Risk management driving super actuaries

Actuaries will return to the superannuation sector to work on top-down risk management processes as legislation pushes funds to tighten risk controls, according to the Actuaries Institute chief executive Melinda Howes.

The Institute's member statistics and demographics show that actuaries working in the superannuation sector declined from 8.2 per cent to 6.9 per cent between 2011 and 2012, although Howes said she expected that to tick up again as funds adopted top-down risk frameworks.

However, the move from bottom-up risk management was occurring across a spectrum of industries, according to Howes.

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"Before the global financial crisis, you had these multinational businesses where risk management was done in all parts of the business — but no one was looking across the top at the whole business and what the aggregate risks were," she said.

Demographics and the switch from net inflows to net outflows would also drive actuaries back into the super sector.

Although actuaries working in banking and finance also declined between 2011 and 2012 from 7.2 per cent to 5.9 per cent, Howes said the profession was growing in wealth management with regards to risk management as a new area of focus rather than life insurance — once the stalwart of the industry.

Howes said the role of actuaries in Australia had changed quite a lot in terms of both the work they were involved in and also with regard to global peers.

"Compared to actuaries overseas, actuaries in Australia are really doing a suite of broader business roles, although there will still be significant numbers of people in life insurance and general insurance," she said.

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