Morgan Smith-Woodhams – Actuarial Analyst

Name: Morgan Smith-Woodhams

Job Title: Actuarial Analyst

Organisation: APR LLP

Number of years in current position: Two years

Qualifications:  A-levels, including A* in Mathematics

Briefly describe the organisation you work for.
APR is a small but growing firm that provides actuarial support to many clients across the UK, mainly within the insurance and pensions sectors.  We have offices in London and Edinburgh.  APR staff members work closely with our clients by assisting on various actuarial and technical projects, such as predicting and modelling risks, through the use of mathematics, statistics and computer programming. 

APR offers its staff the opportunity to work towards the Certified Actuarial Analyst (CAA) qualification alongside their work. This programme is for talented, highly numerate school leavers or graduates who want to develop a career in areas such as finance, data analysis, coding and modelling.

Explain what you do on an average day at work.
I am currently working with a general insurance company and assisting with developments to their capital model. This model calculates how much money the company has to hold, under certain regulations, in order to keep writing new business. Since APR is project focused, the average day during one project will be completely different to another project – there is so much variation!

What do you like most about your job?
I really enjoy the challenge of solving mathematical problems and creating models which reflect real life situations.  Since starting working, I have gained experience in writing code within Excel VBA and R to create such models. I also enjoy the fact that I am continuously learning, both from studying towards the CAA qualification and also every day at work.  This is such a great aspect of “earning while you learn”!

What stimulated your interest in maths, and when?
I always enjoyed maths at school especially at A level, when it became my strongest and most enjoyable subject.

What influenced your career choice?
After school I decided I wanted a career within maths and knew that the role of an actuary was very mathematical. I thought, however, to be an actuary or to have a maths related career you would need a maths degree! But in fact the CAA qualification allows you to enter the actuarial industry as a school leaver which is such a great opportunity if, like me, university isn’t for you!

Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
Besides enjoying maths and being numerical, good communication skills are very important as you need to explain findings to the client and work with a wide variety of people. Going into lots of different clients also means you have to have a willingness to learn and ask questions – even if you think they might be silly!

Any advice you may have for other individuals considering your career path?
Have a look at the CAA Global and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) websites which have loads of information about the profession, the qualifications and case studies from people who are currently doing the exams. The IFoA also have a list of companies who run the CAA qualification – including APR!

Your future career plans?
I have just completed the last of the CAA exams and I am about to finish going through the final sign-offs to complete the CAA Global qualification.  Following this, I plan to continue onto the actuarial fellowship (FIA) exams and work towards become a fully qualified actuary!