Jack May

As with everyone, I have had the odd moment of clarity in my career, where suddenly the building blocks fall into place: why you never say ‘risk’ without thinking ‘reward’, or why people care so much where your diversification benefit comes from. These ‘aha’ moments, though few and far between, hinted at some sort of common framework, pattern or thought process underlying what seemed to be quite disparate questions. I wondered why people were asking such eclectic groups of questions, as they seemed at the time. I chose to study for the CERA qualification to better understand these links and to understand the thought process behind how a business is actually run.

The CERA qualification provided me with many years’ worth of accumulated business knowledge and experience in just a few short months. This has greatly improved my understanding and the clarity with which I am able to answer questions which had previously seemed esoteric. The qualification provided an excellent combination of high-level understanding and detailed insight. This combination has given me a fantastic framework for understanding a business, which in turn allows me to make decisions and suggestions which directly support our management team. I was surprised by how quickly and how clearly this qualification made a tangible improvement to my day-to-day work.

The actuarial exams tend to be detail-oriented, providing very concentrated understanding of particular topics. This can make it hard to ‘see the wood for the trees’. I had assumed that the CERA qualification would be much the same, but in fact it provided a fascinating change of perspective. While it focuses on risk management, this is based on the premise that all decisions are, at their core, risk management decisions. Company management is therefore one and the same as risk management.

I am currently responsible for the development of our Internal Model. This means ensuring that the model is fit for purpose and provides stakeholders from across the business with the information that they need. In this regard, understanding the broader picture and the information on which decisions will hang is vital. By doing so, we can not only provide management with the most relevant information, but we are able to explain how that information solves the problem they are considering. The broader understanding provided by the CERA qualification allows us to ‘translate’ between the big-picture concerns of senior management and our detailed modelling. This ensures that our effort is concentrated where it will have the most impact, and that the relevance of our output is understood. This improves our team’s output, but also the efficiency and appropriateness with which decisions can be made across the organisation.

My advice to someone considering studying for the qualification – go for it! Regardless of the actual qualification itself, the background, information and skills that you gain just from studying the material really are invaluable. The fact that it comes with the CERA accreditation as well is really just the icing on the cake.

Find out more about the CERA credential and the CERA Global Association