Please tell us about yourself
I joined Barnett Waddingham straight after my A levels in Maths after they approached my school (which is local to the Bromsgrove office). I had previously thought about actuarial work and to me it seemed like fate that I should try and apply for the role they were advertising!
The presentation Barnett Waddingham originally gave to my maths class at school showed me that they seemed like an honest and decent company to work for; that an actuarial career is very rewarding (intellectually and financially stimulating); and by showing up at my school it showed they care about the local community. I haven’t been proven wrong after working here for four years!
Tell us about your work as Actuary
I currently split my time between the Trustee Consulting team and the Investment Consulting team. This means I have to manage my time between the two teams. Across the teams I do a variety of jobs, meaning every day is different, and no job is the same! Using mathematical skills, analysing data and problem-solving on a daily basis ensures my day is stimulating and interesting.
Within the Trustee Consulting team a few of the tasks I am involved with include:
- Valuations for pension schemes – putting a prudent value on the total amount of money a pension scheme needs in order to cover the benefits they have promised to members and seeing whether or not the trustees, or company need to pay in extra contributions to fund this. These are required to be completed every three years, usually with annual updates in between
- Data checks – ensuring the data for a particular task (usually valuations) is at an appropriate level of accuracy for the task at hand
- Checking and analysing data required for triennial pension scheme valuations which puts an overall value on a pension scheme in order to see if they have enough money to cover future benefits for its members. I also get involved with the assumptions, calculations and report writing for these valuations.
- Transfer values – valuing and quoting the total amount of a members’ pension benefits, so the member can make a decision on whether or not it would be worth their while in transferring to a different scheme (or just to see the value of their benefits)
- Factor reports – usually done shortly after a valuation (in order to bring the assumptions up to date) factor reports set out the assumptions to be used for transfer values, early retirement factors, late retirement factors, and cash commutation factors
Within the Investment Consulting team the work is a lot more bespoke, which usually means there’s a challenge we need to overcome for the client. It keeps things interesting.
There are a few regular jobs on the Investment Consulting team too which include:
- Investment monitoring reports – usually a pension scheme will have an investment portfolio where their assets are invested in a number of different asset classes, funds, and investment managers. Our investment monitoring report brings all their investments together to show trustees how their schemes’ portfolio is progressing and whether there is anything they should be concerned about or need to consider
- Asset transfers – as a scheme matures or as the markets change the trustees may need to move some of the scheme’s assets. Asset transfers involve gathering data from the investment managers and completing relevant forms for the trustees to ensure they can transfer the scheme’s money
Most of these jobs usually involve working with lots of data so we use a lot of spreadsheets for our calculations. Once the calculations are done we will need to write up a report (or email or letter etc.) to the client and we will need to ensure that the results can be understood by the clients.
I am sometimes involved with corporate tasks such as accounting figures for the pension schemes we work on.
What do I enjoy about Barnett Waddingham?
When I first started everyone looked after me and made me feel welcome. Everyone understands when you first start that it’s difficult to get your head around the work and that tasks will take a lot of time at the start. The office and the firm are very sociable and some of the friends I have made through work I am now very close to. In Bromsgrove there is usually a pub trip at Friday lunchtime, and regular socials such as: going into Birmingham for food and drinks, bowling, quizzes, ice skating, karaoke, and Christmas markets. There are also some socials with the other offices such as the annual football and netball tournaments, and the highlight of the social calendar – the Christmas party!
I’ve now been here for four years and it is clear to me that Barnett Waddingham wants me to progress within my role and career, and they help me to do so. I have support with my exams including money to buy study materials and study days. I have support in my role with annual reviews on my progress and regular feedback on tasks I complete. Barnett Waddingham constantly strives for their employees to do their best but not at the cost of their employees’ wellbeing.
Before joining Barnett Waddingham I did some charity work by helping at a GirlGuiding Brownies club and doing donation pickups for the British Heart Foundation. It’s been great that I can get involved with helping other charities and that Barnett Waddingham actively tries to help charities by giving each employee a day to spend doing volunteer work, and by doing dress-down or fancy dress days and cake sales. I have regularly used my one day per year for charity work and so far I have been involved with: helping disadvantaged school children improve their maths skills through playing educational board games with them; clearing out and planting a community garden, and visiting elderly people who are lonely or their mental/physical health has declined and no one else to support them or talk to them.
What do I enjoy doing here?
I enjoy my job, every day is different and no job is the same. There’s usually a lot to do so there’s no time to get bored and I find the tasks I get interesting and engaging. I especially like a good spreadsheet project that I can get my teeth stuck into! I get exposure to a variety of tasks and different experiences, such as presenting and attending team meetings, which all helps me to progress in my role and make me more confident.
The people I work with are all approachable and friendly – I’m not afraid to ask anyone for help – and there is always some good office banter throughout the day! I have enjoyed getting to know my colleagues and it gives the office a good atmosphere to work in.