• Role: Graduate Underwriting Assistant
  • Location: London
  • University: Exeter
  • Degree: BA International Relations

Ross Ritchie

My typical day to day role

Being part of a rotational scheme, my typical day to day role is often varied. In my current rotation as a Graduate Underwriting Assistant for our Personal Accident, Contingency and Entertainment (PACE) team the day is very structured which is something that I find easier to work with.

The day starts with some time in the office and helping the other underwriting assistants to process endorsements and risks. Before midday we head over to Lloyd’s and the ‘box’ (our group of desks) which provides me with an opportunity to learn from the knowledge of our underwriters when writing new risks.

Returning to the box after lunch, the team would typically stay here until 16:30 when we will return to the office and wrap up the jobs for the day. As part of the graduate scheme, weeks often involve helping out with scheme-related work, which also breaks up the day nicely!

Projects

On my first rotation in Strategy, I was given a broad range of projects to work on. These ranged from looking at developments in InsurTech, the Indian insurance market and assisting with peer review oversight. Being given longer-term projects is something which is challenging, as there are times when it is difficult to see clear signs of progress, however the completion of these projects is always rewarding. With the PACE team, my projects are often much shorter and based around a day by day structure. Alongside these shorter projects I will be looking to develop the Personal Accident ratings matrix as a longer-term project for the team. Part of my job, which I wholeheartedly enjoy with the PACE team, is purely to listen and learn from the underwriters. The wealth of knowledge and skills that they possess is invaluable and I am hoping by the end of the rotation to soak up as much of this as possible.

How did you get your job at Markel?

I got my job by completing the online application process. An old school friend of mine was already in the market working as a broker. He advised me of the strong reputation which Markel has and to apply for the scheme… now here I am!

What was the application process like? Any advice?

The application process for the scheme was relatively short and only entailed a CV/online application form and then an assessment centre in London. The application process was well-structured and focused; they know exactly which type of person they are looking to recruit. My best bit of advice would be to take into consideration the culture of the firm through the ‘Markel Style’, and think about how you personally fit in with this style.

Why did you choose a job in this sector?

I chose the insurance sector due to the way in which it is based around relationships and how it is a sector where personal skills count for a lot. The insurance industry really is a hidden gem of a London sector and one which does not get as much publicity as other areas such as banking. The localised nature of the market based around Lloyd’s is also hugely attractive, as you get to know other people in the market much quicker by seeing them on a day to day basis.

What are the most stressful parts of the job?

Balancing my day to day job with the pressure of exams. Markel really do push you through the CII exams and will keep pushing you all the way until ACII accreditation has been achieved. Whilst at the time, the pace and frequency of these difficult exams can seem like a huge burden, it is extremely beneficial for my development as a professional within the market. I will undoubtedly be thankful for being pushed through in a couple of years!

Is it a 9-5 job?

It is, however I tend to work the hours which are required for me to get a job done effectively. If this means getting in slightly earlier and leaving later then so be it!

On the flip side, Markel are very flexible in terms of work hours and appreciate the work/life balance. If there are times when leaving early is a must, then the fact that we are willing to put in these extra hours at other times means that we can always get away when needed. It works both ways.

Any advice for someone wanting to get in to the sector?

Be prepared to be very open and ready to meet new people. You will be given a barrage of new information, skills and contacts and so meeting new people and listening to what they have to say is absolutely vital.

Try to learn something new from everyone you come across in the market.

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