An Actuary? cool! What is that?


Dr. Bonita Graham is an Actuarial Assistant at Colombian Financial, as well as a SUNY Oswego alumni from ’05. An ASA is an Associate of the Society of Actuaries. An FSA is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. Though she was not always an actuary for some time she taught at Oswego while getting her P. H. D.  Not many people know what an actuary is. It is Someone who does something about risk, A person with a job like accounting, but fun, Someone who can tell you when you’re going to die, with math, Someone who would rather be completely wrong than approximately right. Actuarial careers are consistently ranked among the best in the country in all measures.

You may wonder how one would be interested in this career path. A short answer is you need to like a challenge and the longer answer is some people come across this field in unconventional ways but end up loving the work. Dr. Graham’s brother was actually the one who wanted to be an actuary so he was studying for an exam, one the first ones called the P exam (the probability exam). There are a total round of 7 exams along with a 100 hours of studying for every hour the exam will last. So while Dr. Graham helped him study she thought it looked fun and figured; I love numbers and this looks like fun, i’m already studying i might as well take it. She passed the exam and her brother failed. So, began her new career path, she is currently studying for the IFT exam (Investment and Financial Markets).

Person writing on the notebook by: pexels

Actuaries exams are very different compared to a college final exam. Most people who are taking these tests when they’re offered are working full time. These tests are all required as soon as you start out in your field, they’re a working progress. The end goal of your career is to complete all 7 and become certified. Upon passing an exam your employer will either give you a bonus or sometimes a raise. Most employers also pay for you to take the exam and allow so much time during the work week for “paid studying”. In reality though if you studied the required amount of hours in the work week you would get absolutely nothing done.

An actuary typically falls into the fields of quantitative finance, corporate finance and ERM, individual life and annuities, retirement benefits, group and health, and property and casualty. Dr. Graham has worked in individual life and annuities and group and health. Most of her work with life insurance was predicting for the future and preparation. She also works on; Creating and running valuation procedures,Answering customer service requests,Checking annual statements, Creating illustrations, Reporting reinsurance, and Ad-hoc requests. So, If they had a person who was made of money and wanted a 5 million dollar policy on themselves the insurance company would have to make sure they had enough funds so that if at anytime that person passed away they could cut the check. Partly of how insurance agencies manage to maintain policies like this are through reinsurance companies who don’t sell to the public only other businesses. This way they eat up some of the risk, so the policy doesn’t just fall on the one original company.

calculator calculating insurance by: pixabay

As Dr. Graham did, but when interviewing her it was revealed that actuaries can be used more many things beyond filing paperwork, annual statements and predicting for the next; month, quarter, and year. She met someone in sports management who had a background in actuary work. They used that background to help the team determine when and how the players should swing using similar math as if you worked on life insurance policies. All actuaries have to take the same test no matter the department they end up in. Though this is an example of how the numbers can reach out to real life situations beyond paper and more scientific calculations. An actuary can be turned into many different paths for each individual. It is just up to you what path you decide to take.

If you’re considering looking into the exams an actuary has to take or the required material here is some further information. Also you now know what one is and know that its pretty cool!

All of this information came from Dr. Graham, she is very helpful and willing to take the time to answer questions

Dr. Bonita Graham

Further Readings:

Get Educated on The Career

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