Back to insights

Inhouse Insurer vs Consultancy: How to Diversify Your Actuarial Career?

10 months ago by Gravitas Recruitment Group
Share this
Two men smiling and looking at a laptop

If you are looking to take your actuarial career to the next stage, you may be weighing up the benefits of working in actuarial consulting verses working for an insurance company.  

This hot topic has many variables to consider, from where you are in your career and the experience you’ve gained so far, to your own aspirations and personality. Making the right decision can also come down to the employer themselves, and the salary, hours, benefits, culture, training, and the progression opportunities they offer.

Considering a wider career plan can help expand your opportunities and increase job satisfaction. To demonstrate the benefits of these two actuarial career routes, we have interviewed three actuarial professionals.  

  • Inhouse Insurance: Jonathan Charalambous, Reinsurance Pricing Analyst, working in the London Market 

  • Inhouse and Consultancy Experience: Richard Stock, Head of Property & Casualty, working in the London Market 

  • Inhouse and Consultancy Experience: Interview with Risk Manager, working within the London and Lloyds Market 

As well as these real-life examples, we detail the pros and cons of inhouse verses consultancy. 

Considerations when deciding to work inhouse insurer vs. consultancy  

Weighing up some of the pros and cons of working inhouse vs. consultancy can help you decide your career priorities and whether diversifying your experience could help achieve your ambitions.  

Reasons to work for an inhouse insurer

  • You prefer more of a work-life balance 

  • You prefer a slightly slower-pace and more structured processes. 

  • You need more time allocated to study.  

  • You want to gain a deeper knowledge in your area of expertise. 

Reasons you may not enjoy working for an inhouse insurer 

  • You may gain less varied experience. 

  • You may feel your career is starting to stagnate due to internal structures 

  • You may feel the work you’re doing becomes repetitive 

Reasons to work for a consultancy  

  • You enjoy working directly with external clients.  

  • You want to gain more varied experience across multiple specialisms. 

Reasons you may not enjoy working for a consultancy 

  • Long hours could be expected, with more travel time, depending on the client’s needs. 

  • Limited time to study sometimes. 

These stereotypes all have exceptions, so it can be a good idea to define what it is you want and why, then discuss with a recruiter who can match you with the right employer. Try and keep an open mind and you may be surprised by what different employers offer. Remember, it’s a competitive market and all employers are looking to stand out and attract the best talent. 

When is the right time to think about a move? 

There are many reasons to decide to move from inhouse to consultancy and visa versa, so only you will know if it’s the right decision for your career. Depending on your experience level, you may want to consider the following:  

Early career: 

  • In the first five years, inhouse tends to have more structure and time allocated to study. Check if they have a rotational programme so you can try a few different areas.  

  • Consulting firms tend to allow junior staff to work across multiple projects, meaning you can gain broad experience quickly. This gives you more knowledge, when deciding where to specialise.  

Mid-level career:  

  • At this stage inhouse, you may be seeking promotional opportunities to go into a management or supervisory position. If your current company doesn’t have the right opportunities, you could consider moving over to consulting to gain more senior level experience. You will likely be paid more too!  

  • Working in a consulting firm, you may be looking to lead client engagements or get involved in client development. If your current company doesn’t offer the right opportunity, you may consider moving to a more senior position inhouse. This can sometimes mean less hours and less administrative tasks, with a more formalised structure.  

Senior-level career:  

For both inhouse and consultancy, you may get to a stage in your career when you start to plateau. You may want to progress to a Director or Senior level role, but opportunities decrease at the highest level, introducing a higher level of competition. At this stage in your career, it can be sensible to keep your options open to both inhouse and consultancy, within your chosen specialism.  

Having prior experience in consultancy early in your career can be a significant advantage. Prospective employers hold this in high regard as it signifies exposure to a multitude of business domains, contributing to the development of adept interpersonal abilities. 

Please note that we have used some generalisations, that do not apply to all consultancies or insurance companies. 

We would advise that you conduct your own research on any potential employer, using this blog as a general guide to help you ask the right questions.   

Actuarial careers in the spotlight: What is it like working inhouse?  

Jonathan Charalambous 
Reinsurance Pricing Analyst 
London Market 

Working inhouse within reinsurance pricing offers a unique experience that blends hands-on learning with a dynamic mix of responsibilities. Within my company, absence of a formal training process was greatly compensated by on-the-job training, allowing me to learn through real-world scenarios. There is a lot of emphasis on qualifying as an actuary when working inhouse, with generally very strong study packages (study days and budget). 

The role is a mix of diverse tasks, with the year-end rush (1/1s) being a defining period where case pricing takes up most of your time. Beyond this, your tasks expand to encompass model building, process automation, regulatory checks, model reviews, direct collaboration with underwriters etc - the role becomes very diverse. This multifaceted approach keeps the role engaging, fun and ensures constant skill development. 

Generous benefits are customary, with many offering private healthcare, robust employer pension contributions, ample annual leave, and attractive bonuses tied to company performance. This reinforces the industry's commitment to employee well-being and certainly makes joiners feel rewarded for their efforts. 

The career path is punctuated by opportunities for growth and advancement, backed by exposure to a wide array of functions within the reinsurance landscape.  

The chance to interact directly with underwriters fosters a collaborative environment and allows you to understand their needs and find actuarial solutions to their problems. This is very rewarding work, especially when you are provided with a problem, and you have to come up with a solution from scratch. The role certainly appeals to analytical individuals. 

Actuarial career in the spotlight: How has having experience in both areas boosted your career? 

Richard Stock 
Head of Property & Casualty 
London Market 

From my perspective, wherever you start, in your early career it helps to be at a place where you can focus on your studies whilst working. It can also help having others to study with or, alongside. Like salary and location, the culture of the company you work for is very important. If you are just starting out being in a place that encourages you to balance your work-life with your professional development and personal-life will put you in a great position in the long run.

Getting good experience - broad and varied - is important, as well as having a social environment that suits your personality and preference.

My impression from others who’ve worked in large consultancies is that the environment may not be helpful for some students who are looking to qualify quickly. However, the same could be said for insurers, that may be smaller but, have teams that are under pressure and not well resourced.

For me, starting my career in a large multinational pension consultancy gave me great insight into what I didn’t want to do. However, I was fortunate to receive good study support and not have to work long hours. It was also a fantastic social environment – I have many good friends from those early years.

Shortly before qualifying, I moved across to the inhouse general insurance side – I’d realised from my start in pensions and from my actuarial and degree studies that general insurance was absolutely what I wanted to do. Once qualified I upped my workload and effort significantly. This was relatively easy as I liked what I did and was no longer studying. 

Good actuarial employers will support their students well from a study perspective in terms of both study time and financial support for materials and seminars. I think Hymans Robertson, the firm I’m with now, is definitely in the upper quartile for this. They have a focus on allowing people to carve-out their own careers and recognise that often career paths aren’t linear. So even though I’m an experienced member of staff I still have development opportunities that are right for me.

There will be good and bad on both sides of the insurer/consultancy divide. Ultimately, what's important is to try to pick an environment that's right for you and be prepared to move if needed. 

When it comes to salary and benefits, I would encourage student actuaries to focus on support and qualifying rather than salary and financial benefits. Over the long-term I think it’s beneficial from a financial perspective given the level of rewards post-qualification. But more importantly, once exams are out of the way, it frees up your time to focus on your work and developing your career, hopefully finding a work environment that’s enjoyable and meets your own personal needs. 

At most large firms, consulting and insurers alike, I think there’s a tendency for specialism with less opportunity to gain broad experience.  This might be by activity: reserving, pricing, capital, and/or, by product line (household, motor, professional indemnity, etc.). In contrast, small firms will necessarily need their actuarial teams to work across more than one workstream and product – there are probably more smaller teams on the inhouse side vs consultancy. At Hymans Robertson, even though we’re fairly large, it’s still easy to gain broad experience at all levels: partly as the GI side is a relatively new and fast-growing aspect of our work, but also because we focus on enabling colleagues to develop their careers in a way that works for them.

Promotion opportunities will always come naturally to real highfliers or, those who have a knack for self-promotion. For the majority of actuaries, it’ll depend on a number of different factors. The status of the organisation – whether it’s in growth, is stable, or is in decline, as well as the area you’re working in – will largely dictate what opportunities open to you. I think good opportunities for promotion and career development exist equally on both sides – consulting and in-house. However, in small in-house teams there may be limited opportunities, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as moving employer every 5-7 years can be good for experience and development.

Ultimately, there will be pros and cons on each side. Most important is to research, chat with friends, and try to meet people at your target organisation outside a formal interview process. This will allow you to get as good a feel as possible for the place before committing.

Actuarial specialist in the spotlight: How has having experience in both areas helped your career? 

Interview with Risk Manager 
London and Lloyds Market 

Having worked for both consultancies and inhouse, I’ll tackle each one separately. 

In my experience, consultancies tend to be well-structured for coaching with annual intakes of graduates. This means there is always someone who has recently gone through a similar experience and therefore can more appropriately distil information (e.g. someone with one or two years’ experience coaching a grad). 

While hours are certainly longer, this means you form strong bonds with your colleagues quickly. 

There is also an increased opportunity to gain exposure to more senior stakeholders (directors / partners or even clients) earlier on in your career, when working in a consultancy.  

I’ve found inhouse very rewarding in terms of seeing a process from start to finish. One of the benefits is that I found is I had more time available to develop deeper understanding in specific areas. Having the opportunity to get involved in a broader range of work makes for a more fulfilling career, but you do have to be proactive and volunteer for this work. There is also an opportunity to affect wider change within the industry, when working inhouse.  

Overall, I’ve had tremendously positive experiences in both inhouse and consultancy.  

Personally think it is more beneficial to start in consultancy and then migrate to the industry, but I have seen it work well the other way too. Ultimately it comes down to preference – as long as you enjoy the work and your colleagues, it doesn’t matter whether you work in consultancy or inhouse.  

Looking for your next actuarial role?  

There are clear benefits to working both inhouse and within a consultancy when building an actuarial career. Although there are generalisations in both areas, each employer can go against the trend and offer different opportunities that might surprise you. Our advice would be to keep an open mind, when deciding how to progress your actuarial career. Getting to know the company and your potential manager during the hiring process can be just as important in determining whether you’ll be happy.  

If you are looking for a new actuarial role, please browse our latest jobs here. Our specialists work with a range of inhouse and consultancy firms and can help open up new career routes to help you reach your goals.  

Follow us
Get in touch

Or register your CV with us here.

© Gravitas Group 2023Site by