As we embark on what should be an eventful 2018, there’s quite a bit that actuaries should be mindful of. From rising political tensions to tax reform the future is somewhat unclear, but job security is one area where actuaries seem to be well situated. While enjoying some Christmas cheer with colleagues I was asked a simple question, “Do you think data scientists will ever replace actuaries?”

Smith Hanley specializes in the recruitment of data scientists and actuaries and with these core businesses so closely related this seemed to be a perfectly fair question and one I was well suited to answer. My answer of “absolutely not“ seemed to shock my colleague. Although the skill sets are beginning to blend there will always be significant differences that keep the actuarial profession alive and well. Here are a few reasons why actuaries are safe from a data science takeover:

SOA Factor

The Society of Actuaries and their rigorous credentialing process is the primary barrier for many data scientists trying to fill actuarial roles. Most insurance companies and consulting firms alike require credentials such as Fellowship in order to ascend to more senior level roles. While many data scientists think they could easily complete the exams and modules, once they realize the depth of the expertise required, they quickly change their minds.

Areas of Specialization

When it comes to the data science profession it is a core belief that their skills can be applied to a wide variety of industries. Ecommerce, consumer packaged goods, advertising and retail to name just a few, but data scientists tend to stay away from the major verticals most actuaries inhabit. Employee benefits, traditional insurance, and finance are areas where most data scientists fall well short in the industry expertise needed.

Overall Desire

The biggest reason the actuarial and data science skill set will remain separate is the perception that insurance and the actuarial consulting industry just aren’t attractive to most data scientists. When actuaries begin their career it is their dream to land with one of the big insurance companies, while that same prospect isn’t even on the radar of most data scientists. Data scientists beginning their career have aspirations of working for Google or Amazon. It is this ideology that keeps the overall actuarial attraction for a data scientist  at a minimum.

Interested in continuing this discussion?  Smith Hanley Associates‘ Actuarial Recruiting Practice Lead, Rory Hauser, is ready to talk at 203.319-4305 or


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