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APR Actuarial Analyst Profiles

In the profiles below, two APR staff who have joined our CAA scheme in the last two years give their thoughts on the actuarial profession, applying for roles and what it’s like to work for APR.

Moran Smith-Woodhams

Why did you choose an analyst role at APR?Morgan Smith-Woodhams

Just over two years ago, I started as an analyst at APR, after deciding university was not for me; and since then I have learnt and grown so much!

I had always enjoyed maths at school especially at A-level, when it became my strongest and most enjoyable subject. So I wanted a career within maths and knew that the role of an actuary was very mathematical. I initially thought that to be an actuary or to have a maths-related career you would need a maths degree, but in fact the CAA qualification allows you to enter the actuarial industry as a school leaver – a great opportunity if, like me, you choose not to go to university!

APR offers its staff the opportunity to work towards the CAA qualification as part of a wider programme aimed at talented, highly numerate school leavers who want to develop a career in areas such as finance, data analysis, coding and modelling.

What is great about APR is that it is a relatively small but ever-growing company. I was welcomed so warmly by everyone straight from the start. Since the CAA role was new within the company when I started, it was exciting to be on the cusp of new beginnings for APR, as well as for myself. This also meant I got a chance to be involved within the company through CAA-related tasks, such as producing marketing material and helping with recruitment.

What does the job involve?

Since APR provides project-based solutions to other companies, I have learnt and developed a wide range of actuarial skills, such as pension knowledge, financial modelling and coding. This on the job experience is so valuable and has helped me build on the comprehensive in house training I was provided with at APR. Being out on project, I have also developed my soft skills and communication which has really helped me build confidence and grow on a personal and professional level.

I really enjoy the challenge of solving mathematical problems and creating models which reflect real life situations.  Since starting work, I have gained experience in writing code within Excel VBA and R to create such models.

I am currently working with a general insurance company and assisting with developments to their capital model. This model calculates how much money the company needs to hold, under certain regulations, to keep writing new business. Since APR is project focused, the average day for one project will be completely different from another project – there is so much variety!

What about the study?

Alongside the interesting and varied projects APR works on, there is the expectation of studying for the CAA qualification. Everyone at APR has been really supportive through my exams, providing advice, help on the material and ample study days to prepare. Plus, my manager always provides a motivational message before my exams to wish me luck!

I have just completed the CAA qualification and have now started out on the actuarial fellowship (FIA) exams with the aim of becoming a fully qualified actuary!

Any tips for those considering this career path?

Have a look at the CAA Global and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) websites which have loads of information about the profession, the qualifications and case studies from people who are currently doing the exams. The IFoA also have a list of companies who run the CAA qualification – including APR!

Besides enjoying maths and being numerical, good communication skills are very important as you need to explain findings to the client and work with a wide variety of people.

Going into lots of different clients also means you have to have a willingness to learn and ask questions – even if you think they might be silly!

Chandler Walker

What influenced your career choice?Chandler Walker

I’ve been interested in maths for as long as I can remember. For me, working long and hard on a problem and then finally being able to solve it is a very rewarding experience.

I knew that when I finished my A-Levels I didn’t want to go to university. This led me to look at other options, which is when I found out about the actuarial profession and the (relatively!) new Certified Actuarial Analyst qualification that meant that you didn’t have to go to university any more to get into it.

How have you found APR?

APR provides actuarial and technical project support to clients across a wide range of different areas of actuarial work. These clients are typically insurance companies that are currently undertaking projects that need additional actuarial / technical capacity or expertise – a simple example might be building models to help them assess the financial and other risks they are exposed to.

I enjoy being able to make a tangible positive impact for clients on these projects, and since starting as an analyst at APR I’ve had lots of opportunity to do so, while learning from a wide range of highly experienced colleagues. The fact that the company is relatively small (but rapidly growing!), makes it easier for your efforts to be seen and appreciated; and there’s a high level of trust that is given to each of the employees.

Another big part of working at APR is developing and improving your skills, whether that be in the form of the excellent training provided “in-house”, or learning on the job and gaining valuable experience in the large variety of work that you encounter.

What do you do day to day?

Most of my time is spent working for clients on their various different projects. This typically means spending time at client offices, working with their teams and making a real contribution to solving their problems. While on project at a client, an average day will typically involve me building / testing / adjusting models (normally using Excel), working with managers and colleagues to make sure the project is progressing and that everyone’s updated, and reporting / solving issues that I uncover when using the models.

Outside of client work, there’s a whole range of things to get involved with back in-house, to help grow APR’s business. For me, this has included working on supporting and improving the recruitment process and developing new training material.

What about the study?

Being an actuarial analyst at APR I am being supported to gain the CAA qualification. This support includes providing material for the exams, study days that can be used to work through the material and using the network of staff to get advice and help where needed.

I plan to qualify as a CAA and then potentially look at continuing with studying, with the ultimate aim of becoming a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

Any other suggestions?

Problem solving is a must, as well as good communication, so you can work effectively within your team and report clearly to managers and others involved in the project. A background in programming is very useful, but not absolutely critical as you’ll get plenty of training early on.

Beyond this, make sure you take every opportunity that comes your way, nobody is going to do it for you!