With 2016 coming to a rapid close, we asked the DW Simpson Executive and Retained Search team to reflect on and discuss the year’s accomplishments, as well as lay out their predictions for the coming year.
What has kept the Executive and Retained Search Services team the busiest in 2016?
Adam: We’ve been busiest with searches in the Life and Health insurance industries, the majority of our searches being for more traditional Chief Actuary/Corporate Actuary roles. We have also been getting calls from InsurTech and FinTech companies looking for our assistance in hiring their very first in-house Actuaries, especially those with deep predictive modeling/data science knowledge.
From an internal standpoint, we have been busy adding to our staff in Executive and Retained Search Services so that we can keep up with the demand. We have also been busy making many operational improvements to our process; for example we’ve increased our ability to provide meaningful recruiting metrics to our clients, which has helped them make the most sound business decisions around hiring and succession planning.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Dave: Given the strong demand for Health Actuaries, one of our most significant challenges has been the supply of qualified candidates; there are a finite number of Actuaries and our clients are virtually looking for the same candidate. We’ve actually had a few stops and starts on the Health side this year, which was highly unusual. For example, two of our clients put their searches on hold because in general, the labor pool has simply been reticent to consider a career move at this time. Our research suggests that there are three primary reasons: (1) the uncertainty of the potential mega-mergers/acquisitions in the Health insurance industry, (2) what the Presidential election results might mean for our economy, and (3) many health insurance employers have done a great job of retaining their staff by providing challenging work, leadership and career growth opportunities.
Are there any particular trends?
Jill: There continues to be a demand for the ‘first in-house Actuary’ across a variety of industries. Typically this individual is Chief Actuary level, and often this is the function of these positions. The healthcare industry – startups and integrated health systems in particular – have a real need for experienced Actuaries; those with knowledge of both commercial and government plans are in high demand. We’ve had the pleasure of partnering with a number of companies to find these ‘first in-house Actuaries’ via retained search and are looking to continue establishing these relationships.
With are some common reasons that your clients choose to go the retained search route?
Emily: Companies retain us to ensure that they are getting full coverage on what is typically a difficult search. They may have particular challenges (location, may not have a strong name in the industry, etc.) and a retained search can often reduce the average time to fill a position, which in turn translates to a reduced cost of hire. Our clients also are aware that when our recruiters go to market with ‘retained’ as part of a position pitch, it carries a lot more weight than a contingent opportunity. Most importantly, companies choose to go retained on a search because this ensures that the search will take precedence over all other contingent searches, and it guarantees them a higher level of service and account management.
What is the outlook for 2017?
Team: The most obvious influence on hiring is the upcoming Presidential change of office. For example, if our incoming President makes good on his promises, deregulation and rollbacks to Obamacare will not only provide actuarial consultants with plenty of work, but will likely give the insurance industry in general the confidence to continue growing and adding staff. Should the health insurance company mega-mergers/acquisitions come to fruition, the probable overlap in actuarial staff will undoubtedly cause movement within the Health Actuary labor pool; at the same time, we anticipate an increase in healthcare economics opportunities and continued hiring of first in-house Actuaries. On the Life side, we have seen a huge increase in demand for Life Actuaries with data analytics skills, as the concept of predictive modeling is taking a stronghold in that industry. On the P&C side, continued consolidation is expected, which at first may cause some movement in the P&C actuarial labor pool, due to staff redundancies. However, with the high and urgent demand for new products, such as cyber coverage and the influx of InsurTech companies, we are optimistic that there will be plenty of new and interesting opportunities for P&C Actuaries throughout 2017 and beyond, even in a soft market.
As far as recruitment in general, many of our clients have ramped up their internal recruiting efforts and have been dedicating specialized staff to their actuarial and analytics hiring. Given the uniqueness of actuarial and analytics recruitment, we continue to be asked to partner with Talent Acquisition, Human Resources and Business Leaders to help them solve their human capital needs in these functions. We are also anticipating a continued push for diverse slates of candidates, as Diversity and Inclusion efforts are a business priority of almost every insurance executive we know.