Lin enjoys the variety that being a contracting actuary offers. She finds that being able to bond with her colleagues gives her the edge when it comes to extending her contracts.
“I get to meet lots of new people as I move to new clients. It’s great to make new friends and bond with new teams.”
New people and new challenges
“I see other contractors come and go, in the actuarial profession you need to make the effort to become part of the team; not just come in, get the job done and then leave. It’s great to make good connections with the people you work with.”
Travelling to new clients gives her variety and new challenges too. “I need to work onsite as the models and software need to be kept in house rather than remotely installed on my own computer. It’s a double edged sword as I get to work with lots of great firms and people but travelling can be tiring.”
The weekly commute
Travel is the best and worst part of my job. I love the variety and I get to work in some brilliant locations; London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and now Manchester. The only downside is that I tend to only see my husband at the weekend. I started my career working for different clients so I don’t really know any different.
The contractor lifestyle
“I like that I work in a free market and the flexibility it offers for both contractors and clients. I work hard and get rewarded for it. I like the mind set of being in control of your career and retraining as necessary or relocating to where the opportunities are. It provides great motivation to do well and progress. When I graduated from university, I had two weeks training with my employer, then they sent me out to work for clients so it was a pretty easy transition for me to move to being a contractor and work for myself.
The only real challenge was the psychological aspect of removing the safety net of a permanent role; but I’m secure by ensuring I have plenty of provision for any gaps between contracts. I hold savings for 1-2 years which is a lot, but it offers peace of mind and plenty to fall back on. I also make sure that I have another contract lined up prior to my existing contract finishing. This involves making strong connections with the teams I work with as well as my agency.
I would consider going back to a permanent role; to perhaps move to different areas or progress to the next level, I’m flexible so I’d be happy to move into a permanent role for a while then back to contracting depending on the opportunities for my career progression.”
“The work transition was pretty easy and I found setting up my own company pretty straight forward, in fact finding a good company name was the most time consuming element. I found inniAccounts through a fellow contractor recommending them. Their service is great for keeping my business accounts up to date and it handles all the financial admin for me.”
Lin’s advice for other actuaries thinking of becoming a contractor
“My biggest piece of advice is finish your actuarial exams first. Actuarial qualifications take on average 7 years to complete and employers will let you take time off for study and taking the actual exams and they provide a lot of support on their graduate schemes. I became a contractor whilst sitting the exams and it’s taken me 6 years of working without study leave so I fit the study into my spare time which is hard. It’s also difficult to get time off to take the exams as all the permanent trainee actuaries are off at the same time taking exams and clients look to contractors to fill in for them.
My other piece of advice is to become part of the team. Yes, you are a contractor but it’s important to fit in and be a part of the team. In our field, it’s important to pull together and make the effort to mix with your co-workers whilst you’re working with them.”