Michael Rice arrived at the Institute last week to accept the 2017 Actuary of the Year Award alongside an entourage of supporters from the firm he founded 30 years ago.
The CEO of independent consultancy and research house Rice Warner, was recognised with the Award for his leadership within the industry, and “fearless advocacy” for good public policy across Australia’s superannuation and retirement sectors.
“Michael is one of a handful of expert actuaries the media calls upon for considered commentary across retirement policy, Age Pensions and superannuation,” said Institute President Jenny Lyon (pictured below with Michael).
“Many of you would have heard him interviewed on Ross Greenwood’s 2GB radio program Money News and elsewhere, have read his blogs and interviews in newspapers and magazines.”
High regard for actuaries
Michael took the opportunity after accepting the award to highlight the specialised skills of actuaries.
“Of all the related activities: research, public policy, the analysis of product or industry statistics, or even member outcomes; when I look at our competitors it’s the actuarial firms that we regard highly,” said Michael.
Michael urged his fellow actuaries to take on the challenge to “protect our brand” and make sure the name ‘actuary’ stands foremost.
Actuaries in Public Policy
Over the years, Michael 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 including the Henry tax review, Cooper superannuation review and Financial System Inquiry, along with submissions to Treasury, Senate Committees and the Productivity Commission.
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, and his firm has taken the battle for better retirement outcomes for women to the Human Rights Commission.
“I would encourage all of you who are interested in public policy to take part in it,” said Michael, adding that in recent times, the Institute has focused on growing this aspect of its work, especially with support from current CEO David Bell.
“My personal interest [in public policy] grew when I was on Council in 1999 when our then-CEO was Jock Rankin, who was actually a journalist who came to the Institute and encouraged us to talk to the media.”
“Before that, actuaries were very introverted and back office, whereas I think you’ll find that in many fields [now], particularly superannuation, the prominent media commentators are all actuaries.”
“It’s because they can come to us and know that they’ll get an opinion, people may not agree with the opinion, but they’ll know it’s based on fact.”
Michael urged actuaries to get involved in public policy work to flex their skills and make a difference to society.
“Not enough of us take the challenge of trying to promote the industry and get involved in public policy, which does shape society at the end of the day.”
Michael is currently the Convenor of the Institutes’ Public Policy Council Committee (PPCC). He was closely involved with the launch of “For Richer, For Poorer”, the Institute’s Public Policy Paper on Retirement Incomes, which he outlines in the below video.
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