What a year it has been!
It is common cause to expect things in life not to move in a straight line, but the roller coaster of swings and round abouts experienced during this year alone, was more than enough to make anyone hold on for dear life. As people and as business, we are inextricably dependent on nature for our survival, therefore an assessment of events of the year must consider both internal developments as well as external factors.
Here is a kaleidoscope of events that characterised the year 2021, that has all but ended:
January 2021 - Nadja Dobberstein, our marketing consultant was introduced to our business. The country experienced unexpected high rainfall, especially in the southern areas of our country. With a capacity of 3 times that of Hardap Dam, the newly built Neckartal dam filled up to the brim, bringing a lot of hope and optimism for our agricultural economy.
February 2021 - The impact of Corona throughout the country and amongst our staff started to induce fear and uncertainty. Our staff morale dipped to an all-time low.
March 2021 - Theresiana Hausiku becomes the new friendly face at our reception. We rolled out our brand perception survey and gained some valuable insights from our clients’ feedback. Country wide showers erased some fears of another drought, but locusts started to destroy agricultural produce in most north-eastern regions.
April 2021 - The African migratory locusts continue to cause havoc amongst communal farmers in the north. The long awaited Covid vaccines arrived in Namibia.
May 2021 - Crezelda Kooper Joins us to offer much needed relief to Gunter Pfeifer and his team serving the Benchmark Retirement. The 3rd wave of the Novel Corona Virus starts to have devastating effects across all spheres.
June 2021 - Covid deaths spiked around the country, affecting everyone around us (family, friends, associates and country men and women). It becomes like a nightmare we could all not wait to wake up from.
July 2021 - We eventually receive some good news, as the Retirement Fund for Local Authorities in Namibia (our second biggest pension fund client) reappoints us for another 5-year term. Kristina Linge and Elizabeth Janser join us, also to add capacity to the team managing Benchmark Retirement Fund.
August 2021 - Covid cases start to decline around the country, a sense of relief and optimism started to sweep through the country as restrictions were lifted. There was some further good news as the Bank of Namibia Pension Fund, reappoints us for another term as their preferred pension fund administrator.
September 2021 - The decline of pension fund rules of our clients by NAMFISA started to intensify and take a hold on us as a team, the business, and the industry. It became clear that we are facing a new chapter in the pension fund management realm. We received some further good news, as First Rand Group reappoints us as their preferred administrator to their staff retirement fund, against unsustainable pricing from our competitors.
October 2021 - Our staff participated in a much-needed team building exercise, bringing everyone together again like before and a sense of victory as a team prevailed. The much-anticipated new pension fund laws a.k.a FIMA was gazetted on 01 October 2021, throwing the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons.
Also in October, Joyce Muala joined the Benchmark Retirement Fund team. The universities Retirement Fund reappoints us as fund administrators. Whilst the Benchmark Retirement Fund assets crossed the N$ 5 billion hurdle.
November 2021 – The Nampower Provident Fund, reappoints RFS for an extended period of 5 years.
December 2021 – As we start the beginning of this holiday month, tying up loose ends and starting the plans for the coming year, we are yet again facing renewed threats of another waive of Corona flu infections. This is reminiscent of all that we went down, same time last year. It sums up in many ways, the uncertainties that characterised the year that was.
What are we grateful for?
We are tremendously grateful to all our clients, for supporting us through these tough times and for most being acutely aware and prepared to put a price on the unrivalled service from our extremely dedicated staff of pension fund managers. Our clients should not expect anything less. RFS was born out of a need to provide a premium service in the midst of poor service levels and frustrations experienced by many pension fund trustees. Whilst many of the trustees who fully appreciated the difference RFS made to the management of their funds have mostly retired, RFS continuous to provide the same “rock solid fund administration – that makes all trustees sleep in peace”. We are equally grateful to our dedicated team, for staying the course and for adapting to serving our clients in a tremendously difficult operational environment.
What have we accomplished?
We successfully adapted our IT infrastructure, along with certain business processes, allowing all our staff to be able to work simultaneously from the comfort of their home offices if need be. Our staff have adapted to conducting meetings internally and/or with clients via online tools, as though it has always been the norm.
What were our regrets?
We have not been able to take on new clients under our Benchmark Umbrella Retirement Fund since the beginning of this year due to regulatory challenges. Despite boasting the lowest staff turnover over our 22-year history of below 5% per annum, we unfortunately had to say goodbye to four of our staff members during the year. Our staff are highly sought after for the value they demonstrate and thanks to our staff development plans that serve to empower our staff and make them stand out. However, we responded swiftly and managed to redeploy some of our staff and made excellent replacement appointments to make up for lost capacity. Our effective staff retention strategies have seen many of our staff celebrate 5 years, 10 years, 15 years and even 20 years’ service in the year.
What can we do better?
Our payroll administration company !Kharos Benefit Solutions, came slow out of the starting blocks due to the difficult trading conditions as a result of Covid. We believe this company can add value to our medium to small size employer groups that would like to outsource their payroll functions. You are welcome to book an appointment, with our !Kharos Benefit Solutions staff by visiting them www.kbsol.com.na
What to look forward to in 2022?
FIMA will keep us busy and challenged. We are sparing no efforts and will continue to ready ourselves, as we have started to do already more than a year ago.
I look forward to your continuous contributions and support.
I wish you all a healthy, restful, and safe holiday period.