Actuarial

"Actuarial graduates receive a lot of investment at an individual level with a generous study package in terms of the materials, study days and tuition supplied." Cat Conquest, Actuarial Graduate

Our actuaries solve key business problems in a complex and fast-moving environment. They play a crucial role in our commercial success, and how effectively we manage our risks.

For our actuarial programme, we're looking for highly numerate, analytical minds. People with a passion for problem-solving, continuous learning, taking responsibility and who communicate well with colleagues at every level.

As part of the programme, you'll be studying towards becoming a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA). It's a globally-recognised qualification into a well-respected profession - and you'll get lots of support from us to achieve it.

You'll have in-house tutorials and generous study leave. This has already helped many of our graduates gain their qualification in an above-average time for the profession - and with exam pass rates that consistently outperform the average too.

You'll have rotational placements in a variety of business areas - with work ranging from financial reporting and risk management, to business planning and developing investment strategy. These will help you meet the IFoA's work-based skills requirements. Not to mention understand the needs of different stakeholders - customers, regulators and shareholders.

Throughout your placements, you'll also have the support of your manager, mentors who are qualified actuaries, and buddies who are studying too.

  • Duration: Dependent on exam passes.
  • Structure: Rotational placements.
  • Development: A series of professional exams to become a fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
  • Entry requirements: First or 2:1 degree, or a post-graduate qualification. A minimum grade A in Mathematics at Higher, A Level, Irish Leaving Certificate or equivalent. You'll also need a minimum grade B in English at GCSE, Standard Grade or equivalent.

Read the below stories to hear from some of Graduates who have been in the same position as you, along with one of their placement managers:

Cat Conquest

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What were you studying before joining Standard Life?

I studied Mathematics with a Year Abroad. I spent three years at Durham University and a year at the Université de Strasbourg in France. Whilst studying, I consistently preferred the applied side of the subject, and sought a career where I would be able to develop my analytical and problem solving skills to produce real-world outcomes. As such, I applied for the Actuarial Internship with Standard Life in my third year, before becoming an Actuarial Graduate Trainee in September 2016.

How would you describe our culture?

Standard Life has a culture which is remarkably collegiate in nature. I’ve felt both supported and challenged since joining. Weekly catch-ups with my manager provide a regular checkpoint for discussing my progress for that week as well as upcoming tasks. There have been plenty of opportunities for getting involved outside of the day job too – including charity work, joining networks, and attending events. There’s also a really strong sense of community amongst the actuarial graduates, which is a great support network (particularly when exams are approaching).

What do you think is the main benefit for a graduate working at Standard Life?

Due to the structure of the graduate programme, we’ve had access to a lot of training opportunities: ranging from the more technical details of the asset management industry to softer skills such as public speaking. Further, as an actuarial graduate, we receive a lot of investment at an individual level: with a generous study package in terms of the materials, study days and tuition supplied. Starting the graduate scheme with a group of like-minded peers has really enhanced the social aspect of simultaneously starting a new job and moving to a new city.

Why did you decide to join Standard Life?

I really value Standard Life’s approach to corporate and social responsibility. When applying, I placed a lot of importance upon finding an employer with whom I felt I had shared values and causes. Clear and specific corporate and social responsibility initiatives demonstrated to me that Standard Life conducts business in a grounded, conscientious manner.

I researched experiences of previous interns and graduates to acquaint myself with the type of work and responsibilities they were given. I liked that interns were often given specific projects which lasted the majority of the placement, promoting a sense of ownership and responsibility. On the graduate scheme, our two-year rotations permit the opportunity to develop a deeper technical understanding of a role as well as exposure to a variety of disciplines prior to qualification.

Were you a previous intern with Standard Life, if so, what made you want to return?

I was an intern in my penultimate year of university. Whilst completing my assigned project, I made a concerted effort to meet with a broad range of colleagues around the business. This helped in building a more holistic view of the company, whilst speaking to actuaries across various departments gave me an insight into the breadth of roles available here as a graduate or qualified actuary. Using the internship as an insight into working life with the company, I was inspired to come back as a graduate after my final year.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying?

Do your research. It is important to read the careers pages, reviews, articles, and press releases available to you. This helps to build up a picture of the wider industry, and how Standard Life fits into that. Understand the role and inform yourself about the actuarial profession: balancing work and study is a challenge, so you must be prepared for the commitment required. Further, identify how your experiences match the job description. Saying yes to opportunities as they arise is invaluable: be it through volunteering, presenting, joining a committee or organising an event. As well as building into your application, they also provide a good base for undertaking similar opportunities once within the company.

Dan Bryant

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What were you studying before joining Standard Life?

I studied a BSci Natural Sciences in Maths and Physics at Durham University

How would you describe our culture?

Standard Life is determined to deliver the best service and outcomes for our customers; all decisions revolve around this underlying ethos. The company understands that in order to achieve this employees must be both well supported and experts in their field.

All employees are encouraged to develop their skills on training courses; attend “Unplugged” sessions where they can hear from and directly question senior leaders; and to broaden their knowledge of the company at “Unwrapped” sessions hosted by local experts.

I also feel that Standard Life understands the importance of a healthy work/life balance (I have nearly 40 days of annual leave - OK we only get 3 bank holidays but still!). The support and flexibility of working, combined with my short 15 minute walk to work, means that, although work is challenging, I’m able to fit it around all the other aspects of my life.

What do you think is the main benefit for a graduate working at Standard Life?

The main benefit of being an Actuarial Graduate at Standard Life is the industry leading exam and study support package, which is the envy of my Actuarial friends working at other companies. The study time provided as well as the flexibility which I am given to use it means I can fit studying in without having to work over the weekends or late into the night. It is also a major factor into Standard Life’s excellent exam pass rate.

Being a graduate also means you are part of a large social network within the company. In the first two months of the scheme Standard Life housed all graduates moving from outside Edinburgh in a block of fully serviced apartments. Being new to the city this was of great help to meet the new graduate intake whilst also building a network that spanned right across the company. As a result I have a great friendship group of fellow graduates who I socialise with outside of work regularly.

What has been your proudest moment so far?

A year after joining the company I was working on a project to implement a new European regulation which required insurers to work closely with the fund management companies that manage their funds. To facilitate this work the Investment Association (the trade association for UK fund managers) and the Association of British Insurers (the Insurance equivalent) hosted meetings to discuss how the two industries will combine to deliver this regulation. I was chosen by the project to represent Standard Life at these meetings. The working group ended up combining with similar groups around Europe and, for around 3 months, I was Standard Life’s voice at these pan European meetings; both a great responsibility and fantastic learning opportunity that I was very lucky and proud to have been offered.

What advice would you give to someone considering applying?

The application process can feel daunting so take it step by step.

Before applying research the company, the scheme you’re applying for and, if you’re new to the city, Edinburgh itself. Then think, is this right for me? If it is then all you have to do is say why – but make it personal to both yourself and the company!

For the online tests it’s just a case of practice, practice, practice.

By the time you get to the Assessment Centre you should have a reasonable idea of your motivations for joining Standard Life. Be yourself, get to know the other applicants, chat to the current graduates and you’ll be fine. Also bear in mind that this stage is as much about Standard Life choosing you as it is you choosing Standard Life; so use the opportunity to ask questions about the company, scheme, how previous graduates have progressed in the company etc.

Claire Yule

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What value do graduates bring to your department?

Fresh thinking and new ways of doing things. It’s always good to have a variety of backgrounds and experiences to learn from.

Why should applicants choose to join your department & Standard Life?

I joined Standard Life as a graduate in 2010 and I think a lot of the factors that attracted me to the role still stand. I wanted to be able to use my maths and problem solving skills in a business environment; I wanted to work for a large company who would support me through my studies and provide me with diverse placements so I could understand the variety of work on offer. I also liked what I learned of the company’s culture – it’s a very supportive place to work. Finally I was keen to work in Edinburgh – it’s a beautiful city that’s been home for over 11 years now.

What projects can graduates expect to be involved in?

Our graduates have rotational placements and actuaries work in all areas of the company – from Finance and Risk to Operations and Proposition Development. The common theme is that we’re trying to add insight using our skills in data analysis and risk management.

What can a graduate gain from working in your area?

Aside from the varied and challenging work placements there’s a large network of actuarial trainees at Standard Life which provides a supportive environment to help progress through the professional exams. We sponsor our trainees through the qualification as well as ensuring they have the opportunity to develop skills to make them more effective in the workplace.

What career opportunities can they expect?

Typically, our trainees qualify faster than average thanks to the generous study package on offer. Through training and beyond we offer rotational placements to help build a rounded understanding of our business.

What advice would you give to graduates joining your area?

Ask questions and spend time learning how each person contributes to the wider goals of the area, and the company. Never lose sight of the big picture – it’s often most important!

Applications for this stream have now closed for 2017.

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