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Actuarial Market Update - Life & Annuities

Date: 26 March 2018

Overview

As we move into Q2, our team wanted to highlight a number of trends across the market that are affecting where talent pools are gravitating. We are currently in one of the most buoyant job markets cross the U.S. and organizations have started to pull out all the stops to attract and retain the best talent. One method that has become more popular over the past few months is allowing candidates to have the option to work remotely. The other issue that has put a strain on available talent is the appetite for organizations to sponsor visa candidates. With the expedited transfer process recently suspended, more and more companies are relying on organically growing the businesses or focusing on campus recruiting where candidates will not require any work sponsorship.

Roles in Demand

Given the time of year, we anticipate the market to be flooded with new FSA’s in the coming months and most of these candidates are getting a jump on the competition by putting their names out to recruiters and companies prior to exam season, so they are ready to interview once they achieve their next designation. We are days away from the new class of ASA’s being published and with changes to the exams in the coming months, companies are anticipating this class to produce an immense number of new actuaries.

From a company perspective, most hiring managers are seeking candidates with strong backgrounds in Modeling and Valuations and demand is coming from organizations both large and small. The 7-10 year mark has been the key level of seniority that everyone is seeking as most have already searched internally for an organic hire, but end up going to market for someone with a deeper skillset. Additionally we are seeing a recent push for Valuation, Governance and Regulatory talent from the 4-7 year mark, typically with some of the smaller shops. It has been interesting to see candidates who have come from a traditional actuarial background interested in making the switch to a non-traditional role.

Apart from the typical hubs in the Midwest and the Northeast, we are seeing a pretty big push for talent in the Texas and Southeast markets. Organizations have realized that irrelevant of location, good candidates are going to achieve competitive salaries even if they in a lower cost of living location. This has helped drive the base salary figures up for candidates in the Midwest, where cost of living is substantially cheaper than NYC, or more traditional financial hubs. However, even with a more level playing field from a base compensation perspective, candidates have proven to be focused on all in packages rather than just one element. Where companies have recently differentiated themselves has been around the non-financial benefits to sweeten an offer. Things like, work life balance, remote work capabilities, upward mobility and number of vacation days have proven to be a big deciding factor for about 70% of the candidates we have placed in the past year. On the financial sides of incentives, candidates are focused on bonus potential, long term incentives, and exam support.

Hiring and Search Advice

Given how competitive the market currently is, we recommend that hiring managers start to get a jump on their competition by making sure the interview process is quick and efficient. A number of our clients have lost out to other offers that were able to turn around a full interview process in under 14 days. Additionally, we also advise to put your best foot forward from an offer perspective from the get go. Candidates tend to feel more appreciated when they are presented with a strong offer rather than having to go back and forth trying to negotiate.

From a candidate perspective, we have seen and continue to recommend that candidates jump into the market a bit early. Even if you have not received your next designation yet, or want to start a search in the summer months, the time is now to start laying the ground work, putting your name in the market and test the waters. We have seen that candidates who may be lighter on experience have a better chance of securing their dream job if they get ahead of the mass rush of resumes that tends to hit the market post bonus and exam season when the competition is extremely fierce.

Outlook Moving Forward

We anticipate that most of the hiring between now and the summer months will lean more towards the larger institutions with a wave of turnover in the middle of May once exam season wraps up. The majority of the roles in demand will remain at the 4-7 and 7-10 year mark with the majority of hires occurring in the Midwest. Overall we anticipate 2018 to continue to be a strong year of hiring regardless of the visa or salary restrictions that most of the country must face.