Case study

Actuarial analyst/pensions consultant — Paul

Paul enjoys the challenging and fast-paced nature of working as a pensions consultant within the actuarial field

Choosing a career as an actuary upon leaving university was an obvious choice for me. I enjoyed studying mathematics at degree level and wanted to join a profession that would challenge me whilst allowing me to use aspects of my degree in my day-to-day work.

The prospect of further study really appealed to me, and being able to do so as part of my career path with Aon UK Limited was an exciting opportunity. One of the key things that attracted me to them was their study support package and in particular the unique opportunity they offer to study for a Masters degree at Imperial University, which acts as an alternative route to qualifying as an actuary.

I started at Aon as an intern on the Aon Summer Internship Programme during the summer of my second year at university. It was a nine-week programme in the retirement practice and was a good way to experience the work firsthand. I got to experience all types of actuarial work and learnt a lot about the business. The internship was successful and this resulted in me securing a conditional job offer. I joined the business full time upon graduation.

Aon recruits the majority of their new graduates through this intern programme and the interview process for it is very competitive. My advice for securing an offer is to practise the necessary interview techniques. It's essential to thoroughly research the business and the role you are applying for, as well as developing your skills at numerical and reasoning tests.

On a normal working day I am in the office from around 8.30am until 5.30pm. My day is usually broken down into a series of different tasks, ranging from transfer value calculations or manipulating data for valuations to report editing or working on spreadsheet models for clients.

During your first year you are not assigned to any particular client teams so that you can be open to all types of actuarial work. This means that there's a lot to take in and it can be a very steep learning curve.

In your second year, typically, you'll be assigned to specific clients, and over the following years you will gravitate towards the kind of client work you enjoy best.

Outside of office hours I often have some studying to get done, especially in the run up to exams. Spare time can be a rare commodity in the last few months before an exam sitting, but the workload is certainly manageable if you plan your time well and do the study sooner rather than later.

My role in the office has changed over my first year and I'm now involved in a wider variety of work. Alongside my client work I've also picked up work as part of a development team that specialises in modelling longevity - essentially modelling how long people are going to live. There are lots of opportunities to get involved in the more technical aspects of the job, which can also help your development in a consulting role.

The first milestone as an actuary is to qualify, and the sooner you can do this the more opportunities will be opened up to you in your career. Once qualified I would like to continue working in pensions actuarial, but I'm also willing to try other actuarial disciplines. I would also like the opportunity to travel with my work, and as Aon has offices in over 120 countries, this could certainly be a possibility. Actuarial lecturing also appeals to me as an option later in my career.