Sunday, March 8, 2009

Actually ... what?

I'm training to be an actuary and have been for the last five years. Actuary, you ask? Actually, yes. Click here for some information on what an actuary actually does. When I tell people what I do for a living, they often imagine it's something to do with law. Or else they mishear completely: "you mean architecture?" or even better, "bows and arrows?" And of course most people have no idea, to which I normally reply by saying I have no idea either. Now I try to avoid the A-word altogether and just say I work in insurance.

To qualify as an actuary you have to pass rather a lot of exams. Fourteen of them in fact, and they don't get any easier. To give some idea of how hard they are, five possible grades are awarded, four of which (called FA, FB, FC and FD) are failing grades. After five years I've passed ten exams. I used to be very nervous on exam day and absolutely petrified when the results came out, whereas now, when I have serious doubts about where my career is heading or even whether I want a career at all, I take the whole thing much more in my stride. My current course is based around investments. A more logical choice would have been to sit the life insurance paper, but I chose investments instead mainly because I'd find the topic more interesting and of more use to me personally. The exam is on 4th May. I made a very slow start to my studies (when you're struggling to negotiate the supermarket, making any headway with Black-Scholes equations becomes impossible) though I've done a bit better of late.

Training as an actuary, it's possible to progress, financially at least, just by passing exams. Even though the exams are hard, they're a hell of a lot easier to get my head around than corporate politics. In fact the corporate world in general leaves me cold. I've got no intention of ever managing people. I find it hard enough to manage myself.

Yesterday I had tennis again. My two-year winning streak with Bazza came to an abrupt end. We were taken apart 6-2 6-2. They were simply too good for us. My mixed match was much closer, frustratingly so. I didn't hold out much hope to begin with because both my partner and I had been outplayed in our previous respective matches, but we started off well, leading 6-3 2-1, only to lose five of the next six games. In the third set we led 3-1 but again lost five games out of six and that was that. Though my unforced error rate was low, all the oomph had gone out of my shots. I used to be able to force the issue, hit harder, deeper, but all the confidence has somehow gone from my game. Overall the team lost 5-3 (we were only two points away from an overall win) though we still lead the competition.

I was very sluggish today and not feeling at my best. The swim I had this evening certainly helped matters, though as I lay in what was left of the sun, trying to dry off, I was trampled on by a dog. His name: Bazza.

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