16 | 2 0 1 8 A C T U A R I A L J O B S E E K E R AMERICAN ACADEM Y OF AC TUARIES
Volunteering at the Academy and other organizations also gives actuaries the opportunity to practice
presenting information and hone leadership abilities
through committee work, Campbell said. However,
volunteering is not for finding clients. “People recognize when someone is working as a volunteer solely for
the purpose of marketing,” he said, and fortunately, the
practice is not widespread.
Climbing further up to senior-level consulting has different demands and requires different skills, including
the stomach for the greater level of risk and reward.
The consulting business can be fickle, Mosley said.
“The upside potential is there, but there is a deeper
downside potential. Business is not always stable or
guaranteed,” he said.
For many firms, “The further you go up the ladder,
the more sales becomes part of your job,” Zilahy said.
“For the partners, so much work is just generating
more work.” Since Zilahy is open to making sales, his
boss is including him in the proposal process and meeting with clients.
“It was eye-opening,” he said, because so much of
what students learn about the actuarial profession is
focused on the technical side, exams, and becoming an
expert at Excel. “There is not much discussion on what
happens when you climb the corporate ladder and your
job changes and you need to step out of the spread-
sheet and math books and into more of a sales role,” he
added. Of course, not all consulting roles require sales,
“But the point is to be aware of the entire trajectory of
your career, not just what the first few years look like.”
The requirement to make rain depends on a firm’s
expectations and the consultant’s career goals. The
more that consultants desire senior management
positions, the more likely they will be called upon to do
business development. The size of the firm is another
determiner. Generally, the smaller the firm, the more
consultants will be called upon to assist with promot-
ing a firm and bringing in business.
This underscores the need to balance abilities with
the expectations of consulting firms. “There have been
situations whereby consultants with twenty-plus years
of experience lost their jobs because they did not bring
in $2 million-plus of business a year,” Reimer said.
“The ability to meet these lofty goals depends on many
factors—for example, cultivating business relation-
ships—but due to mergers and acquisitions, clients can
evaporate overnight for reasons beyond the consul-
Actuaries tend to bristle at making sales. “Most actu-
aries are not generally rainmakers by nature,” Reimer
said, nor are they comfortable with their performance
evaluations being based on new business development.
Actuaries can overcome their reticence by understanding what sales means on a practical level. Sales
is about managing expectations and building relationships, Modlin said. “Business development involves
establishing credibility by helping the client define
the business problem, often through expertly crafted
and challenging questions, and ultimately conveying a
proposed solution and how it will benefit the client,”
Mango wants actuaries to know that selling is not
as difficult as it might seem. Actuaries who work for
insurance companies should realize they already are
using sales skills in their current jobs, he said. “
Presenting reserving results that impact bonuses is a tough sell
to CEOs, and persuading others of your actuarial work
product’s validity is also a form of sales,” he said.
He also cautions against believing that rainmaking
can compromise professional integrity. Also, actuaries
should not approach producing sales and marketing
materials and raising their profile as if it were subject
to the same standards as court testimony. He also
discourages actuaries from downplaying their expertise. “When selling, or even more so on ‘credentialing’
in response to an RFP, they see what they are lacking as
opposed to what they bring,” he added.
Pondering the idea of being an actuarial consultant is
common. However, skills and even personality traits
required for success often do not come easily for those
attracted to quantitative work. Actuaries who want
to become part of the consulting world need to know
themselves—and the expectations of the firms they join.
Fortunately, there are a variety of consulting roles
available and infinite opportunities to improve the
skills necessary for climbing the consulting career
ANNMARIE GEDDES BARIBEAU has been covering insurance and
actuarial topics for more than 25 years. Her blog can be found at
Actuaries who want to become part of the
consulting world need to know themselves—
and the expectations of the firms they join.