• Role: Graduate Trainee
  • Location: London
  • University: Birmingham
  • Degree: LLB Law

Kajal Patel

A typical day at work

Compliance, as a sector, is experiencing tremendous growth and importance due to increased scrutiny from the regulators. A large part of my day to day work involves conducting sanctions and broker screening checks as part of the ‘Knowing Your Client’ due diligence process. I keep constant tabs on key regulatory developments from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and Lloyd’s. This is important to ensure we are both proactive for our clients and always one step ahead in terms of putting the appropriate systems and controls in place.

On the Liberty Specialty Markets (Liberty) graduate scheme, we are given the opportunity to rotate and undertake secondments in various departments. As part of my personal development, I have completed secondments in Legal, Claims, Underwriting and Risk Management. These have been invaluable experiences allowing me to gain exposure to large parts of the business whilst also improving my technical knowledge.

Projects undertaken

Recently, I undertook a research project relating to cyber security. This is a topical issue which poses a serious threat due to the amount of sensitive client data held in the Cloud. As this is one of the FCA’s key priorities for the coming year, my research focused on the outcomes the regulator is keen to achieve and their key planned activities. Another project I am currently working on involves researching FATCA (Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act) – an important piece of US tax legislation which potentially impacts Liberty’s business. In particular, I have been focusing on the implications of non-compliance.

Presently, I am involved in the development of an Underwriting Authority Management Tool, which aims to simplify the current task of issuing, amending, monitoring and maintaining underwriters’ authorities.

How did you get your job at Liberty?

I heard about Liberty through the Lloyd’s of London website. Having read through the graduate profiles, I was suitably impressed to apply.

What was the application process like? Any advice?

The application process itself took about three months in total and consisted of Skype interviews, online testing, group exercises, face to face interviews and a final presentation. It was a demanding process, but Liberty made the whole experience very comfortable and enjoyable.

This may sound a cliché, but the most important piece of advice I can give is to be yourself. It is worthwhile remembering that assessors are trying to elicit your positive attributes. They are not there to find your weaknesses. In relation to cover letters and interviews, be sure to tailor your aspirations for working at a specific company rather than giving generic reasons.

Why did you choose a job in this sector?

I was initially considering a career as a corporate lawyer, but work experience in the insurance sector whilst studying at university sparked an interest. I was impressed at the vast range of business classes the London insurance market covers. It really is an industry that affects every single person in both a professional and personal capacity. What has surprised me most about the industry is how social it is and also the strong emphasis placed on a good work/life balance.

What skills are most useful in the role?

The ability to understand and adapt to your audience for each piece of work is imperative. I have to be flexible to meet deadlines for constantly changing priorities and for different levels of management.

Secondly, analytical and communication skills are useful as you are required to succinctly condense and understand complex regulations and communicate these to the rest of the business. My team acts as a key point of contact for compliance queries and often meets with individuals of varying seniority from around the business.

Is it a 9-5 job?

We do have set hours of work. However certain times of year will be busier than others and where we have tight deadlines to meet, we will work longer to get the job done.

What challenges have you faced and how did you overcome them?

Liberty organised a firm-wide project to improve and build upon our understanding of emerging risks and how these may impact the insurance sector. This was a great opportunity for me to meet people from different disciplines of the business with whom I would not normally interact. The project required detailed research on some very technical issues and discussions with our team members. The challenge here was to balance research for the project alongside meeting compliance deadlines and revision for my CII exams. I was able to overcome the challenge by carefully prioritising my workload and setting specific achievable targets for revision and project research.

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