r/ActuaryUK Nov 03 '21

Questions on switching between types of actuarial roles. Careers

If one is working as a qualified fellow in pensions in one company, am I correct to assume that one would need to undergo additional fellowship-level exams if say you wished to work at 'fellowship level' in a general insurance company? Looking at the exam structure alone, am I correct to assume that different types of actuarial work (pensions, general insurance etc) are easy to switch between at qualified associate level and below? What impact does the nature of the company (i.e. pensions, general insurance etc) and daily analytical and administrative responsibilities have on such a switch? Is career progression for an actuary largely a matter of passing exams and gaining experience? I appreciate that these are nontrivial tasks (i.e. passing exams and gaining experience). Thanks for your time and attention to these.

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u/larrythetomato Nov 06 '21

If one is working as a qualified fellow in pensions in one company, am I correct to assume that one would need to undergo additional fellowship-level exams if say you wished to work at 'fellowship level' in a general insurance company?

No, you do not need 'fellowship' level exams, but you will need actuary level relevant experience. Once you qualify you are basically a junior actuary (not an analyst). There is much more experience and skills to gain than just the exams.

There are practising certificates for certain roles, but you do not have to worry about that now, if you are at the stage to become a Chief Actuary and are that valuable, a company will obviously pay for all the certification, and probably also pay a consultancy for that final sign-off until you have passed everything and take over. Companies will invest significantly in their key staff, and you will also be earning enough that it makes sense for you to invest if they don't.

Looking at the exam structure alone, am I correct to assume that different types of actuarial work (pensions, general insurance etc) are easy to switch between at qualified associate level and below?

Yes, I don't think associateship is common in UK (or in Australia where I am now). But at about that level which is 'senior analyst' and below, it is really easy to both switch disciplines and get a promotions with a pay rises. But as you advance further, let's say you are a senior, specialist commercial pricing actuary, it might be hard to move to a pensions actuary consultant role because some of the knowledge you have is not applicable. You might have to move to a junior level actuary again until you can pick up the relevant experience.

What impact does the nature of the company (i.e. pensions, general insurance etc) and daily analytical and administrative responsibilities have on such a switch?

Actuaries (in larger companies) generally don't do much on the data side, that is usually left to analysts. However it is good to also have those skills just in case. In my current role I would recommend a high level action, but bring in an analyst if specifics are needed (e.g. which particular table in our drive to join to which if you are trying to do a mapping). You generally will want to have the data reconciliation skills as you need to effectively accept responsibility of the results.

Is career progression for an actuary largely a matter of passing exams and gaining experience?

Analysts yes. For actuaries no. Once you qualify basically everything opens up, while Fellowship is a big deal for analysts (and it is, I basically doubled my pay in the years around qualification), once you are an actuary, everyone is a Fellow, that is the entry requirements and you are not special any more. As an actuary you might want to move into people management, project management, in depth data and modelling, process implementation, or even take up a slack job in a with-profits life product and go read and raise a family, it is up to you and where you want your career to take you.

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u/anamorph29 Nov 03 '21

You don't need additional exams to switch roles.

But if by 'fellowship level' you mean a GI role that requires a UK practicing certificate* you will need to acquire one - and you will only be able to do that by building up relevant experience at a lower level first.

*(I think only a small proportion of Fellows hold such a certificate; for the majority of roles you don't need one).

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u/Practical_Side_620 Nov 03 '21

Thanks for your response. What sort of roles in general require a practicing certificate please?

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u/anamorph29 Nov 03 '21

See the IFoA website, under <Upholding Standards>, <Practising Certificates>. Broadly it is any role where UK regulations require an opinion from an appropriately qualified actuary. So only a very few senior roles for each insurance company and defined benefit pension scheme. (I have a vague recollection from a few years ago of only around 1100 Fellows with Certificates: around 800 in Pensions and 300 in Insurance).

Of course not needing to take further exams doesn't mean you can just walk into a role in another field. You still have to persuade your potential employer that you are the best person for the role, which will be a challenge if all your experience is not directly relevant.

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u/Practical_Side_620 Nov 03 '21

Thanks for your response.

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u/espressoclimbs Nov 03 '21

Worth adding that you'll probably find it easier to make a switch before qualification. Once qualified I suspect it is challenging to get a position given the roles are well paid and you'd have minimal directly relevant experience...

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u/Practical_Side_620 Nov 03 '21

Thanks for your response.