what is an actuary?
Actuary as an Expert Witness
When an actuary serves as an expert witness, he can provide an opinion as to the lump sum value of future contingent streams of payment. The actuary is able to convert complex streams of payment into manageable terms by assigning each element its present value.

Actuary as an Economist
Since much of the actuary's work involves money, an actuary must have a substantial grasp of economics. Being concerned with the return on investments, he must be aware of the factors that impact return and must possess an informed view of current and future developments.

Actuary as a Model Builder
The actuary builds and uses mathematics models. Mortality tables and work force participation tables are examples of such models. The mathematical models used by the actuary are intended to represent reality.

Actuary as an Expert on Impairment
Actuaries are sometimes called up on to express an opinion as to whether medical history, occupation or habits of an individual make him or her less likely to possess a "normal" life expectancy, or even if gainful employment has been impaired. These actuaries have substantial amounts of personal knowledge and experience in this area and call upon many studies prepared by numerous researchers and medical experts.

Actuary as a Mathematician
While actuaries generally have high mathematical aptitudes, only a small percentage specialize in "pure" mathematics or research. Most are "applied" mathematicians who seek practical and effective answers to everyday financial problems.

Actuary as a Demographer
Actuarial theory is employed in interpreting census data and in making projections of future population trends. Work force projections at all levels (country, region, and industry) are sought from actuaries.

Actuaries and Social Insurance Programs
Actuaries play a most important role in the design of health care delivery systems and income replacement programs such as retirement and savings plans.


* With apologies to Donald R. Anderson, "Actuarial Evidence" 2nd Ed., Carswell, 1986