Member profile – David Rawlings

I joined RGA in late 2000 as financial controller and my role has grown with the UK business; there was once only me and two others and now I have a team of nine actuaries and accountants. We have just signed off a major reinsurance administration project to house two million UK policy records with an automated interface into the group-wide US-based PeopleSoft ledger system. The role is now much more about corporate governance, risk management, Sarbanes–Oxley, optimising organisational structure for the changing regulatory and tax environment, and taking an overview of the financials.

Why did you choose a career in accountancy?

I’ve always been good with numbers, rather better than with words. Originally, I wanted to be a civil engineer but was steered away from that career path by a family friend who was one already. Construction is a cyclical industry – the late 1970s were quite a depressed time while accountants always seemed to have work.

How do you use your accountancy skills in your day to day work?

Life insurance is quite unique, and making traditional accounting rules work can be difficult (witness the effort required to get an International Accounting Standard completed for insurance), so most of the accounting I do is pretty specialised. The more senior I get, the less relevant the traditional accountancy role becomes – far more relevant are the business and commercial skills picked up en route, as well as an understanding of the environment in which my business operates and the application of governance and risk management.

What do you do in your spare time?

Gardening, DIY, go to the gym; all are therapeutic and help combat the stresses of my day to day working life – and of being a parent!

Do you have further career ambitions?

I enjoy the relatively small/medium-sized company environment I currently work in. I think we can take our current business forward and I can grow my role in the RGA group further. Ultimately, I’d like to escape the rat race and do something completely different.

What advice would you give students wanting to rise to the top?

Be prepared to take risks and embrace change – to get the move I wanted from my first employer I jumped from financial reporting into regulatory compliance. Again, when that business was acquired I was prepared to get involved in the integration process to maximise my opportunities afterwards. In working life, as in life in general, there will always be some ‘lucky’ people for whom everything always seems to fall into place, but for most of us you only get out what you put in.


"I’ve always been good with numbers, rather better than with words"