Articles - Star Actuarial Futures celebrates 5 year anniversary

Louis Manson, Manging Director at Star Actuarial Futures, sits down with Editor Ellie Burns to discuss the past, present and future of Star Actuarial and the actuarial recruitment market as a whole.

Ellie Burns: How did you start in the actuarial recruitment market?

LM: I started in actuarial recruitment in March 2002. I was working as an actuarial trainee at PwC, but wanted to move to a role better suited to my skillset. I felt that there was a great opportunity to provide high quality recruitment consultancy services to the market.

 EB: What did your time at PwC teach you?
 LM: It taught me that in order to succeed; you need to work very hard pointing in the right direction; that right direction being a personal one. Around that time circa 75 actuarial trainees joined PwC in pensions and investment, many of whom are now amongst my closest friends. It was an immense privilege to work with them and they are now Directors, Senior/Chief Actuaries and CROs, across the actuarial market and around the globe.
 EB: What was it like when you first left PwC?
 LM: It was a big change for sure, from having work placed on my desk, to a scenario where I had to proactively seek, solve, and deliver my own work. It’s a great process to follow, very challenging, and equally rewarding. My first recruitment role was at GAAPS Actuarial who I joined over other agencies as they offered the most freedom to development my own consultancy style.
 EB: So what is your style?
 LM: I am straightforward and quick to act - I present people with information, and create the maximum opportunity set from which candidates can choose. I think that it is very important for candidates to be placed in the right jobs, in order to maximise their careers. It is equally important for companies to hire the right people in order to realise their business strategies. It is simple, but relies on a strong knowledge base, and very hard work.
 EB: How do you view the rest of the actuarial recruitment market?
 LM: If you look at the actuarial market now, you will see three or four main players, of which we are one. However, the market is ever changing and renewing. You are only as good as your consultants and some teams have fragmented considerably in recent years. We are delighted to have maintained a stable team. All of our consultants have significant experience either in industry or recruitment or both.
 EB: So why would you encourage candidates to choose Star?
 LM: We have a very strong client list with a wide range of vacancies and the consultancy skills to help candidates find the role that is right for them. We will deal with you honestly and professionally. If you are looking for a job in the UK then you should speak with us.
 EB: What about potential clients?
 LM: We attract the best talent available. We are straightforward, flexible and quick-to-act. Our experienced, knowledgeable and extremely well-connected consulting team will work to fill your vacancies with energy and enthusiasm. Your message will be delivered to candidates with clarity and conviction. You will gain access to high-quality candidates who are working with us exclusively.
 EB: How do you source your candidates?
 LM: We network pro-actively, make targeted headhunt calls, advertise widely and use our extensive database which is populated with accurate information.
 EB: After considerable success at GAAPS what prompted you to found Star?
 LM: It was the natural next step. I learned a lot at GAAPS - we developed a great team spirit - but for various reasons people left the London office, and it felt natural to take some time out before looking to build something new.
 EB: How did you and Antony meet?
 LM: We met at induction with PwC in September 1999 - we had both just graduated from university, both ready to start our actuarial careers. Ant was joining the Birmingham office, I was joining in Edinburgh. A friendship was quickly forged and built from afar. Whilst at GAAPS, Ant came to me in order to move to general insurance, which we successfully managed. We then worked together to build Ant’s team at Legal & General, with the successful provision of various new staff members.
 I have always been happiest building teams and watching them prosper. This also reinforces the desire to build the best possible team at Star.
 EB: What was the market like at this time 5 years ago? Had SII taken hold before Star started?
 LM: At the point we founded Star, the market was still recovering from the credit crunch but Solvency II driven demand soon took off. Starting a recruitment company at any period is very hard work, but the SII demand allowed us to grow more quickly.
 EB: And what is the market like right at this moment?
 LM: The insurance market is very busy again. There is high demand for high-quality actuaries, who are in short supply. We are very well placed to meet this demand.
 EB: Can you chart Star’s growth through the various milestones that have appeared in the actuarial/financial markets since your inception 5 years ago?
 LM: The best way to chart Star’s growth is by mapping the growth of our consulting team. Our first hire was Irene Paterson, ex-partner at Mercer, and Head of Regulatory Policy at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. Irene was a fantastic hire for Star, and continues to deliver excellent results in the market. Our next hire was Lance Randles (now Associate Director) with whom I had worked at GAAPS. Lance had taken time out post leaving GAAPS to complete his MBA, once again showing the calibre of the staff that we look to hire. We further added to the team, with the hires of Paul Cook from a rival actuarial recruitment firm, and Carolina Emmanuel from KPMG. Paul brought a wealth of experience from other recruitment sectors, whilst Carolina was a nearly-qualified pensions actuary looking for a new challenge. Our next wave of hires strengthened the team markedly, with Joanne Young (Operations Director) joining from Mazars, Clare Roberts joining from her role as Head of Actuarial at Barclay Meade, and Peter Baker (recently promoted to Associate Director), joining from Reed Actuarial. All three are seasoned actuarial recruiters, with long track records in the market. Having competed against Jo, Pete and Clare for years it was an immense pleasure to have them join Star.
 EB: And we note, you are advertising again, so who next?
 LM: I cannot tell you exactly who, however I can tell you that all new hires will be driven, tenacious individuals who buy into our values.
 EB: To what do you attribute Star’s success?
 LM: There is no secret ingredient. It is a function of repeated hard-work in the application of our strong market-knowledge, creativity and problem-solving skills. This is in the context of our core objective of building long-term relationships with clients and candidates.
 EB: So what have you planned for the next 5 years at Star?
 LM: We will continue to do what we do best, working closely with our clients to provide great candidates for their vacancies.

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