Candidate Experience: Consulting Firm vs. Insurance Carrier

By Agatha Caleo
Posted on

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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