In our previous newsletter, we posed this question and commented on, what we believe to be a distorted focus on the cost of services in the retirement fund industry.
Our service philosophy is to be sensitive to the needs of our clients, first and foremost. In accordance with good corporate governance principles, we believe it is essential that retirement funds place emphasis on independence between their service providers (e.g., administrator, consultant, actuary, insurer, investment manager) to ensure that adequate ‘checks and balances’ are in place throughout.
Often, this produces higher aggregate costs for a fund than placing all services with a single service provider. However, what value do you place on improved governance and a significantly reduced risk? In the absence of such independence, trustees are exposed to legal sanction in the event of things going wrong or member expectations not being met. Our philosophy is to focus on the area where we believe to offer a superior package, namely day-to-day fund management.
When appointing different service providers, however, trustees are well advised to ensure that compatibility exists between them so that they are not continually required to arbitrate or to fear that their fund will be disadvantaged through intense competition between its service providers.
We also believe that ongoing administration services require broadly based management experience, in-depth knowledge of administration, finances and accounting aspects, pension, tax, and related laws, and these are best provided on a ‘retainer’ basis (i.e. agreed range of services on an on-going basis for an agreed fee). Although fund management costs can be a factor, they are relatively ‘immaterial’ in relation to asset management costs and reassurance premiums. They should be viewed in the context of the level of experience, resources, skill, and qualification employed. Typically, inferior fund management becomes evident only after many years, when it is too late, and the ‘wheels have come off’. Short-term cost advantages can, in this manner, prove to be very expensive in the long term.
Trustees can thus rest assured that an exceptionally high level of expertise will be always applied to the business of their fund. Trustees who approach their fiduciary responsibilities towards their fund without proper regard to the requirements of the Income Tax Act, the Pension Funds Act, the rules of their own funds, and other peripheral statutes will experience our services as frustrating at times. We shall protect the interests of the Fund, its members, and the trustees without compromise, thereby living up to our credo to provide ‘rock solid administration that lets you (the trustee) sleep in peace’!
How much do you think you can afford to pay for this additional assurance or ‘peace of mind’? Alternatively, can you afford to shoulder the increased risks your fund may shoulder for a lower fee on offer?
.Important notice and disclaimer
This article summarises the understanding, observation and notes of the author and lays no claim on accuracy, correctness or completeness. RFS Namibia (Pty) Ltd does not accept any liability for the content of this contribution and no decision should be taken on the basis of the information contained herein before having confirmed the detail with the relevant party. Any views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of RFS.