What is working as an actuary really like?

We asked actuaries to describe a typical day on the job. Here is what they had to say:

Karen DeToro, Senior Manager, Deloitte Consulting LLPA, and Fellow of the Society of Actuaries:
I work as an actuarial consultant, so my days vary greatly. In the past several months, I’ve traveled to New Jersey, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and London, and I have trips coming up to Hartford and New York. On those days, I’m typically working for a specific client at their office or visiting some of my colleagues in other Deloitte offices.

Today, I’m working in my office in Chicago. So far today, I’ve researched the applicable accounting rules and written a report for a client who’s acquiring a small life insurance company; provided guidance over the phone to a colleague regarding the audit of an insurance company; attended an in-house training session on the modeling of life insurance reserves; worked on a spreadsheet model to do financial projections for a client; and worked on developing some materials for an SOA committee on which I serve. All of those activities are representative of the various facets of my job—research, written communications, verbal communications, on-the-job learning opportunities, technical actuarial work, and professional volunteering.

Kelly Hernandez, Pricing Manager, Nationwide Insurance, and Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society:
I manage the rates we charge in a handful of states. Daily, things change depending on where we are in the rate review process. My team manages the rates, provides analysis of where things currently stand, and handles the state filing requirements. What I like most is that the analysis itself is extremely statistical in nature, but when it comes to what is implemented we not only have to consider the statistical side but also the real world application and the potential impact from a business perspective. I am constantly asking myself “Does this make sense?”.

Blake Hill, AVP, Savings & Retirement, Equitable Life Insurance of Canada and Fellow of the Society of Actuaries:
The nice part of the profession is that on a typical day there is no routine work. With the complexity of the work and the continually changing environment that actuaries work in there is little about our work that stays the same for long. My typical day is spent managing staff to review financial data, answering questions from non-actuarial parties about actuarial concepts, and attending meetings to discuss the results and future of the business.

Edward M. Kuss, Manager – Corporate Actuarial, Progressive Corporation, and Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society:
There is no such thing as a typical day. I currently manage three reserving analysts and we spend most of our time doing reserve analyses and projects like catastrophe modeling, loss modeling for some of our low frequency/high severity lines, and supporting our Corporate Actuary as he writes Actuarial Opinions and Reports.

Paul Cochran, Vice President, Actuarial Services, Old Republic General Services Inc., and Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society:
On an analytical level, a typical day would consist of working on spreadsheets to complete a reserve analysis or pricing adequacy review. In a midsize company like mine, there is also opportunity to price a new product, which takes creativity, or respond to an insurance department inquiry, which requires communication skills and tact.

On a management level, a typical day might consist of approving reserve or pricing reviews, conferring with data management over discrepancies, discussing product strategies with operating units, or meeting with senior management of the company to discuss quarterly results.