I can’t honestly say that I wanted to be an actuary ever since I was a child. In fact for a long time, I didn’t really know what an actuary actually did. However, studying for a degree in physics, I quickly realised that I wanted a job that would allow me to use the numerical and analytical skills I was developing and apply them to real life business situations. It was only after completing an internship in the pensions team at PwC that I realised this was a career I wanted to pursue. After graduating, I joined PwC on a full-time basis.
What do PwC do?
The Actuarial practice at PwC is split between two key areas – Human Resource Consulting (HRC) and Actuarial & Insurance Management Solutions (AIMS). Within HRC, the primary focus is on providing corporate advice to companies with occupational pension schemes on a range of issues, such as:
- Funding of schemes.
- Strategies for managing pension scheme liabilities in various ways, including member incentive exercises.
- Managing pension scheme and investment risks, including transactions which aim to reduce or transfer risks.
- Pensions aspects of mergers and acquisitions
- Accounting disclosures for pensions schemes and stock option disclosures.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Working in a consultancy means that you get to work on a large variety of projects, making the work both interesting and challenging. No two clients are the same which requires us to come up with new and innovative solutions to the multitude of problems they’re looking to solve. It’s also really satisfying to work with a range of clients both big and small, including some highly prestigious companies which are household names.
The most enjoyable aspect of my work though would have to be the team I work with. Not only is the atmosphere fun and supportive, I get to work with some highly talented individuals who are keen to pass on their knowledge and experience.
What challenges have you come across and how did you overcome these?
By far the most challenging aspect is working full-time whilst studying for a tough qualification. It does take a lot of time management and discipline, but it doesn’t get in the way of a normal work/life balance.
The support, both financial and in terms of time off to study, is second to none at PwC. Not only that, there’s a strong focus on ensuring we develop our careers as well as passing our exams. The team take a keen interest in making sure we’re able to manage our workloads – particularly during the busy exam seasons.
What would you like to achieve?
My immediate goal is to pass my exams and become a fully qualified actuary. I would like to continue gaining a range of experiences and one day bring in new clients of my own. I also hope to be able to travel and work in different PwC locations to get a flavour of working internationally.
What ‘soft skills’ have you found useful?
Despite actuaries having a reputation for being back-room number crunchers lacking social skills, the truth is quite the opposite. Apart from being actuaries, we’re also consultants and as result communication and team work are at the heart of what we do. From trying to win new clients, to working with other lines of service, to presenting our results in a way that’s easy to understand for clients – we’re always required to be able to communicate effectively. In fact there’s even a whole course and exam on communication. We also need to be able to manage our time, be flexible and work well under pressure.