Andrew Smyth, Senior Actuarial Consultant
How did your degree contribute to you working with Deloitte, and what was involved in the selection process for the programme?
I joined Deloitte’s Actuarial, Rewards and Analytics team in February 2015. Prior to starting my career, I completed a four year degree in Actuarial and Financial Studies at UCD. The selection process for my degree programme was based on my Leaving Certificate results, with a particular requirement around the result achieved in Mathematics.
My degree programme allowed me to gain some exemptions from the actuarial exams and gave me a basic understanding of actuarial concepts. However the most important aspect of my degree was the numerical skills that I acquired. Deloitte’s actuarial team welcomes graduates from a wide range of subjects with a strong numerical element. The department currently includes people with a variety of different degrees.
Much of my day to day work involves the use of mathematical and statistical concepts which I studied as part of my undergraduate degree. I also studied a number of modules which involved the use of computer programming languages, which I now use as part of my daily role.
Since joining Deloitte, I have completed the remaining professional actuarial exams, qualifying as a Fellow of both the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries and of the Society of Actuaries in Ireland.
What does your daily role involve?
The role of an actuary can vary significantly from day to day. This is particularly true in a consulting environment and is one of my favourite aspects about working for a firm like Deloitte.
The majority of my work involves the use of actuarial skills such as mathematical and statistical modelling to arrive at estimates surrounding uncertain future events. For example, I may be required to estimate the amount of reserves an insurance company should hold in order to pay an uncertain level of future claims. Estimation work such as this requires assumptions to be made surrounding uncertain future trends, such as the level of claims inflation that will apply.
A crucial part of my job involves assessing the level of uncertainty in the results and most importantly communicating this uncertainty clearly to clients. A key part of an actuary’s skillset is an ability to communicate technical results in a non-technical manner. My daily role involves communicating results to clients through both written reports and verbal presentations.
What’s been one of the biggest challenges so far?
One of the biggest challenges in my job so far has been completing the professional actuarial exams. The profession’s exams generally take place twice a year and assess numerous parts of an actuarial trainee’s skillset, from statistical modelling to verbal and written communication skills.
Deloitte has a generous paid study and exam leave package to assist actuarial trainees with the examination process. Student actuaries also receive exam and study guidance from a designated qualified actuary within the team. This guidance is crucial in assisting student actuaries with balancing both study and work commitments.
What’s exciting about your job?
There are number of aspects of my job which make my day to day role exciting. One of the primary reasons I chose a career in consulting was the varied nature of the work involved. One day I could be assisting clients with interpreting EU insurance legislation, while the next day I could be working with cutting edge programming languages to develop a new piece of actuarial software.
Another exciting aspect of my role is its client facing nature and my consistent exposure to senior management. Even as a junior member of the team, you can be working daily with senior members of insurers’ management teams, from Chief Actuaries to CFOs.
An actuarial role involves working with technical mathematical and statistical concepts. The challenging nature of this work and the opportunity to grasp new concepts each and every day is a very exciting aspect of the job.
What advice would you have for students and graduates seeking to pursue a similar career path?
I would encourage students to get involved in non-academic activities while at university, with a focus on developing interpersonal skills. Interpersonal skills are particularly important for consulting roles, where we communicate with clients on a daily basis.
It is also important to develop an ability to understand technical concepts, and to communicate these concepts in a clear and concise manner.
Consulting roles can involve working on numerous different projects at the same time. This means that time management skills are important to develop, coupled with an ability to prioritise a sometimes long list of tasks with different deadlines.
How do you hope to see your career developing over the next few years?
During my time with Deloitte I have been involved in a wide variety of challenging and interesting projects. These projects have tested my abilities and allowed my skillset to grow rapidly.
Having recently completely the professional exams and qualified as an actuary, I hope to gain more and more responsibility in the near future. The added responsibilities that come with career progression will allow me to further develop my actuarial skillset. In particular, I hope to further increase my level of daily client engagement, and to assist with the training and development of student members of the team.
Read more about our Graduate programme in Actuary, Reward & Analytics.