A Year in the Life of an Actuarial Placement Student at Boal & Co: Meet Caitlin Devlin

May 2, 2024

As a specialist pensions company with a dedicated in-house Actuarial team, Boal & Co has offered a unique placement year experience for Actuarial Science students for the past 15 years.

As a result, we have proudly played a key part in the early careers of 18 actuarial, finance and pensions professionals. Of these, one is now a Director of Boal & Co and another a regular speaker at our annual Pensions Governance Conference.

Here, Caitlin Devlin (2023/2024 placement student), shares her placement year highlights, career aspirations, key learnings and her thoughts on Boal & Co and the Isle of Man.

Why did you choose Actuarial Science and Risk Management for your degree?

Maths was a favourite subject at school. I really enjoy problem solving and knew I wanted a career involving further studying and continuous learning. Actuarial Science certainly ticks all these boxes!

What does your degree involve?

My degree thoroughly prepared me for my time at Boal & Co. During my first two years at Queen’s University Belfast, I studied a wide range of topics including statistics, economics, accounting, and investments as well as several actuarial modules. I also attended placement preparation classes which involved learning how to prepare a CV and practising interview techniques. I am extremely thankful to the Queen’s placement office as they made the process of applying to Boal & Co very easy.

 What attracted you to Boal & Co?

Boal & Co came highly recommended by previous Queen’s students. I knew it was a great company which looks after its placement students and offers a wide array of experiences and skills. Also, the Isle of Man is a beautiful place with loads to do and it’s only a short flight to head home for the weekend.

What do you enjoy about living and working on the Isle of Man?

I enjoy the peace and safety of the Island and having the confidence to go for a walk in the evenings by myself.

I didn’t know anyone on the Island when I moved over and have enjoyed getting to know new people, joining clubs, and getting involved in sports to keep me busy outside of work. I certainly feel much more independent from doing so. The team at Boal & Co made settling into the office so easy; everyone has been lovely and helpful.

 What have you been working on?

I have been compiling investment reports for our internal boards from a range of different investment providers. We analyse fund and investment activity and produce financial reports to illustrate overall performance. I am currently completing my fourth batch of reports and they have become a lot easier to do as my understanding has developed over time.

I am involved with a range of different projects which makes for a really varied role – no two days are the same!

 What is the most interesting part of an Actuary’s role?

Teamwork. Although we may have an individual task to complete, we typically work as a team, helping each other with problems and checking each other’s work.

What is the most challenging part of an Actuary’s role?

Actuaries are presented with problems to solve daily. Although this is challenging, the ongoing sense of accomplishment creates such an interesting, varied and rewarding role.

How would you describe an Actuary in one sentence?

An actuary is a maths expert who manages risk by analysing data.

Have there been any surprises during your placement year?

Heading into the office on my 21st birthday and seeing pink balloons and birthday banners around my desk was a nice surprise! I had only been working in the office a few weeks and received lovely presents and messages from everyone.

What has been your highlight?

Working with such a brilliant team of people. The Actuaries I work with are incredibly knowledgeable, experienced and supportive; I have learned so much from them. And the wider team have taught me a great deal too – I am so grateful to all of them.

What key learning from the year will you take forward to your career?

The actuarial department in Boal & Co is small compared to some of the bigger companies. This has not only made it easier to get to know my team and work closely together but it has also given me exposure to a wide range of tasks and scenarios, providing me with experience across the board.

Importantly, the flexibility offered has also taught me that I prefer to be in the office rather than working from home. For me, face-to-face interaction makes it easier to get to know my colleagues and work as a team, as well as creating that separation between work and home.

What top tip would you give to a future Boal & Co placement student?

Have some knowledge of Excel before starting your placement. I haven’t gone a day of placement without spending at least a couple of hours using it. I had some knowledge from university, but I have continued learning throughout my time with Boal.

That said, don’t let limited experience of Excel put you off, as the team are more than happy to help you learn and will always be there if you are stuck.

What is next for you?

I have a few months to go before I finish my placement in August. I plan to make the most of it by continuing to expand my knowledge and learning everything I can from such a great team of experienced Actuaries. On the social side,

I am excited to experience the Isle of Man TT, having heard so much about it from my colleagues.

Would you recommend Boal & Co to future Actuarial students?

Yes, I would. I have had an amazing placement experience so far and can’t wait to see what the next few months hold. I can confidently say I have gained a wealth of experience which I will take on to my final year of university and my future career.

Although it was a bit of an adjustment moving to a new Island and not knowing anyone, I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience and have really enjoyed my time in the Isle of Man. Everyone at Boal & Co has been great; looking after me and making sure I am settled and happy in both my role and on the Island in general.

What are your career aspirations?

I have really enjoyed working in pensions during my placement year and hope to continue in the pensions industry after graduation. I also plan to start my actuarial exams as soon as I graduate, with the aim of becoming an Associate of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the next few years.