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From NY to Charlotte: Why North Carolina is the Next Big Thing for Actuaries

27 April 2017

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Something unique is happening in North Carolina. Hordes of insurance companies are identifying a hungry business climate. Senior stakeholders are relocating there by the dozen. Key divisions, operational arms and even entire headquarters are cropping up. And all of this signifies a new era for the actuary.

At the heart of this influx is growth within the life actuarial space, a process that began back in 2013, when MetLife moved 2,600 jobs from four offices in the North East to Charlotte and Cary. This was followed by AXA making Charlotte its dedicated hub for insurance, Brighthouse Financial planting its roots here and Wells Fargo increasing the size of its actuarial team. It should come as no surprise then that North Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped from 5.3% in January to 5.1% in February.

In fact, the concept of commercial change is far from new within Charlotte. North Carolina has a long-standing tradition of innovation within the American banking sector, facilitating one of the country’s first bank-branch systems in the early 20th century. This decisive action answered the need for investment in Southern industry, and established the state as an epicentre of economic innovation. Second only to New York, Charlotte is a key location for finance professionals nationwide.

In terms of actuary-specific trends, we are seeing high demand for GGY AXIS experience within the Pricing and Modeling space. As a leading actuarial software provider, GGY AXIS is increasing its presence in the US market, which means the biggest players are shifting from software like Polysystems/MG Alfa/Prophet to GGY AXIS frameworks. Due to this, companies need actuaries that are already skilled in GGY AXIS, which is creating a strong appetite for talent within the Pricing and Modeling markets.

Another trend has spurned from the latest US Statutory regulations, AG 48 and PBR. They are creating demand for FSA-accredited reserving and valuations actuaries, especially those working within the SME market. Actuaries who enjoy self-guided research and cross-collaboration with other business sectors are also attractive in this space. With more companies moving to Charlotte and building new teams (predominantly in Annuities and Life products), solid communication skills are key. Many of our clients require actuaries that can impact strategic business decisions based on their technical expertise. They need actuaries who can work outside of their niche, demonstrate flexibility and show an eagerness to roll up their sleeves. Few actuaries have long-term experience in the North Carolina market, so it is a great opportunity for professionals to relocate in order to learn, develop and lead this region.

What caused this new dynamic? From conversations we have had with numerous Chief Actuaries, the South East is known for its huge growth potential, favourable taxation and lower overheads. This has meant that businesses can continue to reduce costs without affecting their staff – so much so, they can add to the headcount while still promoting people regularly, unlike their North-eastern counterparts. North Carolina makes sense geographically too, as it is proximal to other thriving states such as Georgia, Florida and Texas, without being too far from NYC, which is home to numerous US headquarters. Plus, the region is located within a better time zone for European liaisons, giving divisions the ability to communicate effectively for quicker business decisions.

Now that there is this level of competition in the market, more and more actuaries are viewing North Carolina as a viable option for relocation, so talent in the area is balanced by opportunity. By the end of Q2, the next round of graduate actuaries will begin seeking out new opportunities. Employers in North Carolina know this, so expect competition between employers, short recruitment processes, attractive offers and clear career progression. We also expect the number of opportunities to keep rising at all levels as clients begin working on new products, developing already established models, converting to new software, and tackling PBR and the latest statutory/GAAP regulations. In short, the life actuarial market won’t be slowing down any time soon.

For further details on our available positions, please contact Rachael Wilson on +16468332676 or rachael.wilson@ojassociates.com

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