Stephen Cranston Writer & columnist

There can’t be a profession that is as self-conscious about its image as actuaries. Their core business is to compile and analyse statistics and use them to calculate insurance risks and premiums. It might not sound exciting, but it’s preferable to the even more mundane world of accounting. Recently much of actuaries’ work involves calculating longevity. There will always be plenty of this work; on average babies born today will live to 104. Precisely how that is calculated remains a professional secret, to some extent. One of my favourite Financial Times columns started, "It might be like comparing ebola to the plague or the musical abilities of Celine Dion and Michael Bolton, but I would rather be an actuary than a accountant." Actuaries look to the future, while accountants focus on showing the past in the best light. It still astonishes me how accountants refuse to take any responsibility for frauds that take place at their clients.Of course, some actuaries have been chancers, p...

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