Articles - A Day in the Life of...Jatin Dusara, an Actuarial Student

 Jatin Dusara

 By Jatin Dusara, Actuarial Assistant

 The work …
 I have now been part of Xafinity’s pension consultancy business for four and a half years, joining as a trainee actuary and working along the way towards attaining a senior level position within the department. Our consultancy business advises clients on the retirement benefits that they provide. Our clients consist of medium to large sized sponsoring employers or trustees of pension schemes. We do valuations on scheme benefits, perform calculations on individual members’ benefits, provide advice on scheme benefit changes, and also review appropriate investment strategies schemes’ could adopt. 

 Over the last three years my role has continually evolved keeping me busy, challenged and importantly satisfied. I do a wide variety of work, varying from smaller tasks like individual member calculations to being part of larger projects like working on actuarial valuations and accounting disclosures. As my experiences and knowledge have grown over the years, more challenging work has been passed to me. As a result, I have now taken on additional responsibilities within the team such as managing some of our clients on a day-to-day basis, checking work within the team as well as attending clients meetings as and when required. I started work with great expectations for a challenging and rewarding career, and have not been disappointed.

 A typical day …
 My day to day work is challenging and requires a good deal of commitment, application and the ability to deal with the unexpected.  I outline below my most recent Monday, in order to provide a feel for what my typical day might be.

 My first task for the day involves reading emails and responding to any queries that may have been raised by my colleagues or clients. I then prioritise my work for the day and catch up on any outstanding jobs I may have before attending the scheduled 10.00am team meeting. These meetings are usually conducted on a weekly basis, where we plan the work for the week ahead, discuss individual and client deadlines and ensure the workload is prioritised and shared within the team.

 I arrive back at my desk and start with my long term project which I had been assigned to last week. I am currently working on an actuarial valuation for one of our major clients. An actuarial valuation is basically a process that determines the financial position of a pension scheme and where necessary address any shortfall. I spend the remainder of the morning doing research on the client, summarising and understanding the pension benefits provided in the scheme as well as any subsequent changes that may have occurred recently. This is an important part of the valuation process as this background provides the foundation required to start the project effectively. Any legislative changes that may affect the benefits under the scheme are also identified and noted, to ensure that the benefits are valued correctly.

 Having spent the morning researching the scheme, I then move into the second stage, which involves analysing the membership data for the valuation. The outcome of such a valuation is to determine how much a sponsoring employer would need to pay in the scheme. Therefore, the analysis and preparation of the data is of upmost importance. I spend the rest of the afternoon analysing the data, concentrating in particular on how the membership data has changed over the years and indentifying any loop holes that may have occurred.          

 An unexpected email arrives from one of our client whose auditors have raised some queries regarding the accounting disclosures we prepared last week. The answers to the queries raised are required as soon as possible; I shift my focus from the data preparation exercise to tackling the queries raised and drafting the response.

 I finish drafting the response, which would then need to be reviewed with the Actuary before replying. I start clearing my desk and briefly summarise the important tasks I need to tackle the next day before calling it a day.

 Studying and learning
 One of the main challenges I have faced so far is balancing the work and study commitments. Xafinity provides a very supportive and a generous study package. A study mentor with recent experience of the exams is appointed to help us with decision making and to discuss any problems that may occur. Sharing experiences with work colleagues also helps provide the much needed moral support to ensure success. Over the years, I have steadily progressed through the exams with the help of the Company’s excellent study package and a supportive study mentor.

 Looking ahead
 To be a successful Actuary it is important to have good technical knowledge as well as excellent communication skills. It’s all about building relationships within your team and your clients. The great thing about Xafinity is that along with the technical training they also help you develop essential skills through a well structured in-house training programme. I want to continue working for a company that offers a supportive environment in which I can progress my actuarial career and Xafinity seems to be the perfect choice for me.

 Location: London
 Current:  Institute and Faculty of Actuarial exams – in progress
 Qualified: Postgraduate Diploma in Actuarial Science, Cass Business School
 BSc Mathematics & Computer Science, Royal Holloway University of London


 About Xafinity

 Xafinity is one of the UK’s leading specialist providers of pension, employee benefits and payments expertise, with 170 years’ experience.
 The group provides consulting, software, resourcing, training and business process outsourcing services that enable public and private sector organisations to deliver employee benefits more efficiently.
 At the 2010 UK Pension Awards Xafinity was recognised as Pension Software Provider of the Year for the fifth time in six years.  At the Pension and Investment Provider awards in 2010 Xafinity won Best Pension Administration Software and in 2009 were voted the best Third Party Administration Provider.  Xafinity is the accredited software supplier to the UK Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme.
 With 1,300 people nationwide, Xafinity has operational and relationship management centres across the UK, in Bath, Belfast, Cardiff, Crawley, Farnborough, Fleetwood, Leeds, London, Manchester, Preston, Reading, Stafford, Stirling, Waterlooville and Worcester.

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