First Actuarial celebrates its special day


First Actuarial

Once a year, everyone at First Actuarial comes together in one place to work and play for a day. This is the day.

Most of us choose where we want to work and if we don’t like it, we go and work somewhere else. I’ve been at First Actuarial nine years now and I’m not going anywhere.

It’s not done to advertise your company as a good place to work on a blog. But I feel like doing just that this morning. It’s very rare that a small company can have done so much in its fourteen years , it’s not done to boast about your company’s achievements – but though I own no share of First Actuarial, I feel that it is “my company” and one that I can be proud of.

Yesterday I spent an afternoon and an evening with Allianz , my colleague Derek Benstead and other friends of CDC. I credit the CDC consultation paper that arrived this week to the deal done between Royal Mail and CWU. Not to put too fine a point of it, Hilary Salt, my boss – was at the heart of that deal. First Actuarial are making a difference.

I spent some time with Mike (the Bazooka) Otsuka. First Actuarial advise the university unions and it was with their advice that  helped the USS stay open.  First Actuarial has been a key influencer in the debate over the future of USS and by extension many other defined benefit schemes.

Each month we publish our FAB Index, which tells a very different picture about the state of pension solvency than the doom-ridden analyses of many of our competitors. Many of the schemes we advise use a best estimates approach to scheme funding and though there is plenty of prudence built into our valuations, we have moved the dial for many trustees and employers who see the advantages of long-term investing over a flightpath to buy-out.

But we are pragmatic and when employers and trustees decide that they are looking to offload their pension obligations to an insurer, we help our clients to prepare for and execute the deal. While we have strong convictions, we are not dogmatic. Our pragmatism arises from those who founded the company, all knowing what it’s like to own and run their own business.

It is this entrepreneurial spirit which is what I value most about First Actuarial. It not only allows me to work with those who own the company on business decisions but allows those Founders to share in the entrepreneurial work I do with Pension PlayPen and now AgeWage.

My job at First Actuarial is to help develop its business. I am allowed to write my own job description and execute independently. From time to time that means that we are out of step – when this happens we have frank discussions which get quickly resolved and we move on.

I cannot think of any other professional practice that is so accommodating towards their employees as First Actuarial. It really is a pleasure to work for our Founders and with nearly 300 other souls who by and large – feel as I do.

This year, by dint of others merging, us doing what we do as usual and thanks to a fair number of new clients coming to us , we are listed among the top ten consultancies in the UK. That’s quite an achievement for a firm that started from scratch in 2004. Credit to the 9 Founders who started out and who still run the shop

Why I’m writing this….

I’m not paid to write this, I write this because today is our special day and I hope that as well as my regular readers, some of my colleagues who don’t normally read my blog, will read this.

I hope that you, whether you work for First Actuarial or another organisation – or yourself – or if you don’t work – find some inspiration from these few words. It really is a great pleasure to work for First Actuarial, I’d like to think that First Actuarial feel the same about me. Can you say the same?

If you can, then you should thank your lucky stars. If you can’t then either you should set about changing the way you work, and if you can’t do that – maybe you should think about where you work!

Working for the wrong company is soul destroying, if you can’t properly say your as proud of your employment as I am of mine – do something about it!

Hilary Salt

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in actuaries, age wage, pensions and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to First Actuarial celebrates its special day

  1. TRCRC says:

    How refreshing to read a genuinely sounding recognition of success. A delightfully worded ‘advertisement’ by an obviously erudite, compassionate, advocate. Very Best Wishes.

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