• Name: Chris Ward
  • Job Title: Trainee Consultant - Investment Consulting
  • Location: Cheltenham
  • University: Queen’s Belfast
  • Degree: Actuarial Science and Risk Management
  • Fields of Work: Investment

Why did you join Barnett Waddingham?

Following completion of my Actuarial Science degree, I was most interested in joining a company which provides consultancy services to clients. Whilst I enjoyed the technical problem-solving side of the work at University, I wanted a job which ultimately involved a blend of these “harder” skills with face to face client interaction.

Barnett Waddingham offered this mix in the form of actuarial and investment consulting. Additionally, it was an exciting prospect to join an independent, growing firm which offers excellent opportunities for new graduates.

What are your main duties at the moment?

During my first 18 months at Barnett Waddingham, I have worked with several different teams across the business.

Spending time within both the actuarial and investment consulting teams, I have carried out a range of data analysis and report drafting tasks. I have been involved primarily with client based work which has allowed me to rapidly develop both my technical and communication based skills. I had the opportunity to attend a Trustee meeting whilst working with the investment consulting team. This early exposure provided an invaluable insight into what a consultant’s job entails. Learning mostly takes place on the job, but new graduates are given both general and specific training which helps to provide an introduction to pensions and actuarial concepts.

Whilst the majority of my time has been spent attached to the actuarial teams, I have also completed short secondments to other non-actuarial departments. These placements offered me an insight into the work of the broader business.

What was the recruitment process like?

Following the initial application I was invited to take part in a short telephone interview which involved answering a handful of competency based questions. The next stage was an assessment day at the office to which I was applying. Here, other applicants and I completed several exercises; an interview (including case study), a group discussion, a presentation and numerical/verbal reasoning tests.

During the interview, I was quickly put at ease by the friendly, informal nature of the interviewers. The case study, which is discussed during the interview, is provided in advance which offers you time to research the topic. The presentation, also pre-prepared, is on a topic of your own choosing and aims to assess your ability to explain a complex idea, with which you are comfortable, to a less informed audience. The group discussion is provided on the day and assesses your ability to analyse some basic data, form an opinion and subsequently communicate that opinion effectively.

The recruitment process at Barnett Waddingham was rigorous but well thought out and relevant to the role.

How do you combine working with the actuarial exams?

This is certainly one of the biggest challenges of the early actuarial career. The transition from studying full time at University to managing a busy workload alongside further examinations can be a bit of a shock. Achieving the correct balance takes some practice and lots of motivation!

Like most things it comes down to being organised and Barnett Waddingham provide actuarial students with a generous study package which really gives you the tools to give each exam sitting your best shot. Study mentoring helps guide you through the pitfalls and to find a pathway to qualification at a pace best suited to you. Actuarial students at Barnett Waddingham are given a bank of study leave which helps to reduce the number of hours of your own free time lost to exam preparation.

What do you enjoy about working at Barnett Waddingham the most?

The culture and people. The working environment at Barnett Waddingham is friendly and inclusive. There are a range of organised social events which caters to all types of interests and promotes team building outside of the usual workplace environment.

I feel that management genuinely care about your wellbeing and development. Junior members of the team are frequently asked to provide feedback on a range of topics and often changes are implemented soon after. Regular mentoring and development meetings allow you to steer your career in the direction which interests you most.

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