Case study

Actuarial analyst — Darren

Darren completed relevant postgraduate study and an internship to ensure success when looking for actuarial jobs

How did you get your job as an actuarial analyst?

During my postgraduate degree I decided I wanted to go into actuarial work so applied to many financial graduate schemes, including some actuarial ones.

For my current job, with a large insurance company, I had to complete an online application form, online tests and a telephone interview, as well as attend an assessment centre.

To prepare me for this, I used my university careers service and attended a session on how to complete a strong application. I also underwent a mock interview with a careers adviser, which was very useful.

My initial position within the company was as an actuarial analyst intern but within five months I was offered a permanent role on the graduate scheme. This came with a generous study package.

What's a typical day like?

A typical day involves running processes to monitor the effectiveness of the business' derivative hedges and how these are impacting on our solvency position. I am also heavily involved with embedding the new Solvency II monitoring processes into our 'business as usual' general insurance work.

Studying also takes up a large chunk of my time for which I am given roughly one day per week away from work. However, to ensure I pass the exams, I also use some of my free time to study.

What do you enjoy about your job?

The great thing about actuarial work is using theories that you have learned at university and applying them to help solve real-life problems.

I really enjoy the emphasis on continuous learning within my current company. There are regular lunch and learn sessions that update us on new aspects or movements within the industry.

What are the challenges?

The most challenging aspect of my job is the amount of financial jargon and acronyms. It does become easier, but trying to keep on top of all them can be a struggle.

Asking about them as they arise can help you to remember them better.

How relevant is your degree in mathematics?

Through my Masters I learned a lot about financial markets and derivative markets and pricing. In the investments function, where I am currently working I find this knowledge useful every day.

My undergraduate degree covered many topics - some more relevant to my job than others. However, most importantly, it gave me a strong foundation to build upon when working towards completing my actuarial exams.

What are your career ambitions?

My short-term career ambitions are to qualify within four years, while gaining a wealth of actuarial work experience.

My current area of work - asset liability management - is proving very interesting and I would like to eventually develop a career within this field.

What advice can you give to others?

From my experience, actuarial graduate schemes are fiercely competitive. My top tip would be to ensure that you take time to ensure your CV is targeted to the specific role you are applying for. A generic CV might be easier but it won't do you any favours.

Personally, I never gained any financial or actuarial work experience before applying, but I would say this makes job hunting a great deal easier.

My prior work experience was varied from teaching English in France to spending five summers working at camps in America. Relevant work experience is important but showing interests in other areas is also helpful.

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