Hymans Robertson hires risk specialist Baljit Khatra

18 January 2018 Consultancy.uk

Actuarial consulting firm Hymans Robertson has enhanced its pensions and benefits consultancy with the hire of Baljit Khatra. The former Mercer employee will shore up Hymans Robertson’s offering, as the firm prepares for heightened demand in 2018.

Baljit Khatra has joined Hymans Robertson, one of the longest established actuarial firms in the UK, as a Risk Transfer Consultant in the company’s Pensions and Benefits Consultancy. Khatra is one of 16 consultants who will advise pension scheme trustees and sponsoring employers on the best approaches to insuring risks. He will be based in the firm’s Birmingham office, arriving from his previous engagement at Mercer.

During his 7 years with the consultancy, Khatra was made a Risk Transfer Consultant in 2014 – joining Mercer’s Financial Strategy Group as part of a newly formed Midlands team. Working amid a national headcount of 70 professionals, Khatra was deployed on a number of multi-million and multi-billion risk transfer transactions, including the majority of longevity swap transactions that Mercer advised on in recent years. He initially joined the firm in 2010, as an Actuarial Trainee, alongside his studies in FIA and Actuarial work with the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries, becoming FCA regulated in 2015.

Baljit Khatra - Risk Transfer Consultant at Hymans Robertson

James Mullins, Head of Risk Transfer Solutions at Hymans Robertson, said, “We are delighted to welcome Baljit to our growing and expert risk transfer team at Hymans Robertson. His significant risk transfer experience will be a great benefit to the rapidly increasing number of pension schemes who are looking to capture competitive pricing for buy-ins and longevity swaps.” 

Remarking on his appointment, Baljit Khatra, Risk Transfer Consultant, added, “I’m thrilled to join the innovative team at Hymans Robertson, especially as we approach such a record-breaking time for risk transfer.  I look forward to helping our pension scheme clients to capture opportunities to reduce risk and meet their long term objectives in a tailored and efficient manner.”

Hymans Robertson, which was founded in 1921, delivers a range of services including actuarial, investment consulting, enterprise risk management, third-party pensions administration and communications consulting. The bulk annuity market is currently set to beat all records with new transactions reaching £30 billion for the first time, and as Hymans Robertson’s client base, which includes numerous FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 financial institutions, prepares for a variety of challenges this year, the organisation expects that 2018 will be a busy year in the risk transfer field, following strong demand already.

Last year also saw the firm grow significantly. Hymans Robertson expanded its Partner team by eight in 2017 along with promoting Karen Brolly as the company’s new Head of Products.

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How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

11 April 2019 Consultancy.uk

Amey Consulting has leveraged data insights to assist Network Rail with the improvement of its South-Eastern route. Using the Quartz tool, which monitors train movement, Network Rail will now be able to commit to data-enabled interventions to quickly improve underperforming train stations.

With rail services in the UK coming under strain from the demands of modern commuter life, while the infrastructure and service delivery of the nation’s railways has come in for sustained criticism in recent years, a period of regeneration is on the cards at last. Network Rail is the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the railway network in Great Britain, and has subsequently tapped the consulting industry on a regular basis to help find areas of improvement.

The group recently drafted in consultancy BearingPoint to conduct a thorough organisational evaluation and advise Network Rail (High Speed) on attaining a ‘fit for purpose’ organisational standard – for which the consultancy was nominated at the 2019 MCA Awards. Meanwhile, ArupArcadis and Aecom have been contracted to help Colas Rail and Babcock Rail implement a decade-long framework for Network Rail, aimed at supporting the delivery of the next generation of rail systems, with the contracts said to be worth as much as £5 billion

How data insights helped Network Rail improve the South-East route

As Network Rail further aims to improve its performance and customer service offering, another area it has sought help from the consulting sector for is its South-East route. The network of railways connects London with the southern parts of the country, as well as with Europe, making it the busiest in the country, with more than 500 million passenger journeys per year. This crucial expanse of rail was plagued with small minute delays, which were impacting millions of passengers every day, while reducing the efficiency and capacity of the overall network – something Amey Consulting was selected to help solve.

Amey Consulting soon determined that with the sub-threshold delays to services only lasting for 1 or 2 minutes, most were not the subject of detailed root cause analysis, and this made their corrections almost impossible – with dire consequences. Without addressing these delays, passenger satisfaction would fall, while the capacity and efficiency of the network would be reduced, stinging the income of Network Rail even before a host of delay-related fines would hit the company.

In order to help the client gain a better understanding of where, how, when and what these small delays occur, Amey Consulting looked to demonstrate the value of data-led consulting, with a significant reduction in delays within the first month of rolling out changes to key stations. The consultants embedded themselves in Network Rail’s team, helping them learn the key skills needed to support and apply data-driven solutions.

Agile transport

This involved the deployment of the Quartz tool. The system utilises to-the-second train movement data to present the performance of individual stations across the South-East route. It allows users to effortlessly understand station performance with a high level of detail, and use this information to identify losses caused by small-minute delays. The granular data allows for targeted actions to drive efficiency savings and performance improvements. More importantly, it allows users to understand the impact of small process changes on performance. 

Steve Dyke, an Executive Partner at Amey Consulting, said of the project, “We looked to identify the physical root cause on the infrastructure, building a case for change then managing that project implementation and tracking the benefit/value.  In doing so we are working to define a data performance improvement service to the operational and infrastructure owners.”

Just as important for the project as the technology, however, was teaching the Network Rail team how to leverage it after the consultants were gone. The Amey Consulting team worked to develop an agile working culture within Network Rail’s South-East division, helping staff to be confident in using data to improve the journeys of millions of people per year by attacking the problem from the ground up.

Dyke concluded, “This is less about the tools and about the approach to managing performance.  It meant using by-the-second analysis, data science, and then agile development to visualise and identify areas where improvements can be made.  We then worked with NR to change the way they approached the management of the infrastructure changes.  So rather than pass the information down the value chain, any of which could have been missed, we managed the change end-to-end.”

The project was so successful that Amey Consulting was also among those honoured at the recent MCA Awards. The firm scooped the Performance Improvement in the Public Sector prize for its work with Network Rail, at the 2019 ceremony in London.