November 16, 2009

Waving, Not Drowning: Career Options for an unMarketing Actuary

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide on what to do.
Elbert Hubbard

As you may know, Industrial Alliance (IA) shut down the National Accounts division across Canada on Nov 12, 2009. [Update on Nov 18: officially, these are structural changes and the division continues to exist] I was part of that team and am now self-employed. You'll find the details on Riscario Insider in a blog post and podcast. I've been getting condolences, congratulations and questions about my career plans. I'll share my current thinking here.

Thanks to a nice severance package, there's no pressure to grab the first position available. So I'm taking my first-ever sabbatical before considering the possibilities.

We're going to India from December 6 to January 1. This was preplanned --- my first visit since 1972. Now we can plan and enjoy our trip without the added pressure of work during this busy time of year. I'll also skip the holiday lunches and parties, which will help with my waistline.

When National Life was getting harmonized into IA during 2004-2005, I was the product actuary. My nine staff lost their jobs over two downsizings. That's when I was most vulnerable since my old job disappeared.

Fortunately, IA saw unmined potential and I became a field-based marketing actuary supporting National Accounts, Managing General Agencies (MGAs) and MD Life. How could I help increase sales? To find out, I visited advisors across Western Canada. This lead to a well-received presentation tool, which I named Conceptia. The output was developed in Excel in collaboration with leading advisors. We made insurance strategies fast, flexible and friendly.

I concentrated on two major unserved needs:
  1. helping consumers understand by chiseling away complexity
  2. helping advisors stop marketing like it's 1999
Which other company would have given me such opportunities? If you've known me over the years, you know how much I've grown. Thanks for your help too.

I've focused my entire career on helping consumers tame their financial risks. I had this goal as a product actuary when developing flexible products, drafting accountable policy contracts and designing effective presentation tools.

As a marketing actuary, I directly help advisors help their clients. I want to remain close to advisors and consumers in person and via technology. Blogging since February 2007 is an example of this commitment to consistent persistent generosity. You'll find 267 posts here and on Riscario Insider.

Mastering new portable skills expands career opportunities. I've now got numerous ideas for the future, each with pros and cons. Some options may not be available or practical. This list is no particular order.
  1. advanced marketing for another insurer: continue providing case support, marketing tips, training
  2. product actuary: use field experience to develop products, strategies and tools to increase sales
  3. advisor support role at a distributor: help advisors and build the organization
  4. insurance specialist at a National Account: apply techniques developed while volunteering at IA Securities for 16 months; resulted in higher sales of IA products than most other National Accounts in Ontario
  5. insurance specialist in an independent team: ideally partnering with an investment advisor and/or accountant
  6. insurance specialist solo: perhaps helping advisors with their larger cases
  7. apprenticing with a seasoned advisor: learn proven techniques and modernize the marketing to ensure future growth
  8. marketing coach: helping advisors or distributors boost sales by marketing better
  9. writer / presenter: turning words, ideas and the stage into a business
Wait, there's more. A cashier at a gas station asked if I was a chauffeur. So many possibilities.

Your Thoughts
Are there other options? I'd like to narrow the list in January. I'd welcome your suggestions as comments below or email sent to

If you can get paid for things you'd do for free, you'll have a happy life.

The future looks friendly and bright. I'm neck deep in water but waving, not drowning.


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