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Morning Coffee: The easy-access, highly safe, fairly lucrative, very boring finance job. UBS's complicated invention

Forget front office jobs in investment banks.  Not only do you have next to no chance of getting one, but its attainment may require spending huge amounts of money on a qualification like an MBA or Masters in Finance, and once you're in your front office seat you'll be forever looking over your shoulder in fear of the next round of cuts.

Instead, when it comes to the almost-perfect job in finance, Bloomberg thinks it has the answer. It's comparatively easy to get into, pays comparatively well, doesn't require expensive qualifications from business schools, and comes with next to no chance of losing your job. It is....being an actuary. The only trouble is that it's a bit dull.

'Actuarial science majors earn an average annual salary of $108,658 and have a better-than-average unemployment rate at 2.3%," says Bloomberg, citing a research report from Bankrate compared 162 degrees and also found that only 22% of actuarial science graduates had a supplementary masters or doctors degree.

Actuarial academics are all for it. “I like to say, ‘Being an actuary is the best job in America because you get paid like doctors and lawyers, but you don’t have to work with blood or visit your clients in jail,’” says Krzysztof Ostaszewski, director of the actuarial program at Illinois State University in the report. “Actuarial science is great for people who are strong in math or computers — anything analytical — that want to apply it in a business setting,” says Sue Vagts, director of the Actuarial Science Program at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

We've looked at actuarial careers before. Aside from the money, the low unemployment rate and the absence of expensive further education, being an actuary means you can generally go home before 6pm. The downside is that you'll have to study for industry exams whilst working and that these can take years to pass and require a lot of additional work. Pass rates can be as low as 60% and it's not uncommon for people to drop out. While you're studying and working, you'll only be paid around £35k in the UK, which isn't great.

Then there's the job itself. The forum Actuarial Outpost is full of complaints about tedium and repetition. "All our jobs are extremely boring at many times throughout the day/week/year," says one person posting there.  "We're actuaries. But pay can be excellent and you can find things that appeal to you and give you things to look forward to."

If you don't want to live for the weekend, there are alternatives. found that people who study zoology (which sound far more interesting) have an average salary of $112k and an unemployment rate of 1.4%, that people who study nuclear engineering have an average salary of $109k and an unemployment rate of 1.9%, that people who study health and medical 'preparatory programs' have an average salary of $130k and an unemployment rate of 2.3% and that people who studied applied mathematics have an average salary of $106k and an unemployment rate of 2%... All of these careers likely require additional expensive qualifications upfront, however. Alternatively if you care not for money, you can study miscellaneous fine arts, earn $40k and accept an unemployment rate of nearly 10%.

Separately, UBS has invented the sort of thing that could make researchers redundant and has given it a strange name.

"Transcriptlytics" from UBS's Evidence Lab sounds like a piece of natural language processing technology which has enabled the bank to analyze 450 million words of text from earnings calls with a view to understanding which companies are worried about President Trump's trade war. It turns out that the most worried companies are in the automotive sector. Who knew?


These are the New York tech companies selected by Barclays' accelerator. (CrowdfundInsider) 

Thanks to MiFID II there are now 50% fewer analysts attending small companies' investor meetings. (Bloomberg) 

Hedge funds have under-performed U.S. stuck markets for 10 years running. (Wall Street Journal) 

Citi was a bit late merging its advisory and capital markets businesses. Two senior investment bankers told the FT that “personalities” had made it difficult for Citi to merge the divisions sooner. (Financial Times) 

Higher funding costs could cost Deutsche Bank €200m a year. (Financial Times)

Former Bloomberg employee who says she was raped by a manager has had Mike Bloomberg reinstated as a defendant in her civil case on the grounds that he was partly responsible for a 'toxic culture' that led to her assault. (NY Post) 

Ex-Goldman Sachs VP set up a crazy golf business in Glasgow. (Herald Scotland) 

Compost toilets coming soon to a bank near you. (Financial News) 

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AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor

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