IRIS Knowledge Hub

Innovations in Risk, Insurance and Superannuation

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About us

Working with the financial services industry and policymakers to adapt industry practice, regulation and public policy to traditional and emerging risks.

The IRIS Hub will serve as a bridge between UNSW, the insurance and superannuation industries, regulators and public policy.

Standing at the forefront of risk, insurance, and superannuation research, the IRIS Hub will create forward-looking and tech-driven approaches using advanced data and actuarial analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), field studies and experimental surveys to address pressing industry and policy challenges. The Hub will conduct cutting-edge research under three themes (Risk, Insurance and Superannuation), making contributions to the UN sustainable development goals.

Research / Projects


Theme: Climate Change and Insurance

The changing environment is significantly altering the financial landscape of the insurance industry, while a dominating driving force for this is climate change. The economic consequences of climate change propagate through physical, social, and financial channels, constituting a rapidly changing and highly uncertain external environment for the insurance industry. This theme first considers quantifying the impacts of climate change on insurance and then proposes an insurance approach to mitigating climate risk.

Theme: Financing Retirement

Planning for and financing retirement are inherently complex tasks. While financial and health concerns are a major part of retirement decisions, retirement outcomes are also affected by behavioral factors and complexity/inflexibility of retirement products. This theme focuses on issues related to wellbeing in retirement through optimal utilization of the entirety of household wealth (housing, financial assets, and superannuation), as well as new retirement product development and behavioral barriers to optimal choices and decisions.

Theme: AI and Digital Transformation for Insurance

The insurance and superannuation industries, like many other industries, are facing a digital transformation with the advance of Big Data and AI/ML techniques.  However, the nature of these two industries is such that the consideration of uncertainty, interpretability, fairness, and privacy is key for the successful deployment of AI/ML solutions. Thus, this theme focuses on exploiting the synergies between traditional actuarial methods, modern AI/ML techniques, and new data sources to develop innovative tools tailored for insurance, risk management, and retirement problems.

Orford Foundation

Projects funded by the Orford Foundation

Project 1:  Supply-Side Failures in the Annuity Market

Lead researcher: Anthony Asher

This project explores the reluctance of superannuation funds to offer life annuities and to discover the underlying reasons. These could include, amongst others, alternative framing or misunderstanding of different retirement products and services, regulatory obstacles - particularly in the provision of information to members, or the absence of suitable alternatives. Super funds' published retirement income strategies will be analysed and compared with their media releases, submissions to the government consultations that preceded the RIC legislation and the information provided on their websites to members about to retire. As well face-to-face interviews will be held with trustees and managers to elicit their own explanations.

Project 2: Explaining Consumers’ Progress through Annuity Decision States

Lead Researcher: Hazel Bateman (with Katja Hanewald, Jiamin Yan and Chelle Wang)

In Australia (and elsewhere) the market for lifetime annuities (and related longevity products) is very small. In this study, we survey consumers (and financial advisers) about their readiness to purchase (or advise purchase) of annuities. Via an online survey, Australians around retirement age will be asked to rate their own 'decision state' for the purchase of lifetime annuities from 'pre-aware' of annuities to 'aware', 'interested' or 'capable' of deciding to purchase. If ‘capable’ they will then be asked whether they have ‘already purchased’, plan to purchase ‘now, ‘in the future’ or ‘never’.

Survey responses will allow us to categorise people into the different decision states according to their personal characteristics. This will provide a taxonomy of the membership of the decision states along the path to purchase lifetime annuities by both Australian retirees and financial advisers. The taxonomy will be used to inform the next stage of research on the design and implementation of interventions (such as educative resources, information and/or online tools and calculators) to assist people (and advisers) to progress towards higher decision states (i.e. purchase of longevity products).


Advancing the Retirement Phase of Superannuation

To contribute to the ongoing debate, UNSW’s Innovations in Risk, Insurance and Superannuation (IRIS) Knowledge Hub, Business Insights Institute and the Centre of Excellence in Population and Aging Research (CEPAR) hosted an event to discuss solutions and strategies to enhance policy design and practice in the retirement phase of superannuation.

UNSW Workshop on Risk and Actuarial Frontiers: Climate Risk and Insurance

The “UNSW Workshop on Risk and Actuarial Frontier: Climate Risk and Insurance” will bring together UNSW experts and industry thought leaders to discuss the role of insurance and actuarial science in addressing climate risks.

UNSW Workshop on Housing Wealth and Home Equity Release

To celebrate the visit of A/Prof Thomas Davidoff (University of British Columbia), the UNSW School of Risk and Actuarial Studies hosted a half-day workshop on “Housing wealth and home equity release: Product design, demand and behavioural factors”.

UNSW Workshop on Risk and Actuarial Frontiers

The 2022 “UNSW Workshop on Risk and Actuarial Frontiers” brings together distinguished visitors, academics, and research students to promote new academic developments in actuarial science and related fields and foster academic discussions among participants.

UNSW Risk and Actuarial Industry Workshop

The “UNSW Risk and Actuarial Industry Workshop” brought together industry experts and leading academics to discuss current and emerging topics in risk, actuarial science, and data analytics.

AFRIC 2023

AFRIC has been designed to be a premier non-profit making Actuarial Science academic conference that will be rotationally hosted across Africa, bringing together academics and practitioners with research interests across all specialty areas of actuarial science, risk management, and financial system regulation.

In the Media

Is it time for the last great superannuation reform?

The government as well as the superannuation and life insurance industries need to take action to improve the lifestyles of retirees while reducing the cost of the Age Pension

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Keeping Members Informed About Retirement Options

As part of a current UNSW project researching the obstacles to the introduction of lifetime income streams faced by superannuation trustees, some interviewees have raised the legal restrictions on communicating with members.

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Life annuities vs. RADs: the battle for a fairer, simpler retirement

Refundable Accommodation Deposits (RADs) may hinder the adoption of a better retirement model in the form of life annuities, writes UNSW Business School's Anthony Asher

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Job openings

  • The School of Risk and Actuarial Studies is looking to hire a research assistance to contribute to the development of research in the Innovations in Risk, Insurance and Superannuation (IRIS) Knowledge Hub. The IRIS Hub serves as a bridge between UNSW, the insurance and superannuation industries, regulators and public policy.

    This position relates to a new project under the Superannuation theme which will investigate new strategies to enhance awareness, interest, understanding and take-up of life annuities in Australia.

Contact us


School of Risk and Actuarial Studies

Level 6, Business School Building

University of New South Wales

Sydney NSW 2052


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