What Xavier says about his profession:
Actuaries are constantly rated as having the best jobs in the world. This is most likely due to a combination of several factors: good salary, great work/life balance and amazing career prospects.
The most important skill is being able to blend mathematical theory with artistic creativity to paint a colourful story that makes sense to anyone.
The most rewarding part of having an actuarial career is recognising that the story will ultimately help clients understand and manage their risks better, allowing them to make “financial sense of the future”.
Xavier's current role and career path
What do Marsh/your team do?
Marsh is part of Marsh and Mclennan Companies (MMC), a listed company on the New York Stock Exchange. MMC offers a wide range of services through its many subsidiaries. Specifically, Marsh provides insurance broking services. As part of the Financial Services Group, I help clients, mainly non-financial, model their insurance losses. I then consider this loss projection along with other factors, like insurance premium, to recommend an insurance programme which would fit their risk appetite.
What is a typical day like for you?
I'll list a few things which I have to go through every day. You can then decide what a typical day looks like for me:
- using my brain
- opening up at least 10 spreadsheets
- speaking to clients (could be internal or external)
- high-fiving my colleagues.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
As a qualified actuary, I had to pass a lot of exams, which required me to study a lot of mathematical and statistical theory. I know a lot of actuaries who forget their exam material quite quickly after qualifying. However, my job requires me to actually use what I’ve learnt in my exams to solve problems for clients. Makes all the studying worth even more.
What was the interview process like?
Just like talking to a friend – who really wants to get to know you inside-out.
One interesting question was being asked to describe a creative use of an Excel function. Thank you to the mighty “SUMPRODUCT” – you helped me get my job!
How do you manage your work/life balance?
I try to spend a few hours a week doing some sort of physical activity – whether it is running, going to the gym, or playing sport. A healthy physical body leads to a healthy mental brain. Having a more agile brain leads to completing work much more efficiently. Finishing work quickly leads to having more time to enjoy life! Not saying that I dislike my job, though.
What ‘soft skills’ have you found useful?
Being able to explain really complicated concepts using simple English or diagrams adds a lot of value to clients. Having a sophisticated model without an easy-to-understand explanation is like having the internal parts of a formula-one car and marketing it as a bicycle.