Following on from Anita He’s recent article on the highlights of the ICA2023 session, “The Role of Actuaries in Public Policy,” we reflect on the Actuaries Institute role in public policy and the difference actuaries are making in this area.
During 2023, the Actuaries Institute has so far released six thought leadership publications submitted 17 responses to government and regulator consultations and arranged briefings with more than 20 external stakeholders from Government, consumer advocates, regulators and industry experts to promote thought leadership publications, their authors and the actuarial profession. Significant resources are required to produce these publications – actuaries as subject matter experts to analyse the complex issues and draft the material, their peers to provide all important independent review, and the Institute’s team to guide, edit and publish the material and support media and stakeholder engagement.
Why are actuaries involved in Public Policy?
Public policy is an important tool to promote the profession’s expertise and to help solve some of society’s most urgent problems. Public policy is instrumental to help the Institute achieve its objectives as listed in the Institute’s Constitution (amongst other objectives):
- Increase the value to the community of the actuarial profession
- Represent the actuarial profession in Australia
- Increase public awareness of the actuarial profession and enhance its reputation
- Discuss and comment on the actuarial aspects of public, financial and economic and social questions which from time to time may be the subject of public interest
- Consider the actuarial aspects of legislation and regulation, existing and proposed, and taking such action as is considered desirable in relation to such legislation and regulation.
An essential component of the Institute’s policy work is the goal of public benefit. The Institute looks at those areas in society where actuarial expertise can be used to uncover a problem and provide policy solutions to benefit all Australians – including financial sustainability, consumer outcomes, risks and opportunities in the age of data and societal challenges.
Evidence of actuaries making a difference
Council has delegated public policy development to the Public Policy Council Committee (PPCC) within key areas related to the profession’s expertise and interest.
Dr Anthony Lowe, Chair of the PPCC, discussed the broad role that actuaries play in public policy during a session at the 2023 International Congress of Actuaries , sharing insights and learnings with public policy experts Dr Hugh Miller, Principal at Taylor Fry (Australia); Raymond Tam, Insurance Executive (Hong Kong); and John Taylor, Prudential Committee Member, Bank of England and former President of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) (UK).
Based on data-driven insights, technical expertise and commercial acumen, actuarial advice makes a tangible difference to complex societal challenges, including disability income, retirement income, health, government services and climate change. Skills including data science, risk assessment, modelling and forecasting and being used to recommend policy outcomes. This leads to positive feedback from external stakeholders, including government and regulators, who praise the practical, independent advice received in the Institute’s thought leadership publications.
The Institute’s Public Policy in action
PPCC members in 2023 are Anthony Lowe (Chair), Andrew Boal, Nathan Bonarius, Elayne Grace, Andrew Huszczo, Daniel Levy, Christa Marjoribanks, John Maroney, Hugh Miller and David Whittle. They bring their expertise as senior actuaries working in the field to help deliver practical policy recommendations, represent the profession’s views, and consider the profession’s and the Institute’s reputation. The Committee is supported by the Public Policy & Practice Excellence team at the Institute – Vanessa Beenders, Clare Marshall and Aidan Nguyen.
Beyond contributing to positive societal change, there are additional benefits for the profession’s public policy work. Having a ‘seat at the table’ means that actuaries can provide policymakers with the practical implications of policy reform, including examples of how policy impacts business, consumers and society.
Publication of the major thought leadership categories, including Reports and Dialogues, often includes media interviews and briefings with senior government bureaucrats and key industry stakeholders.
The release of the August 2023 Home Insurance Affordability and Funding for Flood Costs reports highlights the breadth of stakeholder engagement – the Institute has had briefings with the relevant Minister, regulators, key consumer advocacy organisations, state level government agencies, federal government departments and agencies and industry experts. These briefings are important for long-term professional relationships to ensure change actually happens as well as increasing awareness of the value actuaries bring to complex topics.
In the past few years, the Institute has delivered opportunities for thought leadership collaboration with the Australian Human Rights Commission, ANU’s Tax and Transfer Policy Institute and independent economist Michael Blythe. Adding external experts to selected thought leadership material can uncover deeper insights within the publications and extend the reach of the Institute’s and the profession’s network.
The Institute surveys its key public policy stakeholders to gauge the effectiveness of its thought leadership. Our last survey in 2022 told us that the respondents to the survey found the Institute’s thought leadership useful and insightful, helping to drive positive change.
Around 80% of respondents to the 2023 Member Survey told us they were satisfied with the Institute’s public policy initiatives and thought leadership. This overwhelming support tells us that members value significant contributions from their colleagues and the investment by the Institute, and that actuaries working to support the Institute’s public policy work are recognised for their efforts. Notably, several recent award winners, from the Institute and other organisations, are in recognition of the respect and acknowledgement of contributions to public policy.
From leading working groups to producing responses to government and regulator consultations to the intensive effort required to deliver a Dialogue or Report – these actuaries will tell you that it is a rigorous process to publication. Research and analysis, responding to reviewers’ queries, media interviews and sharing the research with other actuaries and external stakeholder networks can add many hours squeezed in around busy full-time actuarial work but are highly rewarding.
The output from these working groups, practice committees and thought leadership authors has contributed to policy reform in many of those areas where actuaries have expertise – including defining the objective of superannuation, access to home insurance for climate impacted homeowners and reforms to the health sector.
Five years of delivering Public Policy from the Actuaries Institute
How to become a Public Policy contributor
There are many opportunities to get involved in the Institute’s Public Policy work, at any stage of your career:
- Take an interest by subscribing and engaging with the Institute’s public policy content (reading, sharing/reposting, attending events).
- Get involved in its development by joining a working group that has a public policy focus (volunteer vacancies are updated here and Practice Committees value hearing from new volunteers for their various established working groups).
- Make it happen by writing an article for Actuaries Digital, presenting at an event (an Insights Session, the All Actuaries Summit), pitching a thought leadership publication idea you want to author to the Public Policy & Practice Excellence team.
CPD: Actuaries Institute Members can claim two CPD points for every hour of reading articles on Actuaries Digital.