Looking after your financial health is no different to looking after your physical health. If you want the best care, you turn to an expert. If you need life-saving surgery, you’re safer in the hands of a specialist surgeon. It’s no different with your lifetime finances.

To take care of your financial health, it pays – literally – to talk to experts who understand financial risk and know how to manage it properly. When you buy life insurance, for instance, you need to think in the long term. That means planning for personal and financial risks.

Much of the information you need to plan your financial life is available at the touch of a button. However, you need to know where to find it in the first place and, in a fast-changing world, the amount of information is overwhelming and often confusing.

Specialist advisers can help you make sense of what you need to know to understand and plan for your personal and financial needs. The best advisers and financial services organisations rely on the expertise of actuaries for help with this – actuaries are professionals who specialise in identifying, quantifying and managing financial risks.

Risk is the possibility that an undesirable event will occur. It can also be an opportunity. What to expect, when to expect it, and how to manage or exploit its impact are difficult questions with complex answers. That’s where actuaries come in.

Actuaries analyse the pos­sibility, probability and financial impact of risk. They study the possibility of expected and un­expected future events, the likelihood that those events will occur, and how those events can impact financial performance, particularly of insurance and pension programmes. They then look for ways of reducing the probability of risky events and minimising their impact if and when those events ever occur.

An actuary’s job is to help an insurer or pension fund predict and plan for the future and to protect itself from losses that would impact clients.

It takes strong analytical skills, business knowledge, and understanding of human behaviour to manage the complex risks our society faces today

Their skills mean they are the analytical backbone of financial organisations like pension funds, insurance companies and banks.

When analysing and assessing risk and making financial forecasts, they depend on tested financial theory, mathematics and statistics, rather than guesswork. While other professions focus on the recent past or very near future, actuaries take a longer-term view and help guide strategies accordingly.

Actuaries’ focus on risk means they are crucial in generating the security a financial company can offer its clients.

With actuaries’ input, financial businesses and pension funds can grow knowing they are protected against major financial catastrophe and their clients know they can invest in the company’s financial products with confidence and peace of mind.

It takes strong analytical skills, business knowledge, and understanding of human behaviour to manage the complex risks our society faces today.

MSV Life has a team of seven actuaries specialised in maths, account­ing, economics and statistics. Their expertise helps to provide long-term security for the company and, therefore, for its policyholders.

Becoming an actuary is not for the faint-hearted. The training programme is long and difficult, and suitable candidates are rare. It takes 15 exams to qualify fully, each requiring some 300 hours of study. Realistically, trainees can usually take no more than two exams a year, so it takes some seven to eight years to qualify as an actuary, and that’s on top of a first degree in maths and statistics.

However, the role is rewarding both professionally and financial­ly. It often tops surveys of the best careers to follow.

This is an example of companies investing in their people being the most forward-looking and reliable. MSV’s actuaries help the company design much better products for their policyholders. They consider all the risks, build in the appropriate protections while ensuring that policyholders get the best returns on their savings. Their calculations are based on sound studies and statistics, so the cost to clients is fairer too.

Clayton Balkind is chief actuary at MSV Life.