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Susan Thorp

Photo of Susan Thorp


Rm 539
H69 - Codrington Building
The University of Sydney
NSW 2006 Australia

Telephone +61 2 9036 6354


Susan Thorp is Professor of Finance. Prior to joining the University of Sydney in 2015, she was Professor of Finance and Superannuation at the University of Technology Sydney. Susan has an honours degree in Economics from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in Economics from the University of New South Wales.

Susan researches household and consumer finance with a particular focus on retirement savings and decumulation. She uses theoretical, empirical and experimental techniques to understand financial decision making. Much of this research has tested the way decision makers respond to advisors, disclosures and choice architecture.

Financial econometrics is another concentration of Susan’s research. She has studied the increased integration that occurs in financial markets during crises, with a recent focus on commodity markets.

Susan has published 40 papers in international academic journals. She has led and participated in grant projects attracting over $3 million dollars in public and industry funding. Susan is also a regular contributor to consumer finance and superannuation policy discussions, and her research is cited by major public reviews and inquiries.

Susan is a member of the Steering Committee of the Melbourne Mercer Global Pensions Index, an annually compiled internationally recognised index of pension system quality, a member of the CEDA Council on Economic Policy and a member of the Research Committee of the OECD/International Network on Financial Education.

Research Interests

Professor Thorp’s research has two strands: first, wealth management over the life cycle, with particular emphasis on individual financial decision making and second, financial market integration and volatility transmission. Rapid national and global developments in retirement savings systems will assume even greater importance as business and government work out how to adjust to aging populations. Repeated financial crises verify the need for a deeper understanding of the origin and transmission of turbulence between markets.

Susan works in cross-disciplinary research teams that include scholars from finance, economics, marketing, psychology, law, econometrics and statistics. Her work includes applications of a wide range of techniques: dynamic programming in continuous and discrete time (using analytical and numerical solution methods); time series, volatility, cross-sectional, panel, discrete and limited dependent variable econometric modeling; and survey, field and laboratory experimental design, execution and analysis. She has extensive experience in surveys and choice experiments.

A critical problem for retirees is how best manage their savings in risky investment markets over an uncertain length of time. Susan’s theoretical research finds the ideal investment strategy and spending plans before and after retirement. These models highlight the influence of Age Pension regulations on spending and risk management, and the relation between the Age Pension and the demand for longevity insurance. Recent work studies insurance against the costs of formal and informal aged care.

Many people find financial decisions daunting, particularly when they relate to important but distant outcomes like retirement. Professor Thorp studies both conventionally rational and behavioural influences on consumer choices in investment, decumulation and financial advice, including studies of biases, heuristics, choice architecture and financial literacy. Her work has identified best practice in investment risk communication; the use of default and diversification heuristics in portfolio and retirement income stream choices; an analysis of the formation of client trust in a financial advisor; and a body of descriptive work mapping the financial literacy, financial product awareness, numeracy and retirement planning of Australians into the international setting.

Financial crises are a recurring challenge to investors and regulators. Susan’s work on integration and contagion investigate volatility and policy transmission during financial crises. This work uses structural GARCH and smooth transition techniques to identify the timing and sources of contagious shocks and measure the different impacts of contagion sourced locally and externally. Studies of contagion transmission support the use of policy tools to protect local markets from imported contagion.

Commodity markets are a critical influence on the Australian economy. Over recent decades commodity markets have experienced a rapid inflow in capital from financial investors and changes to fossil fuel policy. Financial investment in commodities markets raise questions about price discovery and destabilization. Susan’s investigation of correlation dynamics demonstrated that increased integration between commodity and equity markets coincided with financialisation, and motivated increased scrutiny by regulators. Further work looks into the unintended consequences of biofuel policy for food markets, and the effects of changes to production and consumption on crude oil markets.


Journal Article/s

Butt A, Donald S, F Douglas Foster , Thorp S and Warren GJ 2018 'One size fits all? Tailoring retirement plan defaults', Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol.145, pp. 546-566 [Link]

Bird R, F Douglas Foster , Gray J, Raftery A, Thorp S and Yeung D 2018 Forthcoming 'Who starts a self-managed superannuation fund and why?', Australian Journal of Management [Link]

Bateman H, Eckert C, Ishkahov F, Louviere J, Satchell S and Thorp S 2018 'Individual capability and effort in retirement benefit choice', Journal of Risk and Insurance, vol.85:2, pp. 483-512 [Link]

Cayon E, Thorp S and Wu E 2018 'Immunity and Infection: Emerging and Developed Market Sovereign Spreads over the Global Financial Crisis', Emerging Markets Review, vol.34, pp. 162-174 [Link]

Dobrescu L, Fan X, Bateman H, Newell B, Ortmann A and Thorp S 2018 'Retirement Savings: A Tale of Decisions and Defaults', The Economic Journal, vol.128:610, pp. 1047-1094 [Link]

Agnew J, Bateman H, Eckert C, Iskhakov F, Louviere J and Thorp S 2018 'First Impressions Matter: An Experimental Investigation of Online Financial Advice', Management Science, vol.64:1, pp. 288-307 [Link]

Deetlefs J, Bateman H, Dobrescu L, Newell B, Ortmann A and Thorp S 2018 Forthcoming 'Engagement with retirement savings: It's a matter of trust', Journal of Consumer Affairs


Journal Article/s

Asher A, Meyricke R, Thorp S and Wu S 2017 'Age pensioner decumulation: Responses to incentives, uncertainty and family need', Australian Journal of Management, vol.42:4, pp. 583-607 [Link]

Bateman H, Eckert C, Ishkahov F, Louviere J, Satchell S and Thorp S 2017 'Default and naive diversification heuristics in annuity choice', Australian Journal of Management, vol.42:1, pp. 32-57 [Link]

Butt A, Donald MS, F Douglas Foster , Thorp S and Warren GJ 2017 'Design of MySuper Default Funds: Influences and Outcomes', Accounting and Finance, vol.57:1, pp. 47-85 [Link]

Nikitopoulos CS, Squires M, Thorp S and Yeung D 2017 'Determinants of the Crude Oil Futures Curve: Inventory, Consumption and Volatility', Journal of Banking & Finance, vol.84, pp. 53-67 [Link]


Book Section/s

Keane M and Thorp S 2016 'Complex Decision Making: The Roles of Cognitive Limitations, Cognitive Decline, and Aging' in Handbook of the Economics of Population Aging, ed. John Piggott and Alan Woodland, North Holland, Amsterdam, Netherlands, pp. 661-709 [Link]

Journal Article/s

Bateman H, Dobrescu LI, Newell BR, Ortmann A and Thorp S 2016 'As easy as pie: How retirement savers use prescribed investment disclosures', Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, vol.121, pp. 60-76 [Link]

Spicer A, Stavrunova O and Thorp S 2016 'How Portfolios Evolve after Retirement: Evidence from Australia', Economic Record, vol.92:297, pp. 241-67 [Link]

Silvennoinen A and Thorp S 2016 'Crude Oil and Agricultural Futures: An Analysis of Correlation Dynamics', Journal of Futures Markets, vol.36:6, pp. 522-44 [Link]

Bateman H, Thorp S, Geweke J, Louviere J, Eckert C and Satchell S 2016 'Risk Presentation and Portfolio Choice', Review of Finance, vol.20:1, pp. 201-29 [Link]


Zhang B, Deer L, Wardrop R, Grant A, Garvey K, Thorp S, Ziegler T, Ying K, Xinwei Z, Huang E, Burton J, Chen H, Lui A, Gray Y, Akhtar S and Anthonisz S 2016 'Harnessing Potential: The Asia-Pacific Alternative Finance Benchmarking Report (March 2016)', KPMG [Link]

Louviere JJ, Bateman H, Thorp S and Eckert C 2016 'Developing new financial literacy measures to better link financial capability to outcomes', Financial Literacy Australia [Link]


Book Section/s

Bateman H, Louviere J and Thorp S 2015 'Understanding How Consumers Make Financial Choices: A Cross-Disciplinary Learning Experience' in The Routledge Companion to Financial Services Marketing, ed. Tina Harrison and Hooman Estelami, Routledge, Abingdon, United Kingdom, pp. 196-232

Journal Article/s

Ishkahov F, Thorp S and Bateman H 2015 'Optimal Annuity Purchases for Australian Retirees', Economic Record, vol.91:293, pp. 139-54 [Link]

Dungey M, Milunovich G, Thorp S and Yang M 2015 'Endogenous crisis dating and contagion using smooth transition structural GARCH', Journal of Banking and Finance, vol.58, pp. 71-79 [Link]

Wu S, Stevens R and Thorp S 2015 'Cohort and target age effects on subjective survival probabilities: Implications for models of the retirement phase', Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, vol.55:June, pp. 39-56 [Link]

Butt A, Donald S, F Douglas Foster , Thorp S and Warren G 2015 'The Australian superannuation system post Stronger Super: views from fund executives', Law and Financial Markets Review, vol.9:2, pp. 106-12 [Link]


Book Section/s

Satchell S and Thorp S 2014 'Modelling Sustainable Spending Plans for Family Offices, Foundations and Trusts' in Quantitative Approaches to High Net Worth Investment, ed. Andrew Rudd and Stephen Satchell, Risk Books, London, United Kingdom, pp. 213-51 [Link]

Journal Article/s

Cayon E and Thorp S 2014 'Financial Autarchy as Contagion Prevention: The Case of Columbian Pension Funds', Emerging Markets Finance and Trade, vol.50:S3, pp. 122-39

Bird R, Liem H and Thorp S 2014 'Infrastructure: Real Assets and Real Returns', European Financial Management, vol.20:4, pp. 802-24

Bateman H, Deetlefs J, Dobrescu I, Newell B, Ortmann A and Thorp S 2014 'Just interested or getting involved: An analysis of superannuation attitudes and actions', Economic Record, vol.90:289, pp. 160-78

Bateman H, Eckert C, Geweke J, Louviere J, Satchell S and Thorp S 2014 'Financial Competence, Risk Presentation and Retirement Portfolio Preferences', Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, vol.13:1, pp. 27-61 [Link]


Journal Article/s

Silvennoinen A and Thorp S 2013 'Financialization, crisis and commodity correlation dynamics', Journal of International Financial Markets, Institutions and Money, vol.24, pp. 42-65

Agnew J, Bateman H and Thorp S 2013 'Financial Literacy and Retirement Planning in Australia', Numeracy, vol.6:2, pp. 1-25

Agnew J, Bateman H and Thorp S 2013 'Superannuation Knowledge and Plan Behaviour', JASSA, vol.2013:1, pp. 45-50

Bird R, Liem H and Thorp S 2013 'The Tortoise and the Hare: Risk Premium versus Alternative Asset Portfolios', Journal of Portfolio Management, vol.39:3, pp. 112-22

Agnew J, Bateman H and Thorp S 2013 'Work, money, lifestyle: Plans of Australian retirees', JASSA, vol.2013:1, pp. 40-44


Journal Article/s

Hulley H, Mckibbin R, Pedersen A and Thorp S 2012 'Means-Tested Public Pensions, Portfolio Choice and Decumulation in Retirement', Economic Record, vol.89:284, pp. 31-51

Thorp S 2012 'Review of ‘Handbook of Behavioral Finance’- Brian Bruce (editor), Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010', Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, vol.11:1, pp. 148-50

Bateman H, Eckert C, Geweke J, Louviere J, Thorp S and Satchell S 2012 'Financial Competence and Expectations Formation: Evidence from Australia', Economic Record, vol.88:280, pp. 39-63 [Link]


Journal Article/s

Bateman H, Islam T, Louviere J, Satchell S and Thorp S 2011 'Retirement Investor Risk Tolerance in Tranquil and Crisis Periods: Experimental Survey Evidence', Journal of Behavioral Finance, vol.12:4, pp. 201-18

Satchell S and Thorp S 2011 'Uncertain survival and time discounting: intertemporal consumption plans for family trusts', Journal of Population Economics, vol.24:1, pp. 239-66


Journal Article/s

Bateman H, Louviere J, Thorp S, Islam T and Satchell S 2010 'Investment Decisions for Retirement Savings', Journal of Consumer Affairs, vol.44:3, pp. 463-82

Dungey M, Milunovich G and Thorp S 2010 'Unobservable shocks as carriers of contagion', Journal of Banking & Finance, vol.34:5, pp. 1008â€"21


Journal Article/s

Bush S, Menzies G and Thorp S 2009 'An Array of Online Teaching Tools', Teaching Statistics, vol.31:1, pp. 17-20


Journal Article/s

Bateman H and Thorp S 2008 'Choices and Constraints over Retirement Income Streams: Comparing Rules and Regulations', Economic Record, vol.84:s1, pp. s17-s31

Petrichev K and Thorp S 2008 'The private value of public pensions', Insurance: Mathematics and Economics, vol.42:3, pp. 1138-45


Book Section/s

Thorp S, Kingston G and Bateman H 2007 'Financial Engineering for Australian Annuitants' in Retirement Provision in Scary Markets, ed. Bateman H, Edward Elgar, London, United Kingdom, pp. 123-44

Journal Article/s

Bateman H and Thorp S 2007 'Decentralized investment management: An analysis of non-profit pension funds', Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, vol.6:1, pp. 21-44

Milunovich G and Thorp S 2007 'Measuring equity market integration using uncorrelated information flows: Tokyo, London and New York', Journal of Multinational Financial Management, vol.17:4, pp. 275-89

Thorp S and Milunovich G 2007 'Symmetric versus asymmetric conditional covariance forecasts: Does it pay to switch?', Journal of Financial Research, vol.30:3, pp. 355-77


Journal Article/s

Milunovich G and Thorp S 2006 'Valuing Volatility Spillovers', Global Finance Journal, vol.17:1, pp. 1-22


Journal Article/s

Kingston G and Thorp S 2005 'Annuitization and asset allocation with HARA utility', Journal of Pension Economics and Finance, vol.4:3, pp. 225-48

Thorp S 2005 '‘That Courage is not Inconsistent with Caution’: Currency Hedging for Superannuation Funds', Economic Record, vol.81:252, pp. 38-50

Recent Units Taught

  • BUSS4403 Finance Honours B

    2016: S1,

  • FINC3024 Personal Finance and Superannuation

    2017: S1,
    2016: S1,

Newsroom articles

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Australians are increasingly at risk of making the wrong decisions in crucial areas, such as superannuation investments, because of poor levels of financial literacy. Professor Susan Thorp discusses the current research being undertaken to improve financial literacy levels worldwide.

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