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My advice to build a successful career in Actuarial General, Insurance or Pricing

by Austin Brislen | 29 May 2019

In this blog Actuarial Recruitment Manager Austin Brislen offers his best advice to students, graduates and professionals looking to secure a role within the Actuarial, General Insurance or Pricing sector. From choosing the right degree and employer for you, to being open minded about the type of job you want, we have all the advice you need to start a successful career within Actuarial, General Insurance or Pricing

Do you dream of becoming an Actuary? Are you currently studying and hoping to secure a role within Actuarial, General Insurance or Pricing but not sure where to start? Are you thinking about changing careers to become an Actuary? Then you have come to the right place.

In this blog I have rounded up some of the questions I get asked by candidates, and offer my advice for anyone looking to secure a role and be successful in Actuarial, General Insurance or Pricing.

Choose the right degree for you – follow your heart, not your mind

It is a common misconception that to secure a role within the Actuarial sector you need to study an Actuarial science degree, however that is not the case. Many of the candidates I speak to nowadays have degrees in various subjects, and are enjoying a successful career in the sector. Sometimes a degree in Actuarial Science may actually go against you as these degrees provide you with exemptions from taking exams at a later date, which you may think is a good thing. However some employers feel that taking the exams whilst working in full time employment post-graduation is vital for aspiring Actuaries to develop the ability to multitask and see the theory from the exams on the job. One of the most important things to remember here is that grades are everything! Most of the clients I speak to daily accept candidates with degrees of all disciplines, although preference is almost always given to degrees in maths or other highly numerate subjects. Whatever the degree, most organisations will require you to have excellent academic results. To be considered you will generally need a 1st or a 2:1 whilst there are some companies that will consider a 2:2 or above, however this is quite rare.

Make sure you apply for the right roles, within the right organisations

Most insurance companies will invest in the professional development of their staff and encourage their employees to take advantage of on-the-job training so it is important to think about the type of business you want to work for. Choosing the right role, and organisation for you will be dependent on the size of company you want to be working for. Larger insurers will offer you the opportunity to work in a number of different teams but these teams will typically focus on more specialised technical areas or specific products. Whereas a smaller insurer will likely have less teams for you to work in but you may gain exposure to more parts of the business or technical work in a shorter space of time.

Graduate schemes: larger organisations usually have graduate schemes with set times for applying. Graduate schemes will usually require you to do set placements in different departments of the organisation to widen your skills and experience. Candidates in graduate schemes will also be able to enjoy mentoring from senior staff and/or training designed to fast-track your progression into a management role, making this route a good option for anyone who is career hungry and would like to progress quickly. You are also likely to be given support to complete a professional qualification of your choice, with most who opt to do one, choosing the Actuarial route.

Graduate jobs: a graduate job on the other hand will be advertised as a junior role within the organisation, for example an Actuarial Trainee/Analyst or entry level Pricing Analyst. These tend to be offered by smaller organisations and may be recruited for on an ad-hoc basis at any point through the year and do not generally have a set training schedule. Instead you will mentored by professionals within the organisation and learn on the job.

Hiring managers will want to see you are committed and have experience under your belt

Getting as much sector relevant experience throughout university and your career is imperative if you want to have a winning edge over your competition during the interview and selection process. It is therefore important to get some work experience or an internship during your term/summer breaks whilst studying. A key differentiator for hiring managers when looking through entry level applications is those who have proactively sourced a relevant Actuarial placement or internship.

You do not have to be a graduate to move into Actuarial, General Insurance or Pricing

Candidates often think that only new graduates and candidates with experience in insurance can secure a role as an Actuary or a job within Pricing, but that is not the case. There are also opportunities for more experienced candidates that may be interested in a change of career. Over the years I have encountered many people who have changed career at a later stage in life. Making the switch from numerate roles in other industries, such as Engineering, Academia and even secondary school Math Teachers.

Most importantly, be open minded with what you are looking for and think outside the box!

My biggest piece of advice and something I feel is not discussed widely enough, is that there are plenty of roles available for candidates that have not got the qualifications or the grades required to become an Actuary. That is not to say that candidates that decide to take this route do not have the skills to become an Actuary, more that there are other routes into the sector that are rarely advertised or known about.

Within Pricing there are endless possibilities for you to work in a highly statistical role where you will learn anything from how to build general linearized models to utilising the latest machine learning techniques. These roles are perfect for candidates that want to get into General Insurance Pricing, but do not necessarily want to study to become an Actuary.

If this blog has peaked your interest, or you are looking for your next role within Actuarial, General Insurance or Pricing, feel free to contact Austin Brislen or a member of our Actuarial recruitment team directly.

Alternatively, Austin and his team would be delighted to offer you advice on your next career move, or you can read more tips on securing your dream role on our candidate resources section.