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Old 09-04-2019, 12:41 AM
jyz002 jyz002 is offline
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Default Small vs large insurers

For a recent FSA looking to advance their career, is it better to stay with a large insurer and try to get more responsibilities or go to a smaller insurer for higher pay and a more impressive title?
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Old 09-04-2019, 11:02 AM
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urysohn urysohn is offline
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If you're trying to advance your career, then I would easily opt for "more responsibilities" over "higher pay and a more impressive title".

But I'd consider a smaller company for increased breadth of exposure (fewer actuaries working on more projects) and easier access to senior leadership.

I'd consider a larger company for more developed/in-depth processes (depth of exposure) and more opportunity to move into new roles over the next few years, whether that is peer-level positions or moving up the ladder.
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Old 09-04-2019, 11:15 AM
Westley Westley is offline
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Not clear if

A) You have two offers, and are trying to decide between 1) large + responsibilities or 2) small + pay + title

OR

B) You're starting to search and are trying to decide between 1) large companies because they'll offer more responsibilities and 2) small because they'll offer pay and title.


If A), I'd probably focus more on other things than just the responsibilities - cow-orkers, LOB, visibility, career progression potential, to name a few. If B), hard to answer because I don't agree with the underlying assumptions.

Either way, I don't think you're doing a very good job of painting a picture of what you're trying to decide, so it's hard to give good advice IMO.
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Old 09-04-2019, 11:58 AM
OnLevel OnLevel is offline
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It depends.
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Old 09-04-2019, 12:03 PM
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Colonel Smoothie Colonel Smoothie is offline
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I agree that I think you should first figure out what you want in life.

I think bigger carriers offer better experience - if you are working at headquarters and if there is also a solid rotation program. Little companies tend to outsource a whole bunch of stuff to consultants, so there might be entire areas of the business that you don't get exposed to. Little companies don't always pay better, either.

That's a sweeping generalization of course. There are exceptions, and megacorp satellite offices can sometimes be worse than working at a small company's HQ.

Anyway let's say you get two offers, one from a big insurer with a really good rotation program, as well as top-notch peers, and they offer you $X. And then you get another offer from a small company that has trouble attracting talent, so they give you $1.2X. They don't have much as far as offering experience goes, they need a specialist now and it looks like you'll be the most senior person in your area so they sweeten the deal a bit and call you the head honcho of trending.

Which offer should you choose? I think you'll run into a ceiling at the small company, because if they want a chief actuary, they might want a chief actuary who has experience in several areas that you don't have experience in and weren't able to get at the small company, so they hire externally.

That being said, I think an enterprising person can, with the right combination of ambition and persuasive ability, build up the missing components at the smaller company and position themselves well for further advancement. I do think that would be difficult, though.

Some people are fine with topping out sooner, they might be happy with what a new fellow salary provides and have no desire for further advancement. Others want more. So determine what you want out of life first, imo.
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Old 09-04-2019, 01:11 PM
Dr T Non-Fan Dr T Non-Fan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyz002 View Post
For a recent FSA looking to advance their career, is it better to stay with a large insurer and try to get more responsibilities or go to a smaller insurer for higher pay and a more impressive title?
Whom are you trying to impress?
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:14 PM
jyz002 jyz002 is offline
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Originally Posted by Dr T Non-Fan View Post
Whom are you trying to impress?
It's about exit opportunity, would companies consider "VP" at a smaller firm to be a lot less valuable than something like an associate director in a bigger company?

As for pay, most companies have practices where salary offered can't be > x% of prior salary. Our company stopped giving annual salary adjustments since 2009 and everyone is severely underpaid and under-leveled with very unimpressive titles but a lot of responsibilities, I have been given a lot of new responsibilities as of late and also became a manager earlier this year, with no pay increase or promotion.

Most people I know left with 30% or so increase in pay, but even that won't put them even close to the "top earners" according to salary survey. Even if I were to get the next promotion internally, it'll only be less than 15% increase.

I'm also in a satellite office with relatively few opportunities. Unfortunately it's in a city with very little actuarial employers, especially within my discipline.

I feel like the only way I can catch up in pay is if I move to another city and go to a smaller employer where the rules regarding title and salary offer are not too rigid. But I'm concerned that it would put me in a bad position down the line.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:23 PM
Westley Westley is offline
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Originally Posted by jyz002 View Post
As for pay, most companies have practices where salary offered can't be > x% of prior salary.
Would be interested in evidence that this is the case, as it hasn't been my experience, nor have I heard people discussing this.

Note: Not interested in hiring managers or (especially) HR telling people "My hands are tied, company policy doesn't allow" whatever. But would be interested in evidence that companies actually have such policies and follow such guidance. While I'm sure prior salary can impact offers, I don't think "most" companies have such policies about what they "can't" do.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:33 PM
jyz002 jyz002 is offline
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Originally Posted by Westley View Post
Would be interested in evidence that this is the case, as it hasn't been my experience, nor have I heard people discussing this.

Note: Not interested in hiring managers or (especially) HR telling people "My hands are tied, company policy doesn't allow" whatever. But would be interested in evidence that companies actually have such policies and follow such guidance. While I'm sure prior salary can impact offers, I don't think "most" companies have such policies about what they "can't" do.
I don't have a lot of experience with this, but at least internally, when I switched to this department, our former head of department said that he cannot give me x% more than what I was making before due to company policy. That might apply only for internal positions though?

Recruiters are also saying that expecting 30-40% increase is highly atypical and I'm guessing that's from what they're seeing in the industry.
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Old 09-04-2019, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jyz002 View Post
I don't have a lot of experience with this, but at least internally, when I switched to this department, our former head of department said that he cannot give me x% more than what I was making before due to company policy. That might apply only for internal positions though?

Recruiters are also saying that expecting 30-40% increase is highly atypical and I'm guessing that's from what they're seeing in the industry.
Recruiters are just lazy and don't want to negotiate. Well, equal parts lazy and conflict of interest.
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