My favourite thing about being a pensions actuary is seeing my client’s realisation – that point when I have helped them to understand a complex issue for the first time.
I tend to seek out areas where there is more to explain, and where that creates a real benefit to the client. This could be explaining to independent school bursars why the actuarial valuation (of TPS) concluded that more money is needed to fund benefits and (at the same time) that benefits are worth less so should be increased. Or helping university finance directors understand why there is such a wide range of plausible costs for the USS benefits, and how this creates such difficult discussions in relation to the current actuarial valuation. Or helping the trustees of a multi-employer pension scheme balance all the competing needs of the different employers as well as their duty to the members.
Clearly understanding the problem is the first step and the bigger benefit to clients comes from delivering solutions based on that understanding. I think some of the biggest challenges in DB pensions at the moment are faced by those schemes which are still open to benefit accrual, and so one of my focuses is finding solutions for those forgotten schemes. Helping them find a way through the new funding regime which (as currently drafted) barely acknowledges the different dynamics of such schemes’ covenant and funding evolution. Helping to create new benefit designs that combine the benefits of DB and DC, but aim to improve on both.
I sit on Barnett Waddingham’s Management Board, Actuarial Consulting Board, and Talent Management Board. My proudest work moment this year was being shortlisted for Mentor of the Year at the Professional Pensions Rising Star Awards, which was based on feedback from my colleagues.