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To begin the Inside Careers series of Employer Q&As, in October 2012 Willis Towers Watson answered your questions.

About Willis Towers Watson

Find out more about Willis Towers Watson and their actuarial opportunities.

The Questions


I have noticed that there are three divisions under the Actuarial Consulting role. Do graduates in this role get to rotate between each division, or are they allocated to a specific one?

As a Mathematics graduate with no experience in the actuarial profession, would it be advisable to apply for an internship rather than the graduate training scheme? 

I have a PhD in physics and three years’ experience working in scientific research since completing my doctorate. As a mature graduate with relevant experience, would I follow the same recruitment and training procedure as new graduates? 

I graduated in 2010 and have since been working in a financial role. I’ve not decided that I want to become a qualified actuary – would I be able to apply to Willis Towers Watson’s graduate scheme? 

Is it possible to visit Willis Towers Watson’s offices to gain a better understanding of the culture and organisation before applying? 

Do you have vacancies in the graduate scheme for people not from the UK/EU? 

What is it that makes your actuarial programme distinctive? 

I am currently in my final year of study at university and plan to take a gap year to go travelling after I graduate. Would this gap in education hinder my chance of being recruited and would I still be eligible to to apply for graduate schemes one year after graduating? 

I graduated last month: do you have any opportunities that start before next year’s graduate scheme intake? 

How do the day-to-day duties and training differ between the pensions, insurance and life insurance specialisations? 

Given that a pensions and financial background is not a pre-requisite for the graduate programme in actuarial consulting, what level of understanding is it advisable to have when you apply to the programme? 

According to the job descriptions of an investment consultant, students can choose to take either the CFA or the actuarial exams. How would you advise students to pick between the two? 

I am currently completing an actuarial science sandwich degree which requires us to complete a year’s work placement. Is this something that Willis Towers Watson offers? 

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The Answers

I have noticed that there are three divisions under the Actuarial consulting role. Do graduates in this role get to rotate between each division, or are they allocated to a specific one?
Mingjie: University of Kent, He: University of Oxford, Elizabeth: Swansea University

Given the very technical nature of each of our divisions we do not offer a rotation. There is however an opportunity to rotate between different teams within these divisions.

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As a Mathematics graduate with no experience in the actuarial profession, would it be advisable to apply for an internship rather than the graduate training scheme?
Laura: Swansea University, James: University of York

We ask candidates to only apply to one programme per year. We would advise that penultimate year students apply to our Intern Programme whilst final year and recent graduates apply to the Graduate Programme.

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I have a PhD in physics and three years’ experience working in scientific research since completing my doctorate. As a mature graduate with relevant experience, would I follow the same recruitment and training procedure as new graduates?
Robin: University of Cambridge 

We actively look to recruit PhD students as we value the different skill set you would bring to our Actuarial divisions. You would go through the same recruitment and training process as a new graduate to ensure you are trained on the technical aspects of the day to day work, however all of our new graduates set individual objectives with their line managers, so those coming in with more experience than an undergraduate could select objectives in line with their experiences and career aspirations.

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I graduated in 2010 and have since working in a financial role. I’ve now decided that I want to become a qualified actuary – would I be able to apply to Willis Towers Watson’s graduate scheme?
Jamie: University of Southampton 

In the past we have hired individuals who have already graduated and are looking for a career change.

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Is it possible to visit Willis Towers Watson’s offices to gain a better understanding of the culture and organisation before applying?
Kristina: University of Birmingham

Yes, we hold open evenings across many of our offices. These are a great opportunity to see the offices and meet our consultancy to get a better understanding of the work we do. Please visit our website for up to date information.

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Do you have vacancies in the graduate scheme for people not from the UK/EU?
Kelvin: Cass Business School, Mingjie: University of Kent

We welcome applications from overseas candidates. All applications are considered on the basis of their merits. If successful, we would hope to be in a position to provide sponsorship, though please be aware that the number of applicants we are permitted to sponsor is controlled by the government.

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What is it that makes your actuarial programme distinctive?
Jasvir: University of Oxford

Our Graduate Programme gives you immediate exposure to actual client assignments. It will challenge your imagination and creativity, as well as your ability to analyse data, draw conclusions and present recommendations. The programme will help you to quickly build technical knowledge, consulting skills and overall industry experience. We are a leading innovator in the market and one the largest employers of actuaries in the UK. This provides our trainees with a unique support network for achieving the Institute of Actuaries qualification.

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I am currently in my final year of study at university and plan to take a gap year to go travelling after I graduate. Would this gap in education hinder my chance of being recruited and would I still be eligible to apply for graduate schemes one year after graduating?
James: University of York

We are sure the experiences you would gain from a gap year would be valuable. We would suggest either applying to our 2013 Summer Intern Programme or wait until September 2013 before applying to our 2014 Graduate Programme.

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I graduated last month: do you have opportunities that start before next year’s graduate scheme intake?
Karan

At present there are no opportunities to start before September 2013. However if you apply and are successful we would monitor this throughout the year to see if this changes.

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How do the day-to-day duties and training differ between the pensions, insurance and life insurance specialisations?
Elizabeth: Swansea University

We have graduate profiles on our website which will give you details of the differences in the day to day work.

Unfortunately due to changes on the Willis Towers Watson website the link to graduate profiles has been removed. Visit the Willis Towers Watson website to read about the differences in day to day work. 

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Given that a pensions and financial background is not a pre-requisite for the graduate programme in actuarial consulting, what level of understanding is it advisable to have when you apply to the programme?
Sarah: Loughborough University

It is advisable to have a general understanding of how a pensions works and the challenges companies are facing with the liabilities in  their pension schemes at present. Researching on the internet and reading about defined benefit on our website should help.

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According to the job descriptions of an investment consultant, students can choose to take either the CFA or the actuarial exams. How would you advise students to pick between the two?
Chun: University of Warwick

It depends on how you want your career to develop and which team within our Investment division you join. Please read about the different areas in Investment on our website on the following link for further information.

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I am currently completing an actuarial science sandwich degree which requires us to complete a year’s work placement. Is this something that Willis Towers Watson offers?
Declan: UEA

Unfortunately at present we are unable to support a placement year.

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