Extract from Glasgow Actuarial Student Society Seminar

The Triple A model is a simple tool to help you develop your career to its fullest potential. We have tailored the context and examples to student actuaries at the early stages of their career; however, the principles of the model are applicable at every stage… and it is useful to be aware of the sort of things a professional services firm is looking for from its senior people (which in this case we have for convenience denoted as a Partner).

From our experience and research in the industry, we have identified the following five key criteria organisations in general seek from their top talent:

  • Revenue
    The ability to generate sufficient income is a key component of the business case for Partnership in many firms. This can either be sourced from a product/service you are responsible for, or from a portfolio of clients.
  • Business Development
    Naturally this includes the ability to attract new clients. It can also include the development of new products/services, enhancing the firm’s intellectual capital or enhancing the firm’s talent base for example.
  • Firm-wide perspective
    The step up to Partner is often characterised by individuals changing their mind-set, knowledge and influence from that of operating within their practice area to representing and being responsible for the firm as a whole.
  • Leadership role model
    Partners need to act as ambassadors for the business both to clients and to staff, actively demonstrating the values of the organisation and their commitment to delivering a high level of service to clients and the firm.
  • Partner fit
    The existing Partners will naturally have some view of the behaviours they are seeking for those ‘joining the club’, albeit this will very much depend on the culture of the organisation.

So what to do with this knowledge? If you are serious in taking a step up in your career our experience indicates that the best way forward is to plan for any step up well in advance. You will need to be operating close to the next level you are targeting, and then give yourself time to hone your skills accordingly. Given that a number of the above criteria are linked to working with clients, we would recommend that much of your activity (as well as passing your exams!) should be on honing your client skills. The Triple A model, discussed in the next section, can help you do so.

The Triple A™ Model

This has been designed to inspire people in their careers by changing and challenging their Attitudes, broadening their Awareness and stimulating positive Actions.

We consider each in turn:

Attitudes

We would urge you to take personal responsibility for the development of your career – your firm will support you but the drive should come from you. Regard feedback on your performance as a valuable source of information that can help you move forward, not as something to be feared. Retain an enquiring mind, seeking to learn new techniques and broaden your technical knowledge and client skills. Be prepared to take a risk and to view failure as a valuable learning experience.

Awareness

We all have blind spots. Seek feedback from your colleagues, team, boss and if possible clients on what you do well and what you could improve on. Don’t accept feedback that “you are doing well” – ask people for specific feedback on what you could do to move up to the next level. Recognise that it is other people’s perception of what you do and how you do things that matter, not what is in a job specification or what you think your role is.

Actions

Firstly, act on the feedback you receive! Some things may take a while to change or develop so give yourself a sensible timescale. Given our comments about attitude above, actively seek to do as much client work as possible, get to client meetings, ask to be able to present a report, observe and learn from Partners in action, and seek feedback on what you could do better- whether drafting a report or engaging with clients.

Author: Russell Borland