone can enjoy this profession after 10 years.

    Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 15:35 | Permalink
  630. ex-actuary wrote:

    In a postgrad or academic world, I find you are more immersed in the maths. You can’t leave your work in the office. Ideas keep popping into your head. I used to think this would be a nightmare, but it’s not. Now I think that’s why I have this brain, to solve difficult things. And I check my bank account a lot less. When in Actuary I kept on checking my bank account, subconsciously to keep motivating myself it was worthwhile continuing in it. With Actuary, the more I was in it, the more I learned to avoid awkward or boring work or pretend I couldn’t do stuff only as it seemed so dull. I wasted hours upon hours in the office stalling on a piece of work I could have finished days earlier, because I knew the next task would be even more uninspiring. It was like a little game. And no one noticed. They kept saying how quick I had done the work. But I knew I could have done it in a fraction of the time. Now in academia I work hard at my pace and I can’t do enough. And guess what – I prefer the latter. Always things to do, my mind stimulated more. And I don’t complain about it. It’s more of a vocation. And I don’t care that I could have more money in my bank account from working in Actuary, as it was sucking the soul out of me every day.

    Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 15:41 | Permalink
  631. tonythetiger wrote:


    You have more experience than I do, so it would be a bit presumptuous for me to direct you in any way. But do some research, talk to people in different companies to find what interests you. If you like financial reporting, perhaps look into the consulting firms that provide AA reports for smaller companies. If you desire something more technical, the analytics departments for the reinsurance brokerages help companies structure their reinsurance plans.

    The point of my post is that no one should feel “stuck” in a branch of the profession they don’t like. The opportunities available for an FCAS are more varied than you think. With perseverance and some luck, you can potentially enjoy your work very much.

    Sunday, November 11, 2012 at 16:20 | Permalink
  632. interesting wrote:

    FCAS in post # 628: you are clearly saying “Yea I suck at math, I play politics/dirt and make $, you do the same. Dont whine about changing me, become a moron yourself”

    Unfortunately, you are correct. And this is the very message that this post brings out. How long are we going to feed welfare queens like these actuaries? Cheap legislation, lobbying, racism ad bigotry are rewarded. A sick country deserves a third class workforce and a third class economy!

    This long post has at least addressed the myths about actuaries as “Math/stat” wizards. It is the first in the direction of removing stupid regulation and feeding people monies. Communism sucks!!

    Monday, November 12, 2012 at 00:14 | Permalink
  633. Interesting wrote:

    I would like to clarify something important. When people talk about “racism” or “white racism” etc it appears that they are saying “whites are bad people” etc. That is not the case. In fact if america was a brown or black country, I can bet my money that whites would be complaining about the same “group behavior” from non white population. Evidence of this is seen in non white countries.

    The problem is not a failure of a group of people – rather the problem is the system. It rewards bigotry, gangster behavior, low merit, nepotism, office politics etc. So the evil is in the bad regulation or system, not the people.

    An example of great successful system is our academic system – possibly the best in the world. We see diversity, merit and excellence. There are also very successful private companies in the US.

    Monday, November 12, 2012 at 04:03 | Permalink
  634. Uninteresting wrote:

    To be honest, whites are better off in non-white countries than non-whites are in white countries.

    Monday, November 12, 2012 at 09:58 | Permalink
  635. Zero Tolerance wrote:

    People who thought they would have encountered real math/stats in the actuarial field should have known better. The only way to become a real mathematician or statistician is to go to grad school. That is also true for other areas as well. For example, the only way to become a historian is to do a PhD.

    Monday, November 12, 2012 at 10:21 | Permalink
  636. Wolfram wrote:


    Why wasted time using C++ when you can use Mathematica?

    Monday, November 12, 2012 at 10:39 | Permalink
  637. Interesting wrote:

    Zero Tolerance: Its not our “own damn fault”. The CAS and the actuarial community has been lobbying themselves as “math/stat field”. Go see math dept billboard in universities. They are full of these ads.

    The government is also told that these “math/stat” professionals are needed to sign the critical documents to ensure that rates and reserves are reasonable. These “risk experts” are expected to ensure that public inteests are protected as they are most knowlegeable about “risk”.

    Fact is that these “risk experts” dont even know what goes into a simple GLM model. Thats what used to classify auto and home rates!

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 05:10 | Permalink
  638. Diana wrote:

    I’m just about done with my undergraduate degree in Actuarial Science. I decided to study it because i was great at math in high school and i heard that it pays well.. Now that i’m in my final year i’m thinking of changing study directions. The degree has been so emotional. I literally cry sometimes from the pressure of havin to pass normal university exams and board exams. Its affected my personal life. I would take out my stress on my ex who is now my ex because of the moods actuarial science has given me. its not even that much math, but alot of statistics. I still want a well paying job that allows me to use my problem solving skills but is less demanding and gives me time to enjoy my life a bit. any suggestions??

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 09:35 | Permalink
  639. wonderfulcow wrote:

    Hi Diana. It only stressed you out and gave you mood swings because you let it do that to you. Pressure? Some people don’t feel pressure. Pressure isn’t real because if you ignore it then it goes away. Can you tell me any real things that do that? These things are but a product of your mind and nothing else.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 10:04 | Permalink
  640. Diana wrote:

    I think i could deal with the pressure if I enjoyed it. Im doin really well but it seems like the job will bore me

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 10:10 | Permalink
  641. wonderfulcow wrote:

    If what you crave is intellectual stimulation at your job then if you read the posts above mine you will notice that intellectuals certainly are bored in this profession. If you are one of those then it’s advisable to do something more to your tastes. If you were more than capable of being an actuary then you wouldn’t be stressed out about this stuff so I do doubt you’re being honest.

    Who knows maybe you’re just susceptible to stress.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 10:28 | Permalink
  642. interesting wrote:

    @Diana: I think the issue is that many math graduates see that people taking these actuarial tests make 100K+ eventually. Wanting to be financially successful is not a crime and in fact can be commendable. However, one gets annoyed and angry when they find out that the system rewards no real talent and education but just cronyism.

    Soon the frustration builds up as the person sees their very hard work in hard sciences being paid the same or even less than these people. On top of that you are told by these actuaries about “what it takes to be an actuary”. Which is a bunch of bull shit. All it takes to me an actuary is a moron.

    So you have a conflict: make money or do something worthwhile and make money? Genuine people tend not to do well with actuarial and insurance morons so there is no fulfillment and emptiness in the long run. You pretend to be happy but you are not.

    Like I said before in my post, the problem is the stupid regulation and bad system that gives these people power to sign and jack up their salaries. No one would be listening to these high school graduiates talk about “risk” is their power to sign was gone. They are a creature of regulation.

    This is one area where math graduates should make noise and have stat/math majors allowed to sign on reserves/rates (with experience). It may or may not get you a meaningful job but will remove the stigma of “that dropout makes more than I do!” It will reward people on merit and give a solid incentive to “win” the right way.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 20:20 | Permalink
  643. ex-actuary wrote:

    There is no serious desire in actuary to improve any models they have, unless they think it will produce different results that benefit the company in some way. Actuaries prefer no change, so that the chief actuary can have an easy life comparing this year’s results with last year’s, find a few reasons to justify why they differ, then sign off.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 20:27 | Permalink
  644. ex-actuary wrote:

    Diana, well you can always apply for some grad entry actuary jobs and see how it goes. What I found was that the job was ridiculously easy but the exams were awful. My main disappointment was how little of the maths in the exams you find in the office.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 20:31 | Permalink
  645. FCAS wrote:

    @INTERESTING post #632

    Not exactly quite right.
    I did not say that Actuaries sucked at math. They are not PHD worthy, but they don’t SUCK per say. They have a lot less knowledge about what real math is, that is a given.

    My point is that what do you want working Actuaries to do? I am pretty sure most of the Actuaries in the workforce got lured into the field because they had it easy with math courses since they were kids and thought they will be doing magic with numbers as an Actuary.

    The CAS and SOA promote Actuaries to be experts in statistics and math is not right. I totally agree with that.
    Now, what you want us to do? Complain to the SOA and CAS about it? Most Actuaries are not even involved in their respective society. They were told that they need to finish their exam and that’s what they are trying to do.

    Not many of them sit down like me and think “Oh, is this field fulfilling? Does my life have a meaning? Why did I choose this field again?”. Most of them think this way “Okay, so I work hard at work, finish my exams and have a work life balance. Does this job put food on my table? Does it allow me to go out on the weekends and at night? Can I raise a family? Yes? Okay. Done”

    Now, I understand your frustrations with the way that CAS and SOA are promoting this field. However, I don’t see how repeatedly saying how Actuaries are all jerks and idiots here will help you stop the CAS and SOA from doing such false advertisement. Like I said before, you are fighting the wrong people. We are not head of the mafia, killing one of us does not stop the drugs being sold on the market. Attack the CAS and SOA. Do it through a petition, through god knows how. If occupy wall street can have their voice heard then yours can be too.

    I am completely honest here with you, and I hope you PHDs actually do something about this.

    Recently, I have constantly been thinking of going back to school and choosing something more meaningful in life.
    However, I started to see another part of it. In order to give my self some sense of fulfillment I started volunteering after work to help elders at hospital. I also started offering free tutoring on weekends to students who are on the verge of dropping out of school.

    Judging people by their profession is plain dumb. There are doctors out there who are extremely horrible persons out there. There are also amazing good ones. I believe there is a more mature way to talk about this issue than insulting Actuaries for 600 posts.

    Now, let’s say there is no such thing as CAS and SOA. And that there is no LAW that requires the signature of a FSA or FCAS on reserves. What the hell does this change in your life? Do you really honestly think that mathematicians and statisticians will want to work in this “boring” field? Heck, who else is willing to actually work in this field? I would go further and say that all MBAs would hate our job. I honestly think that because of the examination system, MANY actuaries feel like they are TRAPPED. They feel that they invested so much time getting their designation, and even though it is a “boring” job they have a hard time convincing themselves to quit. What I am saying here is that if it weren’t for the examination system of the CAS and SOA, MANY current Actuaries would leave and probably go back to university.

    In conclusion, I hope you mathematicians and statisticians do something about this issue of false advertisement to future students. Not just here, but make it big make it real. I am honestly curious of the eventual impact of a reform. This will probably force many Actuaries to do what they didn’t have courage to do.

    Thank you for your input. I will look into more seriously what other opportunities are out there. I think you are right, there are interesting positions out there if you look for them.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at 22:10 | Permalink
  646. Rubbish wrote:

    There are so many people here talking about science and hard science. Mathematics and statistics are not sciences.

    R. L. E. Schwarzenberger, The Language of Geometry, in A Mathematical Spectrum Miscellany, Applied Probability Trust, 2000, p. 112: My own attitude, which I share with many of my colleagues, is simply that mathematics is a language. Like English, or Latin, or Chinese, there are certain concepts for which mathematics is particularly well suited: it would be as foolish to attempt to write a love poem in the language of mathematics as to prove the Fundamental Theorem of Algebra using the English language.

    Yu. Manin, Mathematics as profession and vocation, in Mathematics: Frontiers and Perspectives, (V. Arnold et al, ed), AMS, 200, p. 154: The basis of all human culture is language, and mathematics is a special kind of linguistic activity.

    A. Adler, Mathematics and Creativity, in The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics, (T. Ferris, ed), Little, Brown and Co, 1991, p. 435: Mathematics is pure language – the language of science. It is unique among languages in its ability to provide precise expression for every thought or concept that can be formulated in its terms. (In a spoken language, there exist words, like “happiness”, that defy definition.) It is also an art – the most intellectual and classical of the arts.

    J.-P. Changeux, A. Connes, Conversations on Mind, Matter and Mathematics, Princeton University Press, 1995, p. 10:
    Changeux: Mathematical language is plainly an authentic language. But is it therefore the only authentic language?
    Connes: It is unquestionably the only universal language.

    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Autobiography, George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1967, v1, p158

    It seems to me now that mathematics is capable of an artistic excellence as great as that of any music, perhaps greater; not because the pleasure it gives (although very pure) is comparable, either in intensity or in the number of people who feel it, to that of music, but because it gives in absolute perfection that combination, characteristic of great art, of godlike freedom, with the sense of inevitable destiny; because, in fact, it constructs an ideal world where everything is perfect but true.
    Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), The Study of Mathematics

    Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth, but supreme beauty — a beauty cold and austere, like that of sculpture, without appeal to any part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trappings of painting or music, yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the greatest art can show.
    Aristotle (384 B.C.-322 B.C.), Poetics

    Beauty depends on size as well as symmetry.
    J.H.Poincare (1854-1912), (cited in H.E.Huntley, The Divine Proportion, Dover, 1970)

    The mathematician does not study pure mathematics because it is useful; he studies it because he delights in it and he delights in it because it is beautiful.
    J.Bronowski, Science and Human Values, Pelican, 1964.

    Mathematics in this sense is a form of poetry, which has the same relation to the prose of practical mathematics as poetry has to prose in any other language. The element of poetry, the delight of exploring the medium for its own sake, is an essential ingredient in the creative process.
    J.W.N.Sullivan (1886-1937), Aspects of Science, 1925.

    Mathematics, as much as music or any other art, is one of the means by which we rise to a complete self-consciousness. The significance of Mathematics resides precisely in the fact that it is an art; by informing us of the nature of our own minds it informs us of much that depends on our minds.
    G. H. Hardy (1877 – 1947), A Mathematician’s Apology, Cambridge University Press, 1994.

    The mathematician’s patterns, like the painter’s or the poet’s must be beautiful; the ideas, like the colors or the words must fit together in a harmonious way. Beauty is the first test: there is no permanent place in this world for ugly mathematics.
    Lawrence University catalog, Cited in Essays in Humanistic Mathematics, Alvin White, ed, MAA, 1993

    Born of man’s primitive urge to seek order in his world, mathematics is an ever-evolving language for the study of structure and pattern. Grounded in and renewed by physical reality, mathematics rises through sheer intellectual curiosity to levels of abstraction and generality where unexpected, beautiful, and often extremely useful connections and patterns emerge. Mathematics is the natural home of both abstract thought and the laws of nature. It is at once pure logic and creative art.
    I.Newton, Letter to H.Oldenburg, the Secretary of the Royal Society, October 24, 1676, in A Source Book in Mathematics, D. J. Struik, ed, Princeton University Press, 1990

    I can hardly tell with what pleasure I have read the letters of those very distinguished men Leibniz and Tschirnhaus. Leibniz’s method for obtaining convergent series is certainly very elegant…
    Jane Muir, Of Men & Numbers, Dover, 1996.

    Gauss: You have no idea how much poetry there is in the calculation of a table of logarithms!
    F.Dyson, in Nature, March 10, 1956

    Characteristic of Weyl was an aesthetic sense which dominated his thinking on all subjects. He once said to me, half-joking, “My work always tried to unite the true with the beautiful; but when I had to choose one or the other, I usually chose the beautiful.” (Herman Weyl (1885-1955))
    O. Spengler, in J. Newman, The World of Mathematics, Simon & Schuster, 1956

    To Goethe again we owe the profound saying: “the mathematician is only complete in so far as he feels within himself the beauty of the true.”
    O. Spengler, in J. Newman, The World of Mathematics, Simon & Schuster, 1956

    “A mathematician,” said old Weierstrass, “who is not at the same time a bit of a poet will never be a full mathematician.”
    Jakob Bernoulli, Tractatus de Seriebus Infinitis, 1689 (quoted in From Five Fingers to Infinity, F.J.Swetz (ed), Open Court, 1996)

    So the soul of immensity dwells in minutia.
    And in narrowest limits no limits inhere.
    What joy to discern the minute in infinity!
    The vast to perceive in the small, what divinity!
    S.Lang, The Beauty of Doing Mathematics, Springer-Verlag, 1985

    Last time, I asked: “What does mathematics mean to you?” And some people answered: “The manipulation of numbers, the manipulation of structures.” And if I had asked what music means to you, would you have answered: “The manipulation of notes?”

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 00:59 | Permalink
  647. Interesting wrote:

    @FCAS: this is not about saving your 100K check so you can “raise your family”. You need to make money in line with the true market potential – not due to back door politics/regulation. So you are not a victim.

    CAS is a body of members – that includes you. It is not a university or a company etc. You vote each year and elect board members. You get your “power to sign” due to the lobbying that comes from $600/year fees that you pay. You can be removed from membership at any time if they find you ” do not act in their interest”.

    The actuaries are pathetic people because they are robbing the name, reputation and even jobs from real stat/math folks. You are making money at their expense – someone who deserves it. There are people who go through school and take hard graduate classes and maybe get a PhD. They are raising families too! They make 50,000 salary. They see you with money and feel bad about themselves. Is this fair? Plus they can do many things that are NEEDED in the actuarial – GLM models, statistical techniques like clustering and principal components etc. They would do reserves scientifically and we will get more research and unbiased opinions that will help the public. Currently you actuaries work in the interest of your clients (insurance) and sign off to make money.

    This post is intended to bring all this to light. Its purpose is to expose all the cover and game played by actuaries. It is the first step that will bring about “actuarial spring” from people in math/stat departments as they are the ones impacted most by all this.

    On your question about jobs: many math people will enter this field. YOu have some idea about “actuaries bring core skills that no one has”. Office politics, bigotry, excel spreadsheets and number crunching are not some “unique skills”. Decent Math/stat are not “born to think at low wages”. They are extremely bright – they just don’t like the petty stuff that actuaries immerse all of us into.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 04:44 | Permalink
  648. FCAS wrote:


    So I am the person who created all the petty stuff? No, I didn’t I hate them as well. What do you want me to do about it? Ask them to change and get fired?

    Our R&D department have many actuaries with both PHD and FCAS designation. I don’t think beyond R&D which does pretty much all you said and more will be interested in other positions. For example, doing filings. Those who are in the R&D department hate presenting and explaining what they do to marketing, sales and other departments that are mostly mathematical illiterate.

    So no, I don’t think there will be more jobs created.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 08:25 | Permalink
  649. Ricochet wrote:

    Interesting: ” Go see math dept billboard in universities. They are full of these ads.”

    Interesting: ” You are making money at their expense – someone who deserves it. There are people who go through school and take hard graduate classes and maybe get a PhD. They are raising families too! They make 50,000 salary. They see you with money and feel bad about themselves. Is this fair?”

    Wouldn’t the math department be responsible for what goes on these billboards? If they hated actuaries why would they allow these ridiculous ads that deceptively show an actuary as a math career? Also, most actuarial degrees are created by math/stats departments and the courses are taught by PhDs. Why would they do this?

    Progressive (insurance company that doesn’t use actuaries) mainly hires people with math/stats or business undergraduate degrees. Why would a PhD mathematician/statistician be jealous of someone who does undergrad or high school level number crunching work?

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 10:23 | Permalink
  650. wonderfulcow wrote:

    Because they make more money duh

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 10:37 | Permalink
  651. Ricochet wrote:

    Yeah, but it doesn’t make sense to train people to make more money than you and then be jealous of them.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:03 | Permalink
  652. wonderfulcow wrote:

    I’d imagine an elite mathematician just feels bad for actuaries because they don’t cherish the beauty the mathematicians find in mathematics and laugh at our money grubbing tendencies.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:06 | Permalink
  653. ex-actuary wrote:

    OK folks, may I suggest some homework?

    The main complaint here is that the Actuarial Professions mis-sell these careers to maths people, by claiming they are math-heavy when in fact people are discovering they’re not.

    In which case, let’s start collecting the claims made by these professions and submit complaints. For example, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries ( have a website and post youtube videos to sell the profession. Please quote mis-selling lies so that they can be forwarded to the UK Advertising Standards Authority as adverts are not allowed to mislead in the UK. Thanks.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:23 | Permalink
  654. FCAS wrote:


    Thank you! You seem to be the only one understanding what I have been trying to say. I believe that is the right direction!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:42 | Permalink
  655. Ricochet wrote:

    That is a good first step. Math/Stats professors at universities that teach actuarial science courses or even non-actuarial science courses should tell students that will not encounter math-heavy concepts in day to day work.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:45 | Permalink
  656. Zapater wrote:

    These are the educational standards that is required to become a student actuary in the UK.

    “Students will normally be admitted if they have achieved the following educational standards:

    For those who hold a degree:
    A Third Class Honours degree which includes a pass in mathematical sciences as a major subject; or
    A First or Second Class Honours degree in any subject, together with at least Grade C at Advanced (‘A’) level in any mathematical subject or equivalent from another awarding body.

    For those who do not hold a degree the minimum requirements to become a student are:
    An A level in mathematics at Grade B or above together with an A level at Grade C in any other subject; or
    Three Scottish National Qualifications Authority Higher passes, one of which must be in mathematics at Grade A; or
    The Irish Leaving Certificate in at least five subjects; one of the passes must be in mathematics at Grade A; or
    The Actuarial Profession’s CT1 examination taken as a non-member; or
    Other qualifications which are considered to be equivalent to the above.

    Overseas students will be required to meet equivalent standards to those above through comparable qualifications.”

    If you read it you will see it is possible to become an actuary without a degree or a good degree.

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 11:51 | Permalink
  657. Interesting wrote:

    It seems that now we have an agreement from actuaries in this:

    (1) They are not math/stat experts and their knowledge is comparable to a MBA

    (2) CAS is falsely promoting this field as “math” oriented. This false propaganda needs to stop and math/stat programs in univ should be notified so students are not falsely “sucked” into something.

    Now with this we have another important issue to resolve. That is what are these actuaries “professionals” in? and more importantly, what do they have that they have been given an important “power to certify rates and reserves”?

    All we have seen is collusion and gaming so insurance companies get high rates and pay actuaries nice salaries. Fact is that you have a catch 22 here. Insurance business and risk related business NEED experts that are statistically/mathematically sound. There IS a demand and that was supposedly this “actuary”. It was intended that is field will be given power to sign as they are held to high mathematical/technical as well as professional standards. Derivative pricing, hurricane modeling, GLM models are a few examples where advanced knowledge or math/stat is needed.

    Actuaries need to step aside and their sole power to sign needs to go out of the window. We need to get away from just 19th century “triangles” and this symbiotic insurance-actuary cozy relationship needs to end. We need to do some cutting edge work in the risk field. Actuaries are stalling it by sitting on top of something and not letting anyone else in.

    So the feeling “this is boring work” is created as you are the ones who don’t know the “interesting” work. Plus the public is affected as rates are “done” the usual way to boost insurance revenues. Nothing else ever happens!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012 at 23:50 | Permalink
  658. Zapater wrote:

    You also need to properly explain what is meant by advanced math/stats and why it is important. For example, majority of the population has never taken a course in multivariable calculus (calculus of several variables) or even know of it. This is not advanced math to you and I but would be seen as advanced to the general public. The actuaries might try to use this to trick people to show what they do requires “advanced math”.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 02:00 | Permalink
  659. Interesting wrote:

    Zapater: thanks. This is the right line of thinking that you are presenting.

    Here is my opinion.

    (1) Its not good to create another “new body of members” that mandates syllabus etc. Reason is that unlike 19th century, statistical knowledge is evolving very rapidly and its not possible to close oneself to a given set of exams. Today, education is not about memorizing things but rather understanding concepts. One still needs a core knowledge base (like multivariate calculus) but its equally important to be able to expand one’s knowledge as needed by reading latest scientific papers etc. This allows one to be a true problem solver rather than parrot with “use what I know”. So ability to grasp new ideas is equally important than what one already knows.

    (2) A true risk professional will exhibit the following (a) Excellent technical knowledge at a PhD Level (b) Published in peer reviewed reputable statistical or risk related journals journals (NOT the CAS “Variance”!) (c) Must have deomonstrated minimum 5 year experience in area of interest (reserves, rates etc).

    (3) So here is a suggestion: Minimum qualification should be PhD in stat/math, published with 5 years experience.

    (4) The oversight of these rules (such as what is a good journal or encouraging new risk related resaerch or making sure the opining individual is held to standards should be done by CFPB (consumer protection financial bureau). Currently CFPB oversees banking issues and is under treasury. As a federal body, it has a lot of power and resources. The director report to Tim Githner, treasury secretary.

    (5) The state regulators will continue as usual but their cozy rlationship with these risk professionals is over as CFPB will make sure that these professionals are actually protecting public interest. It will also ensure that research and innovation is encouraged. This can be done through proposals, grants etc.

    (6) Once the focus shifts to research and true public interest, this field will open up. Companies will hire these research folks as they are supported by CFPB and regulators. New techniques will surface as CFPB will work with regulators to push ideas that help reduce costs and promote competition.

    (7) We must avoid creating a “new body of members” as that is just not feasible and its asking the cat to guard milk!

    These are my thoughts. I am open to suggestions etc.

    Thursday, November 15, 2012 at 09:27 | Permalink
  660. LOL wrote:

    You guys are wasting your time.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 20:51 | Permalink
  661. ex-actuary wrote:

    OK, please start posting examples of the lies and misrepresentation of the Professions, thanks.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 21:26 | Permalink
  662. interesting wrote:

    (1) start with this single link. It is jointly sponsored website of the CAS and SOA and targeted for college students worldwide. It is full of lies starting from “secure job”, usual salaries upto 250,000 to this link about “specialized math knowledge”

    this website is regularly cited to college kids..

    (2) Here is one over blown salary survey that the above webste also cites:

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 01:29 | Permalink
  663. hello wrote:

    I did – the moderator removed it!

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 07:57 | Permalink
  664. wonderfulcow wrote:

    @ interesting

    How is the salary survey overblown?

    @ LOL

    Learning other perspectives isn’t a waste of time imo. I’m still studying 5 hours a day to become an actuary so it’s not like I’m believing them all lol

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 11:16 | Permalink
  665. ex-actuary wrote:

    Thankyou wonderfulcow. Let’s pack out this thread with more EVIDENCE. Let me submit this video from the UK Actuarial Profession.

    Some great quotes here e.g.
    “Academia didn’t fit with me because I like explaining things to people” at 0:55 in.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 23:57 | Permalink
  666. ex-actuary wrote:

    Sorry, meant to say thanks INTERESTING for providing those links.

    Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 23:58 | Permalink
  667. Well Then wrote:

    Can you guys give careers that involve both business and math? I can only think of operations research and quantitative finance. Is there any more?

    Friday, November 23, 2012 at 02:19 | Permalink
  668. Funny wrote:

    It’s funny how some of the math/stats professors themselves promote actuary as a math career as they develop the actuarial science degrees and teach the courses.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 10:13 | Permalink
  669. TWO CENTS wrote:

    Just a reply to some of the points I’ve seen in this thread:

    1) Salary: The DW Simpson survey isn’t overblown when considering bonuses:
    Starting salaries for a new grad is around 60-70K (2-4 exams).
    A newly qualified FSA gets just over 100K (2-4yrs experience).
    An AVP gets around 150K+ (8-10yrs experience).
    VPs earn roughly 250K.
    SVPs make 300K+.
    Our Chief Actuary makes a million.
    Our last CFO was also an actuary, and made around three million.

    All in all, these are solid salaries quite early in one’s career. However, I would caveat they need to be scaled down for smaller insurance companies.

    2) Racism/Sexism: Just looking at our company, more than half of the new grads are minorities. Granted, only about 30% of our AVPs (middle managers) are minorities; however, that’s generally due to a lack of strong communication skills. On the sexism issue, I’ve actually met more female actuaries here in Canada than men, and they’re quite well distributed throughout the corporate ladder. To top it off, our Chief Actuary is a woman and our Chief Risk Officer is an Indian. Now I’m sure racism exists in some form, but definitely not more so in this profession than any others.

    3) Math Skills: It’s true that our work isn’t always centered around math. However, I would argue that the average mathematical ability of actuaries is higher than say accountants or CFAs (two other well-known professions that the general public feels are mathematical in nature).

    The actuarial exams do cover topics like regression, time series, calculus, mathematical statistics, and stochastic processes. While we’re not mathematicians or statisticians, it’s safe to say that we definitely have above average mathematical abilities. In fact, to the general public, it isn’t exactly a stretch for them to view math as a strength of this profession.

    4) Intelligence: I don’t know of many actuaries who go around flaunting their mathematical wizardry. In fact, that’s how you end up alone with no friends. Though once again, I would say that on average this profession is fairly intelligent. My floor alone of 20 actuaries has 3 PHDs (theoretical physics, statistics, computer science). The remainder generally majored in actuarial science, math, statistics, economics or engineering.

    5) Communications: This is actually the key to the profession. Great actuaries are not necessarily technically superior. They’re the ones who can break down and explain topics like stochastic modelling to our Board and the Street. This is not an easy skill to master, and is what hinders many technically adept actuaries from advancing in their careers.

    Hopefully I was able to tell a different side of the story. The profession is like any others except the people are more mathematically inclined, it pays pretty well, the job market is very open, and you have the opportunity to work in many different locales.

    Don’t become an actuary if all you want to do is mathematical analysis all day. But give it a try if you enjoy math and like explaining technical concepts to others.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 11:28 | Permalink
  670. Two Cents wrote:

    Someone stole my username. Post 669 onwards is not me. I was posting a while back.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 13:09 | Permalink
  671. Interesting wrote:

    Sounds all good. These are all skills that MBA also has. Why does the power to sign be limited to you? Explain to us this..

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 13:13 | Permalink
  672. OPINION wrote:

    Sorry I didn’t notice the username was already taken. Calm down, nobody “stole” it.


    I’m not making the argument that we’re “better” than anyone else, or trying to be confrontational (like some comments above labeling actuaries as being morons or idiots, which is a bit petty).

    It’s fair to say that the profession can be seen as insurance MBAs. Probably a bit more technical than most MBAs, but definitely requiring similar business skills to succeed. Perhaps like a masters in risk management?

    I think the power to sign comes from an understanding of the complicated rules and regulations surrounding the insurance industry, especially in pensions from I hear. It’s not about how great at math or statistics a person is, or whether their models are intricate enough. In fact, in life insurance (which is where most actuaries work), your assumptions, models and reserves are severely limited by the regulatory bodies.

    One field that does use a lot of PhD quants to do cutting edge math and stats work is financial engineering. Would you rather trust your annuity and pension funds with those financial institutions?

    Signing power comes from knowing and playing by the rules, of which there are many.

    The field isn’t a specialization in any one thing. It’s about having a broad understanding of math, statistics, economics, finance, and accounting knowledge. Combining this with the myriad of insurance regulations, and being able to apply and communicate all of this to a general public who may not have the necessary background or will to understand.

    Why is the pay so high? Because most technical PhDs aren’t strong communicators. Because most people don’t like to memorize and deal with regulatory red tape all day (especially PhDs). Because the general public feels that math is tedious and would rather not major in it. Because the exam system is ridiculous, makes you give up your 20s (big one), and weeds out a vast majority of the candidates. Because the type of risk-adverse person who’s willing to take exams for an extra 5-7 years are typically strong employees. Because someone with the same technical and business skill set can earn far more in investment banking or even silicon valley.

    Even if signing powers were eliminated, I guarantee that you won’t see academics flock to this field for these very reasons.

    As an aside, I thought the idea behind getting a PhD was from a love of research? If it’s money that they’re after, then they’ve probably chosen the wrong path.

    I think I’ve said all that I need to on this topic, and hope that it reduces a bit of the actuary bashing that’s going around.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 14:47 | Permalink
  673. interesting wrote:

    Opinion: you are making a lot of assumptions (opinions). Many are not true. Few examples,

    (1) “most technical PhDs aren’t strong communicators”

    (2) Because the type of risk-adverse person who’s willing to take exams for an extra 5-7 years are typically strong employees

    etc etc. Actuaries are not strong employees becuase they rote learned some tests. I think you underestimate the effort needed to be a PhD.

    Also getting a PhD IS about money becuase money IS in research these days. When you drive a car, fly a plance or use Google or Facebook or internet, you are using research. I dont think you understand the importance of education as frankly (no offence) you dont have it.

    Finally, the regulation is pretty straight forward in P/C insurance and simple forms need to be filed each year. They can be understood by just about anyone (hence actuaries). PhD quants will not prepare the forms (actuary should). rather the PhD’s should sign o them and innovate the risk field.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 15:35 | Permalink
  674. interesting wrote:

    @ I think actuaries are genuinely perplexed with this question: what can we possibly do with advanced math/stat education? This is weird stuff that is somewhere in the books for “quants”. making money is all about filing forms….

    This is an old problem. People that dont have brains always say: no money in research. Stop wasting time. Then a new invention comes. Everyone is using it. And they forget it came from research!

    Just think of it this way. ALL (I mean ALL of it) human advancement has come from science. Not from office politics, not form filing, not anything else.

    Without science you (actuary) will be riding a horse to work! Do you get the value of education? Its not what you people know, its what you just dont understand is the problem.

    No one is insulting you. You just need to be real and genuine.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 15:51 | Permalink
  675. Laugh wrote:

    Most PhDs don’t want to work in insurance. You should go on Quantnet or Wilmott forums to see guys with PhDs and master’s degrees and many laugh at actuaries and don’t want to work in it. They chose financial engineering instead of it.

    The few PhDs who do want to work in insurance can pass the actuarial exams easily. I once saw a woman with a PhD in stats pass all the associate level exams in one or two months.

    So all this talk about only giving the power to sign to those who have PhDs is nonesense because most PhDs don’t want to work in the actuarial field.

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 15:57 | Permalink
  676. interesting wrote:

    Laugh: your assumptions thats all as its just convenient. If you gave the power to sign to some high school dropout in financial emginerring the same thing will happen there also! All PhD will leave!

    Actuarial stuff is just plain boring as you guys are sitting on top of it. Reserves and rate making can be very interesting. In fact many P/C companies are looking for statisticians to do rate classification for what they call “predictive models”. I think they mean GLM models. They cant find these people as they require this guy to report to an actuary! Who would take such a job?

    The list goes on…

    Sunday, November 25, 2012 at 19:44 | Permalink
  677. Jake wrote:

    I am a highschool student. I want to be an actuary. The only subjects im good at are math and science. Meaning i sleep and get a’s in a level courses. But im wondoring work hours? What would you if you are an actuary reccomend i major in? I hav heard to not do it in actuarial science and instead math or business. Im only a junior so i hav a few years to figure out all this. Also where are most of the jobs for actuaries? Cities suburbs what? Any questions listed above would be helpful! Thank you

    Monday, November 26, 2012 at 02:25 | Permalink
  678. YOUR BOSS wrote:

    Wow there’s a lot of circle jerking and whining in this thread. Think you can do the work better? Go out there and prove it. It’s like a bunch of nerdy toddlers calling each other names in here.

    “Waaaaahh! The man is holding me down! My math dick is WAY bigger than yours!! Actuaries are just a bunch of retards and jerks.”

    Jesus effing christ. All that education sure is shining through. It’s no wonder they don’t pay you everything you “deserve” for that kind of insight…

    By the way, enjoy fighting for the scraps while I make more than all of you as a lowly uneducated MBA.

    Monday, November 26, 2012 at 09:01 | Permalink
  679. Interesting wrote:

    @your boss: thats what we are trying to do, mr. einstein. we are trying to do something but you are blocking us.

    Monday, November 26, 2012 at 11:34 | Permalink
  680. YOUR BOSS wrote:

    You’re proving it by complaining about it online? Let me guess, your next step is an angry facebook rant. Because we all know there’s nothing that Congress listens to more than whiny anonymous forum posters.

    Haha I’m block you? I have no horse in this race and don’t work in insurance, but if I did, I’d side with those who’ve been DOING the job for the past hundred years over the arrogant post-docs suddenly thinking they’re the shit.

    Prove it by passing the apparent brain-dead qualifications and SHOW that you can do the job better.

    Or better yet, publish peer-reviewed articles giving evidence on why the actuarial methods are outdated or just plain wrong.

    Simply bitching about the man will get you no supporters and just make you seem petty and irrelevant.

    Monday, November 26, 2012 at 14:18 | Permalink
  681. interesting wrote:

    @Your boss: I am a fellow.Enough said.

    Monday, November 26, 2012 at 17:12 | Permalink
  682. Walla Walla, WA wrote:


    You should go on the The Student Room’s website and ask that question.

    Wednesday, November 28, 2012 at 10:50 | Permalink
  683. Xisco wrote:

    Tbh, I don’t think it’s a bad job for somebody who likes number crunching.

    They should advertise it more to business people who like number crunching.

    They should probably make chief actuaries be someone with fellowship and a PhD in math/stats/finance/financial math.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 12:12 | Permalink
  684. interesting wrote:

    @XISCO: I agree with you. There is a number crunching aspect of this work. The only issue is to give these actuaries power to sign and block any innovation and entry. We need a diverse talent pool and that will come after the power to sign is made broader and more meaningful.

    Actuaries can stick with number crunching. In fact many master degree programs and even some PhD programs these days are number crunching. MBA are also good at that.

    Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 22:17 | Permalink
  685. Mafia wrote:

    MIT: “An undergraduate degree in mathematics provides an excellent basis for graduate work in mathematics or computer science, or for employment in such mathematics-related fields as systems analysis, operations research, or actuarial science.”

    Actuarial societies aren’t the only ones to be blamed.

    Math/stats departments at universities and mathematical/statistical societies of UK, US, and Canada also list actuary as a possible career for someone with a math/stats backgroud.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 13:06 | Permalink
  686. MelissaB wrote:


    In my opinion, you should take extra classes in language and grammar if you have no problem in math and sience. It will help you a lot.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 16:01 | Permalink
  687. MelissaB wrote:

    Well, we have to admit that actuaries are good lobbyists because they only studied a fraction of “numbers” a stat or math major did and yet they came up with this BS certification from their special group. They know they are, unlike doctors and engineers who really need to be smart in order to get in the universities, actuaries are just bunch of people who likes to feel important so they mold themselves to become one.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 16:11 | Permalink
  688. asdf wrote:

    don’t hate the players, hate the game

    Thursday, December 6, 2012 at 23:05 | Permalink
  689. fun wrote:


    Will the real J. Thomas please stand up?

    Sunday, December 9, 2012 at 15:32 | Permalink
  690. Fun wrote:

    oh and mafia, math does provide an excellent basis for actuarial. so what?

    Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 16:24 | Permalink
  691. DOUBLE TROUBLE wrote:

    I hadn’t taken a math class in three years and I hadn’t worked in a office in four years. It was time to turn a new page. “Did you really think I was going to do this?” I sneered at the no-exams-required actuaries on a long ago Halloween. Like the godfathers of Havana the protocol challenged cigarette-and-necktie actuaries gambled and lost.

    Friday, December 21, 2012 at 17:18 | Permalink
  692. Zeus wrote:

    So many people here (both actuaries and non-actuaries) suffer from the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 15:39 | Permalink
  693. DOUBLE TROUBLE wrote:

    That’s what they told me at the actuarial club on October 30, 1979.

    Monday, December 24, 2012 at 12:49 | Permalink
  694. COOL DUDE wrote:

    Stop arguing…this is going to be an endless fight…..every countries have its own demand… may considered as prestigious jobs in US, but in some places that does not emphasise researches or without sufficient natural resources these jobs are nearly not worth mentioning……Bascially, it’s all about where you working, so please do not underestimate job natures of actuaries, as well as other professions cuz all pays an important role in industries…..kept on arguing about the cons of being an actuary just indicates you are lacking sort of social senses.

    oh and music major? Simply u cant live without music, brat

    Tuesday, January 22, 2013 at 03:26 | Permalink
  695. Perspective wrote:

    Some people on this forum seriously need sex. Comments of jealousy show a gross lack of maturity. Pointing fingers never got anyone anywhere. Life has no concept of fairness. It is as it should be. If you don’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it shut up and deal with it!

    Tuesday, February 5, 2013 at 13:05 | Permalink
  696. Toufic wrote:

    I work in the GCC. I have a BSc in Act. Sc. and a Specialized Masters in Finance from one of the top Unis in Europe and lately got my ACII just to get a feel of the non-life business as i have been working in the life sector for the past 15 years.
    Have you ever faced this problem:
    every time i think of the acturial profession, i look at my salary and compare with the Avg. Actuarial salaries. Luckily, my salary is way higher. When i see what our consultant actuaries from Europe (mainly UK) go through to have their reports done the way we want it, i feel pitty for them when i compare what they earn and what i earn. Of course I deserve what i earn, but with all due respect to all master degrees and Bachelors and ACII (peace of cake), it is non-comparable with being a qualified actuary.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 01:45 | Permalink
  697. TING wrote:

    I have read many things as u gugs wrote and it is interesting. i found out that being an actuary is extremely difficult for many ppl… i am a college student and i could’t decide my major…so i try to look for some advice. i was interes in actuary study and i think it is a good job and could fit in any positions in the business realm…however, i am a reticent student and i don’t like give a speech in front of people beause of my pronounciation(i am an imgrant). therefore, i feel ambarrassed when i speak english.. i hope some one who might give some idea about how i decide my major to me ..plz..thx…

    Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 15:24 | Permalink
  698. Yawn wrote:

    The first half of this page was incredibly helpful, before all the non-white whiners with the chip on their shoulders made it irrelevant.

    Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 13:40 | Permalink
  699. punk wrote:

    shhhhhhh you guys talk to much trash.

    Sunday, March 31, 2013 at 02:15 | Permalink
  700. Kalman Filter wrote:

    Actuarial profession is for rejects.

    Monday, April 15, 2013 at 10:46 | Permalink
  701. I am a betrayed actuary – I believe that leaders of my profession, politicians and employers are pursuing policies to the detriment of my career prospects. Complaints to these people nor regulator have not been seriously addressed. I have just begun a blog to reveal dark truths about the Actuarial career and profession that they don’t want anyone to know. In time I will be listing all the questions that they have refused to answer and sharing facts about their actions. Please visit it along with this wonderful blog to be more informed, thank you.

    Monday, April 15, 2013 at 11:38 | Permalink
  702. Click on my name to visit my blog where I have posted about the shortage occupation list scandal regarding UK Actuaries. Some very non-actuarial behaviour has taken place. I guess they don’t like to practice what they preach.

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 00:29 | Permalink
  703. DOUBLE TROUBLE wrote:

    My office careers were not just setups for failure but also channels of darkness. I found out nothing about the Watchtower meeting at the Presidio of San Francisco. I found out nothing about lining up for day labor at the MetLife Western Head Office. I found out nothing about the Bhaktivedanta meeting at Old Bank of America. I found out nothing about applying for a housing voucher at the CLC Computer Learning Center. I have the same age, height, handedness, eyesight and intelligence as Bill Gates. Does anybody have any ideas where I should go now and what I should do now?

    Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 15:48 | Permalink
  704. Smileynj wrote:

    I just want to Thank Check it for your inspiring comments. I am a High School Math teacher in NJ and I only make 54K per year with 6 years of experience. The living expense is ridiculously high in NJ and this salary is not working for me. Plus I am one of the good teachers. I stay up all over night grading and planing lessons with a little baby up and crying next to me. It’s mentally exhausting and these teenagers are so disrespect that I can’t explain in one paragraph. I get evaluated based on how well my students do on ACT, HSPA and AP Calc exam. Teacher get stressed over these exams more than the students, and the administrators just blame us for everything. You literally have to work miracle with these students, don’t see how that’s ever possible. I am trying to use the summer to study for P Exam and hopefully I can sit for it this year. I have a MS in Mathematical Stats, and the materials seems digestible. I have been reading about the cons and pros about this profession for a while now. I just needed to read something like what you wrote. It gave me some positives notes,and I hope I can pass the first exam and switch my career.

    Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 17:25 | Permalink
  705. Smileynj wrote:


    Sunday, May 26, 2013 at 17:27 | Permalink
  706. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    Another bogus survery from a recruiter. Check this out:

    Not buying this survey results at all. Most actuaries and employers exaggerate their salaries when asked. Reason is two fold: they want to feel “rich” and secondly “project a rich image”.

    I have seen, worked and lived in this field. Most actuaries in the lower cost of living areas Midwest, south make under $150K (that’s 95%+ of the population and includes bonus). A typical FCAS with 15+ yrs of experience makes $120K in these places. In large expensive some (senior roles with bonuses) make in the $200K+ range but that is just cost of living adjustment. Overall living in a large town get people no-where in expenses but most actuarial jobs are in expensive large towns.

    For example, a 125,000 salary in Chicago is similar to making 75,000 (after cost of living and higher taxes).

    Most employers benchmark each other – compare salaries and set pay scales. So all you need is compare one large employer. For example CNA in Chicago pays 120K for someone with 15 years of experience. For Downtown Chicago’s cost of living, this is like making $75,000 in a small town.

    Please STOP reporting bogus salaries. There is a way to fix this problem. Go to Wikipedia on “actuarial profession”. These are editable comments and I suggest someone go in and change the content. The Wikipedia has been populated by recruiter and paid actuarial liars.

    Friday, June 7, 2013 at 20:43 | Permalink
  707. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    These recruiters multiple salaries by a “actuarial factor” and inflate them! Reason is that they want you to feel “guilty”, “stupid” and get the feeling of “I need to apply”. Its a ploy and false data reporting is the hall mark of this “profession”. I have been sucked into it. Please don’t believe this garbage.

    Can somebody edit Wikipedia for the actuarial field? I suggest a non member….

    Friday, June 7, 2013 at 22:10 | Permalink
  708. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Funny isn’t it that you read these salary surveys and job adverts and see huge salaries. Then when it’s your turn for a pay review or when you apply for a new job, it disappoints. A recruiter once got me an interview somewhere for a permanent job paying £33-50k and assured me I would be at the top end of that scale. They offered me the job at £33k. I told them no thanks I came to the interview for £50k. Then they offered me £34k. I said no thanks and cited salary surveys which they just scoffed at. So if you try and use these salary surveys to boost your own salary they just ignore them. So what are they for? Probably just to con people that Actuary pays amazing. It pays at up to £10k more than any other job in an insurance company at best. Must wonder if that is worth all those years of depriving yourself a social life to study those garbage exams.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 07:10 | Permalink
  709. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    If anyone thinks I was mad to turn down a permanent job offer of £34k; please understand that I was earning 3 times that amount working as a contractor at the time. However today, a contract is lucky to earn £34k in one year, probably less as they’ve colluded to destroy contract rates.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 07:12 | Permalink
  710. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Jumbo Jet – the cost of living adjustment happens in the UK too. Most Actuary jobs would be in London where the cost of living is much higher. So you’re no better off in the end, just more stressed and ripped off than usual.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 07:13 | Permalink
  711. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Also they probably don’t include people who have a job title like “Actuarial Analyst” but have no Actuarial qualifications and are not members of the Actuarial Professions. These people may do things like manual calculations or keep rates in spreadsheets up to date. They will not be paid an ‘actuarial’ rate and I bet they’re also excluded from these surveys.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 07:21 | Permalink
  712. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    Betrayed Actuary: Thanks for the comments. There is no regulation in the US on “surveys”. The recruiters do these and exaggerate salaries as there business is falling apart. Both DW Simpsons and Jacobsons have cut staff. These false survey’s make people feel “left out” and they need to apply. They play on human feelings of greed and remorse.

    The Wikipedia article on actuaries is open source. Go and change it. Its the way to keep the profession straight. Also Wiki leaks will be very very interested in busting this myth.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 11:19 | Permalink
  713. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Thanks Jumbo Jet. Your advice goes down very well with me, as I’m interested in truth and despise spin and lies also. Changes have now been made to the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries’ wikipedia page. Let’s see how long it will be until they remove some awkward facts about themselves. We should get in touch somehow.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 13:10 | Permalink
  714. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    Betrayed Actuary: Thanks! Can you please do the same to the Wikipedia US page?

    Also I suggest Wikileaks. Its a great story for the and I am confident that they will dig out a lot a stuff and evidence. They are pros at this kind of stuff.

    The US actuarial profession (especially property casualty) needs to be exposed.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 18:01 | Permalink
  715. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Get in touch.

    It’s about time lies were exposed.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 19:25 | Permalink
  716. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    When you edit wikipedia pages, just make sure you quote facts not opinions. Link facts to sources. Now if they try and erase them from their pages, then you know you’re onto something.

    Saturday, June 8, 2013 at 19:55 | Permalink
  717. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    Here is an example of editing thats needed under the education section. We will also need something under salaries:


    1. Actuarial education suffers from misreported hype. The actuarial profession claims this to be a mathematical/statistical field ( The reality is that Actuarial education and jobs are not considered “scientific, mathematical or statistical”. For example actuarial courses are not recognized and cannot be used to gain admissions in masters or PhD programs in statistical or mathematical sciences in North American(University of Waterloo, actuarial science program) universities. Actuarial education is considered a purely business education.

    Professional actuarial exams as well as actuarial university degrees curriculum’s have no significant content on advanced contemporary statistics (CAS syllabus of examinations). Most Actuarial majors and professionals do not have graduate level knowledge of Generalized Linear models, multivariate statistics, sampling, analysis, measure theory etc that form the backbone of modern statistics. Without such knowledge they are unable to read and interpret papers on modern risk theories.

    This can be a major issue as the power granted to sign on reserves and rates, years ago was based on the fact that actuary combined business knowledge with advanced statistics and understands “risk”. While statistics has evolved, the actuary’s knowledge of risk is only high school level (CAS admission requirements) has not. It therefore leaves a question as to why the power to sign cannot be extended to other to other professionals like well published, statistics PhD’s that have experience in the insurance field. This is particularly true since the profession was initially founded by statistician’s (Google article….).

    Most actuaries agree that actuaries work with spreadsheets and this is a number crunching field, but not an analytical field. Another evidence of this is found in the fact that there is no university degree requirements to be an actuary as the level of mathematical knowledge is that of a high school graduate. In fact almost all actuaries are undergraduate majors in the US.

    The sole power to sign on insurance rates and reserves have artificially increased actuarial wages (reference economics journals on monopolies…). Such high wages are recouped from the public, dollar for dollar in rate filings. Given the low level of educational requirements for this field some have argued to open up power to sign to statisticians.

    Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 14:08 | Permalink
  718. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    Mention all this under a section called “Criticism”.

    Also include salary reporting…but I have not done that above as its a separate problem….

    Sunday, June 9, 2013 at 14:11 | Permalink
  719. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    I’d keep wikipedia entries factual and sourced. You can embarrass them with facts without having to present opinion. Put the facts there they don’t want people to know about.

    Monday, June 10, 2013 at 14:39 | Permalink
  720. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Actuaries don’t look so good here:-

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 16:40 | Permalink
  721. Wikipedia fan wrote:

    Get editing this one folks, homework for today:

    Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 18:14 | Permalink
  722. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    The whole page starting from “Responsibilities” is cooked up. For example it says:

    “Actuaries use skills primarily in mathematics, particularly calculus-based probability and mathematical statistics…”

    It is totally untrue today as actuaries do not understand modern staistics, real anakysis etc to be able to understand mathematical statistics. They know “univariate normal distrubutions” and that is NOT 21st century mathematical statistics!!

    References are coming from “Feldblum”, “D’Arcy” etc that are known to be in bed with actuaries or work for insurance companies.

    Apart from failing to point out low education requirements (high school diploma is a pre-requisite), exaggerated salaries, the article fails to mention that there is currently not a single non while chief actuary (property casualty) that has been reported by the CAS, in any decent sized company (excluding self employed people). This is a racist field and suffers from lack of competition and bigotry.

    Exams are portrayed as something truly rigorous while they are plug chug rote memorization of results. No logic, no analytical thinking.

    All this is very verifiable.

    Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 00:25 | Permalink
  723. Wikipedia fan wrote:

    Jumbo, then let’s put truth on the pages. Truths they can’t edit out or dispute easily by claiming no references etc. Do you know how to edit a wikipedia page? It’s easy enough. If you don’t want your IP appearing then open a wikipedia account before editing.

    Thursday, June 13, 2013 at 16:19 | Permalink
  724. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    Wikipedia fan: Thanks! For the references, we will need to do some work as these bodies and companies hide stuff:

    1. Education issues: These are easiest to reference. reference CAS syllabus, past exams, the fact that universities do not recognize actuarial courses or tests as matheamtical or statistical enough for credits in a math/stat program.

    2. Salary exaggerations: These are tough to reference as recruiters lie and so do companies. You can reference Bureau of Labor statistics and show that their figues are not even 50% of these private surveys flaunted by the actuarial bodies/recruiters. You can definitely cite your own experiences as an actuary and that counts as a reference.

    3. Racism: The white-non/white divide can be shown from the CAS directory, where the first and last names of Chief actuaries are anglo saxon. One can argue that they are black. But CAS has itself acknowledged an almost absence of back students, let alone credentialed members. You can cite CAS on those comments.

    Once you put this out there, the onus will fall on THEM to dispute you. Here is the great new: they cant! Just remember to challenge the CAS and not the SOA – for now. There are two reasons fo this: (1) The SOA is already fedup of the CAS so likely will not come to their rescue. (2) CAS is a small, weak third class membership that claims to be “statistical” but they are not.

    The SOA models life insurance and that is a niche area. I would pick my battles and take the easier one first. Challenge the CAS first.

    Friday, June 14, 2013 at 00:47 | Permalink
  725. Jumbo Jet wrote:

    My last comment above. So any more comments under Jumbo Jet are not mine.

    Good luck. I have no interest in this field and thus no personal agenda. In my opinion, this is a field of third class extremely over paid people and the fault lies with us to tolerate them. They are just doing what we reward them for!

    Friday, June 14, 2013 at 00:54 | Permalink
  726. Robert Morewood wrote:

    I enjoyed the exams – passed five of them (although the first two were rather simple) – but couldn’t get a job in the field. That is probably because I was unwilling to relocate my family – my former students who are in the field all had to leave the province to find work.

    Saturday, June 22, 2013 at 15:08 | Permalink
  727. Miles wrote:

    It’s interesting to see so many opinions on actuaries by people who have no idea what an actuary is.

    The reason why even when we try our best to explain what we do and people still dont get it, is the same reason why a three year old cannot understand calculus. You need advanced thought processes and knowledge.

    Other professionals, such as accountants and “risk experts” usually brush off actuaries because they rely on book knowledge. Actuaries rely on applied analytics and logic. An actuary is the only professional which has a long track record of entering new fields and innovating.

    Make no mistake, without actuaries the world would not function – there would be great calamity in our economic systmes and even you behind your computer would be affected.

    There are many cases of people dropping out of their actuarial studies. Generally, because at some point they realise that they will ultimately not pass. They generally write and fail over and over again, until they realise that they dont have what it takes. Thats the truth! No one in their right minds would quit out of such a lucrative carreer after having invested so much time and money into it. Some of the above “reasoning” as to why people exited the career related to how they cope with their inadequacy and egos.

    Its an intense field, requiring a very broad range of skills (maths is the easiest skill of them all), if you lack in any area it is unlikely that you will succeed. For those choosing to enter the career, be sure to first be prepared to comit a large portion of your life studying. But once you pay your dues the cash will be rolling in.

    Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 09:58 | Permalink
  728. Miles wrote:

    Oh… and to Jumbo Jet’s last comment, if you can do half of what I do, I will pay you 1000USD per hour.

    My company made the above offer to 12 individuals last year, and surprise surprise no one even came close. The top performer was actually an experience PHD in Physics, and even he was way off the mark.

    Our techniques and advice have helped companies make billions – with an attitude like yours the most you can ever do is image of becoming a millionaire, and probably fail.

    Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 10:07 | Permalink
  729. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Miles said: “The reason why even when we try our best to explain what we do and people still dont get it, is the same reason why a three year old cannot understand calculus. You need advanced thought processes and knowledge.”

    Miles, you need to understand that many on this board have worked in Actuary, are Actuaries or were Actuaries with highly numerate degrees. I would suggest that the reason people don’t get it, is because we don’t do anything that special compared to anyone else. It’s just sad number crunching at the analyst level and spin and bs at the higher levels, where the ultimate aim is to get as much out of customers as possible into the coffers of the insurance company and make it appear scientific.

    Miles said: “There are many cases of people dropping out of their actuarial studies. Generally, because at some point they realise that they will ultimately not pass. They generally write and fail over and over again, until they realise that they dont have what it takes. Thats the truth!”

    Not so. That’s what they want you to think. They want you to think that the reason you’re still ‘surviving’ the exams is because you’re really bright and that the people who drop out are stupid or not as clever as you. That’s all a stupid myth that Actuaries like to delude themselves with. The really smart people suss out that the Actuarial exam system is a silly quota based system, with no transparency on the actual process, designed to keep you working for less as you study and distract you from exploring other careers. Ultimately the money you make from Actuary is not merit-based as they make out, it’s down to the same old rubbish as anywhere else such as who’s back you’re scratching, how corruptible (hence attractive to an employer ) you are, how much you like to sell your soul and spin and fob off genuine complaints about your work.

    Thursday, July 4, 2013 at 17:36 | Permalink
  730. Miles wrote:

    Dear Betrayed actuary:

    The role of the actuary greatly varies, and it is unfortunate that you have only encountered such niche and conflicted actuaries.I used to be a government actuary where my role was to design the valuation techniques to help ensure companies don’t go bust (Germany), I consulted for many years to Ford and Chevy on the design of their service and warranty plans (US), and I served as CFO in an international airline. My actuarial skills have proven to be very valuable in all my jobs. Your number crunching perception is more prominent for “junior” or student roles. Qualified Fellow Actuaries normally end up in executive management over time, which require higher level skills – hence the focus on the later exams to be written non-numerical answers, with a focus on advice.

    You also dont quite understand the examination objective. I set at least 2 of the higher level exams yearly and have been doing so for the past 15 years so maybe I can provide some insight.

    The “quota” system you refer to is what ensures the quality of the actuary. It is based on the normal distribution, which is believed to be the same distribution as that of IQ’s. The policy of the Society of Actuaries is to maintain a pass grade of 30 to 40% of candidates. So the top 30 to 40% are graded with a pass score. This ensures that students are not prejudiced by an easy or by a difficult exam paper. It also ensure that a cutt-off line is not drawn. Every paper in the lower region is looked at at least by 3 different examiners and is individually assessed whether it meets the pass grade. Hence the 30% to 40% range. Its the fairest system I can think of… No other qualification go through the same rigour, so to say the above is BS would mean that every other qualification is too.

    And I never said the people who dropped out were less clever than me! I said they realise that they dont have what it takes. They keep failing because something in their preparation is lacking or must be changed, although in many cases it can be a lack of IQ (as in any qualification). I alluded to the required dedication in the last paragraph of my post – you need to have high stamina and endurance as a pre-requisite for these exams. You need to be prepared to sacrifice a large portion of your life to qualifying. These are some of the skills that actuaries must inherently possess.

    As for money that I make, its like any other business: if you create value you profit from it! I redesigned the reinsurance structure for a casualty insurer a few years back, saved them millions – I didnt even get 1% of the savings yet I was well compensated. Ulitmately the consumers saved by paying lower premiums.

    So whilst your views are appreciated, it would make sense to try new things as an actuary and to change your pesimistic view.

    Friday, July 5, 2013 at 10:30 | Permalink
  731. Miles wrote:

    Also Betrayed actuary, Im guessing you are not really an actuary or are new to the game. Any actuary knows the name of the game is providing advice, we have countless students available to do the calculations for us…

    Friday, July 5, 2013 at 11:01 | Permalink
  732. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Hi Miles,

    You said: “The policy of the Society of Actuaries is to maintain a pass grade of 30 to 40% of candidates. So the top 30 to 40% are graded with a pass score. ”

    Then it is a quota system, one with no serious standard attached, as they just pull a line. So there is no particular standard for being an actuary except ‘beating’ others in a rather arbitrary exam. This doesn’t mean any ‘quality’ qualify. You end up with some very sad individuals who are so desperate they will sit these exams over and over until their number is up. What does this prove? Nothing, except how needy and corruptible these people are for playing along with such an obviously rigged system.

    You state:
    “They keep failing because something in their preparation is lacking or must be changed, although in many cases it can be a lack of IQ”

    I’m more familiar with the British exams, which are rigged in that you are presented with a huge volume of material and only if you attend expensive tutorials do they focus on sections that will help you pass. Otherwise it’s pretty much impossible to pass them. Not because they’re too difficult but because there’s deliberately too much boring volume presented which is decoded by the tutorials. Guess who ultimately make money from these tutorials? The actuary professions. Each time they fail 60-70% of people they laugh as they know many will resit or pay for expensive tutorials, counselling… it’s a bizarre roulette game especially for the last exam to get into that 30-40%. Adding to the suspicion is their ridiculous secrecy about their methods which they won’t even release under Data Protection Laws. Why? Perhaps there are more quotas at play than they want to let on.

    I have seen a few examples of people being awarded marks in the latter exams for making up all kinds of nonsense bs even when those exams are supposed to test ‘real world’ knowledge. Clearly, the ability to bs is tested and rewarded by these ‘exams’.

    Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 15:16 | Permalink
  733. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Miles said:

    “Qualified Fellow Actuaries normally end up in executive management over time, which require higher level skills – hence the focus on the later exams to be written non-numerical answers, with a focus on advice.”

    Oh please give me a break. Those higher level skills primarily include the ability to bs, the ‘skill’ of being corruptible and a master of obfuscation. In other words, being a sly self-serving individual who won’t spill out the truth and embarrass the corrupt ones above you.

    Clearly the latter exams value these ‘skills’ and anyone truly honest who will call it like it is will not be allowed to pass as they want professional bs merchants qualifying who won’t change the status quo one little bit.

    Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 15:26 | Permalink
  734. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Also it is a complete myth that Qualified Actuaries end up in these Executive posts. Some might, yes. Most won’t and they’ll wonder why they ever bothered for those exams when their peers are also in uninspiring office jobs earning about the same. A recent study found that most people lose their career ambitions at age 35. The Actuary professions don’t want to reveal statistics about how many people give up their rigged exam system, nor how much obtaining those qualifications really cost if your employer won’t pay. When will you people wake up and realise the exam system is not about equipping with any serious skills, that could be done with an exam system that lasts 1-2 years at the most not 5-10 years. It is all about controlling and conditioning you to be a drone, a yes-man, a professional bs merchant (and if you don’t pass them you’ll end up a no-personality number cruncher for them to boss you around).

    Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 15:34 | Permalink
  735. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Miles said:

    “You need to be prepared to sacrifice a large portion of your life to qualifying. These are some of the skills that actuaries must inherently possess.”

    It’s all about control. It’s nothing to do with attaining skills. There’s nothing skillful in selling your soul in that way.

    Sunday, July 21, 2013 at 15:46 | Permalink
  736. Kalman Filter wrote:

    Betrayed Actuary,

    Miles is a corporate donkey. Only donkeys save “millions of reinsurance money” for an insurance company and are OK for not being compensated even 1% of such total. I would be embarrassed to publicly talk about that! if that is a not a corporate insurance donkey, I don’t know what is.

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 19:58 | Permalink
  737. Kalman Filter wrote:

    Also, not only are the exams rigged, the text you study these exams contain serious mathematical flaws.

    I will give you an example.

    For example, on the CAS Exam 5, Estimating Claim Liabilities [paper by an overpaid FCAS donkey Jacqueline Friedland from KPMG], page 161 the author talks about the Benktander stochastic model and claims that the Benktander method always gives greater credibility to the development technique. This statement is false and can be confirmed by reading the original paper by Mack(2000). There is no reason why in the latest accident years, assigned factor to the development model should be greater than 0.5. What this author fails to realize that the iterative sequence of stochastic estimates of which the Bornhuetter-Ferguson method is the starting point, and the Benktander method is the second element, converges to the chain ladder model and that such sequence is monotone increasing(decreasing) depending if BF method is less(more) than the chain ladder model. So her conclusions on the page 161 are true but for the different reason!

    So, if a question on the exam comes up like that you are supposed to bullshit with something that is mathematically incorrect!

    Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 20:18 | Permalink
  738. Chip wrote:

    I agree completely with Betrayed actuary and kalman Filter. There is a clear distinction between a technician (like actuary) and a scientist. Technicians use scientific results occasionally but they cannot reason, derive or prove anything. Their logical reasoning and mental ability is low. Scientists question things and the why and how is more important than some rote memorization. Actuary and non scientists think about the world as fixed and linear: if X happens then Y happens. Their world is very predictable and myopic. It revolves around fixed and known things: company meetings, copy paste macro, repeated use of some memorized formulas or software etc. People with low IQ get into these fields.

    These actuaries/technicians are not free thinkers and gravitate towards some fixed rules set by “company” like some kind of religion. They are indeed corporate donkeys and like animals do the same thing each day.

    Working with these people is a poor fit for scientists as they will never appreciate free thought, logic and mathematical derivation. Its above them.

    Creation and science is a mental game and a frame of mind. Insurance company cultures comprise of people that are low in mathematical intelligence and reasoning power. Unless the top managements change to people that are scientific you wont see a culture shift at the lower levels (actuarial).

    In the US unfortunately top managements are not scientists and just MBA/CPA crap. No wonder we are losing business to China and Asia as their managements comprise of bright scientists.

    We need to correct the Wikipedia article as that is very very misleading.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 00:28 | Permalink
  739. Vegeta wrote:

    All of you are stupid. Both actuaries and non-actuaries that posted are stupid.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 01:54 | Permalink
  740. Maon wrote:

    I’m a qualified actuary and I can tell you it’s a fantastic profession if you can get through the rigourous training. Most people don’t make it and that’s why it’s a respected qualification. For instance, in my case, roughly 5% of the people I started out with in first year varsity ended up qualifying.

    It’s certainly not boring, nor lonely. These comments are more than likely made from someone who isnt a qualified actuary (possibly a resentful student) or a bystander. I ask you, what’s lonely or unhappy about being a respected professional?

    I will also answer that: nothing.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 08:45 | Permalink
  741. Chip wrote:

    MAON: I am a Fellow so yes I have passed all exams and in fact never failed one. It is hard for you to understand as you do not know free thought and scientific endeavor means. Its not a set of rules to obey each day. Thats for you. Not for a scientist and they find it boring and it kills innovation.

    Just becuase many people fail these tests does not mean its worthwhile or even difficult. For example, in the middle east, most people fail the drivers licence test. Many wait in line for years to get one. Does that make the test worthwhile or difficult?

    Actuaries are technicians and like their peers are used to a set mindset that is pounded in their brains. By nature they are like sheep, used to copy pasting and following rules. They neither think nor create and use some results here and there to get an “answer”.

    VEGETA: No the whole world not stupid otherwise you would be riding a horse to work each day. When you use electricity, fly in a plane or use a computer etc you use mathematics. Someone’s was doing scientific experiments and thinking differently and freely. Science is a mindset, its a state of mind. Its not for people like you that are over-paid spreadsheet monkeys”.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 10:57 | Permalink
  742. Maon wrote:

    Chip: I gotta say, you have a major chip on your shoulder. Why should someone actually become somewhat aggressive by my comment unless that person is dealing with inner turmoil. Of course you would more than likely deny this but I can tell you it’s obvious. I will not be entering into a debate with you, all I will suggest is that you go outside now and then and forget about all your problems!

    And lose the heavy dose of arrogance. You’re not special

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 12:44 | Permalink
  743. Chip wrote:

    MAON and these actuarial likes end up with these familiar phrases: “arrogance”, “chill” etc etc. To them, scientific pursuit and thought is a “brain tiring”, “useless” and “arrogant” activity. They use all the benefits mathematical world provides them but do not understand what it takes to create one. Myopic thinking and a small brains tend to go together.

    These people cling to actuarial field like a religion as its a fixed, set in stone set of rules that they believe in. These are pounded hard in their brains over the years. Few of them: “this is a tough field”, “this is a scientific field”, “we are the best”, “we are very smart”,”these exams are rigorous”. Ask them to read a statistics paper written in real analysis language and they will yawn and come up with some excuse “I can do it if I want” blah blah.

    These are over paid spreadsheet monkeys.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 14:08 | Permalink
  744. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    KALMAN FILTER wrote:
    “Also, not only are the exams rigged, the text you study these exams contain serious mathematical flaws.

    So, if a question on the exam comes up like that you are supposed to bullshit with something that is mathematically incorrect!”

    Yes, sadly they get completely unreasonable about it all when their exam questions are shown to be flawed. And you’re right, it will be those who go along with the incorrect scenario and bs who will be credited and rewarded, not those clever ones who spot the error and take the examiners to task for it. I’ll post an example from the British exams soon.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 14:10 | Permalink
  745. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    When I had only one or two exams to my name, I was absolutely shocked at the serous errors made in calculations by supposedly qualified Actuaries. It is quite intimidating confronting them gently about these errors. Often they will try and abuse their power to shut you up or kick it into the long grass, or more likely try and blame someone else for the blunder. It’s these kind of cover-up spin artists that get the promotions from what I’ve seen. Very little regard for doing the right thing.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 14:24 | Permalink
  746. CHIP wrote:

    Betrayed actuary: I agree with you. This is the dilemma in the US corporate sector. The best and brightest people are not given opportunities. In China and Asia their CEO’s and managements are PhD’s, published and technical. They manufacture things and create stuff. We here hire over paid spreadsheet monkeys and move them up.

    Our companies produce expensive second rated products/services. The level of mathematical and scientific talent is very low in US businesses. The academia is strong and that is because more than half of our science departments are filled with immigrants.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 15:36 | Permalink
  747. CHIP wrote:

    Irrationality and opposition to science have always spread through those who profit from exploiting human fears of the unknown. They spread terror with their terrible threats of collapse and unlimited suffering if we deviate from some imagined true path. Today these actuaries are doing roaring business, profiting from legislation that gives them power to sign and and dwelling upon the fear of the unknown. They reject contemporary scientifically valid statistical theories and use “triangles” and battle to limit research and inquiry. Such people should have gone with the dinosaurs but for multiple reasons this has not happened. You see them in insurance but they are common.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 15:49 | Permalink
  748. Chip wrote:

    You shouldn’t post your drivel here anymore.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 16:22 | Permalink
  749. Stuyvesant wrote:

    “When you use electricity, fly in a plane or use a computer etc you use mathematics.”

    I think you mean you use physics.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 17:04 | Permalink
  750. CHIP wrote:

    I did not write Post # 748. Some Jerk wrote it.

    Stuyvesant: Advanced Physics is based on proofs and those proofs are all mathematical. While there is a formal subject called “Mathematics” it is not a stand alone subject.

    To be a Physicist or a statistician one has to take graduate level math courses (much like PhD math students). In fact many Physicists are also great mathematicians.

    Pure/abstract mathematics typically fall under the department of mathematics but numerous applied sciences such as Physics and statistics are applied forms of mathematics.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 17:29 | Permalink
  751. CHIP wrote:

    I am no posting anymore because some Jerk actuary is copying my name.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 17:29 | Permalink
  752. Steve wrote:

    If you want to know what it is like to work for actuarial consulting firm, just watch the Mad Men series on AMC. It will give you a sense of the dishonorable and cut-throat nature the actuarial consulting business, the abusiveness of the hard-driving bosses, and the fire-at-will nature and job insecurity that is rife in the consulting firm I once worked for. What a bunch of miserable people they are, true on Mad Men and true at the firm I used to work for.

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 17:59 | Permalink
  753. I will go a step further and illustrate with an example that what an overpaid FCAS from KPMG claims to be true is NOT true. This also goes to the CAS 5 Exam members who “approve” of such textbook.

    Let the a-priori estimate of the ultimate claims be 200 and percent reported at k-th development period be 35%.

    1. Chain Ladder model estimate is 100 * 1/0.35 = 285.71

    2. Bornhuetter-Ferguson estimate is 200 * (1 – 0.35) + 100 = 230

    3. Benktander estimate is 230 * (1-0.35) + 100 = 249.5

    4. The Benktander estimate written as a credibility mixture between the Bornhuetter-Ferguson and the Chain Ladder estimate is 249.5 = 0.65 * 230 + 0.35 * 285.71

    5. The claim in the Estimating Claim Liabilities textbook, page 161, last paragraph is that Benktander model ALWAYS gives greater credibility to the chain ladder method which is false. This author mixes up credibility estimate of one member of infinite sequence with the monotone convergence concept. Two completely different concepts.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 07:18 | Permalink
  754. Forgot one more assumption in my last post.

    Assume that the observed payments at k-th development period are 100. Sorry about that.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 07:21 | Permalink
  755. tonythetiger wrote:


    I didn’t try to derive the proof myself, (I’m pretty sure it’s true though), but it seems the author is stating that the benktander method always gives more credibility to the development technique THAN the bornhutter-ferguson. Admittedly unclear.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 07:36 | Permalink
  756. Kalman Filter wrote:

    The author states that the Benktander model always gives more credibility to the chain ladder.

    Which stochastic model the Benktander gives more credibility is a function of the assumed payment pattern and the a-priori estimate. For the mature accident years, it will give more credibility to the chain ladder model [the data itself]. My example is constrained for the latest accident years to illustrate the point where initial % reported may not be as high as in short-tail lines. Think worker’s comp lines, medical malpractice etc. In any case, the iterative sequence CONVERGES to the chain ladder model. However, what neither paper explicitly mentions is the way such sequence converges [monotonically].

    Read Mack(2000) paper to get a better idea of the Benktander theoretical framework.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 08:11 | Permalink
  757. Kalman Filter wrote:

    Also, I use the “chain ladder” to describe the development technique. I use these words interchangeably.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 08:16 | Permalink
  758. tonythetiger wrote:


    i’ve read the mack paper. What I’m trying to say is that the B-F method is a credibility weighing of the Chain ladder and expected loss. The benktander is a credibility weighing of the Chain ladder and B-F. The author seems to be stating that the Benktander will give more credibility to the C-L than the B-F will to the C-L. This is obviously true based on what I’ve written above.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 08:17 | Permalink
  759. Kalman Filter wrote:

    In my example:

    230 = 0.65 * 200 + 0.35 * 285.71
    249.5 = 0.65 * 230 + 0.35 * 285.71

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 08:41 | Permalink
  760. tonythetiger wrote:

    Indeed, but the point is the B-F is already giving credibility to the C-L, so a weighing of the C-L and the B-F necessarily gives more to the C-l than does the B-F alone.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 09:22 | Permalink
  761. Kalman Filter wrote:

    You are looking at the Benktander modeli as a credibility weighted estimate of the expected claim technique and the development technique.

    I am looking at it in light of the original definition from Friedland’s paper on page 160: “The Benktander method, introduced in 1976, is a
    credibility-weighted average of the Bornhuetter-Ferguson technique and the development technique.”

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 09:47 | Permalink
  762. tonythetiger wrote:

    Yes but what I’m saying is what I believe the author is implying. The text is clearly comparing the Benktander and B-F. When she says “gives more weight to the C-L” I believe she is implying “gives more weight to the C-L than the BF”, which is true. The author is clearly stating that the Benktander responds more to actual results than the BF, because it is closer to the CL than the BF.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 12:16 | Permalink
  763. Kalman Filter wrote:

    I understand what you are saying.

    You have one interpretation which makes the statement correct, I have one that makes it incorrect.

    As a final word, in such cases the text would have been better served to include some preliminary mathematical definitions or symbols instead of waving hands and using English to convey ideas in the major area of actuarial practice – reserving. No need to wait for Exam 7 to make such points more clear [or for more obtuse for some].

    The author crafting examples where stochastic noise is removed from triangles is a completely different set of problems.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 17:27 | Permalink
  764. Joe wrote:

    Read this thread:

    I think its accurate description of an actuary.

    Saturday, July 27, 2013 at 21:50 | Permalink
  765. j wrote:

    I’m a credentialed Actuary. There is very little not to like, given the context. It’s important to understand that assuming you pass the exams, you will do well; if you stop at ASA or ACAS, you will be stuck around 100-140k, so the work may not be worth the effort for some. The DW Simpson salary survey is very close to correct. In my experience, the work itself is much more interesting than most office work and you are well respected in the work place. Again, for a reason, few people make it to the top level, but given you make it, it is both a lucrative and interesting career.

    Friday, August 2, 2013 at 09:06 | Permalink
  766. Joe wrote:

    J: your reply is “binary”. “Assuming you pass the exams you will do well”. Is that a new religion? Is there a gray area? And “Well” means what? Your definition of “well”?.

    No DW Simpson surveys are completely bogus and inflated. Even actuarial recruiters themselves admit to that. If you see US Govt salary surveys they are consistent and truthful. Salary range for an experienced fellow is in the 100K -140K range. There are some outliers but that is mostly a cost of living adjustment.

    The effort to pass these tests is worth the while for someone that thinks only in binary terms, 0,1. They would not make it in hard sciences. Yes music majors, undergrad/masters “math” majors that can divide numbers and plug chug stuff etc. Actuary is a technician. For these folks passing these tests is the ONLY way to make 100K salary. So yes for them its worth the while.

    Most people in this blog are binary 0,1 – “right way and wrong way” minds. For these feeble minds this field offers them a chance to make some money.

    Before you send another blistered message, try reading “T W Anderson” on Multivariate statistics. If you cant get through page 3 (after intro) then go back and read this message again.

    Friday, August 2, 2013 at 15:34 | Permalink
  767. Ronny wrote:

    If you like math, stats and business you should become an operations research analyst instead of an actuary.

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 02:24 | Permalink
  768. Joe wrote:

    I agree with Ronnie. A PhD in OR or statistics makes about the same but the fit is much better. It truly combines math, stats and business together.

    However the people in this forum wont like it. Its a scientific field. Actuary is a technician and the word “Actuarial Science” is the most stupid thing I have heard! Its should be actuarial technician and taught in technical schools or community colleges.

    Saturday, August 3, 2013 at 06:27 | Permalink
  769. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    The reality of pay in actuary is nothing like the salary surveys. If you google UK salary surveys, well I did this and found one which claimed that contractor rates in the UK went from £200/day to £1200/day for 1 – 10 years experience respectively. This is complete tosh. There may well be some contracts that pay £1200/day for some people who have 10 years experience, but this will be for a head of department interim role. There are many others on 10+ years experience who will struggle to even get £400/day. I know some qualified actuaries with 10 years experience who are having to accept £250-300/day. These dodgy insurance companies will try and blame the ‘present climate’ but the general state of the economy doesn’t necessarily mean times are tough for them, they just use it as an excuse to push people’s rates down even more. I contacted the author of the salary survey to ask where she got her data from and guess what – no answer.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 15:28 | Permalink
  770. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    The actuarial training also brainwashes people into a risk-averse frame of mind. This suits the insurance companies because then they have your mentality just perfect to offer you poor remuneration or to scare you that nothing better is available. Very few actuaries will walk away from a job contract or stand up for themselves in a pay review. They are far too scared to ‘upset’ their boss and just accept what’s given.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 15:30 | Permalink
  771. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Also please bear in mind how inflexible this career within its own field. If you work in Life Insurance, you will really struggle to be considered for any General Insurance or Pension jobs and vice versa. So you’ll be stuck in one sub-field. Additionally, Actuarial employers are very risk-averse in that they will always recruit someone they ‘know’ rather than take a change with someone that hasn’t worked for them before. Caution: they are quite unforgiving to someone who has left their organisation, especially permanent staff who have quit to work as an independent contractor. They would take these people back but at a reduced rate compared to when they last worked there. They get so threatened by people who have a backbone who will quit their miserable jobs and pursue something else. In general they seriously dislike contractors as they’ve taken a risk that the risk-averse jealous miserable little actuary employer never did. So if you’re a contractor trying to become permanent, you will struggle to get anyone offering a permie job to you. They are vindictive sad little people these employers and a contractor with plenty of money in the bank does not appeal to them – why? They are less easy to control and please with measly remuneration packages.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 15:41 | Permalink
  772. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    Also I’ve heard from reliable sources that what many employers do with contractors now is have a contract job advertised through an agency claiming to pay say £600/day for a nearly or qualified actuary. Then the agencies forward the CV’s to the company. The person who eventually gets the job will usually be the one with the lowest daily rate requirement. This could be as low as £250/day. The upshot of this is that the salary survey will probably quote the £600/day but in reality people are not paid this, it’s just bait to get CV’s in then push people way down from there.

    Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 15:53 | Permalink
  773. Rollington wrote:

    I think Mafia made an interesting post earlier:

    “MIT: “An undergraduate degree in mathematics provides an excellent basis for graduate work in mathematics or computer science, or for employment in such mathematics-related fields as systems analysis, operations research, or actuarial science.”

    Actuarial societies aren’t the only ones to be blamed.

    Math/stats departments at universities and mathematical/statistical societies of UK, US, and Canada also list actuary as a possible career for someone with a math/stats backgroud.”

    So, how can we combat this?

    Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 11:11 | Permalink
  774. Joe wrote:

    Rollington: if you read the statement closely, it is not inaccurate. Its saying “or for employment in such mathematics-related fields”:

    (1) they are talking about jobs and jobs alone. Nothing else. Its true that an undergrad math/stat degree could land someone on an actuarial job – especially those that cannot do graduate level work in hard sciences (that is why they broke the sentence and started with “or”).

    (2) Actuary is a math “related” field (bot not a hard science or a mathematical field). An actuary is technician with a high school math/stat knowledge. Undergrad degrees nowadays are also considered basic education and fall in the same category.

    I would even add to this and say that most Masters degrees in the US do not have rigor either. Its only when someones publishes in top journals or graduates with a PhD from a top school then they have proven themselves.

    Sunday, August 11, 2013 at 20:36 | Permalink
  775. tokie wrote:

    How do you evaluate the effectiveness or efficiency of an a reserving and pricing actuary – what measures/ KPIs make sense?

    Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 06:37 | Permalink
  776. Joe wrote:

    Tokie: great question. These are my opinions of measures:

    Reserves: accuracy in terms of % errors and the width of reserve confidence intervals based on these errors. So a proper reserve actuary asseses their own performance and develops confidence intervals of their performance. Better and more sophisticated statistical techniques should be deployed for long tailed, volatile lines/complex coverages to minimize the width of these intervals. Company specific products will require specific statistical research into modeling and not just triangles.

    Pricing: Many commercial lines and some personal lines of business are less regulated and rates driven by market forces. The challenge lies in those coverages in terms of most refined class plan (charge less to best risks), statistically correct risk load calculations based on layer of coverage and profit margins based on return on equity. Most actuaries do this in an adhoc non scientific manner – some plug chug spreadsheet. The key is to use data and PROVE proper statistical results that apply to the situation at hand. Such polished models will yield superior results and better profitability.

    Remember, any fool can set a “decent reserve” and can come up with a “rate” based on market data. It takes a statistician an risk expert to refine that rate to enhance profitability.

    In the ERM context, capital, rates and reserves are all tied together. NO one denies this but actuaries are unable to DERIVE mathematical models to solve problems at hand. Plugging black scholes formula in every situation will give some comfy answer but not mathematically meaningful.

    Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 19:40 | Permalink
  777. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    The KPI’s are the same for any other manager. The less they pay for more in return the better they’re considered. I have heard of many insurance companies offering insulting pay offers to qualified and nearly qualified actuaries lately. Not even on the same scale as these salary surveys, which are lies.

    Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 13:55 | Permalink
  778. Waddl wrote:

    Actuary can be a great job if you work in the right role with the right people. If you constantly do the same spreadsheet calculation throughout, that is not a very good actuarial job. If you work with a bunch of old people who doesn’t want to learn anything they don’t understand, that’s also a very bad place to be.

    The thing is, actuary has so much involvement in insurance company that the job can become really interesting if you are at the appropriate level where you can get involved in bits of everything. The things like capital modelling, market and credit risk, insurance risk, investment strategy, doesn’t get too repetitive which can’t be said of almost all other jobs.

    Take a specific example of market and credit risk – if you were hardcore, interest risk alone could need a phD level sophistication to cover all aspect of this risk, although these work will not be done by actuaries – often these will be outsourced, but that doesn’t stop you from learning the model.

    Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 20:03 | Permalink
  779. Sprite wrote:

    I had commented more than a year ago. I did actuarial work (life). I have an MSc and a PhD in financial economics with research in insurance. I love actuarial science as a field, i hate actuarial practice. Actuaries are accountants who know a typical model, deterministic life decrement, and apply it all the time. It is not a mathematical job, you will never be asked to solve an original math problem related to the field. Most likely a consultant will be hired for this job.

    The mobility is zero. An actuary can only work in insurance companies never in investments banks as a quant. He does not have the programming experience and he does not know modern risk models. The field is stuck to models half a century old.

    My advice is that if you like maths and want to apply them don’t become an actuary. If you like accounting then it is a good career path.

    Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 03:50 | Permalink
  780. FCAS wrote:

    I do not know if my current salary stands well with respect to the surveys.

    I am not a manager.

    Location: Canada, Quebec
    Salary: 110,000
    Experience: 5 years

    Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 20:05 | Permalink
  781. Analyst wrote:

    Location: Toronto, Canada
    Salary: 67,500
    Experience: 3 years

    Saturday, September 28, 2013 at 21:29 | Permalink
  782. annoyed actuary wrote:

    I just got told I had not been successful for a senior actuarial analyst job in the UK. I have all exams except the last one, so am a nearly qualified actuary, which is all the role required. The agent told me the salary would be £45-50k. After the shl tests and interview, the agent called me to ask how it went – it felt like a second interview! Then he asked me if I would accept £42k. I said I didn’t understand the question when they’d told me the salary would be £45-50k. They probably gave it to someone who would work for less money. I bet these agents put £50k in any salary survey they produce though. This has happened to me a few times. My rule of thumb is: whatever salary or contract rate an agent tells you, it’s 20% less after interview. The interview seems to serve more as a tool to find an excuse to knock 20% off your expectations.

    Wednesday, October 2, 2013 at 12:51 | Permalink
  783. Betrayed Actuary wrote:

    The UK Actuarial Profession has an online magazine that is sent to all members in the post, called

    Most of this publication is made up of job adverts posted by recruitment agents. There is also a website called

    I have a serious problem with all this. These adverts always show very lucrative rates and salaries. These recruitment agencies obviously pay to advertise in the profession’s magazine. However it can be argued that this is not good for the jobseeker but benefits both the insurance companies and the recruiters.

    The insurance company, by using agents, doesn’t let the world know what it intends to pay for its Actuaries. Even if they post a salary range on its website, it can be something ridiculous such as £35-55k for an actuarial analyst… which basically means they want people for £35k. Why the heck would they pay £20k more for someone to do the same job? It’s just a carrot to get better CVs to apply. Dishonest tactics.

    As for recruitment agencies, they inflate the rates and salaries in their publications perhaps by up to a third. Any salary survey conducted by recruitment agencies cannot be trusted.

    I think the Actuary profession is quite content to fill its magazine with adverts from agencies showing lucrative salaries and rates, it keeps feeding this myth about the profession and gets people dreaming and staying put in their disappointing careers.

    Friday, October 4, 2013 at 04:55 | Permalink
  784. Keith Krugerud wrote:

    From all the comments I have read on this site I see nothing but a closed minded arrogance. “As If” the actuary is the perfect species and the know all end all, I invite him to read and study the great works of Georg Hegel, Jacques Lacan and Slovaj Zizek. He will come yet humbly struggle to understand what is a “true mathematical system” consists.

    Tuesday, October 22, 2013 at 14:01 | Permalink
  785. Me wrote:

    Reply to FCAS: See this link:

    According to DW Simpson, with 4.5 – 6 years experience you pay should be between $123,000 – 194,000. And they claim that that’s just 80% of the market – its not the top 10%!

    These surveys are bogus. You make around 110K after fellowship and after that pay rises like any other company employee. The president of a mid sized bank makes $400K/yr and that includes bonus, perks, stock options etc. Net pay is around 250K. No one pays a number cruncher that much.

    In large cities you may get paid more due to cost of living adjustment. But that happens for someone with 15+ years of experience.

    Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 09:03 | Permalink
  786. DOUBLE TROUBLE wrote:

    I once saw myself on television at the Billy Graham Crusade. So I won’t be the coworker of a possible chanter in a necktie office. Are the actuaries still sure that I’m the one they really want? Then all they need to do now is waive the necktie just like the romper room at Old Bank of America.

    Thursday, October 31, 2013 at 14:13 | Permalink
  787. GoodActuaries wrote:

    Read a bit of BADACTUARIES comments…seems to know a bit about statistics. Probably has an MS in Stats. Though if you have a Phd, I’d love a link to your dissertation. My guess is your hatred stems at least in part from the fact you have some crap job in academia. Probably got your MS/Phd from a second tier school and ended up as a post doc in a third tier school where you made 50k a year. I could be wrong. With all this confidence about Black-Scholes maybe you did an MFE and went into finance, only to realize your stats knowledge doesn’t mean crap when you can’t code. You probably had some code monkey job and got bossed around by an MBA who you thought you were smarter than. So you flopped out of wall st and now you could be somewhere in academia making jack shit.
    So at the end of the day, you hate on the actuarial profession because they make a bit of money for a Bachelors. Thing that annoys me is people hating cause actuaries they don’t know measure theory or lebesque integration or how to proof the epsilon conjecture. Actuaries are not math Phds. And I’ll be damned if one claims to me he is…unless he actually got a math phd then went into actuary. They may have a math undergad and at best a Masters. However, they make a damn lot more than math Phds and it’s a lot less miserable than being a post doc at some crap school hoping someone dies so you can get assistant professor.
    Black-Scholes doesn’t have to be proven to become an actuary. Top MFE programs will make sure you can prove it, as interviewers like to ask for the derivation. Actuaries work in industry. They apply the formulas. The proofs aren’t as relevant, just as for an engineer. Not every ASM manual has to be Ross’s analysis book or thm-proof style lie (insert favorite graduate algebra book). This is industry bro. If you can proof Black-Scholes great! It’s anything a good undergrad from my school could do.

    Thursday, November 7, 2013 at 19:55 | Permalink
  788. Wildcat Fan wrote:

    I have taken 1 calculus class and a few stats classes. I have my masters in accounting and will soon have my CPA. I don’t have alot of Math or Science background. Do I have a chance at passing the tests? Are there study materials avaiable that will make up for my lack of Science and Math knowledge? The CPA study materials are designed to help anyone pass the exams. Truly, a masters or even a bachelors in business or accounting is not necessary. I know it’s going to be harder than the CPA exam. I’m just curious if study programs are available (like the Becker for CPAs). I don’t have time to take anymore college courses.

    Wednesday, December 4, 2013 at 11:00 | Permalink
  789. Jenifer wrote:

    I am a 17 year old girl and I just heard about actuary for the first time from my calculus teacher today. after doing some research and watch some youtube videos I still want to know more. what I need major help on is that How do I know I this job fits me? most people describe me a quite but smart. Math so far is my best subject and that’s the reason why I’m in calculus AB as a junior in high school. Should I become an actuary? do I need to be talkative to make it into this field? I don’t mind about taking the exam but just about the communication skill part

    Monday, January 13, 2014 at 22:59 | Permalink
  790. Jeffrey wrote:

    Okay so I’m a freshman in college and am majoring in math and have planned on becoming an actuary. After reading some of these comments I really don’t know what to think. They’re so scattered and varied and you people just need to cut the bullshit. lol I just want to know whether or not it’s worth my time and effort to invest so much into this career before i spend 10+ years studying and working my way up. If in the long run it doesn’t work out, are there any jobs that training as an actuary/degree in mathematics would be good for as a backup plan? Also i’m double majoring in spanish if that affects any answers.

    Friday, January 24, 2014 at 09:14 | Permalink
  791. Actuary wrote:

    For those of you seeking career advice, i would be aware there are posters here that are either mis-informed or who have had some negative experiences with the field.

    I am an established actuary and have worked in several fields. I generally agree with GoodActuaries post above.

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 08:16 | Permalink
  792. Organized wrote:

    This thread is disorganized and virtually impossible to follow for those who are interested in the field.

    * Money: Actuaries make enough to live well, but to be rich you must be very successful. The exact amount varies, by training, years of experience, company, and mobility. It is in recruiters best interest to exagerate salaries. There are several viable alternatives to salary surveys, ad hoc surveys on random blogs are NOT one of them. Consider Glassdoor, and look for Actuary as a title. AIG and Prudential may show 150,000 average. Whereas smaller Pension or health companies may show less. The other alternative is to actually look for jobs. Often the jobs are listed with salary ranges and bonus potential. In summary, fully credentialed Actuaries are reasonably compensated for their efforts, and well compensated considering their efforts are math related.

    * Field Size: Is very small 22,000 as opposed to 190,000 accountants. Be aware this creates a lot of competition at the entry level but thins out as you distinguish yourself by passing exams. This also is the reason for mobility issues.

    * Mathematics: This is NOT a mathematically rigorous field. Credentialed Actuaries have passed exams containing mathematical concepts that are more difficult than MBA or CPA, for example. These concepts need to be applied, but not necessarily understood, in order to pass the exams. Often Actuaries come from a mathematical undergraduate or graduate field of study such as Physics or Math. I know many Actuaries who are good at Math, but it is not a necessary quality. The distiguisment from being good at math from the perspective of lay versus from the perspective of the math or math-related fields must be made. Actuaries are business professionals, who are sufficiently qualified in math and trained in data, programming, and risk analysis to be valuable to a company. Their value varies.

    In summary: If you want to make 250k plus, it may be more direct for most to pursue some other means. If you want to practice hard math every day, choose another field. An Actuary is a unique combination of income, job security, math skills, business skills, that some find attractive.

    This does not mean working as an Actuary is a bad thing.

    Tuesday, January 28, 2014 at 08:53 | Permalink
  793. Outdated wrote:

    Organized: The profession is outdated. Modern Risk theory, like many things in the 21st century is now based on advanced mathematics and use such knowledge. The “non math” actuary makes no sense anymore as they just wont be able to solve any problem.

    Secondly, there are a pitiful number of actuaries that can do math. Out of 22,000 there are fewer than 50. The rest are just nutballs. There are different version of calculus courses and they are not all the same. Proper math is proof based and requires deep knowledge of things like “Analysis”, measure theory and topology. What these actuaries call math is elementary math which is basically nothing. Almost all of them cannot get past page (2) of a book on Analysis taught to standard PhD students.

    So please quit justifying ignorance. There is no justification. Just acknowledge the problem and stop the denial.

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014 at 16:51 | Permalink
  794. someone wrote:

    I have a b.s. in pure mathematics ( number theory, abstract algebra, real analysis (not that lower advanced calculus bullshit, etc) and economics degree. I have a masters in statistics (many in my department went on to become actuaries instead of statisticians for drug companies). I also have a masters in electrical engineering. I am thinking about becoming an actuary just to the easy of the work and 40/hr a week, which would allow me to work another job.

    Saturday, February 15, 2014 at 18:26 | Permalink
  795. KDG wrote:

    OUTDATED wrote the best comments. Some will say that the best way to study for actuarial exams is with flash cards; this alone should illustrate why being an actuary may be painful if you are a more abstract or higher-level thinker. You work very hard at studying material that really needs a specific Master’s or PhD level grounding to truly understand. However, most credentialed actuaries do not have this level of education. As a result, most of the work just revolves “repeating what we was done before” because there is no layer of abstraction for most of these supervisors and so they can’t think critically about what they are doing.

    Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 03:47 | Permalink
  796. KDG wrote:

    One other thing…actuaries and “programming” or “developing software” is a joke. They typically don’t have the proper background and don’t appreciate the difference between writing some formulas in their modelling software scripting environment, writing some code in Excel vba and what a full fledged software developer does. Then, when you have a real programmer actuary, the time that they take to actually make functional and efficient systems is looked down upon.

    Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 03:53 | Permalink
  797. B L H wrote:

    I am a senior and am thinking about actuarial science as a career choice. I would like to know a few key things. I am only looking for information from people who work or have worked as an actuary. 1.) What was a typical day like for you? 2.) How many years of college did you go to? 43.)Would you suggest this as a job? 5.) What are the job opportunities in the future with this occupation and do you believe that computers will be taking over this field and eliminating jobs?

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 01:51 | Permalink
  798. KEEP IT BURNING wrote:

    Jeez, the longest thread i have gone through, with some pretty strong views. Keep it going for a few more months and it will be required reading for any aspiring actuary. Most surprising is the partial views and points the pessimists use to give a general overview.

    Site developer: create like and dislike buttons and see how the document is reworked from the top.

    Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 08:16 | Permalink
  799. Steve wrote:

    The incompetent FSA/MAAA/EA certified pension actuaries at CalPERS (the largest public pension fund in California) allowed the state and the unions to skip a couple of years of contributions into the pension fund because the market was doing exceedingly well for a few years in the early to mid 2000s, with the result that when the market downturn took hold in 2008, the pension fund dipped to just around 60% funded. Any competent actuary with even the most basic grasp of market volatility and risk theory would tell you the high market returns from flush years should have been banked to prepare for the inevitable downturns, but these incompetent moron actuaries at CalPERS let politics get in the way, with the result that we are now only around 65% funded. They have now come up with a scheme for a 30-yr. “rolling” plan to repay the deficit, sort of like paying a perpetual 30-yr mortgage. We California public employees better hope the market doesn’t nose dive in the next 30 years! Fat chance it won’t happen! I don’t know what these CalPERS pension actuaries have been smoking. (Well potsmoking is legal in California.)

    Sunday, March 2, 2014 at 11:11 | Permalink
  800. bankruptcy wrote:

    Bankruptcy frau normaloy takes four general shapes.
    Jobb losses and decreased income nationwide fueled the
    surge in filings, which showed an increase of over 32%
    from the yyear before. When you go to the first consultation,
    be sure to take along all relevant data, suuch as monthly
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    Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 12:16 | Permalink
  801. Mr Facts wrote:

    The UK Actuarial job market is saturated.

    A typical Actuarial Analyst job advert for an established employer will get more than 50 applications. They will state £35-50k on the job advert but my money’s on them paying the successful candidate £35k. It’s called supply and demand although HR will always deny this. They’ll always pretend “we will pay more for the right candidate” but it’s a lie. Why is it a lie? Because this would mean, from a pool of 50 CV’s, that they would pick the best candidate and pay £50k each time. They don’t. That’s because they pick an adequate candidate that will accept £35k. Wouldn’t you? Who would really pay £15k more for someone to do the same job? Think about it.

    It’s all a big scam. HR are the villains here, doing the dirty work of companies to shield people from the dirty truth.

    Wednesday, March 5, 2014 at 12:23 | Permalink
  802. Mohammed wrote:

    I have been reading this thread for several days looking for answers to questions. I am currently working on my PhD and looking to write my thesis on actuarial science and how to improve the school curriculums in order for students who are interested to pursue this major.

    I have been teaching mathematics and statistics for thirteen years , both A levels and Advanced Placements. Many of my students have shown interest in the field of actuarial science but many have dropped out. What can be done in schools to help them avoid these obstacles?

    I am also looking for volunteers willing to answer a questionnaire and help me collect data on this subject. There is not much information available on this topic so any input from you guys with experience will be very helpful.

    Any advise or comments?

    Tuesday, March 25, 2014 at 10:33 | Permalink
  803. DOUBLE TROUBLE wrote:

    According to the Hare Krishna book snatcher and the Nam Myoho Renge Kyo back turner the Boy Scouts are obviously the ultimate and final path. As we all know the Boy Scouts now consecrated through no effort on their part don’t do cigarettes-and-neckties. So I owe it to myself to keep the abominable duo from creeping into my place of work. Also its high time to consign the campfire-and-neckerchief incorrect actuaries to the junk pile of history so I can find something else somewhere else. The blue state bridges and tunnels and islands and peninsulas of MetLife San Francisco and MetLife New York City are only playing and doing nothing. They are not for anybody getting their work done.

    Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 11:35 | Permalink

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