• Role: Actuarial Analyst
  • Location: Cheltenham
  • University: Heriot-Watt
  • Degree: MSc Actuarial Science
  • Organisation: Capita

Alia Ungku

What does the actuarial team at Capita Life & Pensions do?

The Cheltenham Actuarial department at Capita Life & Pensions consists of two main teams: Corporate Reporting and Actuarial Services. The Corporate Reporting team delivers regular actuarial valuations and financial reporting to our clients. They are also responsible for making necessary changes to clients’ systems, actuarial models, processes and reports in preparation for Solvency II. The Actuarial Services team delivers project support and technical work, which involves answering complex policy queries around illustrations, projections, charges and general product information. In total there are 30 people in the Cheltenham team, including five qualified actuaries and actuarial students at all stages of studying.

My career at Capita Life & Pensions

I began my career at Capita Life & Pensions in the Corporate Reporting team. Throughout my tenure there, I was involved in many different tasks such as completing quarterly valuations, preparing the ‘Financial Condition Report’ (this involves performing part of the valuation process on different scenarios to determine the projected surplus, and also the change in assets and liabilities caused by the different scenarios) and performing experience investigations for our clients. In addition to this, I carried out several Solvency II developments for the client. After being in the Corporate Reporting team for about two years, I then rotated to the Actuarial Services team, which is where I am now. In this team, I have had the opportunity to work on different types of client projects, such as updating systems to comply with regulatory changes and performing improvements to existing processes.

Alongside that, I am also on a servicing rota where I am able to utilise my actuarial knowledge to resolve complex, policy-specific queries. At the moment, I am working in the preparation and transition phase of a client project, which requires me to travel to the client’s office on a daily basis in order to ensure that I am well trained in their procedures and products.

What do I enjoy most about my job?

At Capita, there is never a dull moment. I am given the opportunity to work in different areas and with different clients. I am always supported in my developmental needs which have enabled me to further enhance my business acumen and professional skill sets. Apart from that, there are lots of opportunities to become an expert in the systems and software that we use due to a focus on everyone taking ownership of particular skills. I’ve also been able to get involved in some of the non-actuarial aspects of the team, such as recruitment, which has helped to develop my overall business skills.

Being an actuarial student at Capita is not all work and no play. We frequently take turns to organise socials outside of work. Other than our annual pub quiz and pool tournament, we often go out for meals together. As part of the Capita yearly community challenge, I successfully organised a themed family afternoon for one of the schools in our area. Not only did the children and their families have fun, we were also able to enjoy ourselves whilst working as a team in making the event successful.

What skills have I found useful?

Working in the actuarial field requires me to juggle working full-time and studying. To ensure a work/life balance, time management is essential. This allows me to work efficiently during office hours, study effectively for the actuarial examinations and also enjoy my free time doing what I love most.

Developing my technical skills also helped on a day-to-day basis where spreadsheets play a big role. Having the ability to work with formulae and macros is definitely an advantage, as it flows through to the other modelling systems that we use. Communication skills are also important. Other than communicating with my colleagues in the team, I also communicate with clients, the finance team and also customer services teams.

Studying for my actuarial qualification

Studying for the actuarial exams can be stressful and requires a high level of commitment in order to succeed. Personally, I feel that the study support that Capita provides really helps me in doing this. Other than providing support in the form of study days, study materials and tutorials, I am blessed to have supportive colleagues who are more than happy to share and discuss the topics that I am studying at that point in time. In addition to this, I have also had the qualified actuaries mark my mock exams and provide me with useful feedback.

Advice for anyone wanting to get into the actuarial profession

It is important to do research on the industry to prepare you before any interview. Other than preparing yourself with the usual interview techniques, understanding the actuarial qualification process and also what the company does would definitely help. As an actuarial student you often need to think on your feet, so an ability to communicate and generate ideas is also essential.

Having work experience before starting a graduate job is definitely an added advantage. This gives you a taste of the industry and would also shed some light as to which part of the actuarial field interests you the most, or if it is indeed the industry for you.

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