Paul Teggin, CERA qualified actuary
Paul Teggin, Director, Teggin Consulting Limited in Fife, obtained the CERA qualification in October 2010. Read his account of his career and why he decided to qualify as a CERA actuary.
When and why did you choose an actuarial career?
Maths runs in my family: my grandfather was an academic mathematician, and at school I was keen to pursue a mathematically-based career. The father of one of my friends was an actuary, and encouraged me to consider actuarial work at a school careers evening. I didn't choose to be an actuary there and then, but kept it in mind, and after finishing my degree, I applied for an actuarial trainee role in a life insurance company. They were brave (or foolish) enough to take me on, and the rest is history.
What does your work involve?
Having worked for life companies for 10 years or so, in 2009 I took the plunge and set up a small independent consultancy focusing on assisting life insurers with preparation for Solvency 2, a new set of EU regulations for insurance companies, due to come into force in 2013. One of the key aims of Solvency 2 is to improve the alignment between risk and capital – previous regulatory regimes took a less sophisticated and transparent approach to capital. In practice, the work involves designing and implementing actuarial models, both probabilistic models of risk, and software models which integrate mathematical views of risk with the nuts-and-bolts of the cashflows that arise from insurance contracts and financial instruments.
Why did you choose to take the CERA qualification?
Working with models on a very detailed level makes it easy not to see the “bigger picture” – arguably undue faith in models was a driver of the credit crisis. I felt I needed to broaden my thinking, and pick up ideas from other disciplines. Studying for CERA was a perfect vehicle for achieving this, with a respected qualification at the end of it.The course also included some quite advanced mathematical techniques, notably copulae and extreme value theory, which balanced nicely with the more qualitative content – I think the course designers knew their target market quite well!
What is the key value of the qualification for you?
It has helped me to think about risk in a less numerical way, and so to communicate better with non-actuarial people in terms they can engage with.I previously had a tendency to see risk very much in downside terms, as something to be protected against – CERA has helped me to see risk more holistically, as a source of shareholder value (providing it is sensibly managed).What are your future plans?
Solvency 2 will keep me very busy for the next couple of years – after then, it would be good to use the risk skills I am developing in a more commercial setting.
Do you have any advice for others considering taking the CERA qualification?
Going back to studying for exams after a gap of several years, as I did, can be a bit of a culture shock – make sure you balance work with study appropriately! I found it useful to take the advice in the core reading and read widely round the subject, rather than just studying the set texts and ActEd material.