Sally Ezra interviewed in the Casualty Actuarial Society’s August 2012 Actuarial Recruiters’ Roundtable #jobs

Ezra

Actuarial Recruiters’ Roundtable
By Arthur Schwartz

Schwartz: How active is the job market by exam level or by experience? Which areas (either types of practice, skill sets, backgrounds, or types of employers (e.g., brokers or reinsurance companies) are really “hot” right now? Which areas are really “cold”?

Ezra: The employment market has increased significantly over recent months. Employers had not hired as many entrylevel candidates over the past few years, so there’s a shortage of candidates with experience in the 1 to 4 exams (and 1 to 4 years of experience) areas. Perhaps in the past, an employer may have two or three openings, while in today’s economic times, they’ll reduce that down to one opening and will seek one very qualified candidate. We see employers being very particular about whom they choose. This has caused the hiring process to take longer.

Ezra: The NAIC and rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s are incorporating into their analyses insurance companies’ ERM processes that have Solvency II-related aspects to them.

Schwartz: What are the ideal qualifications that companies look for in selecting an entry level candidate (someone who may have a few exams but no work experience)?

Ezra: The actuarial profession gets rated highly by various magazines and Jobs Rated Almanac, so more people are interested in becoming an actuary than in the past. Those publications don’t say much if anything about the actuarial exam process. For most candidates, the exam process is daunting. They need to be aware of the process and how long it takes, in terms of hours to study for one exam, the many years that need to be devoted toward building up a solid educational base, and obtaining one’s credentials to practice as an actuary.

Ezra: Entry-level candidates with any type of modeling experience through internships or through class studies will have an advantage.

Schwartz: What trends are there in the job market for Associates or Fellows? Specifically, are there fewer openings with more candidates per opening or are these credentialed actuaries more likely to remain where they are than to see other and presumably better opportunities elsewhere?

Ezra: There are two interesting factors at play that have made candidates more open to considering opportunities elsewhere. For one, there are more job openings recently, so actuaries are becoming more open to considering new roles. Also, whereas in the past few years, candidates have been reluctant if they were underwater on their homes. We see people being more flexible with regard to their home. They are more willing to rent it or even take a loss if the opportunity is attractive and the compensation package that’s offered makes up for the loss they may take on their home.

Ezra: Candidates for senior-level openings find the competition can be fierce. Employers are looking for strong technical skills and modeling experience; someone who’s able to dig into the models, and be hands-on, even at the more senior levels.

Ezra: Companies look to hire someone who has good communication skills and good business acumen.

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