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Old 03-05-2008, 07:29 PM   #21
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3.5 hours per day commuting is insane. I'm in the 2+ hour group. If that deal is better overall you are better off moving.
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Old 03-05-2008, 07:37 PM   #22
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Cut throat business culture demanding lots of hours and long commute may be an advantage to the Type A Type A who is confident of beating all peers in a hostile environment where survival is questionable but rewards are great. If that's you then this may be just what you want. The (few) winners in these kinds of places can get huge payoffs.

I cannot imagine being happy there or staying there more than the absolute minimum time possible. It sounds like hell on earth to me. I'd opt for the friendly environment of #1 and if a rotation policy is lacking work from the inside to make one. But then it's a personal choice and depends on personality and desires as much as the details of the offers. You want to find a fit for you.
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Old 03-05-2008, 08:08 PM   #23
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Those exams are stressful enough without the threat of termination if you miss one. I remember my boss flunking CFA #2 because his wife just had a kid two weeks before and he got no sleep whatsoever heading into it.

You never know what your options might be down the road, so even if you take #1, maybe later you'll get an offer that has all the upside of #2 without some of the downside.
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Old 03-05-2008, 08:10 PM   #24
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I would choose door #1.
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:35 PM   #25
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I am in kind of a similar situation myself. Having been in the high stress position for 8 years i am faced with two options, and i am leaning towards the lower stress (but same pay) option.

I would go with #1 myself, 3.5 hour commute does is for me...
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Old 03-06-2008, 01:17 PM   #26
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Number 1. As mentioned, the longer hours and commute probably lower your pay per hour rate significantly.
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Old 03-06-2008, 04:28 PM   #27
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In my go-getter 20's, I had a really great job with a really great company that paid really well, loved the co-workers and the customers, but I had a one hour train ride each way plus a 10 minute walk on either end.

I really liked that train ride for about a year, got a lot of reading in, it was a really relaxing commute.

Then I got pretty tired pretty quick of my weekdays being completely consumed by work and commuting.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:31 PM   #28
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In my youth, I would have chosen #2. In fact, that's what I did. I moved my family across the country and disrupted our lives. I had EVERYTHING (or at least everything I needed and wanted) and didn't know it until I screwed it up. This was all in the name of advancement @ megacorp. I spent the next 2 years fixing it. Eventually we got back 'home' and everything was fine again. The moral to the story is there is MUCH MORE to life than career.

Take #1 and save your *ss off. Put together a budget. 401k to the max if you have one. Put max into IRA or Roth IRA if eligible. Put any extras into after tax accounts. Make sure you pay yourself 1st when you get any salary increases. Same goes for your DW. Be sure to enjoy yourself along the way too. IMO, balance is the key to life.
20 years or so from now, you will have a nice happy family, a huges nest egg and you can RE.
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:05 AM   #29
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In my youth, I would have chosen #2. In fact, that's what I did. I moved my family across the country and disrupted our lives. I had EVERYTHING (or at least everything I needed and wanted) and didn't know it until I screwed it up. This was all in the name of advancement @ megacorp. I spent the next 2 years fixing it. Eventually we got back 'home' and everything was fine again. The moral to the story is there is MUCH MORE to life than career.
When I was young, single and eager, and before I was jaded and sick of corporate America, I might have chosen #2 as well. But a few years of cubicle life and a lovely bride changed my perspective. Now, as long as all the bills are paid, I'll take quality of life over "opportunity for advancement" all day. I have zero desire for another promotion, because the next promotion up the career ladder would be into management.
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Old 03-07-2008, 09:46 AM   #30
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I worked for a pension consulting firm, commute was 1 hr each way, took a couple of actuarial exams, failed each one, and as such am in a different career. The work was not all that stressful and the culture wasn't very cutthroat, but the awkward silences in meeting was gut wrenching. Not too mention the pleasant office chatter, which consisted of "hey."

That said, if the P&C firm wants you to work 60 hrs/week and study for exams on top of that, I'd run like hell. Also, if you got the sense that they would say, "screw your free time, we need this done ASAP, and btw you're working for the next 3 weekends," I'd run like hell. If you want the ASA or FSA, I would definitely opt for the 45 hrs/week with the shorter commute until you pass the exams. At that point, you'd be extremely marketable and would probably command a big premium if you decide to job shop.

If you do decide to go with option #2, you may want to have a psychiatrist, psychologist, and/or marriage counselor on speed dial. Also, if you get "grumpy" and more introverted when you get stressed [as many actuaries do], inform your wife of what is too come. She may not be all that thrilled with #2.

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Old 03-07-2008, 02:53 PM   #31
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Alec makes a good point. If #2 has you working day and night you'll have a harder time passing exams which could hurt you in the long run. I've worked with a lot of people that got so caught up in spending 50, 60+ hrs/week at work that they never had enough time to study for the exams.

My personal experience was working with a firm that allowed significant study time (if you were willing to take it), allowing me to work approx 30 hrs/week while I was studying another 50 hrs/week. In the end this got me an FSA in less than 5 years, all told. This was great for pay and marketability and so far has more than made up for my lack of a cutthroat, competitive nature (which is also an effective way to move up, in my experience - if you're willing to live with yourself).
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Old 03-07-2008, 04:49 PM   #32
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...if the P&C firm wants you to work 60 hrs/week and study for exams on top of that, I'd run like hell. Also, if you got the sense that they would say, "screw your free time, we need this done ASAP, and btw you're working for the next 3 weekends," I'd run like hell. If you want the ASA or FSA, I would definitely opt for the 45 hrs/week with the shorter commute until you pass the exams. At that point, you'd be extremely marketable and would probably command a big premium if you decide to job shop.
Actually, the hours with the P&C firm are very reasonable (7:30am to 4:00pm). If you are part of their van pool (they just let me know that they have a van available which would reduce commuting to 2.5 - 3 hrs/day), there is no staying late, they make sure you are out the door in time.

One advantage of having this commute is that it would force me to study 2 hours a day. The Co. also grants 115 hours of study time per exam sitting (twice a year), which is in line with industry norms.

The life Co. was ambiguous about their study program and working hours. The HR personnel was very unprofessional, they were pushing me to accept their verbal offer over the phone, and when I got the written offer, it was a crooked copy sent regular mail.

P&C is the industry I've always been the most interested in. This opportunity is a foot in the door, and the only real disadvantage I see is having to waking up earlier than I'm used to.

Also, I may have spoken too soon about the cut-throat environment. This was the impression I got from one of my interviewers (not an actuary) and may not reflect on the company as a whole. I guess his attitude was the one that left the biggest footprint, the rest of the interviewers were actually pretty laid back.

I appreciate the feedback from all of you. I'll let you know my decision.
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Old 03-07-2008, 05:08 PM   #33
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Well, look at it another way, what's the long-term negative impact of the p&c position? 3 hour commute is tough, but it might be a wash if you can use that for study time. What happens, career-wise, if things don't work out after a year at the p&c job?

Now is the time in your life to see if you can / want to hack a career like the p&c one offers.
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Old 03-07-2008, 05:17 PM   #34
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In the end this got me an FSA in less than 5 years, all told. This was great for pay and marketability
Nice Bots, that's pretty impressive. Congratulations on finishing so quickly! For those of you who are not very familiar with the actuarial profession, we need to pass a series of grueling exams which take an average of 8.5 years to get through.
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Old 03-07-2008, 05:25 PM   #35
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Thanks. My whole focus during those years was on getting through the exams. For me it was an issue of prioritizing my long term interests (getting through them quickly) over the company's interests (maximizing my working hours). The key, for me, was to maintain as much of an appearance of 'company first' as possible.
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Old 03-07-2008, 05:36 PM   #36
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Nice Bots, that's pretty impressive. Congratulations on finishing so quickly! For those of you who are not very familiar with the actuarial profession, we need to pass a series of grueling exams which take an average of 8.5 years to get through.
When I was in college I considered switching the actuarial science program. I already had 3 semesters of calculus (2 of them in HS), and 1 each of statistics, diff eq, and linear algebra. I supposedly had a reasonable enough background to take the first test. I took a look at a sample, and could barely recognize anything. Maybe I only had the background to start preparing for it. Anyway, I punted that idea. Finishing in 5 years is definitely impressive.

Sounds like you're leaning towards #2, as a better opportunity and more to your liking. My only comment is not to let a pushy HR hiring manager sour you too much on #1, since you won't likely be dealing with them again.

Is your wife onboard with the longer day of #2?
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Old 03-08-2008, 09:38 AM   #37
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One advantage of having this commute is that it would force me to study 2 hours a day. The Co. also grants 115 hours of study time per exam sitting (twice a year), which is in line with industry norms.

The life Co. was ambiguous about their study program and working hours. The HR personnel was very unprofessional, they were pushing me to accept their verbal offer over the phone, and when I got the written offer, it was a crooked copy sent regular mail.

P&C is the industry I've always been the most interested in. This opportunity is a foot in the door, and the only real disadvantage I see is having to waking up earlier than I'm used to.

Also, I may have spoken too soon about the cut-throat environment. This was the impression I got from one of my interviewers (not an actuary) and may not reflect on the company as a whole. I guess his attitude was the one that left the biggest footprint, the rest of the interviewers were actually pretty laid back.
Hello Success

I don't know how much experience you have or how much prep you did for your interviews, but have you done any research on how to interview? I read 2 books on interviewing (the names escape me, unfortunately) and they were INVALUABLE! Everything from how to handle sending resumes, how to conduct yourself over the phone/what to say (and what not to say ), how to interview, and - MOST important - how to negotiate your offer.

Remember that no company gives you their "best and final" offer up front. You are in the driver's seat with two offers at the same time. I'm not suggesting you try and make each compete with the other - but it wouldn't hurt to tell each company that you have a competing offer that has Quality A - which the other company doesn't - and ask if they could sweeten the deal by adding/increasing _______.

My comments about your offers: Rethink that 2.5-3 hour commute and how 'good' it will be. If you're in a van pool, do you really think it will be conducive to studying day in and day out for 2.5-3 hours riding with other co-workers?

Also, excluding the position of CEO, what do you think is realistically the highest position you honestly could ascend to with Offer #2, if you study your butt off and pass all exams, etc.? What would this compensation package look like for this position? Reduce it by a probability factor (of your odds of actually being promoted that far ahead of everyone else) and contrast that with what you'd be making with Offer #1.

You mentioned that your initial cut-throat impressions may have been incorrect - do you by chance know any former employees to get a feel for what it was like there?

I recently switched careers to something that truly interests me and much lower stress for a 25%++++ pay cut - but it's worth it (of course, my FIRE stash has grown considerably and made the decision so much easier).

If you take Option #1 - how soon could you FIRE w/ your wife? If option #2, with a reasonable chance of promotion to a certain level, what would your FIRE date look like then? My guess is, when you discount the promotion and add in all of the bells & whistles, you probably won't be that far apart. And the other thing I don't like is the criticalness of the exam passing requirement. Like someone else said - what if your wife gives birth 2 weeks before a test, or you contract the Zimbabwe Flu the day before your exam and miss it? If their exam policy is absolute without exceptions, I'd pick Option #1, think about additional certifications, and simply keep your eyes open for other opportunities down the road when you get more experience.

Also, most companies like go-getters. Ask #1 if you take additional certifications, can they guarantee you a rotation into other fields, or fill in for other people when they're on vacation (or offer other ideas). Or, even ask if you could work a few extra hours in the fields that interest you (time that you would have spent commuting in the other job) to get your feet wet. And if they were ambiguous with some things (working hours, etc.) ask them to clarify it (and if you accept their offer, reply with a summary in writing of the things they verbally clarified).

I know that some people are unprofessional, and the offer from #1 doesn't sound muchso. However, realize that not everyone in the business world works to other peoples' standards. For instance, I heard one recruiter tell me that a certain construction company will interview you, then they will call you with an offer over the phone. They expect you to either accept or reject their offer right then and there - no time to think it over, no time to negotiate it. If you accept verbally, THEN they will send you a written offer, which they expect you to sign - not take and run to another company to sweeten your offer from them.

Would I consider that professional? No way. However, some companies have different (sometimes, bad) policies...but perhaps they've been burned too many times in the past? Yes, it could reflect poorly on the company, but just make sure you get everything in writing regardless of which job you accept.
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Old 03-08-2008, 12:20 PM   #38
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Is your wife onboard with the longer day of #2?
It doesn't make much of a difference to her. She gets home from work around 7:00pm so I will be home in either case. #2 may have me going to bed earlier, but #1 may have me studying in the evenings.

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I don't know how much experience you have or how much prep you did for your interviews, but have you done any research on how to interview? I read 2 books on interviewing (the names escape me, unfortunately) and they were INVALUABLE! Everything from how to handle sending resumes, how to conduct yourself over the phone/what to say (and what not to say ), how to interview, and - MOST important - how to negotiate your offer.
A lot of time was spent preparing for these interviews. I use "Knock 'em Dead" by Yates and so far I've received an offer from every position I've applied for.

I negotiated with both. There was a lot of talk with #1 but in the end they didn't budge. #2 moved up a bit, not much, but enough for me be appreciative.

My concern is not so much when my wife and I will be able to FIRE. Although #2 pays more in the long run (see P&C and Life salary surveys), there may not be much of a time difference between FIRE dates.

I'm more interested in the job description.

P&C
  • Determine the best insurance rate change every quarter for growth, retention, and profitability
  • Determine the reserves needed to cover expected losses (loss modeling)
  • Financial projections (predictive modeling)
  • Catastrophe modeling, retention analysis, competitor analysis, etc.
  • Essentially determine the best solution based on your judgment, see it enacted, monitor the results and learn from them.
Life
  • Price and design products for growth and profitability. There are many different pricing strategies so there is room for creativity.
  • Determine the reserves needed to cover expected payouts (different department)
  • Financial analysis (different department)
  • Annuity product design (different department)
  • In life you will not see results for years/decades.
P&C is much more appealing to me but I'm still debating whether an additional 2.5 hr/day commute is worth following what interests me more.
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Old 03-08-2008, 01:10 PM   #39
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P&C is much more appealing to me but I'm still debating whether an additional 2.5 hr/day commute is worth following what interests me more.
2.5 hours is more than 10% of your 24 hours. Seems like a lot to give away.
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Old 03-12-2008, 09:12 PM   #40
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So which offer did you take?
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