Paul Nicholas

"Above all and before all, do this: Get Wisdom!
Write this at the top of your list: Get Understanding!"
Proverbs 4:7

At a tender age I was taught some of God's many promises in the Bible, including Psalm 1. God honoured me and I was awarded several scholarships at my school, St. Dunstan's College, including the "Noble Award", "Exhibition Award" and a very rare 100% scholarship for the Sixth Form after securing 10 A* and 1 A in my GCSEs. I always enjoyed maths - even maths challenges - and was awarded a distinction in the Invitational Maths Challenge - yes there is even a Maths Olympics!

Despite the part scholarships, sending me to private school involved many sacrifices for my parents - if you are curious, you can read more about their story here.

"He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season,
whatever he does prospers."
Psalm 1:3

I continued to enjoy maths, and as well as obtaining 5 As in my A-levels (three Maths, Physics & Chemistry) I also obtained the necessary grades I need in my STEP papers to gain entry to Cambridge University (a grade S (outstanding) and a Grade 1). On the right you can see a beautiful picture of Christ's College in the snow, where I studied for my maths degree. I got a first in Part 1A of the Tripos at the end of my first year - you can see my Scholar's photo here.

During the 'long vacation' at the end of my second year I did an internship at the international consulting firm Hewitt Associates, in their pensions actuarial department, and began full time work there in 2005, beginning the long process of the actuarial exams. Many people do not know what actuaries do - the tagline of the actuarial profession is 'making financial sense of the future', which if achievable is an important skill in today's world! There are only around 5,000 qualified actuaries in the UK, with another 5,000 in training. My department provides commercial, technical and hopefully useful (!) advice to Trustees and sponsoring employers of pension funds. You can discover more about the growing role of actuaries in the Far East here.

Here is an extract from an article I did for Inside Careers City and Finance magazine (2009/10).

Growing up, I was encouraged to write out God's word - over 54 books by the time I left school! My dad recently gave me a special verse to hold onto:
"The blessing of the Lord brings wealth,
and He adds no sorrow to it."
Proverbs 10:22
A life without sorrow is truly a blessed life!

In October 2006, I was part of the first cohort to study for a Masters in Actuarial Finance at the Imperial College Business School - this was a pioneering programme which helped me achieve a number of exemptions towards qualifying as an actuary. The course is now in its fourth year and has a number of very accomplished lecturers, including William Perraudin and James Sefton- you can read some of his very interesting research on savings and pensions policy here.

This is a photo of my family in front of the Royal Albert Hall, during my graduation from Imperial College in May 2009. As well as obtaining a number of exemptions from the Institute of Actuaries exams, I also obtained a Distinction (a first). I wrote my dissertation on the link between credit spreads and pension deficits - very technical, but interesting! You can read it here.

Imperial College is very innovative and entrepreneurial and is currently the fifth ranked university in the world overall. At the moment, they are involved in cutting edge research intoswine flu.

In July 2009, I passed the final paper I needed to qualify as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries and my name was published in the Times newspaper - although unlike the old days, I did not find out that way!

The actuarial profession was recently voted the best profession in the world!

I'm currently attending St Mary Magdalene Church in Addiscombe - you can see a video below of me getting baptised there in 2007.

The backing track is called 'You are my refuge' by Shannon Wexelberg.

Another photo of me with parents, just after graduating from Cambridge University, and also a picture of a dear family friend - Valerie