Skip to main content
4 answers
4
Asked 1812 views

Accounting vs. Actuary

I have been looking into accounting and actuary as career choices but am having a hard time determining the difference between the two, other than actuary is more math-based. Any insight is helpful!

#accounting #actuary #math

+25 Karma if successful
From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

4

4 answers


0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Kellie (Kinsella)’s Answer

Hi Bianca! I work in accounting, so can provide insights into that profession, but will not be able to provide insights into the actuary profession. In it's simplest form, accounting is keeping track of a company's money to understand the company's current financial position. A financial position can include things like:

*How much money did the company make last year?;
*How much money did the company spend?
*What assets does the company currently own?
*What debts does the company need to pay?

In addition to understanding the financial position, accounting deals with making sure the financial information , transactions, and data flowing in and out of a company are recorded accurately, completely, and timely. Math skills are important to be good at accounting, however, advanced math skills are not always necessary. Good skills to have include being detail oriented, good with large sums of data and Excel, and understanding how a business works.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Rachel’s Answer

I don't know anything really about the actuary profession, but based on the other responses here, accounting seems like a broader profession. There are many types of accountants: at PwC the three Lines of Service are Assurance, Advisory, and Tax, and PwC itself is a public accounting firm (I myself am a Tax Associate). As a tax accountant in public accounting, I help various companies calculate their taxable income and help our Audit team audit companies' tax provisions.

There are also accounting positions in most private companies (someone has to keep track of the money, "the books") and in the government. Working within a company as an accountant would be different from working as an auditor or tax practitioner in public accounting.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Bob’s Answer

Bianca, I am a semi-retired actuary who for the majority of my 30+ year career has been a consultant to corporations and to local and state governments. The fun part of my job has been to help these employers with their employee benefits programs, such as group health insurance, life insurance, pensions, disability, and other benefits. Some of these benefits may be provided through group insurance products, while other benefits may be self-insured by the employer. My typical role is to advise the benefits or HR manager, and sometimes the head of Finance, in their decision making process each year so that they get the best package of the benefits for the amount of money they are willing and able to spend. In addition, consulting actuaries may perform actuarial valuations of pension plans and post-employment medical plans to make sure these programs are always funded on an actuarially sound basis. Another thing I do is to help employers with setting their annual budgets, which involves predicting total health insurance claims for the upcoming year, for example.

To be a successful consulting actuary, you need to attain at least the ASA credential but an FSA definitely makes you more marketable. Most consulting firms have actuarial study programs to help you achieve your designations, although to get hired at the entry level, the bigger firms will typically expect you to have already passed one or two exams. Having good Excel spreadsheet skills are essential, and knowing other computer packages to analyze large data sets (such as SAS, R, or Python) are a definite plus.
0
0
Updated
Share a link to this answer
Share a link to this answer

Dana’s Answer

I am an actuary, who works for an accounting firm. With both degrees, there are a multitude of specialist areas you can take your career. Both have programs to be credentialized, which among other things, translates to exams after college. You can be an accountant without a CPA designation. The exam program for actuaries is a requirement. Most actuaries earn their college degree in math, statistics, or actuarial science. Some universities have actuarial science programs.

The rest of my comments will focus on the actuarial profession. Most actuaries work for insurance companies, accounting or consulting firms in the insurance industry. Some work for universities (as professors) or for government. Some work outside of the insurance industry, such as in the energy sector. As an actuary, you will use your knowledge of mathematics and statistics to solve business needs and problems.

In the insurance industry, many actuaries work with insurance accountants, especially financial reporting actuaries. These actuaries make important estimations for the balance sheet as to the amount of benefits that will be paid. Other actuaries in insurance companies design features and set the premiums that the insurance companies offer to consumers, (for example, auto insurance or life insurance). There are other focus areas for actuaries, as well. Most insurance companies have actuarial student rotation programs, where the 'actuarial student' will typically spend 18-24 months in one actuarial function and then rotate to another department. This provides the opportunity to learn the various sub-disciplines. Usually, as the student becomes credentialized through the exam process, they begin to focus in one area. However, it is not uncommon to switch from one area, later in their careers.

Whether you pursue accounting or actuarial science, reach out to local chapters of these professional bodies and ask if they have any programs to help those interested in understanding the profession. For the actuarial profession, you can also visit this website. beanactuary.org, for more information.

beanactuary, actuary, accountant
0