What he does:
- Dennis Leahy is an actuarial analyst with Guy Carpenter & Company, Inc. in New York, NY. Guy Carpenter (a risk and insurance branch of Marsh & McLennan Companies) is one of the world’s largest reinsurance intermediaries. Its focus is to provide reinsurance broking, financial modeling services, and related advisory functions worldwide for insurance and reinsurance companies. Since starting at GC during the summer of 2003, Dennis has been part of a group called Instrat. This group serves as the analytical team and helps optimize the reinsurance decision-making process.
Math on the job:
- Instrat consists of 170 actuarial science, catastrophe modeling, and research and development professionals worldwide. As a reinsurance broker, typical projects include analyzing and modeling a client’s losses and exposures. “Since most of our clients are primary insurance companies, we are typically studying the underwriting habits and claim histories of each client and structuring solutions to improve their balance sheets,” he explains. Actuarial sciences including probability and statistics are used to analyze a client and predict losses that may happen in the future. These skills are also used in structuring, modeling and pricing reinsurance products. Another key aspect of the job sometimes involves presenting the results directly to the client. The various skills and resources used in such a diverse team are almost unlimited.
- Dennis describes how the work he does is rarely traditional: “A neat project I worked on last summer was determining the ‘footprint’ [devastation path] of each of the Florida hurricanes and calculating the insurance losses each of our clients would face, and how their reinsurance helped them survive.” As a broker, many of Dennis’ clients may be insurance companies faced with such catastrophic losses year after year. Instrat can be a valuable tool in helping its clients maximize their results by minimizing their exposures.
- Dennis says his liberal arts education at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY helped him broaden his competencies in many areas. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics with minors in Economics and Statistics. Aside from his obvious coursework in probability and statistics, he feels that many of his other classes and well-rounded background have prepared him for his role at GC. Knowing financial concepts, geography, and some aspects of accounting and law can be crucial skill sets to have in such an environment. Personality and speaking are also essential skills because of the potential face-time with clients. “You may have to explain a cumulative density function to a Board of Directors on the spot,” he mentions while talking of the nature of his job.
Advice for students:
- An internship with John Hancock Financial Services is what got Dennis’ foot in the door to his field. He explains, “Everyone looks good on paper with a resume, but an internship proves you can accomplish what you set out to do.” Advice to active students is to pursue and follow through with possibilities to open doors. The right door is always there, you just have to find it.