Interview with Andrew Kitchen, Sustainability Actuary of the Year 2023

2 mins

Read the interview with Andrew Kitchen (Sustainability Actuary of the Year 2023) which was p...

By Joanne O'Connor

Operations Director

Read the interview with Andrew Kitchen (Sustainability Actuary of the Year 2023) which was printed in the Actuarial Post.

What was your initial reaction to becoming an award winner in Sustainability Actuary of the Year award, nominated, and voted for by your peers?

Grateful for the nominations and show of support from colleagues at Royal London and peers more broadly. There was stiff competition this year from strong experts in the field. I'd like to share my gratitude to the other nominees for their own leadership in pushing forward the actuarial voice in the world of sustainability.

What made you decide to become an actuary?

I have an unusual background amongst actuaries, having completed a music degree and worked in Abbey Road recording studios for a few years before jumping into actuarial work. There is a surprising amount of overlap. Strong drivers for me included the breadth of considerations in actuarial work (even outside sustainability), the reliance on close collaboration with experts in other fields and the opportunity to support quality real world outcomes for customers. Not  to mention the chance to scrub my music degree with a more respectable Fellowship!

How did you start your actuarial career?

I began with Mercer then Spence & Partners, focused on defined benefit pensions consulting, before moving to Royal London (the UK's largest mutual life, pensions and investment company). I've worked across actuarial projects and pensions pricing at Royal London, focussed on more traditional actuarial challenges (e.g. M&A, fund consolidations, product transformation).

These days, in the Group Sustainability and Stewardship team, my day-to-day focuses on supporting customer outcomes through climate strategy and transition planning, climate risk management and scenario analysis, sustainable investments and sustainability reporting.

What aspect of your work do you enjoy most?

Sustainable finance is a broad and fast-developing area, which keeps us all on our toes. From changing government policies and regulatory demands, to evolving climate science and strategic commercial challenges, there's a constant need for  fast interpretation and strategic business-specific insight.

The pace of change also means there's plenty of opportunity to help shape thought leadership and support progress outside our own organisations - arguably more so than in traditional actuarial fields. I'd encourage interested readers to begin by exploring volunteering opportunities with the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.

What would your advice be to those starting out in the actuarial field?

Stay curious. Ask questions and look to understand how your work fits within the wider context. Keep bringing it back to the customers, clients and beneficiaries we're tasked with supporting.

What would your top actuarial tip be?

Actuarial work is more about mindset than modelling. It's bigger than the numbers!

Looking forward what are your hopes or resolutions for 2024.

We're seeing a tidal wave of upcoming regulatory change across sustainable finance. My hope is that the industries we serve can use these changes to help customers, policymakers and the general public better understand the parts we each have to play to realise a more sustainable economy.