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Banking, Finance & Accountancy careers

Pensions

What’s a pension?

It’s probably best to begin this article by explaining what a pension is. Some of you will already know, but it’s always a good idea to make sure.

Very simply: a pension is a procedure that provides people with an income when they’ve finished their working life. Most people set one up when they’re in their twenties and pay a certain amount of money each month to the pension company. More often than not, it’s part of a retirement plan offered by employers.

How do I get started with a career in pensions?

There are a number of key roles within pension companies, including: pension advisors, fund managers, claims administrators, analysts and scheme managers.

For virtually all pension-based careers, there are four key attributes that you’ll eventually need to perfect: administrative understanding, communication skills, the strategy behind what you’re doing and problem-solving techniques.

These skills will come with formal training and experience gained on the job. Generally, you can get into the pensions industry from any academic background. However, a lot of employers will be looking for candidates with a degree in maths, economics, finance or business. For more senior roles, business knowhow and commercial awareness are absolutely essential.

It’s also important that you can work well in a team and that you’re not shy when talking to customers about sensitive subjects. They say that talking about what people earn is the final British ‘discussion topic taboo’. Well, you’re just going to have to put that to one side for this role, but you’ll also have to be aware that money is a sensitive subject for a lot of people.

Last but not least, you’ll need to have an acute eye for detail. Not only are you handling people’s money, but – perhaps more importantly – their future. Consequently, it’s important that every last detail is covered.

Different roles in the pensions industry

Pension advisors offer advice to current customers or to people looking at setting up a pension for the first time. A number of different variables affect what sort of pension customers should set up, for instance how much they earn, their age and their outgoings. Pension advisors need to have a thorough knowledge of the pensions industry and an understanding of customer investment and tax implications.

Pension scheme managers are more concerned with what happens to the money being held by the pension company. They can manage very large sums of money while developing innovative schemes and implementing new systems so that people can get the most out of their money. These guys liaise with a range of different colleagues and industry professionals, such as solicitors, financial consultants and fund managers.

Pension fund managers are responsible for overseeing all pension fund activity. They ensure that the information given by the advisors is correct and that all other activity is productive and beneficial for the company and the customers.

A claims administrator serves as more of a customer services representative. They work closely with the pension advisors and ensure that any queries are dealt with professionally and as helpfully as possible. They also deal with any claims from customers, who are perhaps looking to pay more or less into their pension, or have other similar queries.

Since no one can be totally sure about the future, working in the field of pensions can be incredibly beneficial to, well, everyone! Your role would essentially be helping people to prepare for any eventuality by helping them get the best out of their money. So, if you fancy being part of the OAPs (Occupationally Awesome People), then this might be the career for you.

Have a look through our jobs board, or to find out more about the finance industry (including a career in pensions), head on over to our sister site AllAboutFinanceCareers.