Plenary Program

Plenary Sessions

The lowdown – living in a long-term, low-rate world

It’s now obvious that the low-rate world will be with us for years to come. What does this mean for investors, business leaders and actuaries grappling with asset pricing and liability valuations? This debate session will give actuaries the background they need to make the big decision a low-rate world is forcing on business and policymakers around the world.

  • Hugh Miller – Principal, Taylor Fry
  • Nicki Hutley 
  • Greg Bird - Chief Actuary and Chief Investment Officer for Resolution Life Australasia and is also the Appointed Actuary for AMP Life
  • Chair: John Trowbridge

The needle and the damage done – life post pandemic

Can we really bounce back better? In this panel discussion, leading thinkers from business, the health sector and the actuarial profession discuss vaccines and life after the pandemic – the economic and social aftermath, the reform opportunities and the lessons to be learned.

  • Tan Suee Chieh – President, IFoA
  • Professor Russell Gruen – Dean, ANU College of Health and Medicine, The Australian National University.
  • Thayendran Naidoo – Leader, ConvergeHEALTH Africa 
  • Jennifer Lang – Chair, COVID-19 Working Group and Non-Executive Director

Revolutionary actuaries? 

Elon Musk says he wants ‘revolutionary actuaries’ who mix maths skills with an appetite for risk and entrepreneurial vision. Is that who we are? Who we should be? Does our current brand and education reflect the strengths and potential of the profession? In this session, one of Australia’s best advertising brains and two top actuaries lead the big discussion.

  • Dee Madigan – Creative Director, Campaign Edge and Panelist
  • Adam Druissi – CEO, Quantium
  • Queenie Chow – Microinsurance Specialist – Milliman
  • Chair: Naomi Edwards – Non-Executive Director

Decarbonisation – what it means for the future of the Australian economy

How can actuaries help business and government adjust to the massive change decarbonisation will bring to the economy? In this panel session, climate experts and actuaries will discuss real life outcomes – how decarbonisation will change business, jobs, energy prices and much more.

  • Kristian Kolding – Partner, Deloitte Access Economics
  • Jillian Broadbent AC
  • Rade Musulin
  • Geoff Summerhayes
  • Chair: Nicolette Rubinsztein – Non-Executive Director

Whichtech? The technology trends that really matter

Fintech, regtech, insurtech. It’s cliché to say that technology is changing everything. So in this interactive session we’re looking at the big tech trends and asking – which tech really matters? Because getting the answers right means you’ll be ready for the changes they’ll drive to your business, lifestyle, job and profession.

  • Walter de Oude – Founder and Group CEO of Singlife
  • Chair: Annette King – Non-Executive Director

Disability, Support, Services and Income. “I wouldn’t start from here.”

Whether it’s IDII, Salary Continuance, Workers’ Compensation or the NDIS, the whole vexed issue of income replacement needs a reimagining.  This cross-practice session will seek different ways of solving the need to support people with disability and those who need income replacement during illness and recovery - starting with the idea that it won’t be solved by brilliant people working in silos.

  • Jim Minto – Chair of the Board of Directors, Swiss Re Life & Health
  • Nicolette Rubinsztein – Non-Executive Director
  • Niki Ellis - Health Consultant, Research Management, Non Executive Director
  • Estelle Pearson – Principal, Finity
  • Ian Laughlin – Ex-Non-Executive Director, Ex-Chairman
  • Chair: Annette King – Non-Executive Director


Practice Area Plenary Sessions

Data Plenary 

Data Analytics

The Future of Actuaries in Data Analytics
Bartosz Piwcewicz

The Data Analytics Practice Committee will explore in this session potential future data analytics roles for actuaries outside of the traditional fields of actuarial work. We will also consider what skills will be required to succeed in this space.

General Insurance Plenary


Recent Developments in Understanding Natural Climate Variability
Tatiana Potemina, Tim Andrews

Natural climate variability (e.g. El Niño–Southern Oscillation (ENSO), Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD), Southern Annular Mode (SAM)) is one of the key drivers for extreme weather events. How these cycles change in a warmed world will have a large bearing on how climate change impacts on Australia, including how the frequency and severity of extreme events change. This presentation explores the latest scientific literature on the main drivers of natural climate variability that impact Australia and discusses their relevance to Australian insurers.

These drivers contribute to large variations in insured claims costs, which if not understood can lead to incorrect views being formed about trend. There is a lot of uncertainty, but the expectations are for increased frequency of severe episodes which is likely to mean higher insurance costs on average. Predictability of natural climate variability would benefit insurers in short and long term and could be used for pricing, reinsurance design and budgeting. Our ability to predict ENSO, IOD and SAM cycles beyond 6-12 months are still limited, however, there are promising results in applying machine learning techniques.

Investment and Wealth Management Plenary

 Investment and Wealth Management 

Markets Panel: Where Next?
Douglas Isles, Colin Grenfell, David Lau, Henry Lau

Starting with insights on long term returns, and checking the pulse of the options markets, this session will move into a discussion with market practitioners about how they are seeing the current issues in markets including historically low interest rates, asset bubbles, the economic recovery from COVID-19, and the shifting of power between the US and China. Market views will be the speakers’ own opinions, but a vibrant discussion and lively Q&A will provide helpful perspective for conference attendees who have an interest in asset markets, without it necessarily being their core role.  The bios of additional panellists will be provided nearer the time.

Leadership and Professionalism Plenary


Was the misconduct identified in the Banking Royal Commission enabled by directors who didn't understand the complexity of the businesses they directed?

Ian Laughlin, Barry Rafe

On 8 May 2018 the Financial Review reported that a number of directors of AMP were stepping down because they no longer had the support of the institutional shareholders. The resignations were directly attributable to the fallout from the banking Royal Commission which revealed that the behaviour of financial services organisation often did not meet community standards and expectations. In some cases, such as the AMP there appeared to be conduct that broke the law.

The board is responsible for the actions and success of the corporation and hence the composition of the board would appear to be relevant to the corporation’s success. Ideally, directors are selected for board positions based on their technical and behavioural competencies. Boards often develop a skills matrix that sets out the broad set of competencies needed for the corporation to meet its aims. The expectation is that directors are appointed to fill or bolster various competencies required.  In addition, the Corporations Act requires that all directors be financial literate i.e. they need to understand the financial drivers of the organisations they direct.

The questions to be asked in this session are:

  • Was the misconduct revealed by the banking Royal Commission caused by directors who did not understand the businesses they directed?
  • Who should be on the boards of complex financial services businesses
  • How do complex financial services businesses manage the need for diversity of skills on the board with the need for directors to understand the complexity of the businesses they direct.

Life Plenary


Disability Insurance Task Force. The hard part: making it happen

Hoa Bui, Ian Laughlin

In 2020, the DI taskforce was formed by the Actuaries Institute with the aim of tackling the significant issues experienced by the Disability insurance market in Australia. The task force chose to focus on individual disability income insurance initially because of the severity of problems in that product. The task force published a consultation paper and supporting documents in September 2020, and received significant interest and feedback from a wide range of stakeholders including but not limited to regulators, rating houses, insurers, consumer advocacy groups, the FSC, ALUCA , ANZIIF and the medical profession. More recently, there has been significant discussion and debate with stakeholders on the way forward. At the time of writing, the task force is considering all of the feedback and plans to hold webinars in response. It will then issue final papers by March 2021.

Super Plenary

Gender Inequality in the Retirement Savings Gap

David Knox, Michael Rice, Richard Dunn

Over the last decade, there has been a body of research into the gap between the average male and female retirement balances. The Report of the Retirement Income Review looked at gender differences and confirmed the gap, which is a function of differences in working life (since superannuation contributions are linked to wages). The relative income in retirement by gender is further impacted by women retiring earlier and living longer. However, the Age Pension significantly reduces the gap in average retirement incomes. Nonetheless, Australia has been criticised for its high poverty levels amongst elderly single renters (the majority being female) and for not addressing the emerging gap for working Australians.

This Paper looks at the retirement savings gender gap in the light of the findings of the Retirement income Review and it also assesses where Australia stands internationally in terms of supporting female retirement incomes. Some options to address the issue will also be discussed. The authors have undertaken past work into female retirement inadequacy and will examine whether progress is being made.