• Name: Nickola Ivanov
  • Job Title: Senior Actuarial Associate
  • Location: Potters Bar
  • University: Kent at Canterbury
  • Degree: BSc Financial Economics with Econometrics
  • Fields of Work: Consultancy

Why did you choose the actuarial profession?

I’ve always had an affinity for maths, so after I graduated from university I knew I wanted a job where I could apply my numerical skills to complex real world issues.

What makes being an Actuarial Assistant at Canada Life different?

An important aspect of being an Actuarial student at Canada Life is the rotation scheme. The scheme allows students to move to a different team or department at regular intervals of usually around 18 months. This is a great way to experience a broad line of work and be a part of different teams. I feel like the scheme helps students develop by taking them out of their comfort zone. Moving to a brand new role after becoming confidently familiar with the previous one keeps you learning and teaches you to adapt to new environments. In my case, I’ve moved from Annuity Valuation, to With-profits and Individual Health and then to the Asset Liability Management team which allowed me to gain experience in a variety of products as well to see how the company works on both sides of the balance sheet.

What are the biggest challenges you faced as an Actuarial student?

The actuarial exams are one of the biggest challenges. Preparing for them requires careful planning and the willingness to start studying well ahead of the exam. The amount of material to cover may be extensive, especially if taking more exams in one sitting. This means cramming the study in the last two weeks is often an unsuccessful strategy, especially when it needs to be balanced with a full time job. However, the company provides an excellent study package and study support which helps achieve a better work-life balance and there are always other students around who are happy to help with breaking down difficult topics. In the end, the hard works pays off not only financially but also with expanded knowledge and skills which help with the job by providing better understanding and the ability to take on more responsibilities.

What tips would you offer to  prospective candidates?

  • Do not get discouraged if you do not come from a highly numerical degree. Look for ways to show employers that you have an interest in math: take on any numerical modules if you still can, be well prepared for numerical tests or you could even do the first actuarial exam on your own.
  • Research the industry well, especially how insurance providers operate and the hot topics. Also know the specifics about the company you are applying to so you can tailor your application. There is plenty of information on the internet and the research will help you stand out in the interview.
  • Make sure you know about the exams. Qualifying as an actuary is a long and difficult process and employers will look for evidence that you know what you are up against and that you have the motivation to see it through to the end.
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