• Name: Helen Skinner
  • Job Title: Actuarial Trainee
  • Location: London
  • University: Bristol
  • Degree: BSc Chemistry
  • Fields of Work: Consultancy

I decided to apply for an internship as an actuary after visiting a careers fair and enjoying talking to the representative from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. I wanted a career that involved thinking, but also wanted to keep a work/life balance so read as much as I could about the work environment of the companies I was researching. Punter Southall stood out as a place that cared about their employees’ well-being, a fact that was confirmed during my internship, where I was struck by how relaxed and friendly everyone was even when deadlines were approaching. When I was offered a graduate position at the end of the summer, I immediately accepted.

Soon after starting, I was given responsibility for several business tasks. The business work varies between calculations and reports for clients, and several non-client tasks which keep the business running day to day. If I find anything difficult, my colleagues are always willing to take the time to help me understand what needs to be done.

My work is a mixture of tasks for which I am wholly responsible and those where I play a smaller part on large projects. I run simulations on our valuation system, prepare the first drafts of reports and check the work of junior colleagues, as well as liaise with people from other offices and companies.

The people in the actuarial teams don’t all do exactly the same role as we are encouraged to play to our strengths. Some people are focused more on our systems, while others target more inter-personal roles, such as presentations or meeting with clients. After two and a half years of working in the main Punter Southall business from the Wokingham office, I had the opportunity to move to Punter Southall Transaction Services (PSTS), based in London. PSTS also provide actuarial services but with a focus on corporate clients, and I am enjoying the new challenges this change has given me.

Part of being an actuary is passing exams, which is important for career progression. Punter Southall puts a lot of effort into supporting their actuarial students. They pay for the study materials and give everyone a bank of study days to make sure there is plenty of time to get to grips with it all. There is usually at least one other person in the office who is working on the same exam at any time, so people help each other out if they are stuck. In addition, the company pairs every new person with a study mentor who has already passed the exams and is there to help them choose their route through the exams and answer any questions. All of this support has helped me to pass all the exams I have taken so far.

I have enjoyed the challenging work I have been given during my three years working at Punter Southall, but the best thing about my job is the friends I have made.

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