William David Brown

Employee Profile - William David Brown, Chief Actuary, Corporate Actuarial

Posted by William David Brown at 05:10 PM

What do you do in a typical working day?    
One thing I could have said that I enjoy about my role is that no two days are the same.  So there is no typical day … so I’ll talk about yesterday.

It didn’t exactly start with a car crash, but there was a trip to a garage to get a dint in my car fixed.  I love working at Direct Line Group – but I don’t love the columns in the car park since I saw quite what damage they can do!

People were a big theme when I got into the office.  I sat down with two of the guys who report into me and did quarterly performance reviews and spent some time looking at the next 3 months with them.  We also had a team meeting.  I also had a couple of ad hoc meetings to chat to people in the team and see how they are doing.  I was so heartened by the energy and buzz around the place, I forgot about my car woes.

Solvency II was also a bit of a theme of the day.  We had a meeting to agree on the next stage of governance around data – hugely important even without SII, but a key component of the new world we are going into.  And we also had a challenge meeting before finalising a pack to be presented to our Board on our Solvency II technical Provisions.  There were loads of really interesting technical issues to cover, but the thinking is there and the packs now out the door (the reserving review committee’s next week).
We are also in the middle of business forecasting at the moment, so I co-presented with Finance (Decision Support) to our Executives on a forecast of our latest business projections including views on the Motor market.  By the end of it, I think everyone got a good sense of the direction – and also of the uncertainties.  I also had a meeting on our own forecasts of costs and people over the next 5 years – happily it’s all in a good place.
Right now we are in the middle of a reserve review, so I had a meeting to review some of our first cut results from our German business.
What had been a good day, took a virtuous if painful turn – with a beasting at the gym from my personal trainer. One of these days it’s got to hurt less!

What do you enjoy most about your job?      
I really enjoy making progress, and every day we do – not just doing analysis – but working out what the analysis means to the business, and working with the business on what we change.  And I love seeing people in the team develop and each week doing stuff which they couldn’t do the week before.

What is the most challenging part of your role?         
I love variety, but probably this too is the biggest challenge – working on many fronts at the same time.  But then who said that men can’t multi-task?

What do you need to be successful in your role?       
Energy, a sense of humour and an ability to make complex things meaningful to a wide range of people.

Have you taken any professional qualifications?
I actually trained as a research scientist originally, and have a PhD in Theoretical Physics.  I worked in industry for a few years in the UK and abroad for a few years – until I had forgotten how painful it was to do exams.  And then I did the actuarial exams, while working for an actuarial consultancy, so I’m a qualified actuary.
I have a hankering to do a diploma in performance in the cello – a great passion of mine.  I almost got there a few years ago, but let it slip.  But that’s a future plan.

Why did you choose a career in insurance?
I think insurance is great.  We perform a really valuable role – taking uncertainty away from customers.  But what we sell, you can’t touch.  And when it comes of reserving or pricing or how much capital you need, you really need imagination – and mathematics, which for me is an ideal blend in a job.

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