Jenny Molloy, an Assistant Underwriter, tells us about what it’s like to work for a medium-sized insurance firm in the City of London, plus tips on how to make a good application.
What company do you work for?
I work for Atrium Underwriters, a Lloyd’s of London syndicate. We write a variety of insurance classes including aviation, marine, casualty, property, energy, reinsurance, war and terrorism. Lloyd’s is an unusual environment to work in as I work on a trading floor. There is always a hive of activity as brokers visit the underwriters to discuss and negotiate business.
What do you do?
My job title is Assistant Underwriter, which involves risk modelling, data management and assisting the underwriter with underwriting decisions. I specialise in aviation reinsurance, which is the insuring of aviation insurers.
What did you study at university?
I studied Maths, which is useful for my role because aviation reinsurance is quite a technical class of insurance. My peers at Atrium have a variety of degrees including Business, Biology, Engineering and English.
Since joining Atrium I have been supported in studying for my insurance qualification from the Chartered Institute of Insurance and I now hold an Advanced Diploma in Insurance. This took about three and a half years to study for in my spare time but I was fully supported by my company and my managers.
What does a typical day in insurance look like?
I don’t think there is a typical day in insurance underwriting. Our class has busy renewal periods where a lot of our clients renew on the same date. If there is a big renewal date coming up I might be analysing our clients data to understand and price their risk, this involves using mathematical models to determine their exposure. I could also be reading through renewal information or checking contracts. We would also be meeting with the brokers who are representing our clients to discuss or negotiate the risk.
Outside of renewal season we could have client meetings, we could be planning for the year ahead or I could be working on projects which could be researching loss trends or updating modelling software. I also have to do a fair amount of admin – making sure the information on the system is up to date and correct.
Also as we sit on the trading floor at any point a broker can come in to see us with new business, to request changes to contracts or discuss renewals.
What do you like most about your job?
I like the combination of analytical and interaction with clients, brokers and colleagues. I need to be able to analyse and process complex information and maintain good relationships with brokers and clients. I have also started travelling to meet with clients in the US and in Europe. Insurance isn’t an obvious choice of career but can be very interesting and is very connected to the wider world as we can insure a huge range of things from satellites to insuring against the risk of terrorism.
What about any challenges?
I would say that it can be quite stressful around renewal periods when you need to get a lot done in a short period of time.
How did you apply for the job?
I found the job on milkround.com. I sent my CV and covering letter, and was invited to interview with my current manager, the Class Underwriter, and the Head of HR as well as taking numerical and verbal reasoning tests. In my second interview I also spoke to the Active Underwriter, who is the head of the syndicate, and an Actuary.
What makes a good application?
I would say that any application would have to demonstrate analytical skills as well as good communication and business awareness. Maths ability is very important. I also think that IT skills are a must, especially a really good knowledge of Excel. Any prior experience with contract wordings may be helpful but a keen attention to detail is an important attribute.
Any tips for getting into insurance?
I would recommend getting work experience. It is important to get a feel for how the industry works and Lloyd’s especially as it is a very unusual work environment. Lots of my peers at Atrium got their role following work experience at the company. Applying for structured programmes is a good idea as well as networking with people in the industry. Work experience isn’t essential, though, as that wasn’t my route in and the industry is often keen to recruit talented individuals.
What are the progression opportunities like?
In underwriting there is quite a linear progression – as you gain more experience, you are given more responsibility.
For more information about Lloyd’s you can find lots of information here: http://www.lloyds.com/lloyds/about-us/what-we-do
Written by Rhiannon Williams.