My undergraduate studies were driven by curiosity towards data sciences from statistics and mathematics to computing science and economics. I originally considered undertaking postgraduate study after my degree, but when I learned about the actuarial profession, I decided instead to pursue an actuarial career which combines further study with some genuinely interesting work.
Choosing XPS Pensions
During my studies I ran an IT start-up and at the time I was quite excited about the energy and entrepreneurial culture around start-ups, and this was something I also looked for when considering prospective graduate employers.
I came across XPS Pensions Group (formerly Xafinity Consulting) via Inside Careers, and ultimately I really enjoyed their assessment centre and liked the people I met there. The assessment centre was very hands-on and it involved entertaining exercises and games that made me at times completely forget that I was being assessed. I left the centre thinking that an employer that goes to such lengths for making its prospective employees feel at home can actually be quite fun to work for.
XPS Pensions Group specialises in pensions consulting. Most of our clients are defined benefit pension schemes, which guarantee their members a predetermined level of benefits upon retirement.
One great thing about working at XPS Pensions Group is that every week is different. There are long term projects, such as triennial actuarial valuations or benefit conversion exercises aimed at reducing a pension schemes’s liabilities, which can continue for months or sometimes even over a year. This type of work gives you a sense of achievement, and teaches you a lot about the individual clients and project management. Then there is more short term work, such as valuing the benefits of an individual pension scheme member or responding to a member’s benefit query, which give a nice break from project work.
XPS Pensions Group offers a quick career progression and the work becomes even more varied with higher levels of experience. Whilst everyone starts off on benefit calculations, with experience the work begins to involve more project planning and reviewing completed work, and experienced actuaries focus more on advising their clients and keeping them up-to-date with changes in their pension scheme and in the wider industry.
Professional development at XPS Pensions Group
Learning the tricks of the trade comes with time and a lot of practice. Since a lot of the work is tailored to individual clients, there is a lot of one-to-one training within the client teams. XPS Pensions Group also arranges monthly training sessions to share best practice or to cover more technical topics. The sessions also serve to help keep up with developments in the industry.
When I started at XPS Pensions Group I was encouraged to ask all the questions I could come up with and assigned a ‘buddy’ who was there to help me with all aspects of settling in to the new office
Every project assigned to me would involve a more senior colleague who had worked on the client for some time. They would give me an introduction to what the project was about and walk me through what needed to be done.
XPS Pensions Group offers a comprehensive study package with days off for study and tutorials, and a personal study mentor who has recently qualified and can provide you with insight into studying for the actuarial exams.
Life at XPS Pensions Group
XPS Pensions Group is a mix of great people and personalities. Over the years new joiners to the actuarial team have included former actors, athletes, a brewery owner, and even an ex-pilot. The office culture is relaxed and everyone in the office are keen to help with any concerns from work to exams. We often celebrate the weekend by heading out for a drink with the team after work. There are also monthly social events ranging from pool nights to pub quizzes and from foot golf to barbecues.
Joining XPS Pensions Group has been one of the best decisions I have made and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone who values an inclusive work environment.