Michael Rice has been made an Officer of the Order of Australia in Sunday’s Australia Day honours.
Rice, who has been an active voice in the superannuation space for many years, was honoured for his “distinguished service to business and economics, particularly to the actuarial profession, and through advisory roles.”
His notable achievements include advocating higher superannuation payments to women and public policy work that has secured a framework for better retirement outcomes.
Rice pioneered research into Age Pension dependency, including the gender gap over the years. He has a keen interest in the integration of social security and superannuation as well as measuring the adequacy of retirement incomes.
“Mr Rice has been a powerful and persuasive advocate for essential and equitable reform in the superannuation and retirement sectors,” said Actuaries Institute chief executive Elayne Grace.
“His thoughtful and incisive input is actively sought by policymakers in Canberra and by leading industry groups involved in the wealth management and retirement sectors.”
A founder and executive director of actuarial firm Rice Warner, the actuary has led submissions to government on major reviews of Australia’s financial services. These include submissions to the Henry Tax Review, the Cooper Superannuation Review and the Financial System Inquiry, along with submissions to Treasury, Senate Committees and the Productivity Commission.
Posting his thanks on social media, Rice said he counted himself lucky to have received an award for doing things “which have been interesting and often fun”.
“We are lucky at Rice Warner that so many of us (a far higher proportion than in any other professional firm) contribute to the ongoing debates around superannuation, life insurance, financial advice and investments,” he said. “It greatly improves our knowledge and contributes something back to our society.”
In the post, he urged all younger actuaries to be involved in public policy.
Rice was named Actuary of the Year in 2017 and chaired the Actuaries Institute’s Public Policy Committee for five years from 2014.
He has been an honorary member of the Australian National University’s Advisory Board of the College of Business and Economics since 2014, a board member of State Plus for three years to 2019 and a QSuper committee member between 2009 and 2016.
Rice is a champion of women at Rice Warner. His firm’s ‘Valuing Females’ package, introduced in 2013, offered women extra benefits including flexible work conditions, paid parental leave, and crucially, an additional 2 per cent payment of their salary into their super fund. Further, Rice took the battle for better benefits for women to the Human Rights Commission, arguing for positive discrimination in favour of Rice Warner’s women employees.
The actuary has long advocated better outcomes for young savers wooed into higher-fee superannuation accounts and he has urged the superannuation industry to identify underperforming funds with a view to improving benefits for members.