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New Actuaries Institute head sets out ‘bold’ agenda 

The Actuaries Institute has appointed David Whittle as its President this year, taking over from Naomi Edwards. 

Mr Whittle is a senior actuary with more than 30 years’ experience, most recently as CBA wealth and private business CRO. His father Bruce was also a prominent actuary. 

In his presidential address, Mr Whittle said actuaries have a pivotal role to play on key societal issues such as climate change, intergenerational equity, funding for disability, and the role of artificial intelligence (AI). 

“I couldn’t be prouder to represent the Actuaries Institute as President this year,” he said. “Our skills have never been needed more than they are now. I encourage our profession to continue to be bold – put forward ideas of change and find ways to be heard in the halls of government and the boardrooms of industry.” 

AI will “change our lives and our cultures” through innovation such as self-driving vehicles, Mr Whittle says. He believes actuaries can “give the data revolution a conscience” and manage “the risk of bias and, inevitably, the risk that people will try to game the system”. 

“Actuaries have always been the independent arbiter, the vital element in systems like insurance, super and investment striving for equal treatment of all people. 

“In the world of automation, it will be up to us to extend that role.” 

Mr Whittle says that in a world “too often driven by the shallow thinking and ephemeral messages of social media”, actuaries tackle complex problems. 

“We are the people who take long-term problems and solve them. We need to be bold to continue claiming a seat at the table where risks are weighed and decisions are made.” 

Finding solutions for the consequences of climate change may be the “most important and profound arena” in which actuaries can use data for good, he says. 

Institute CEO Elayne Grace says Mr Whittle’s experience and energy make him the perfect candidate to further the institute’s growth. 

“David’s extensive background in financial services and insurance across reserving, pricing, underwriting, general management and risk management at senior levels gives him incredible insight into the ways actuaries are making a difference,” she said. 

“David is enthusiastic about the role of actuaries as agents of change and has a passion for broadening the spheres in which actuaries are enabling growth.”