Liz Dailey | Actuarial Consultant
Department: Retirement & Investment Practice
Education: B.S. Actuarial Mathematics, Minor in Management, 2011, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Career stage: Early—6 years post Bachelor’s
What She Does
As a consultant, there is no typical work day for Liz, as every day brings different challenges with her clients. She spends much of her time talking with clients or meeting with other members of teams. Her main responsibilities include determining the value of future retirement income benefits that companies have promised, either to determine the amount of funding the plan sponsor is required to make or for financial accounting disclosures. She also helps companies understand the liability of welfare benefits for retirees and disabled employees.
Necessary Job Skills
In actuarial consulting, the most important skills are verbal and written communication. It is also important to have a strong background in mathematics, analytical skills, and the ability to interpret financial results. Liz uses Excel for most of her work, as well as some coding in Visual Basic and a proprietary valuation software. Mathematics is the backbone of the actuarial profession. In order to consult on results for her clients, Liz has to have a deep understanding of probability, statistics, modeling techniques, and financial accounting.
Pros and Cons of Her Job
What Liz enjoys most about being an actuarial consultant is the dynamic, challenging work environment that she’s in. Market fluctuations and updates to legislature cause the work that she’s doing to be ever-changing, and she likes knowing that there will always be something new and exciting to get involved in. One of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of Liz’s job is being in contact with leadership at other companies. Many meetings include the executives at her clients’ companies, including the head of HR, CFO, CIO, and even CEO. The most challenging part of her profession is the time commitment. Serving her clients well involves long hours at times, since others are often relying on her work product to make significant decisions or to finalize disclosed results.
Though being a consultant requires long work hours at times, there is a lot of flexibility with work hours and location, as long as you are getting your work done. Liz’s company has several employees who work from home or from a different location. Liz appreciates that she can choose the work hours that work best for her.
Liz has been working at Aon Hewitt since she graduated college. At WPI, she began as a pure mathematics major, unsure of what life after college would hold. She learned about actuarial mathematics during freshman year and really enjoyed seeing a business application of the subject that she had always loved. After taking some courses about the time value of money and models for life contingency, she took the first actuarial exam and passed on the first try. During college, Liz had two internships: both experiences utilized her strong analytical skills, but the consulting position encouraged her to focus on presenting her results to others. She decided that was more challenging and engaging for her career.
Some aspects of Liz’s career were well-outlined, like completing the exams and other education requirements to become a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries, but she also grew in her career because of opportunities like campus recruiting activities that led to a promotion to manager.
Career Expectations And Advice
“Take an actuarial exam as early as you can in your college career.”
Companies often begin recruiting for internship candidates in the fall for the following summer, and being able to show your commitment to the field by including a passed exam on your resume will give you a big advantage. Early in your career, take on projects that might be outside your typical work or comfort zone—they could provide opportunities later in your career and will give you different insights and perspectives.
One thing that surprised Liz when she first started as an actuarial consultant was the structure of a typical client meeting. They usually occur in an informal setting, with all members sitting at a table, and are more of a “discussion” than a “presentation” with the client interjecting often to provide insight, ask questions, or refine what results they need. Prepare your results and explain that information, but be ready to cover topics that you didn’t expect to discuss; this makes for a more interesting and informative experience for both parties.
A fully credentialed actuary (FSA) in the pension field with 5-10 years of experience receives around $125,000 to $150,000.
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