Candidate Experience: Consulting Firm vs. Insurance Carrier

A common question asked by candidates searching for their first actuarial job is, “Should I work for a consulting firm or a traditional insurance carrier?” In Future Fellows December 2008 & March 2009, we addressed several myths about the similarities and differences of consulting firms vs. insurance carriers from the points of view of long-term actuaries. For this article, we decided to interview people at an earlier point in their careers: candidates.  Dan DiMugno, ACAS, has worked for insurance carrier Travelers for five years in a variety of roles. Ken Steinhauser has been a consultant in life and annuities for Oliver Wyman for two years. In his five-year actuarial career, Manpreet Mann has worked at both a carrier and a consulting firm, first at The Hanover and now at Aon. All have reached or are very close to achieving Associateship in their respective actuarial societies and are active in their companies’ student programs. All three of our candidates sat down together to talk about their personal experiences.

How is the work different?

The work can vary drastically. It is less about consulting vs. carrier and more about the exact position you are assigned. DiMugno has been in a rotational program at Travelers, with jobs ranging from auto reserving to profitability analysis for international markets. Steinhauser builds models for life- and annuities-related products for Oliver Wyman’s clients. At The Hanover, Mann worked in workers’ compensation ratemaking, including state filings; while at Aon, he spends most of his time in reserving for various casualty lines. As you can see, Mann’s consulting position at Aon is more similar to DiMugno’s reserving position at carrier Travelers than what Steinhauser does at consulting firm Oliver Wyman. On the other hand, there are some common themes to the consulting vs. carrier work environment. Two examples are personal interaction and travel. As a consultant, Steinhauser spends about half his week away from his office working on-site at client offices. Mann, also in consulting, travels only occasionally but spends much of his time interacting with clients, both external and internal (such as brokers). As an analyst for a carrier, DiMugno spends a similar amount of time interacting with people, but they are all on internal company teams (claims, advanced analytics, etc.). There are some general differences between working for a consulting firm or an insurance carrier, but it seems that where it matters most, conditions are comparable. Much more important is job description. Therefore, it is a good idea to keep options open and refrain from narrowing the job search too early by eliminating either consulting firms or insurance carriers from the pool of potential employers. Instead, a candidate needs to carefully evaluate each job on its individual merits.

Adapted with permission from an article by Agatha Caleo. Read the original article here.

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Get Connected With Your CAS Regional Affiliates

Dear future of actuarial science, are you making the most of your CAS Student Central membership? If not, you might want to consider doing so, and you can start by engaging with your local CAS Regional Affiliate. Your regional affiliates are here to guide you, and they are one of your best resources for an actuarial perspective and insight to the career, and ways you can better prepare yourself.

What are CAS Regional Affiliates?

CAS has regional affiliates all around the globe! There are a total of 18 to be exact. CAS Regional Affiliates are organizations of CAS members and candidates focused on geographic regions, like the Midwest or Mid-Atlantic states. Regional affiliates hold continuing education programs and undertake other activities to serve actuaries at the local level.

How Do I Get Started?

You can start engaging with your local CAS Regional Affiliate by locating your region in the Regional Affiliate List.  Once you have located and clicked on your region, simply click the Join button to the right. You will be directed to another page where you can add yourself to the community. See example images below:

Once you’ve been added to the distribution list, you will receive emails regarding continuing education seminars, scholarship announcements, and more.

Why It’s Beneficial

Regional affiliates often host students at their events or put on other university outreach events throughout the year. This gives students the opportunity to meet actuaries, ask questions about the profession, network, and stay on top of current events.

The Regional Affiliate’s Perspective

Elizabeth Merritt, FCAS, who served four years on the board of the Midwest Actuarial Forum (MAF), started out as the MAF Education Officer. Most regional affiliates have education officers who coordinate student activities throughout the year. They are the key contacts for student opportunities. In addition to being a student contact, Elizabeth started university outreach programs and hosted a few panel discussions at universities in her region. As a Student Central member connected to a regional affiliate, you would most likely be hearing from the education officer within your region. Officer names, as well as contact information, can be found on the regional affiliate section of the CAS website.

In Elizabeth’s last two years on the MAF Board, she served as the Vice President and then President. During that time, her region’s education officer initiated a scholarship program for students who attended or lived near a school within the region.

“Being on the Board of the Midwest Actuarial Forum was a great experience. I learned a great deal from our continuing education seminars, and was able to meet and network with many professionals in the insurance and actuarial communities. In addition, I was able to make a connection with many students through my time as the education officer. When I think back to when I was a college student, I barely knew the CAS existed, let alone the regional affiliates. I am proud of the progress we have made to reach out to students, educate them about our careers and the CAS, and to offer educational, financial and networking opportunities that were previously unavailable.”

Be In the Know!

Scholarship information is one of the many perks of becoming connected to your regional affiliate. Other benefits include opportunities to learn what is needed and required of students who attain internships and full time employment at companies within the area.

Convinced yet? Don’t miss out. Start engaging now with a regional affiliate near you!

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