Scott Ferris, Head of Actuarial Services at Capita Life & Pensions tells us more about his role and gives advice on how to pursue an actuarial career…
‘People are encouraged to challenge the status quo from day one and, as a result, the culture is geared towards continuous improvement from top to bottom and there is rarely a sense of standing still.’
Since graduating in 1999 Scott Ferris has worked in a number of actuarial teams, working his way up to a senior level at Capita Life & Pensions. He explains what he thinks the industry can offers its employees both now and in the future.
I have worked at Capita for the majority of my career and I’m currently Head of Actuarial Services in Capita’s Life Actuarial Solutions team. When I joined Capita in 2002 the Actuarial team comprised eight people; today we’re well over 100 strong and growing all the time. During my time at Capita, I have held a number of roles incorporating project delivery and providing actuarial support for a variety of clients.
I have been part of the Actuarial management team for over ten years, contributing to significant growth and change. Notably, in recent years, alongside our more traditional outsourcing services, a focus has been on providing resource solutions to new and existing clients. This has seen the team double in size in the last few years. As well as the delivery aspects, I enjoy client interaction and the commercial and strategic aspects of a management role in a rapidly growing and evolving team.
Why did you choose a career in the industry?
In truth I fell into it! My degree was in Natural Sciences and I was well into my final year at university without any real idea of what career to pursue when I graduated. My personal tutor mentioned the Actuarial profession and that was the first time I had heard of it. I did some research and it sounded like a good way to use the mathematical and problem-solving aspects of my degree, alongside developing commercial and business expertise. I liked the idea of joining a profession where there was clearly a commitment to ensuring high standards.
A career in the Life Insurance sector appealed to me as a graduate as I liked the focus on the long-term. My move into the outsourcing sector has allowed me to combine the challenges of the life insurance sector with developing some of the client-focussed aspects of consultancy.
What is a typical day like for you?
As joint Head of Actuarial Services, my primary responsibility is the delivery of outsourced Actuarial services for three of our long-standing clients. This involves working day to day alongside Customer Services and IT teams within Capita, as well as working closely with the clients themselves. I manage teams looking after policy servicing, project work and financial reporting.
As part of the overall Actuarial management team, I manage client and stakeholder relationships, get involved in business development opportunities and contribute to the overall team strategy which determines our future direction.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
There are two main things for me: the variety of work and the people.
I thought my job was varied and interesting years ago, and it has only become more so in recent times as Capita Actuarial Solutions have extended the range of services offered. People management, project oversight and service delivery all remain parts of my day-to-day work, but they are now supplemented by proposition development to support new business and strategic challenges around recruiting, on-boarding and developing large numbers of new staff.
I am lucky to work with a very capable group of people who also know how to have fun in amongst all the hard work. They work closely together to overcome problems that arise, so there is a strong focus on teamwork and inclusivity. People are encouraged to challenge the status quo from day one and, as a result, the culture is geared towards continuous improvement from top to bottom and there is rarely a sense of standing still.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
The key thing for me is to do your research. Understand the exams, the different sectors of actuarial work and what employers are looking for. Visit the profession’s website, speak to as many people as you can and best of all try to get some actuarial work experience. There is no better test of whether an actuarial career is for you than to try it first hand – and it looks good on your CV too.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I’ve never been someone who sets long term personal goals, but as a manager, I believe my key contribution is in the development of the people who work for me. If we continue to produce well-trained people who think for themselves and who always look to do things better than their predecessors, then I consider that success.