To be an effective consulting actuary you need to bring a diversity of perspectives to the table, to understand the businesses and lives you’re influencing. With a fascination for numbers and a love of problem solving, it was a natural match when Neekhil Shah joined the fascinating world of actuarial science. Here we explore how he brings everything to his role as Principal at boutique McGing Advisory & Actuarial.
Drawn to the world of actuarial science
Having specialised in maths and computer science at university in the UK, what brought Neekhil to actuarial science, the superannuation sector and Australia?
“I was looking for a career relating to numbers and without really knowing anything about what professional services firms actually did or how they did it I completed rounds of interviews with what I can only recall as the naïve optimism of youth.”
Neekhil kicked off his career with Watson Wyatt just outside London to work in their retirement practice – where he responded to his emerging passion and completed the majority of the 15 exams of the actuarial qualification through distance learning. His problem solving aptitudes then led him to Australia.
“I arrived to a role focusing on a fascinating mix of defined benefits superannuation; working with master trust clients, administrators and investments; and generally looking at the retirement readiness of individuals. It was brilliant to be able to work across the different lines of the business and get to know people with so many different skills and interests.
“That experience taught me to look at holistic solution through engagement, consulting, communication – not just the number crunching. I’ve always enjoyed problem solving. It takes the pooling of multiple skills, and the ability to explain new or complex concepts. That knack for helping others started when I tutored maths to school students while at university.”
Nurturing a positive culture at McGing
Neekhil joined McGing early in 2018 as a principal consultant and has both operational and consulting responsibilities. From Sean’s stewardship, it’s clear that McGing’s culture is very much about its people, that they are the core of the consultancy. There’s a recognition that actuarial skillsets go wider than technical qualifications.
“I’m the bridge between Sean’s vast experience, his big picture lead role, and our consultancy’s next generation actuaries. With Sean able to focus on growing the business, on meeting people and helping them understand who we are and what we’re doing, he’s bringing in the challenging, varied work that keeps our staff interested and committed.
“The most important part of my job is to nurture our positive culture. I’m mentoring our new analysts, those starting out in their careers, to ensure they feel valued within the team and productive. Even as a small practice, we want to be able to give them a path out to the next five years.
“I want them to share the passion I feel, to understand the importance of their work. We’ll have them spending time with Sean to see how he interacts positively with clients, how he thinks and how his entrepreneurial spirit is building the businesses.”
McGing is also very serious about playing its part in helping the profession meet growing staffing and experience challenges. This year, McGing is sponsoring the ASFA Emerging Leaders Organisation.
“It ticks all our boxes: we’re passionate about broadening understanding of the changing scope of superannuation; the advancement of young professionals; and improving the art of leadership.”