The Actuaries Institute today announced Michael Rice as Actuary of the Year for 2017. Michael is CEO of Rice Warner and well known as a fearless advocate for good public policy across Australia’s superannuation and retirement sectors.
Michael leads Rice Warner, an independent consultancy and research house in financial services, that he founded in 1987. It now employs close to 70 people. He is a leader within the industry, and one of a handful of expert actuaries the media calls upon for considered commentary and explanation across retirement policy, Age Pensions and superannuation. Many have heard him interviewed on Ross Greenwood’s 2GB radio program Money News and elsewhere, have read his blogs, interviews in newspapers and magazines, and heard him speak at numerous external conferences.
"I encourage all actuaries to be involved in public policy as we can all make a difference and help shape society," said Michael.
"I have found the work to be very rewarding and it is an added bonus to be recognised for it by my peers."
Michael’s aim has been to promote what’s best for the community and the sector in as many ways as he can, and to be a champion for reform where it is needed.
“This award recognises Michael’s major contribution to the development of sustainable retirement income policy across many sectors of Australian society. Michael has brought a public face to the profession, and positive attention to the value of actuarial techniques in addressing social policy challenges. The Institute thanks Michael for his invaluable contributions.” - Actuaries Institute President, Jenny Lyon.
Michael was educated in Wales and South Africa and migrated to Australia in 1979 working in various roles before branching out on his own in 1987.
Over the years he has provided advice or research to virtually all financial institutions and major superannuation funds operating in the Australian wealth management industry, and has undertaken commissioned research for all the major industry bodies. He has been involved in research ranging from Age Pension dependency, superannuation fund fees, projections of both the superannuation and personal investments markets, analysis of member choices, to evaluating retirement strategies for superannuation funds.
He has led Rice Warner’s team making submissions to government on major reviews of Australia’s financial services. These include submissions to the Henry tax review, Cooper superannuation review and Financial System Inquiry (FSI), along with submissions to Treasury, Senate Committees and the Productivity Commission.
Michael has also been a champion of women in his own firm, which took the battle for better retirement outcomes to the Human Rights Commission. From July 1, 2013, Rice Warner’s female employees were offered a package of benefits, including flexible work conditions, paid parental leave, and crucially, an additional 2% payment of their salary into their super fund. Women often face retirement with significantly less in savings than their male counterparts, even though they live longer so they need to save more. Typically, they are paid less and they take time out of work to have children. The aim of the extra super payment was to partially close the gap with men, and to encourage female staff to contribute more themselves. ANZ and Unions NSW have followed Rice Warner’s lead.
Michael has served on the Institute’s Council and on several committees and is currently the Convenor of the Public Policy Committee. He has produced two books on superannuation and prepared several professional papers.
He sits on the Advisory Board of the College of Business and Economics at Australian National University and has chaired investment committees at major superannuation funds.
Michael’s contribution to the profession and to its public standing, as well as his ongoing work, his research and dedication to matters that are critical to the importance of good policy, and the savings of Australia’s general population, make him an appropriate and worthy recipient of the 2017 Actuary of the Year Award. The Institute congratulates him.
More recently, Michael has advocated better outcomes for young savers wooed into higher-fee superannuation accounts by social media savvy marketers. He has also urged the superannuation industry to identify underperforming funds with a view to improving member benefits.
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