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Old 06-02-2018, 06:20 PM
TDH TDH is offline
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Default How important is brand name?

I received an offer for a large reinsurer for a 2-3 analyst position (think Munich Re/Swiss Re/Scor etc), however this is at one of their subsidiaries rather than the group level. The work will be doing both reinsurance and primary, and the subsidiary looks to be a strategic push for the group company by reading their annual statements, however it is relatively small compared to the whole group.

The other offer is for a less well-known company, which has more of start-up feel, but pays better.

I'm inclined to take the larger firm mainly because:

1) I'm moving from a smaller firm right now, and would like to get a "big name" on my CV. Stalking a few people who work at the larger firm, it seems as though their actuaries are there for quite a number of years (think 5+ years before moving on). The financial results have been stellar of the firm also.

2) Salary progression seems to be good, and it seems to be a "stable" job. Volatility in my current role is high and people are leaving very frequently (or getting let go).

3) More people to learn from

4) Subsidiary is rapidly expanding, perhaps opportunities for the future

However:

1) Even though it's a large firm, it is only a subsidiary of a large firm. It still has the firms name as the subsidiary (e.g. Swiss Re X), but I am not sure with how much interaction there is with the group.


2) If there's not a lot of movement in the larger firm, then I'm struggling to see how opportunities would arise for me to move up. How true is this in general? I would be joining a team of four, as the most junior person.

3) As I'm the most junior, I'm slightly worried I'll get given the crappy tasks. Compared to the other role where I'll be in a team of two, I'll have a lot more responsibility.


The money isn't so much an issue for me, I just want to make the best long-term career move. Originally the big name appealed to me, but the fact that their actuaries are sticking around for quite a number of years is both a good and bad thing. Ultimately, I would like to be at a small firm, but perhaps after I qualify and have quite a few years of experience. My experience right now is only with small firms, so I am curious to see how it is with larger firms.

My goals are really to learn a lot in the next few years, and continue to be challenged. I'd like to travel at some point in the future, and I think the larger firm would give me an opportunity to do that, but of course it depends on how much interaction there is at a group level. The fact I may get crappy tasks at the start is also offputting (but may not be the case). Any thoughts would be great.

Last edited by TDH; 06-03-2018 at 03:26 AM..
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Old 06-02-2018, 10:34 PM
Harbinger Harbinger is offline
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Did you ask about “crappy task” responsibilities at the interview?
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Old 06-02-2018, 11:38 PM
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Tacoactuary Tacoactuary is offline
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What is "push strategic push" and how is this derived from an annual statement?
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Old 06-03-2018, 10:48 AM
TDH TDH is offline
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Did you ask about “crappy task” responsibilities at the interview?
Not specifically - was told I'd be doing some of the stuff initially (data cleaning etc)

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What is "push strategic push" and how is this derived from an annual statement?
Just meant strategic push. They stated it in their most recent annual statement.
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Old 06-03-2018, 11:57 AM
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Colonel Smoothie Colonel Smoothie is offline
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Experience is more important than brand name imo. That being said, the experience offered and the brand name of a firm kind of sort of correlate - for example, one of the reasons why Google has such a stellar reputation is because they hire some of the smartest people on the planet from whom you can learn.

That being said, I would rather be a software engineer at a small name company than a janitor at Google, if my goal was to be a software engineer.

I personally lean towards bigger firms because it's at least been my experience that small firms tend to outsource a lot of the work that bigger firms do in-house. For example, if you wanted to get capital modeling experience at one of the smaller firms I worked at, that would be impossible - you would have to move to a company that actually did it in-house.

But, I think you should be asking the questions and concerns you have here to the companies that are thinking about hiring you.
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Old 06-04-2018, 08:31 PM
hjacjswo hjacjswo is online now
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I actually do think its good to have a brand name on your resume. But, does the brand name argument even apply here? I cant name any subsidiary of munich re or swiss re. I think maybe munich re has a subsidiary in ohio or something but donno the name. So if you were to put this company down on your resume, would you put down the name of the subsidiary company or the parent company? If former, it has no brand name.

Also, i would try to avoid being the most junior guy on the team. But thats just me
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by hjacjswo View Post
I actually do think its good to have a brand name on your resume. But, does the brand name argument even apply here? I cant name any subsidiary of munich re or swiss re. I think maybe munich re has a subsidiary in ohio or something but donno the name. So if you were to put this company down on your resume, would you put down the name of the subsidiary company or the parent company? If former, it has no brand name.

Also, i would try to avoid being the most junior guy on the team. But thats just me
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It still has the firms name as the subsidiary (e.g. Swiss Re X), but I am not sure with how much interaction there is with the group.
yw
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Old 06-04-2018, 11:55 PM
royevans royevans is offline
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also is this nonlife (as your handle suggests)? if this is in life (like munich re us life), then i dont think it really matters....life reinsurers tend to be big most of the time anyways so starting out at a big name would just be the norm... i cant think of any major nonlife reinsurers that inherit the name of their parent company other than berkshire.

At the early stage I would ask what you're looking for in a job for the next 5 years -- do you want to pass exams as fast as you can or do you want good work experience. For exams, go with the large reinsurer. Otherwise go with the startup feel company.
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Old 06-05-2018, 02:21 AM
TDH TDH is offline
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Originally Posted by hjacjswo View Post
I actually do think its good to have a brand name on your resume. But, does the brand name argument even apply here? I cant name any subsidiary of munich re or swiss re. I think maybe munich re has a subsidiary in ohio or something but donno the name. So if you were to put this company down on your resume, would you put down the name of the subsidiary company or the parent company? If former, it has no brand name.

Also, i would try to avoid being the most junior guy on the team. But thats just me
It'll be the parent company as that's in the subsidies name anyway. Agree on being the most junior employee on the team. Regardless of both jobs I'll be the most junior employee though as they both only employ senior people.

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also is this nonlife (as your handle suggests)? if this is in life (like munich re us life), then i dont think it really matters....life reinsurers tend to be big most of the time anyways so starting out at a big name would just be the norm... i cant think of any major nonlife reinsurers that inherit the name of their parent company other than berkshire.

At the early stage I would ask what you're looking for in a job for the next 5 years -- do you want to pass exams as fast as you can or do you want good work experience. For exams, go with the large reinsurer. Otherwise go with the startup feel company.
Yes non-life.

To be honest I'd prefer good work experience, but would rather have both!
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Old 06-05-2018, 07:34 AM
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Maphisto's Sidekick Maphisto's Sidekick is offline
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I'd vote that brand name has some incremental value, but probably not enough to be a big factor in and of itself in deciding upon a position.

Many of the points raised sound like the perennial "big company vs small company" debate, where the answer boils down to - it depends on personal preferences, recognizing that those preferences can evolve over your career. (I'll suggest searching for one of those threads, rather than opining here.)

The sole factor that I can see specific to a brand name is that when networking or interviewing in the future, having the brand name in your background spares you potential questions of "who are they / what do they do?", and that's not really a clear pro or con, unless you are an extreme introvert.
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