“I’m excited about the broadening scope of areas where actuarial skills are being applied. I think that data science is going to be a great opportunity for actuaries, and we can promote an ethical and professional approach in this rapidly evolving discipline.” – Chris Cowen, Head of Actuarial Services at Capita talks us through his career so far and explains the different areas where actuaries can apply their skills.
I am a Senior Actuarial Manager at Capita where I’m responsible for around half of our team, focussed mainly on supporting our life and pensions clients with interim project and delivery support. I’ve held a few different roles at Capita covering BAU service delivery, transformation and project work, as well as leading on our team’s growth strategy. Prior to Capita I spent four years at Towers Watson as a pensions consultant.
Why did you choose a career in the industry?
I studied Maths at university but chose this as a subject I enjoyed and that would open up opportunities, rather than with a particular career in mind.
I hadn’t heard of the actuarial industry until I started to research careers, but it stood out as a great option once I discovered it.
A career as an actuary would allow me to apply my mathematical skills in a business environment, with reasonable work-life balance, and decent pay!
What is a ‘typical’ day like for you?
My current role is focussed on the leadership of our team and the growth of our business. This means it’s naturally varied and that’s an aspect that I really enjoy. Some of the things I might be looking at on a particular day are:
Liaising with clients about the work we’re delivering for them and any further support they might need.
Considering new propositions that we could offer to clients. Our purpose as Capita is to create better outcomes, so I think about how we can do this for the actuarial teams that we work with across the Life and Pensions industry.
Catching up with my team to hear how deliveries are progressing and to provide any direction or support as needed.
Implementing ways in which we can support the development of those in our teams. This includes knowledge sharing sessions and through involving people in the management of our team.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I’m not in a technical actuarial role at the moment, but I still feel that my actuarial experience is really helpful. The experience and skills built up through studying and working as an actuary give a solid foundation on which lots of other skills can be developed – and it’s this that I enjoy.
What would you like to achieve in the future?
I’m excited about the broadening scope of areas where actuarial skills are being applied. I think that data science is going to be a great opportunity for actuaries, and we can promote an ethical and professional approach in this rapidly evolving discipline. As well as considering the use of data
within our traditional areas of insurance and pensions, I think this might also open up roles for actuaries across wider industries.
Personally, I don’t have a specific plan of what I’d like to achieve in the future. I’m always looking for opportunities to learn and to apply my actuarial skills and experience. Working for a company like Capita, which delivers a huge range of activities across multiple sectors, gives me plenty of options!
What are the current challenges the industry faces?
As we look at opportunities for actuaries in wider fields, we also need to consider what we bring as a profession that others don’t. It’s important that our training remains relevant and that our high professional standards translate into tangible benefits for our end customers.
I’m interested to see how some specific developments will impact actuaries:
- What impact will autonomous technology and electric vehicles have on car insurance?
- How might the Internet of Things and connected homes change risks around home insurance?
- As we move towards more individualised risks and treatments, how does the pooling of risk for life and health insurance change?
Through technological advances and changes to industry and society, some actuarial roles may disappear, and some
will almost certainly change, but I think there’s always going to be a need for
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Gaining some industry experience is really helpful, even if it’s not in an actuarial team, as it gives you a wider understanding that you can then bring to the team you join.