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Top Trends in Life & Annuities - 2019

Posted on March 2019

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​​With a strong move into Q4, unemployment at a record breaking low, and exciting new changes coming to the market our team wanted to feature a few trends we are seeing develop in the market.  We have outlined several of the largest changes most employers have been facing and a bit of outlook on the best way to take them in stride. From exam schedules to increased regulation and visa restrictions, we anticipate the hiring landscape for the rest of 2019 to remain robust, yet the talent pool will be sparse.

​Hiring V. Unemployment

As most people are now aware, unemployment as of October of 2018 dropped to 3.7%, which is a drastic shift from the 9.5% the U.S. saw in September of 2010.  What this means for employers is that Actuarial Science continues to be not only a field of sustainability, but also development. What we mean by this is that more and more young professionals are making the move away from traditional finance roles and pursuing careers within the actuarial space. Recent reports by Forbes show that a degree in Actuarial Science is one of the most lucrative for young professionals with an unemployment rate of just 2.3% and no imminent needs for higher education.

Although the outlook looks bright for a growing talent pool over the next few years, we have seen an increased struggle in securing top candidates over the past 12 months. The current job market is extremely competitive with most employers all seeking the same type of talent. Because of this candidate driven market, individuals are typically engaging in several simultaneous processes and generating multiple offers for them to compare and contrast. We see the most successful employers are battling this trend by facilitating quick interview processes, that have at most 3 or 4 stages. Any more rounds past 4, puts employers at risk of losing out to the competition and any less tends to raise candidate suspicion around the lack of insight to the group and role.

Curriculum Changes and Talent Demand

During the winter months we do expect an influx of fresh FSA’s to hit the market, which continues to be one of the most highly sought-after demographics in the field. Candidates with roughly 4-7 years of experience continue to be the most in demand level of seniority in the market and have proven to be the demographic that are producing the highest number of offers from multiple clients. We have been finding that candidates who start their initial search before officially receiving their designation, set themselves up for success as employers realize their value, but the market is less saturated with talent. From an employer perspective, it may be worth having a look at individuals who are senior level ASA’s and, on the cusp, of receiving their FSA to get a jump on the competition.

At the moment, there is a bit of a riff in the market for younger talent as the recent exam changes have meant that there have not be any new ASAs entering the market since July. The exam changes came into effect in early summer, and the additional exam is being offered for the first time in November. As a result, junior level candidates are taking advantage of additional study time and some are starting exploratory searches now to get ahead of their peers. We expect to see a great deal of young talent to start taking on more aggressive searches come early December, where we expect to see them try and leverage numerous processes.

​Regulatory Revolution

As we have already seen over the past few months, regulation changes will continue to affect the market. Changes to the US GAAP regulatory space are going to take the industry by storm in the next two years. Implementation changes will need to be completed by 2020, so in the meantime there is an increased demand from in-house teams to ramp up production and we are even seeing smaller companies outsourcing the work due to higher demands. We are expecting an increased demand for technically talented actuaries who work within the valuations and financial reporting spaces. We are seeing favoritism towards GGY Axis, though MG Alfa still has a stronghold in the market. Additionally, experience with Prophet, VBA and SQL are also highly considered. We have already seen a few companies starting to expand headcount in these spaces to accommodate for the expected changes. This talent has been high in demand over the last year or so, with PBR and IFRS 17 regulations, so we do expect to see a continued push for talent in these areas.

Additionally, our teams are also seeing an incredible push from the candidate side for data science, predictive analytics and non-traditional type roles.  The transition on an individual level from traditional actuarial to a data science opportunity isn’t as simple as one may think. Companies are hesitant to bring a new individual into the group who has not yet had experience within the space, or some type of higher education that would lend their background to such a role. Actuaries certainly have the educational foundation to fulfill such a role but will need to expand their working knowledge in more quantitative roles, or furthering their education within the space.

Remote work, is it worth the hype?

The ability for candidates to work remotely has continued to be an increasing demand from talent pools of across all levels of seniority.  Employers are also recognizing that it is an efficient and cost-effective way to increase employee satisfaction and promotes better work life balance. Remote work does, however, tend to lend itself more favorably to candidates already established within their career. Younger talent yearns for the flexibility and freedom associated with working from home, but a number of clients are hesitant to offer it before the FSA level as it does come with added responsibility and can potentially limit the growth of an individual in their role. Not to say it is impossible to progress while working from home, but for candidates looking to take on more responsibility or progress quickly it is strongly recommended to consider an opportunity where one would be in the office daily, engaged in the day to day work with their teams.

Using all available resources

The SOA is continuing to make a strong push to develop young talent not only on a technical level, but also on a professional basis. It’s no industry secret that actuaries don’t always have the best reputation from a communication and soft skills perspective. However, there are several resources available to help improve every day communications and to enhance the interview process for both hiring managers and candidates. One tactic that has proved to be effective for candidates is to partner with industry mentors for day-to-day solutions. What we mean by this is touching base with trusted mentors or peers for guidance when faced with difficult decisions, or circumstances. Additionally, taking the time to stay up to date on market trends, and developments. Top talent is valued for their knowledge and upkeep on current events, movements and developments in the market.

In terms of the interview process, we have seen more and more companies, as well as candidates, begin to partner with recruiters more frequently. Having a market expert who understands how to navigate the nuances of an interview process has proven to be fruitful to all parties involved. Perspective employees really appreciate the direct line into the thoughts and feedback of hiring managers and are able to progress through the decision making process quicker with the help of interview prep, assistance on salary and benefit consultations and a macro – level view on the industry. From an employer’s perspective, the need for recruiters has increased as the market for niche talent continues to be a challenge to staff for. Having eyes and ears on the market day in and day out, recruiters are often the first to know about new jobs, internal movement and mergers and acquisitions ross the industry. The ability to provide market intel can prove to be invaluable in situations of balancing multiple offers, preventing counter offers and securing top talent.


About Us

Selby Jennings is a leading specialist recruitment agency for banking and financial services. For more than 15 years, we have given clients and candidates peace of mind that the recruitment process is in expert hands. Our continual investment in best-in-class technologies and consultant training enables us to recruit with speed, precision and accuracy. Today, Selby Jennings provides contingency and retained search recruitment across 11 offices in 6 countries. Contact us to find out how Selby Jennings can help you.

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