Phil Dixon

August 2012 - Reserving, Rotations and Studying

Posted by Phil Dixon at 10:21 AM

I have just completed eleven months in the international reserving team (part of corporate actuarial) here at Direct Line Group. In that time I have learnt more than I thought imaginable and been involved in some very interesting work including leading pieces such as reinsurance bad debt, diagnostics and many others. I have also had the chance to be involved in other projects such as Solvency II.
One major thing I learnt about reserving was something I was not really expecting. There are many misconceptions about the key skills that actuaries need. Obviously mathematics is pretty important, there’s lots of that, a lot of logic is needed and the ability to visualise and articulate what changes to key performance indicators mean for the business. However possibly the biggest skill is being able to present and explain your findings and methodologies to key stakeholders within the business; this ranges all the way from your manager to board members.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the reserving function however felt that my work would benefit from a greater understanding of other parts of the business and therefore when an opportunity arose to rotate to the pricing function I decided to go for it. My new role is within the pricing innovations team, a lot of work this team performs is project based which is in contrast to most of the work I was doing previously in reserving.
Possibly the biggest difference between my old role and my new one is the computer programs that are predominately used. I had learnt over my time in reserving to be very competent on the programs needed to do my work and had even helped to teach others to use them. Now I am once again the student, although this was expected and in the long run having a greater knowledge of all the different computer programs that can be used for analysis will help me in whatever role I end up doing in the future.
The other major thing to note is my actuarial study; I am taking two exams in the October sitting of the exams. By the end of this week I will have completed all my initial reading and tutorials which means I will be spending my study days and weekends (sometimes) practicing questions and fine tuning my knowledge.
So August has been a busy month, in the next blog I will be talking about my first month in my new role and hopefully saying that I am very confident about my upcoming exams!

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