Victoria Snowden, a Partner and Consulting Actuary at LCP joined the firm as a graduate and worked her way up to Partner. Find out more about her role and her advice for those looking to become an actuary..
I joined LCP in 2008 after graduating with a degree in Maths from Warwick University, having worked a summer at LCP as an intern at the end of my second year. I qualified as an actuary five years after joining LCP, and was promoted to partner four years after that.
My role is as a consulting pensions actuary. This involves advising companies who support defined benefit pension schemes and trustees who manage pension schemes to help them manage the risks involved and ensure that members’ pensions are paid.
Why did you choose a career in the industry?
The first I heard of a pensions actuary was from a family member, who suggested it to me as a professional maths-based job. I didn’t know much about it at all so I went along to an LCP presentation at my university where I met some actuaries and heard about what the job involved and the exams I would need to take. I was interested enough to try out a summer placement at LCP, where I was able to really get a feel for what the job actually entailed and found it challenging and stimulating enough to plan for a career in pensions!
What is a ‘typical’ day like for you?
- I split my time broadly equally between three areas of my role:
advising pension scheme trustees on how to manage the risks and options in their pension schemes to ensure that all members’ benefits are paid;
- advising companies on how to account for and man age the costs of providing these defined benefit
- as a team leader, helping my team plan and manage their workloads and ensuring that new work coming in to the firm is allocated to the right team.
Some areas of my work are required by legislation and the process that needs to be followed is relatively prescribed, although it often involves reviewing some complex calculations. Other pieces of work involve more tailored advice and calculations, which involves finding out the client’s objectives and coming up with a strategy for making it happen.
As our advice can often be on quite complex topics, a big part of my role is putting the results into a piece of advice that can be
understood and acted upon. When I meet clients I often travel from Winchester to London, or other parts of the country, and really enjoy being able to visit London regularly.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The part of my job that I most enjoy is meeting with clients to discuss their challenges and objectives and helping explain what actions they can take to manage their pensions risks. I recently attended my first trustee meeting as the LCP partner giving advice, which was a great feeling.
When I first joined LCP I never expected to become a partner so soon into my career, but the opportunities I have been given and the range of work and clients I have advised on meant that I was able to build up experience and confidence quickly.
What are the current challenges the industry faces?
When I joined LCP in 2008 it was the start of the financial crisis, which was an interesting time to be in the finance industry! Since then, with the introduction of auto-enrolment, and increased media coverage of defined benefit pension schemes, pensions have definitely become more of a mainstream topic. At the same time, the legal framework for pensions has grown more complex over recent years, which provides our clients with a challenge to understand it all!
However, the biggest challenge the industry as a whole faces is increasing employees’ understanding about longer-term savings, and encouraging them to save and plan for the future. Auto-enrolment has started this conversation, but there is still a long way to go.
Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
Research the different areas an actuary can work in – not just pensions, but insurance and investment too. Also think about whether you would prefer a consulting actuary role (where you get the diversity of dealing with a number of clients and helping them understand and solve their problems) or a technical actuary role (where you can focus more on the calculation aspects of actuarial advice).
Take a look at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) website – it has some really useful information about the actuarial exam process and what the IFoA is currently doing to develop actuarial careers beyond the traditional areas.
I would also recommend signing up for pensions news bulletins from various consultancy and industry websites – you will get a feel for what is going on in the wider pensions industry.