Investment Management at Insurance Company?

Hey everyone, I got my first full-time job offer today. I'm a senior at a non-target, graduating in a few weeks. It's really been a grind networking, applying and interviewing for the last year or so. I'm glad I finally have something to show for the work I put in. 

It's an Investment Operations role in a large insurance company's investment management arm. They have $500B + in AUM, dealing in fixed income, derivatives, private capital, real estate. From what I've been told they really support internal mobility and the opportunity to jump to front office roles. My long-term career goal is to work in asset management, and I think this might be my best shot at getting into the industry if I put in the work. 

I have a few other interviews going on for roles in Wealth Management and Treasury, but I'm pretty sure this would be the best opportunity for me with my long-term goals in mind.

My question is, what are my realistic chances of one day making it to a front-office position at this company? I know the investment arm of insurance isn't everyone's idea of "high-finance," but I think it's a really good opportunity to get into buy-side asset management at a top 30-ish global asset manager. Is it attainable? I'd love to hear what you guys think, thanks in advance. 

Comments (6)

May 14, 2022 - 12:55am
dickthesellsider, what's your opinion? Comment below:

We need more specificity when you say "front-office position". Do you want to do credit investing? equity investing? private equity co-investing? Anything that impacts the asset side of an insurance company is "front-office", but the tracks I describe require different skill sets. 

Assuming you want to do fundamental investing, which is analyzing the business and financial statement to arrive an investment decision. You need the financial modeling and valuation skills, and additionally ability to assess the business and the industry it's in. 

It's not any easier that you work in a company that has an investment function because if I were running the investment arm, I would prefer to hire someone from equity research or investment banking who have the technical skills already. So how realistic is completely in your control: can you develop the skills to do the job? can you convince your interviewer you have the skills? 

May 14, 2022 - 9:51am
prodigy720, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for clarifying, I am not dead set on any one path, but I would say you are pretty on point with the fundamental investing path. I think the long-term goal would to be in portfolio management or research, directly dealing with one of these asset classes. I have somewhat recent experience in valuation and equity research at school, but I know that will most likely obsolete on my resumé once I begin working and look to progress down the line. Do you think pursuing a CFA Lvl. 1 would be a good move to give me more leverage against the guys coming out of ER and IB? 

 

 

  • 1
May 14, 2022 - 10:48am
dickthesellsider, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Should you pursue CFA (which I am not a proponent, you can read my view,) passing CFA level 2 gives a candidate some credibility because level 2 is commonly known as the most difficult level and has the most relevant content on valuation and financial analysis. 

Intrinsically, the only leverage you can create is to have a strong stock write-up and a financial model (three statements linked with forecasts clearly laid out for revenue and cost) when you network. Even then, there is huge prejudice because of what you do now day-to-day vs ER / IB background folks. 

May 14, 2022 - 12:36pm
prodigy720, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Thanks for your insight, really appreciate it. I would definitely look into modeling courses as you mentioned in the article, I see the importance of having skills on par with guys who have been working with those skills since their first position. 

 

 

Most Helpful
May 16, 2022 - 9:18am
Addinator, what's your opinion? Comment below:

Forget about what anyone's opinion of 'high finance' (whatever the hell that means) - insurance money is huge in fixed income, and there's a ton of high quality managers that cater to Insurance aside from those companies that have their own internal AM's. This is a good opportunity for you to learn about a very important sub set of asset owners, gain perspective on what it takes to actually run an investment operation, build some knowledge of how insurance companies manage their money and access a network of opportunities. Good on you. 

What you want to do is an uphill battle - make sure you absolutely KILL it at whatever job you take. That's your main priority - whatever you do, no matter how awful it is, be the absolute best at it. If your firm is being honest about internal talent having that type of reputation coupled with a 'I wonder what else he might be interested in pursuing' is  the right place to be. On the networking side it's showing interest, building relationships and over time making your long term goals known to people. Take Dick's advice to keep honing your skills, have stuff ready to go, slight credentialing - and all that should over the first few years give you the opportunity to at least make a run at a role within your firm. Externally keep networking - sometimes it's easier to switch firms rather than try and do what you are doing internally, in fact that might be more the rule than the exception. 

As far as whether this is do-able or not - it most certainly is. I didn't make the exact jump you did, but I ended up in a very good position within an Asset Management firm having started in what was effectively a trading operations role. Those I've seen make it do much of what is in this thread, and pick up a bit (or a lot) of luck along the way by being determined. 

May 16, 2022 - 10:23am
prodigy720, what's your opinion? Comment below:

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