Many people look at me puzzled when they find out I chose to study Actuarial Science at university at the age of 17. How can anyone decide that they want to be an actuary at that age? I agree, but the role of an actuary is now so varied, and increasingly changing, that the skills set you develop from studying for the professional exams is extremely valuable and doesn’t limit you to any single career path.
If you have a mathematical mind, enjoy solving complex financial problems and are able to communicate solutions to these problems effectively then working as an actuarial consultant could be for you.
Why I wanted to become a Trainee Investment Consultant
I thoroughly enjoyed the mathematical and technical aspects of my degree but something that I enjoyed even more was working closely with people. An important aspect of being a successful consultant is the ability to work within a team, and having the ability to communicate complex problems to clients in way that they will understand.
Hymans Robertson offers trainee consultant opportunities in the Actuarial & Benefits, Investment and Risk Modelling Consultancy practices. I’ve always had an interest in financial markets and as such was passionate about joining the firm’s Investment practice. I would stress, however, that the nature of our work means that graduates often get exposure to all of these areas. As the profession continues to diversify, and the range of opportunities within the profession grows, this is likely to be a theme that continues.
A key part of my role as a trainee consultant is to support our investment consultants in all areas of their role. As you would expect, a lot of my work involves calculations and spreadsheets, but equally as important is the ability to draft reports and provide appropriate advice via email and phone to our clients. This involves advising clients on matters such as the appropriate structure of their investment portfolio, considering the full range of asset classes and the impact of financial markets. Within the investment practice we are also given the opportunity to research investment managers and how the wider capital markets are performing.
Since joining I have also been involved in the transition of assets between both investment managers and asset classes, and have recently been involved in the implementation of a large buy-in with one of our clients.
The most enjoyable aspects
The people! The profession is full of great people, all of whom go out of their way to help you and your career. Regular social and educational events also make for an excellent way to meet members of the profession out with the company you work for.
I have been fortunate to work alongside several senior members of the firm who are always extremely supportive and friendly. Working in such an engaging environment makes every day extremely enjoyable, as well as allowing you to actively learn new things ‘on-the-job’. We are given the opportunity to drive our own careers here and encouraged to work within many different areas of the business. At times the job and studying can be challenging, but it’s never boring. I’m constantly learning (and improving!) and this makes the job particularly rewarding!
The not so good…
Exams are never fun. But trying to juggle work commitments, a social life and the challenging exams can be particularly challenging. You need to have good self-discipline and the ability to say no to certain things as exams draw closer. To become a qualified actuary you have to pass 15 professional exams, so the journey to becoming an actuary is far from an easy one – but it’s definitely worth it in the end.
Thankfully, the firm provides an excellent study support package which includes one day off a week, all the relevant study material and a study mentor to help guide you through the process. Many other people here have taken the exams so it’s always nice to speak to them and find out the tips (and pitfalls!) of sitting the exams. Working alongside studying can be rewarding in itself, as you can see the concepts and theories you’re learning from the textbooks being applied in real life situations.
Advice for others
I would say get involved in as many things as possible at university. Employers don’t only look for good grades; they also want to see evidence of team work, motivation and communication skills. An important element of being an actuarial student is managing your time between studying, work and socialising so you need to be able to demonstrate that you can be disciplined and organised.
Finally, in order to be successful both with exams and at work, you will need to be passionate about the industry and, most importantly, enjoy your career!