‘Huge integrity’: Tributes paid to former government actuary Martin Clarke

Former colleagues remember risk expert and leader, who died earlier this month
Martin Clarke. Photo: Government Actuary's Department

By Tevye Markson

21 Jun 2024

Colleagues have paid tribute to former government actuary Martin Clarke, who passed away on 5 June.

Civil servants have described Clarke, who led the Government Actuary’s Department for nine years, as “incredibly modest”, “wise” and “truly invested” in the department’s success.

Growing up in Salford, Clarke attended Canon Slade Grammar School in Bolton and then read mathematics at Jesus College, Cambridge. He gained the fellowship of the actuarial profession in 1982 and was an alumnus of the General Management Program at Harvard Business School in 2003.

Following an extensive actuarial and general management career within the retail financial services industry, Clarke began his public service in 2006 at the Pension Protection Fund. As executive director of financial risk, he led the actuarial, investments and financial risk functions as the PPF grew to manage funds of £30bn during that period.

He moved to GAD in 2014, where he spent nine years as its leader, retiring in 2023.

Colin Wilson, a former deputy government actuary, said: “He was intelligent, hard-working, supportive, wise, sometimes blunt and with huge integrity. He modernised the way the department works, embracing the appropriate use of AI, and encouraged us always to look forwards rather than back. He will be sadly missed.”

Dave Johnston, GAD's current actuarial director, said: “Martin was truly invested in GAD’s development and our success. His tenure at GAD resulted in a blossoming of our talent pool and opportunities for our people to work in areas beyond traditional actuarial domains.”

Matt Gurden, the current deputy government actuary, said Clarke had "encouraged GAD to make an even bigger difference supporting government to address big issues". 

"Over the last decade, I’ve seen that interest and enthusiasm lead to whole new areas of work such as supporting government risk pools, providing pensions administration support and developing climate change analysis," he added.

An article from GAD which includes the tributes sets out that, in his time as government actuary, Clarke changed the structure and focus of the department, emphasising excellent client service as well as laying the foundations for its future technical capability through the development of the Analytical Solutions Team – an in-house function which consolidated the department’s data analysis skills.

In his tribute to Clarke, Chris Daniels, head of the AST, recalled the development of the function, saying: “I found Martin to be very supportive of efforts to evolve AST while also offering valid challenge to those efforts. He was constantly enthusiastic about the potential of AST, and GAD, to improve the civil service.”

Helen Vernon, who has been chief executive at NHS Resolution since 2014, also wrote a tribute to Clarke. During Clarke's time as government actuary, they were professional counterparts, working together to ensure a strong partnership between NHS Resolution and GAD.

“Martin’s integrity and wisdom shone through in his distinguished career in public service," Vernon said. "He was incredibly modest but had a tremendous depth of knowledge and insight and a unique talent for de-mystifying the complex and helping others to learn. He was a wonderful and wise colleague and will be greatly missed.”

Current government actuary Fiona Dunsire paid tribute to Clarke earlier this week. 

Martin Clarke supported the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries Foundation. A fundraising appeal has been set up by his family for donations to The IFoA Foundation in his memory.

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