I made the decision to become an actuary when I was five years old… Okay, no, I didn’t. Until a couple of years ago, like most people, I had no idea what an actuary was. However, upon the harsh realisation that my life as a university student would soon come to an end, I began to research the opportunities that would be available to me upon completion of my degree. Actuarial science immediately appealed to me as it seemed to offer the stimulation, challenge and prospects I hoped to find in a career, whilst allowing me to utilise the mathematical skills I had spent four years developing!
Joining the team
My first encounter with Hymans Robertson was at an open evening held in their Glasgow Office. I found the representatives to be professional and friendly and extremely passionate about the outstanding reputation of the firm and all its achievements. I immediately wanted to be a part of this team. I applied for the position of trainee actuary and (three interviews later) was overjoyed to be accepted.
When I began with the firm in September 2010, myself and other trainees from all over the UK were given a week long comprehensive induction course, which provided a general overview of the company, the pensions industry and actuarial work. Although the training was intensive, I found it very helpful and informative, giving me a useful insight into what lay ahead. I also found this to be a good “bonding” session, and it was great to meet other graduates who would be sharing my experiences over the years to qualification.
What I do
I work within the public sector actuarial practice, which means that I am involved in the management and valuation of local government pension schemes. A typical day can involve a variety of tasks, from data validation, calculating individual employer liabilities, participating in actuarial valuations, through to the wind-up of a pension scheme. I have joined the firm at a very exciting time; as a major review of public sector pensions is underway. Top Hymans Robertson consultants have played an integral role as advisers to Lord Hutton in the preparation of his Public Sector Pensions Review, the results of which were published in March 2011. The implementation of the accepted proposals will bring new challenges to pensions consultants and scheme administrators across the country, and I look forward to helping my clients adapt to the necessary changes.
At Hymans Robertson, client interaction comes at an early stage in your career. Through daily contact with pension scheme administrators, both via email and telephone, I feel that I am building effective client relationships and delivering a personalised service. As well as helping to develop my confidence as a consultant, this has instilled a sense of satisfaction in my work as I feel that I am a valued member of the team. I have presently been assigned to four client teams, which means that I am directly responsible for some of the work relating to these clients. However, I also assist colleagues with work for several additional clients, ensuring that I am exposed to a large variety of work.
Training to be an actuarial consultant involves mastering mathematics, finance, economics and more, and students are required to pass a series of rather difficult professional exams in order to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? I must admit that I did have concerns about how I would study for such long and tricky exams whilst simultaneously learning in my job. Fortunately, however, Hymans Robertson puts a strong emphasis on personal and professional development, and offers first class support as you train towards qualification. They provide a highly competitive study package, which includes paying for study materials, tutorials, study leave, mock exams and the guidance of your own personal study mentor.
Actuarial consultants work hard, but at Hymans Robertson they also know how to have fun! In the seven months I have been with the firm, I have been go-karting, ten-pin bowling, pub quizzing, canoeing, and treasure hunting, not to mention attending an unforgettable Christmas party. The end-of-month drinks are well attended and provide a great opportunity to relax with colleagues over some good wine and banter, reinforcing the existing camaraderie within the firm.
The atmosphere at Hymans Robertson is relaxed, yet professional. The open plan office setting allows interaction between teams and it is particularly assuring to know I have support nearby. Even the most senior consultants are approachable, and there are plenty of volunteers to lend a hand when I am facing difficulties. Those operating at a senior level, including the partners, are committed to sharing ideas and to the ongoing development of employees. Regular cross-practice meetings provide an informal setting for the discussion of current events, both within the firm and in the wider pensions industry. Participation at these meetings are welcomed and respected by all employees regardless of experience.
There is real team spirit in the office which is particularly evident when the exam period comes around and students are balancing study pressures and work demands. I have thoroughly enjoyed my experiences at Hymans Robertson thus far, and I look forward to a challenging and prosperous career with the firm.
Take a look at our guide to becoming an actuary here.