Catherine Drummond: black swans are more common than people think

Published in: Risk, Corporate strategy, UK, People, Covid-19

Companies: LCP

Catherine Drummond, InsuranceERM's young actuarial and risk professional of the year, explains to Paul Walsh what is needed to succeed in a risk role, how the function has evolved and her push for diversity and inclusion within the industry

Catherine Drummond

After graduating from Imperial College, London with a master's degree in physics, Catherine Drummond joined actuarial consultancy LCP in 2005 and proceeded to become a partner in the business in 2014.

The past year has seen her take a key role in bringing LCP InsurSight, the firm's automated trend identification tool, to market and she was instrumental in organising the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries' annual GIRO conference.

She previously pioneered LCP's pillar 3 report, which analyses the solvency and financial condition reports for 100 non-life insurers across the UK and Ireland. This is now in its fourth consecutive year and widely recognised as an industry standard.

With over 15 years of experience behind her, Drummond attributes her success to three key areas; having an open mind, a willingness to learn and the ability to be flexible.

"So-called black swan events happen more often than people think and being open to every eventuality and thinking widely rather than narrowly makes you a better actuary and risk professional," she explains.

"It doesn't really matter how experienced you are, there's always going to be gaps in knowledge. Being willing to build on existing knowledge and learn new skills will stand anyone in good stead."

She also explains the importance of communication in the elevation of the risk function within insurers.

"Gone are the days when actuaries were simply technical number crunchers. It's essential we must be good not only at communicating with each other but also with the wider business."

"Gone are the days when actuaries were simply technical number crunchers"

"We're seeing new trends and risks emerging all the time, so it's more important to use statistical analytic skills to help firms manage the risk going forward – and also communicate these issues clearly."

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) has been pushed up the industry agenda in recent years and progress is being made, albeit slower than desired. Last month, the Association of British Insurers revealed female representation at the most senior level of the UK insurance and long-term savings industry rose with women currently holding 29% of board roles, up from 25% in 2019.

LCP has been a standout performer on D&I, taking home the InsuranceERM diversity and inclusion excellence award for the second consecutive year.

Drummond takes a vested interest in the agenda having founded, and is now partner sponsor of, LCP's LGBT+ network in 2018. The network is designed to provide support to LGBT individuals within the organisation.

"D&I at LCP is not a separate initiative, it's core to everything we do," explains Drummond.

During the past 12 months, company projects include its Let's Talk About Race campaign, its virtual group challenges targeting improved mental health, and signing up for campaign group Stonewall's Trans Rights Are Human Rights campaign.

Its Let's Talk About Race campaign stemmed from an earlier meeting of over 200 employees discussing the issue of white privilege and how individuals can strengthen black voices within the industry.

The resulting campaign focused on discussing topics ranging from racism in the workplace to the wider issue of white supremacy.

Drummond explains the widespread turmoil caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has not hindered the firm's D&I agenda, and instead has galvanised it.

"I think the pandemic has actually given us more time to engage with people on D&I issues.

"As an industry and as individual firms we should be talking about diversity and inclusion more"

"Remote working has allowed more people to join our knowledge working and discussion events. People may find it easier to take steps into learning about new areas if they can do it remotely."

However, she has no doubts that more action is needed.

"As an industry and as individual firms we should be talking about D&I more. We should be measuring it, making it a performance indicator across a wider field of statistics and I think that employees now are demanding firms do more in this space."

LCP scooped three wins in InsuranceERM's UK & Europe 2021 Awards – Analytics solution of the year, Diversity and inclusion excellence, and Reserving solution of the year – in addition to Catherine Drummond being named Young actuarial and risk professional of the year.

For more details of these and the other winners, click here.