• Name: Jennifer Claybourn
  • Job Title: Actuarial Analyst
  • Location: Edinburgh
Jennifer Claybourn

Why did you choose a job in this profession?

I always enjoyed maths at school but more importantly, I like to be challenged. Because of this, my dad suggested the actuarial profession, something I had never heard of before, but after researching I was amazed not only at how maths-based the day-to-day work was but how varied the work could be. This is because of the different sectors you could work in e.g. data, pricing, and reporting. The profession ticked everything I wanted from a career with the added benefit of being globally prestigious meaning it could take me anywhere.

University wasn’t for me, but this didn’t act as a barrier to entering the profession. When I joined APR, the CAA Global qualification (Certified Actuarial Analyst) was available, which provided a great alternative to the university route allowing you to get a taste of the profession (and a route to full qualification if this is something you wanted to pursue) and apply your knowledge in your day-to-day work. APR now offers the Junior Analyst Scheme, which is much the same as the CAA qualification with the added benefit of gaining a deeper insight into programming, something which is invaluable in the actuarial profession.

What attracted you to your role?

When I was searching around for actuarial apprenticeships offering the CAA qualification there was only a handful out there, but APR stood out.

Firstly, their website was informative and helpful with it clearly stating my roles and responsibilities, career projection, study structure and the staff profiles gave great insight into what it’s like being an analyst at APR. When you join you will receive 6 weeks of training to bring you up to speed with the inner workings of the industry. You are not expected to know everything and start working, which helped me with the transition from school to work. There are study coordinators who help with all your study needs and in general everyone at APR is friendly and more than happy to offer their knowledge which is why the Lunch and Learns are popular.

Being a consultancy firm, you will spend time working with various insurers on an assortment of projects. My first project was modelling support, where you determine changes that need to be made to the insurer’s models (mainly built in Excel), feeding in new inputs and analysing the outputs to determine the financial impact on the insurer. Currently, I am a code migrator, which involves migrating an insurer’s code from one program to another whilst trying to speed up their processes along the way. This work has at times been complex and not something I thought I would be involved in so early in my career. I have gained great insight across the industry and departments within insurance firms so the knowledge and experience you can gain at APR is second to none.

Lastly, APR pride themselves in doing what is right. This is seen with the countless charity initiatives at APR such as the annual Charity Day, the Give as You Earn scheme or the sponsorship activities. Extensive work has also been carried out regarding sustainability, tackling climate change, wellbeing and Diversity & Inclusion. APR is much more than just an actuarial consultancy firm, you can get involved in much more than standard actuarial work which is exciting and makes you a more well-rounded individual, allowing you to be the best professional.

What skills are useful in this profession?

The work actuaries can get involved in is so diverse, hence there are a variety of transferable skills which are great for an actuarial career, but the main skills are as follows:
Willingness to learn.

Firstly, many actuarial programs are created using code to make processes more streamlined and quicker. If like me, you didn’t gain any coding experience at school, don’t worry APR offer extensive training in a variety of coding languages and once you’ve learnt a few it’s relatively easy to apply the same principles to other programs. I’m enjoying my current code migration project despite struggling to get to grips with coding when I first joined APR, you just need a willingness to learn, and you’ll be fine. Also, the actuarial profession is very technical, and it can seem daunting at first, but it is important to accept you won’t know everything and people don’t expect you to, but a willingness to try and understand is greatly appreciated and will lead to a fulfilling career.

Good communication

Being an actuary can be complex at times meaning you need to keep others informed on how your work will impact them. This could be communicating a model change or presenting financial implications to a chief actuary and senior stakeholders in a business. Both are equally as important so you must make sure you can clearly explain your work and findings in both written and verbal form whilst thinking about your audience and how complex your explanation should be.

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