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Understanding yourself in pensions
11 September 2020

Understanding yourself in pensions

I started working in pensions back in 2014 at only 19 years old and with a background of A Levels in Maths, Psychology and Spanish, and then a year working in retail. I was part of Aon’s first intake of pension consulting apprentices and so it was a new experience for those working with me, as well as for me having never had an office-based job before. I had no previous knowledge in pensions and started with the more straightforward tasks such as updating trustee training logs and pulling together meeting packs. Fortunately for me, my colleagues were encouraging and as my knowledge and capability improved, I was delegated more complex work.

I now provide pensions management and scheme secretarial services to both Defined Benefit (DB) and Defined Contribution (DC) pension. Tasks I am now regularly involved in include producing meeting agendas and minutes as well as helping to solve individual members’ problems and tackling tricky member death cases. The latest challenge has been to ensure effective ‘virtual’ trustee meetings, often by making them more frequent but shorter and more focused.

If I was going to provide advice to colleagues on how to progress their careers, it would be to always ask for the background. Having a wider understanding of how a task fits into a bigger picture is really helpful and means I learn through my work. Also, by understanding a task better, you are more likely to be able to take a more advanced role or ownership next time.

I would also encourage colleagues to take the PMI exams. They are hard work, but I surprised myself and colleagues by winning five top marks in these. I qualified as an Associate Member of the Pension Management Institute at the end of 2018 and have experienced first-hand how the material I learnt as part of the exams helps in my everyday role.

The final bit of advice I would give to colleagues, is to take opportunities you are given, even if you find these daunting. These will develop you and help you progress in your career. It is by doing new things that we learn.

For me, now that I have a deeper understanding of pensions and have seen a variety of work over the five and a half years I have worked in the industry, my next goal is to become the overall client manager with responsibility for everyone, from the Scheme Actuary to the administration team and Aon’s overall relationship with the client. I also enjoy developing more junior colleagues and helping apprentices and graduates as they enter the pensions profession.

Notes/Sources

This article was featured in Pensions Aspects magazine September edition

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Last update: 19 January 2021

Hazel Holland
Hazel Holland
Aon
Associate Consultant

Assistant Pensions Investment Consultant - Berkshire

Salary: £31500 - £37000 pa

Location: Berkshire

Senior Pensions Governance and Secretariat Consultant

Salary: £70000 - £90000 pa

Location: Hampshire

Senior Pensions Analyst

Salary: £55000 - £75000 pa

Location: London

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