Essential Skills to succeed in the Pensions Profession

7th August 2023

UK defined benefit and hybrid pensions schemes currently have more than £1 trillion in liabilities. But, has each individual company set aside enough to meet their pensions’ obligations in ten, twenty or even thirty years’ time?

Pensions professionals advise many different stakeholders on how their pension schemes can meet both the scheme member’s and the associated company’s needs, and how best to manage the associated financial and operational risks, now and in the future. This is a very large industry with a wide range of career opportunities, such as administrative, law and consulting pensions roles.

Here are some of the essential skills required to succeed within the pensions industry, with a focus on the role of an actuarial consultant.

Strong verbal and written communication skills are key to be able to clearly explain complex, often technical information to your clients in an easy-to-understand way. Being able to answer questions and come up with bespoke solutions will also enable you to build trust within the relationship. You will also deliver advice, often via presentations, to trustee boards or company leaders. 

Effective communication and engaging presentations are essential both to deliver your expertise to clients and the outside world, and to share knowledge and skills within the business.

Customer Service and Client Relationship Skills
As an actuarial consultant, being helpful and approachable is important to build professional relationships with both your clients and your colleagues. You will need to show awareness and understand their needs to ensure you maintain relationships that deliver the best of your company and yield the best results for your clients.

Problem Solving and Analytical Skills
Working as an advisor in the pensions profession, an essential skill is the ability to break down problems, identify effective solutions and make recommendations. 

Developing rational conclusions using both logical analysis and considering how short and long term challenges can be met will help you ensure your recommendations are optimal. These solutions will differentiate your company from their competitors, aid retention of clients and ensure you are delivering the best, most innovative advice for your clients.

As an actuarial consultant, numerical aptitude is essential. The role involves statistical analysis, interpretation of results, data manipulation and regular Excel use. Being able to understand numerical and graphical information allows pensions professionals to consider all relevant factors when drawing conclusions and explaining their findings. 

Time Management
As an actuarial consultant, you will be working across a number of clients and projects from day 1. Managing your time and ensuring you are prioritising and organising yourself effectively will be key to ensuring you deliver the required pieces of work as and when required. 

Pensions professionals often work with a range of different people from day 1, including peers, managers and clients. You will need to build effective relationships with other team members and maximise the benefit of each member’s contribution in order to deliver the best service to clients. Effective teamwork will also ensure knowledge is shared within the team, and also that you are supported in your development, helping the company, and wider industry, to develop the best professionals of the future.

About the Author

Lauren Saini
Qualified Actuary and Consultant

Lauren Saini is a Qualified Actuary and Consultant in Aon’s Wealth – Retirement Consulting team in London, having worked in actuarial pensions consulting for 7 years. Before starting her career, Lauren graduated from the University of Exeter in 2015 with a degree in Mathematics with Economics. She then started as a graduate actuarial student, and qualified as a Fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in 2020. 

Lauren’s primary role now is being a client facing consultant, advising some of Aon’s clients on how to manage their pension scheme’s liabilities. 

Alongside her client roles, Lauren also holds key people roles within the Retirement Consulting team.

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