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.
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?
896 thoughts on “What is so bad about being an actuary?”
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.
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: http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/chi/207209911.html
Math + Business = HOT
John and Aaron: Thanks for the feedback.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Spot on, GENERAL APATHY!
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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…
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.
I mean \from the outside\, not \form the outside\.
Dick move. Keep the profession honorable.
When computer science people are calling you lame, you know you got problems.
ok, maybe it wasn’t a good idea for me to notify actuaries of this post….
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!
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.
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
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”.
It’s not exaggeration. It is prudence!
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.
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’
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?
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.
Okay, trying the link again – should work this time.
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.
You might inquire on the Actuarial Outpost:
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!)
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?
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.
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.
Actuaries are also responsible for Al Qaeda, the JFK assassination and much of the dark ages in Western Europe.
Great advice here.
Wait… I thought actuaries were responsible for all of the dark ages.
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.
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.
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.
Uma, I’m impressed you typed that with a straight face.
Hey Heathen, do you know who was never able to type with a straight face?
My ex-fiancee. :tup:
What are plusses/minuses of each of the areas you can go into as an actuary? Life, health, pension, property & casualty?
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.
Hi, just a quick question….what are the benefits of being an actuary?
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.
please I will like to know how many subjects do we have under actuarial science program
I am 30 years old now and i want to resign and study actuarial scince accounting is it a gud idea?
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.
Could anyone list out why you choose actuarial science and why not here?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
=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.
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?
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:
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.
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.
Thank you very much MEEP, and I am looking forward to hearing from you again.
Looking forward to your post!
Hope this isn’t a double-post.
Life in the back office
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~
And I’ve also posted it at the Actuarial Outpost.
It’s very long.
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?
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.
Oops……thanks MEEP anyway~ That was very nice of you~~
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
Wish my family had told me this. Left everything too late because of these wretched exams and now it’s too late to start a family of my own. What a waste of my life. I wouldn’t wish this “career” path in anyone.
i have also got work experience at an accountants, will that help? xx
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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!
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?
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
is there any particular kind of job you would feel is helpful to boost your chances whilst still trying to get the qualification?
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.
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.
okay thankyou I will keep a look out for an opportunity, all this has been really helpful, thankyou.
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.
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.
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 ;-).
Please, after the actuarial course isn’t there any place you work apart from in the insurance company?
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.
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…….
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.
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?
Help Much Appreciated
(Sorry for any spelling mistakes)
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.
I go to Penn State by the way.
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.
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?
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!)
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?
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!
trying the link again – the wordpress (or whatever) software screwed up my link before. try clicking on my name.
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??
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
what are the progression levels for a career in actuarial scince
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.
I am dng commercial subjects is it posible 2 stdy actuarial science at a university?
@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.
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?
What exams are better SOA/CAS or UK exams? Which are harder?
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!!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oh, and yes – actuaries aren’t scientists.
Neither are statisticians or economists.
What’s your point?
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:
2. Shitload of wealth
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.
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.
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.
Statistics is considered science and usually a branch of mathematics.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Hello Robert. Can you suggest me about switching my career is right decision or not?197
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
I meant the US actuaries think their actuarial system is better.
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.
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.
Much of what Jon wrote is very accurate, but he’s not entirely correct in some areas. A quick search on Glassdoor.com 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.
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.
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).
Steve, how do you explain black actuaries not getting senior positions?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
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
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”
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.
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
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.
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.
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 $$$$
Would you guys consider doing CFA or ACCA superior/better than doing actuarial exams?
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.
Actuarial science in the US is a joke.
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
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.
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.
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
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 $$$ 😀 My reason for taking BS Mathematics is that I am academically inclined. If being an actuary is not right for me, then what is?
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.
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?
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!
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.
so, guys, should I pursue the actuarial career?
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.
why do actuaries get to be glorified yet all they do is about probabilities, not exact science or math even?
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!
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.
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!
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!
Burgerking, Amen to that!
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!
“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.
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!
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.
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.
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?
Thanks MelissaB! What career would you suggest which is non-statistical? :Dvve
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.
[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
@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.
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
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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)
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).”
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.
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.
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.
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.
Burger King, what’s your profession?
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!
Sports stars are overpaid. People should complain about them. (I’m not an actuary nor a sports star)
Being an actuary is only good if you like screwing around on the internet during work hours.
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…
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.
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.
People need to make noise and STOP all this. REPEAL THE SILLY REGULATION THAT GIVES THEM SIGNING POWER ON RESERVES AND PREMIUMS. ALL THIS WILL RESOLVE AUTOMATICALLY. PINCH THEM WHERE IT HURTS.
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.
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.
Actuary is a great profession.
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.
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.
Kudos to Jon #153 post – Filipino and to other real math inclined people, you ought to read this…good advice!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.
CFA is better. Accounting (ACCA or CGA or CIMA) is better too.
Operations research is better too.
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?
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!
Wow, there are so many trolls in these comments. Some are sticking up for actuaries and some are not.
“Masters in statistics is not considered a top statistics degree.”
How condescending of you!
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!
I actually have a PhD.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
You guys need to face the fact that actuarial science is a rubbish profession.
You are very ignorant.
Hey Jacobs in Post 273 – you stole my name! I am Jacobs.
Your comment is welcome but use another name!
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.
Every one of you is functionally unaware of the trolling going on this thread.
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…
I am not posting anymore until this issue is resolved by the host. Please ignore all posts under jacob from here onwards.
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.
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.
I’m trying to work out a way to fix this problem so that each name is associated with a specific email address.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
SUMMARY OF AN ACTUARY
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.
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.
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.
3. THERE ARE NO NON WHITE CHIEF ACTUARIES IN THE US (P/C SECTOR). OUT OF THE 5000 P/C MEMBERS A THIRD ARE NON WHITE. THIS IS RACISM.
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!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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!
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..
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
by the way, can you provide any sources regarding
race of FCAS members
race of chief actuaries?
I am curious.
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.
Before you get excited. Its (1/3)^100.
man my brain is mushed!
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”?
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?
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).
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.
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:
firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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.
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.
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?
The level of statistical education of these actuaries is appalling and evident in these posts. These people are just dirt bags in the system.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
This entire blog only gets around 500 page views per day so a lot of people will miss out on this information.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.
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.
Help here guys! Which is much more beneficial and better in terms of salary and job opportunities? Actuarial Science or Accounting(CIMA) ??
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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..
“I corrected it in my next post that its “(2/3)^100. The first post was a typo.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
If you’re a math person and want to work in business you can try and go into operations research or quantitative finance.
Operations and quantitative finance are indeed very solid and rewarding professions!
OMG! I decided not to even think of doing this..I will do my higher studies in Maths & become teacher…cool life..
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 companie