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Difference Between Actuary & Financial Analyst

Financial matters are something that both actuaries and financial analysts deal with in their work. Their focus can be different and they usually work in different industries. Read on to compare these careers in greater detail.

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Comparing Actuaries to Financial Analysts

Actuaries and financial analysts are both involved with analyzing data, and they can help people and businesses reduce the risk of financial problems with their recommendations. Actuaries more commonly work in insurance, and they do things such as determine how risky an insurance policy is or how much it should cost. Financial analysts typically focus on investment strategies.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Outlook (2014-2024)*
Actuaries Bachelor's Degree $100,610 18%
Financial Analysts Bachelor's Degree $81,760 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Actuaries vs. Financial Analysts

As part of their regular duties, both actuaries and financial analysts may work with a great deal of financial data. Actuaries review things like accident statistics or other variables that may be relevant when determining things like how likely it is that a client will be affected by a natural disaster. They can help companies determine what types of policies they need to protect themselves financially, or they may help insurance companies determine how much a specific policy should cost. Financial analysts can be involved in a range of tasks that may include talking to clients, reviewing their financial plans and goals and then recommending investments that are suitable to those clients' needs. Their work may also involve determining the security of different investment options.

Actuaries

Businesses and individuals experience many situations throughout their lives that can cause financial problems. Actuaries play a key role in identifying risks and helping to determine things like how much an insurance policy should cost. To prepare for this career it's necessary to have a bachelor's degree in a discipline such as mathematics. Certification is also required. Actuaries primarily work in offices during standard business hours, and they are commonly employed in the finance and insurance industries.

Job responsibilities of an actuary include:

  • Gathering data
  • Performing calculations
  • Determining the likelihood of specific events occurring
  • Assessing policies for cost-effectiveness
  • Evaluating investment options
  • Recommending policies or investments

Financial Analysts

A bachelor's degree is required to become a financial analyst. Those interested in advancing to roles in management will need practical experience and may be expected to have a master's degree. Financial analysts help people and companies with financial planning. Common employers include businesses, credit services and insurance agencies. Financial analysts work in offices and it's common for them to work overtime on a regular basis.

Job responsibilities of a financial analyst include:

  • Meeting with clients
  • Assessing their clients' financial goals
  • Monitoring trends with stocks, bonds and other investment options
  • Recommending investment options
  • Advising agents
  • Assessing the financial strength of businesses

Related Careers

If a career as an actuary sounds appealing, you may also be interested in becoming a life insurance underwriter, since life insurance underwriters help make decisions about policy coverage. In the event that being a financial analyst sounds appealing, you may also want to explore the option of becoming a financial manager, since financial managers also help clients decide how to manage their finances.

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