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Senior analyst, Insurance team, APRA
Jaymes Bonacci studied a Bachelor of Commerce, Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Applied Finance. James is a senior analyst in the Insurance team at APRA.
What's your name and job title?
Jaymes Bonacci, senior analyst in the Insurance team.
What did you study? When did you graduate?
I graduated from Monash University with a Master of Applied Finance, Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Engineering in 2016.
Where did you grow up? Can you tell us about your education?
I grew up in North East Victoria and attended Wangaratta High School. During my university studies, I received the opportunity to study abroad at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Fortunately I was able to study units that contributed to both my commerce and engineering degrees. I also studied abroad on another occasion at Monash University’s Prato campus in Italy. I highly recommend studying abroad during your degree.
How did you get to your current job position? For how long have you had it?
I have always had an interest in financial services and I have prior professional experience in analytics and relationship management. While I applied for a number of graduate roles, I discovered that APRA offered a unique value proposition that combined these interests of mine. I started a full-time graduate role in 2017.
How did you choose your specialisation? Were you weighing up any other alternatives before choosing this specialisation?
I initially began university studying a Bachelor of Engineering because of my interest and strength in mathematics and analytical thinking. I was comfortable beginning with this degree because at Monash University the first year is generalised; I was able to try the various streams of engineering before submitting preferences for my second year specialisation, where I chose civil engineering. It was during my first year that I learned more about what a commerce degree could offer and I found it beneficial to my education, with both degrees complementing one another.
What was your interview process like? What kind of questions were you asked?
Following the submission of my application to APRA, there was a CV screening process and successful applicants were contacted to complete a number of online tests, focusing on technical skills. I was then invited to attend a half-day assessment centre in Sydney, which involved a written test, a short interview and group activities. The final stage of the process was a second-round interview in Melbourne with two managers with whom I could potentially be working. The two interviews involved a combination of behavioural and technical questions.
Suppose a student was considering your career. What would you advise them to study? Are there any soft skills it would be beneficial for them to develop? Should they pursue any sort of work experience?
I would advise them to study economics or finance to develop commercial acumen as a foundation for the work that APRA performs. That being said, I would encourage students not to be limited to these areas of study and consider anything that is most enjoyable, because increasingly organisations are seeking broader and more diverse skill sets.
I believe that the most important soft skill to develop is communication, both verbal and non-verbal. As part of the job and during your career, you will need to communicate with a range of people from varied demographics, organisations, and experiences. Tailoring the message to the target audience will have the most impact.
I would recommend pursuing work experience in a corporate environment as early as possible, choosing a range of different internships.
What does your employer do?
APRA is an independent statutory authority that supervises institutions across banking, insurance and superannuation, and also promotes financial stability in Australia.
What are your areas of responsibility?
I currently work in the Insurance team as a supervisor. For a select number of institutions, I conduct financial analyses, write risk assessments and liaise with key stakeholders on risk matters to support the broader team.
Can you describe a typical work day? What was the last thing you worked on?
Each day is different – it depends on what matters I am working on at any particular time. Typically I am analysing financial data, conducting risk assessments, or any number of other activities that help me to improve my knowledge of the entities within my team.
What sort of person succeeds in your career?
Someone who is enthusiastic, eager to learn and enjoys problem-solving. Further, someone who works well with others will succeed in any career; do not underestimate experiences working in a team.
What are the career prospects with your job? Where could you or others in your position go from here?
APRA is in a unique position to provide its employees a high-level view of the entire Australian financial sector. Graduates are encouraged to rotate into different areas of the organisation such as Data Analytics, Policy and Advice, and Supervision.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Yes, of course. You do not need a finance background to work at APRA. What’s more important in an applicant are their qualities and potential, rather than their employment history or specific degrees.
What do you love most about your job? Which kind of task do you enjoy most?
The thing I love most about my job is the passionate people who work here, who really believe in our mission. I personally really enjoy synthesising large volumes of data into meaningful insights.
What’s the biggest limitation of your job? Do you bear a lot of responsibility? Do you have to work on weekends? Are the stress levels high?
I believe the organisation as a whole bears a lot of responsibility to the Australian financial system. This, of course, filters down to individuals, however, I am surrounded by a supportive team. Weekend work is a rare exception; if there is a need, I am allowed a high degree of flexibility to manage the circumstance.
What would your career be if you weren’t doing what you’re doing now?
If I wasn’t working in financial services, I would probably be a teacher.
Which three pieces of advice would you give to a current university student?
- Plan ahead; be aware of the myriad opportunities available to a university student.
- Get involved at university; play a sport, join a club or start your own.
- Do your research; most importantly, understand why you are the best match for your desired employer.