• Name: Joe Cooke
  • Job Title: Actuarial Graduate
  • Location: London
  • University: Leeds
  • Degree: BSc Economics
  • Fields of Work: Risk Management

What are your main duties/ roles?

The graduate scheme is rotational and designed to give you experience working in a variety of actuarial roles, each being very different to the last.

I started off in Group Capital Management, learning the importance of using capital models to inform decisions and help meet regulatory requirements. This gave me a well-rounded view of the Hiscox Group which proved invaluable in helping my own understanding of the wider picture.

I have recently joined the London Market Pricing team. The tasks I have since been involved with vary massively to what I had been doing previously. My focus has been in Alternative Risk, where I have been learning about the reporting system that helps to inform the decisions of underwriters.

For me, the main benefit of being on a rotational programme is the variety that comes with it. Firstly, by the end of the scheme I will have had practical experience in multiple departments, putting me in a fortunate position to decide how best to proceed in my career. Secondly, I have been able to get to know people from all across Hiscox. Not only has this been enjoyable, but there is so much to be gained through working alongside people from different backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Why did you choose to a job in this sector?

I felt that the insurance industry had the most to offer in terms of actuarial roles. Not only are there a lot of different of opportunities, but they are all wildly unique relative to one another. As someone who was unsure as to what specific role best suited me, insurance seemed like the perfect place to start.

This idea was quickly reinforced within my first few weeks at Hiscox. I spoke with many actuaries who worked across many different teams. The differences between their roles proved just how versatile the role of an actuary within the insurance industry can be.

What was the application process like?

 It begins with an online application along with a CV submission. The online application consists of a series of questions, giving the candidate an opportunity to showcase their written communication skills, experiences and interest (both in the role and in Hiscox). I would advise candidates to tailor their CV and application heavily towards both Hiscox and the role. Hiscox has some core values, which can be found online. Think about how these values align with your own and try to weave them into your answers.

Following from this, the candidate will be tasked with completing a couple of online tests. For these tests, try to stay focused throughout. You may be tempted to give up if parts of the tests are challenging, however it is important to persevere through to the end.

The next stage is a competency-based interview conducted over Skype. I would recommend trying to draw from experiences from outside of your studies, whether it be a sporting commitment, part-time job, internship etc. These will help to set you apart from other candidates.

The process concludes with a two-part final stage interview. A key thing to consider at this stage is that the people interviewing you are people who you will work closely with if you are successful. You also get an informal 30 minute session with current graduates to ask lots of questions and find out about the scheme, work and Hiscox.

What skills are useful in this sector/ profession?

Actuarial work requires a logical and numerical skillset. In general, the role of an actuary is to quantify risk and this is performed using a variety of statistical and mathematical techniques. This is something that all candidates should be prepared for.

Strong communication skills are also very useful. After completing an actuarial analysis, the results must then be communicated to a variety of stakeholders. Having the ability to tailor the style of presentation to different audiences is key to success.

It is also important to have an open mindset. You’ll quickly be faced with a range of new challenges that may not compare to anything that you have tried before. This can appear daunting at times but being enthusiastic alongside maintaining a strong support network will help you to make the most of the opportunity. There is a great deal of satisfaction that comes from understanding technical concepts and delivering work effectively.

Is it a 9-5 job?

 In London, contracted hours are 9.30 to 17.30, and during quieter periods there will be no need or expectation to work beyond this. However, during busier periods you will naturally find yourself working longer hours, as is often the case with most jobs. There is then the topic of exams. Graduates on the actuarial programme will be supported throughout the actuarial exams, both financially and with study leave. However, you will be required to spend time preparing for these outside of the working hours (including on weekends). Note that there are only two sittings a year, so this will not always be a factor. Overall, I would say that the work-life balance is very good.

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