What does being recognised in the Birthday Honours List mean to you?
It is an absolute thrill and sets a perfect seal on a job that has proved to be the most fulfilling experience of my career.
What does your role involve?
The government actuary provides professional and business leadership to the Government Actuary's Department (GAD), which creates actuarial solutions, including financial risk analysis, modelling and advice supporting the UK public sector and overseas. I also have certain statutory responsibilities in relation to pensions, national insurance and personal injury claims.
How did you end up in that role?
I have been an actuary for 40 years, for the large part working in technical and executive roles within the insurance industry. I left the private sector in 2006 to become an executive director of the fledgling Pension Protection Fund (an arm’s length body of the Department for Work and Pensions), leading on investment, financial risk
and actuarial. My eight years at PPF proved to be
a stepping stone to becoming only the ninth government actuary in just over 100 years of the post.
Apart from receiving this honour, what has been your proudest moment at work?
The proudest was also the most challenging – leading through Covid-19. In addition to the profound novelty of maintaining a professional service with 100% remote working on systems untested at that scale and keeping departmental cohesion at a time of great stress, the mobilisation of analytic capability across government to work on Covid-19 tasks was a unique resource problem.
GAD actuaries rose to that challenge, maintained business as usual, volunteered as secondees to often ground-breaking analytic initiatives and contributed in their own right to government programmes to support markets in, for example, credit protection and event insurance that were faced with unbearable risks. All of this speaks volumes for the capability and versatility of our unique skillset.
What does it take to do your job well?
A broad understanding of the various domains where actuarial analysis is used, the ability to communicate well and the belief to inspire in others the confidence to express their own professional capabilities.
Tell us one thing we might not know about your job...
Each month, I certify that the “ERNIE” premium bond draw is random. Or rather that “I have no reason to believe the prizes are allocated to a sequence of bond numbers that are not random.”
Martin Clarke will leave his role as government actuary later this year.