|In this newsletter:
Benchtest 04.2019, National Pension Fund Part 4, pension fund vs insurance policy investment and more...
Phasing out of cheques - reminder
If you want to find out whether your service providers are registered, or whether you need to establish directly from NAMFISA because the service provider does not appear on the list, use this link...
Monthly Review of Portfolio Performance
to 3o April 2019
In April 2019 the average prudential balanced portfolio returned 2.7% (March 2019: 1.4%). Top performer is Stanlib (3.6%); while Allan Gray Balanced Fund (2.0%) takes the bottom spot. For the 3-month period, Stanlib takes top spot, outperforming the ‘average’ by roughly 1.7%. On the other end of the scale Momentum Namibia Growth Fund underperformed the ‘average’ by 1.7%. Note that these returns are before asset management fees.
Download the Benchtest for April 2019, here...
Monthly investment commentary
Dear reader, due to the fact that I will be on leave at the time this newsletter will be published no investment commentary will be available.
There will most probably (and hopefully!) not be any dramatic developments in global financial markets so that there is no need to change one’s investment strategy and that previous commentaries are still relevant.
Leveling the playing fields between underwritten and other investment products
In Namibia, we have the extraordinary situation where every pension fund must comply with the Pension Funds Act but a pension fund can also be wrapped as an insurance policy by an insurance company, in which event both the Long-term Insurance Act as well as the Pension Funds Act applies. The question is, which of the two laws prevail? This is where it becomes tricky and where the boundaries between an insurance product, a pension fund wrapped as an insurance product and a free standing pension fund become blurred.
Pension funds can also invest in different products such as unit trusts and insurance policy wrapped investment products. To avoid any conflicting requirements under the Pension Funds Act and under the Long-term Insurance Act, the regulator has issued investment regulation 15 under the Long-term Insurance Act that regulates investments in an insurance policy wrapped product. Regulation 13 issued under the Pension Funds Act regulates all other pension fund investments. Furthermore, any investment in an insurance policy wrapped product is exempted from the provisions of regulation 13 issued under the Pension Funds Act.
The investment regulation under the Long-term Insurance Act applies to the investments of the insurance company globally no matter whether these investments are owned by the insurance company or whether they are owned by another pension fund. This fact creates room for arbitrage and un-level playing fields between funds using insurance policy wrapped investment products and funds that use other investment products. This raises the question of fairness. The relevance of this concern is that an insurance company can for all intents and purposes ignore the constraints placed on pension fund investments by regulation 13 under the Pension Funds Act by using the ‘slack’ in some insurance products to offer insurance policy wrapped investment products to pension funds that would otherwise be considered non-compliant. We have for example seen insurance policy wrapped investment products held by pension funds that invest far in excess of 75% in equity and substantially short of 45% in Namibia. If the purpose of investment regulation 13 is to prevent members’ pension investments being over-exposed to market risk, the fact that one such investment is in an insurance product that has ignored the prudential guidelines set by regulation 13, surely will expose members to potential loss that regulation 13 tries to prevent.
I do not believe that legislation should create such opportunities for arbitrage and that it is incumbent upon the legislator to maintain level playing fields between different laws, in particular if both laws are regulated by the same regulator as applies in this instance. Surely each law answers to a set of objectives and purposes and while these may be different for different financial institutions, every type of financial institution should be subject to the same requirements in line with the objectives and purposes of the relevant law.
Pension fund governance - a toolbox for trustees
The following documents can be further adapted with the assistance of RFS.
Compliment from a NAMFISA official
“Good day Kai,
Compliments of the new season.
Thank you very much for the swift response as always. We really do appreciate your feedback. We will take your comments into consideration and discuss them further during the industry consultations next month.”
Read more comments from our clients, here...
Long service awards complement our business philosophy
RFS philosophy is that our business is primarily about people and only secondarily about technology. Every time a fund changes its administrator, a substantial amount of information is lost be it physically or knowledge. Similarly, every time the administrator loses a staff member, it loses information and knowledge. We know that as a small Namibia based organisation we cannot compete with large multinationals technology wise because of the economies of scale that global IT systems offer. To differentiate us we need to focus on personal service and on the persons delivering that service to get customer acceptance and service satisfaction. With this philosophy we have been successful in the market and to support this philosophy we place great emphasis on staff retention and long service.
The following staff recently celebrated their 5-year work anniversary at RFS! We express our sincere gratitude for his loyalty and support over the past 5 years to:
Our wealth of experience and qualifications
Our proud record of growth
RFS once again sponsors Retirement Fund Solutions Indoor Hockey League
During March, Retirement Fund Solutions Indoor hockey league finals took place with exciting finals in the under 10 mixed category, the under 13 boys and girls categories, and the mixed under 16 group taking place. This indoor league for children ranging from eight to 16 years old has been offered to all players for the last four years and has grown from strength to strength.
This year there were 120 entries, while the following teams were entered in the league: Lions, Cougars, Cheetahs and Jaguars in the under 10 mixed category; the under 13 boys and girls and u16 mixed league. The league took place over four weekends from mid-February until the finals that took place at the end of March. Children from all schools and clubs entered and were then placed into various teams. The u10 mixed category was won by the Jaguars who beat the Lions in the final. Louis Theron and Hannes van Tonder represented RFS at the tournament.
The individual award winners were as follows:
Above: the winners of the mixed under 16 team posing for a photo with Louis Theron, associate director of RFS in the background.
RFIN makes its voice heard!
Following an appeal to the parliamentary Committee on Economics and Public Administration (EPA) to refer the FIM Bill to the committee for public hearing, the committee invited the institute to a meeting for an initial introduction to this topic. This meeting took place on 24 April. RFIN Legislation and Compliance Committee, assisted by pension funds law expert Mrs S0phia Amoo-Chimunda who previously was employed in the pensions department of NAMFISA, attended the meeting on behalf of RFIN.
Members of the EPA committee expressed their sincere appreciation to RFIN for having taken the initiative and expressed their opinion that such interaction between stakeholders and the committee should take place much more regularly. This meeting seemingly was the first of its kind. Members of the EPA committee unanimously saw this meeting in a very positive light and listened attentively to the matters raised by the RFIN delegation. Since some of the members had served on boards of trustees they could relate very well to some of the matters raised having experienced these matters personally. The point was made that parliamentarians represent the man in the street and it was stressed that legislation should not be imposed on the people. The people are the owners of all moneys in pension funds and legislation should give cognisance to the imperatives of the people. It should be avoided at all cost to promulgate laws that do not take local imperatives and the needs of the people properly into account. Past mistakes of rushing legislation through parliament without parliamentarians being placed in the position to properly appraise and to fully understand the implications of new legislation should not be repeated. Past experience has shown that this will result in legislation having to be amended again in an effort to correct mistakes.
In conclusion the committee suggested that a 2 or 3 day workshop should be held with all parliamentarians by stakeholders to properly appraise parliament of the implications of the FIM Bill.
RFIN should be applauded for this initiative and other industry bodies should join hands with RFIN to stage the suggested workshop for parliamentarians on the FIM Bill.
PF 01/2019 re payment of premiums by fund of separately insured benefits
Namfisa issued circular PF/01/2019 that deals with the current practice where fund contributions are transmitted to an insurer as a premium for an insurance policy taken out by an employer in respect of benefits that are not provided by the fund in its rules. The circular concludes that -
Again it must be emphasised that trustees can be held personally liable for such compensation. A pension fund is a trust fund to be managed strictly within the parameters of its rules by its trustees. A pension fund is not an object that is subject to the whims of its trustees as it seems some trustees sometimes believe. Pension fund moneys must be managed by the trustees with greater care and circumspection than they would apply in managing their own moneys.
If you missed this circular, download it here...
The NAMFISA Appeal Board in a nutshell
A guest contribution by Andreen Moncur BA (Law )
Section 19 of the Namibia Financial Institutions Supervisory Authority Act 3 of 2001 (the Act) established the NAMFISA Board of Appeal (the Board) to hear appeals contemplated in s 24(1) of the Act. Section 24(1) provides that any person aggrieved by a decision of the chief executive officer of NAMFISA (CEO) taken under the Act or any other law may appeal against that decision to the Board. Appeals to date have been by regulated financial institutions or interested parties against decisions by the CEO in his/her capacity as Registrar of a financial institution supervised by NAMFISA. An appeal does not suspend the operation of the decision appealed against, but Reg. 8 of the Appeal Regulations recognises that a party to an appeal may require urgent interim relief. A party may thus apply to the Board to suspend the operation of the decision pending the finalisation of the appeal.
The Board comprises three members appointed by the Minister of Finance: The Chair appointed because of his/her knowledge of law, one member because he/she is a member of the NAMFISA board and one member who is “fit and proper” under s 20 of the Act and competent to serve as a Board member. Subject to s 22 of the Act, Board members hold office for three years and may be reappointed.
Section 24(3) of the Act stipulates that the Commissions Act No. 8 of 1947 (Commissions Act) applies to the Board and to witnesses and their evidence, thereby making the Board a commission like any other government-appointed commission of enquiry into matters of public concern. The Board has the same powers as the High Court to summon witnesses, to cause an oath or affirmation to be administered to them, to examine them and to call for the production of books, documents and objects (s 3(1) of the Commissions Act).
Section 24(1) of the Act gives the Board jurisdiction to hear any type of grievance by any person aggrieved by the decision of the CEO taken under the Act or any other law, but not to hear any other matters. The Board may not hear “test cases” nor review decisions by the CEO of its own accord.
Section 24(6) of the Act gives the Board the power to:
When planning to appeal a decision of the CEO, bear in mind that an appeal must be lodged with the Board within 14 days of receipt of the decision by the CEO. The Board may admit any person with an interest in the appeal as a party to the appeal (as an “interested party” rather than as a “friend of the court”). Any party to an appeal may call witnesses and may be represented by a legal practitioner or any other person at the hearing. The appeal hearing is public, unless the chair otherwise directs. The Board must give a decision in writing as soon as practicable after the hearing.
The Board ruling handed down on 15 October 2018 in the matter of Heritage Health Medical Aid Fund and the Registrar of Medical Aid Funds emphasised that there must be an identifiable decision of the CEO that has aggrieved a party. Unless such a decision is the subject matter of an appeal, no appeal lies to the Board and the Board will consequently have no jurisdiction to hear the grievance. We will look at this ruling in more detail in a future issue.
Deduction from or withholding of benefits because of debt to the employer – S37D revisited
RFS is confronted regularly with instructions to deduct from or to withhold payment of a benefit on the basis of the employee owing an amount to the employer. Usually the principal officer, who is normally an employee of the employer, issues the instruction to withhold or to deduct. Although as administrator, RFS will not know in which capacity the principal officer issued the instruction. We believe that mostly the instruction is issued by the principal officer in his or her capacity as employee and not as a fund official. Often the principal officer is probably not clear in which capacity the instruction is issued to RFS and does not appreciate that he or she has a fiduciary duty towards the fund as officer of the fund and may not be driven by the employer’s imperatives.
Section 37D is very clear on the circumstances under which a benefit may be reduced. It already offers unique protection of an employer’s interests under very specific circumstances. Fund officials are well advised to give due recognition to the law rather than the expectations of the employer.
RFS also has a fiduciary duty towards the fund as it administrator with dire consequences if it were to ignore these duties.
Andreen Moncur, a renowned expert in pension fund law has revisited this topic and provides a detailed exposition which every trustee and every principal officer should study and take to heart. Download this exposition here...
Incentives a better answer than prescribed investments
“Creating appropriate incentives that will enable the allocation of capital to areas where it can make a meaningful difference in the lives of retirement fund members is a better answer than introducing prescribed assets, institutional investors have heard.
The problem with prescription is that it relies on a policymaker who sits in one part of the country taking a view on the economy and determining the amount of assets that need to be allocated to a specific part of the economy to benefit the country, Elias Masilela, former CEO of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), told institutional investors during a panel discussion hosted by RisCura on Wednesday.
I would rather have a different approach [...] that says: we’ve identified these imbalances. Can we create incentives that are going to get capital to flow into those areas?”
The biggest driver of behaviour in any economy is incentives, not “a stick”, Masilela said, referring to forced adherence to more legislation in the form of prescribed assets.
The problem with a stick is that you then have to police it and we’ve failed to police anything in this country.
Look at BEE – a beautiful programme, but it is not working. You can pick any other policy and ask yourself: have we been able to police implementation and the answer with all of them is no...
Certainly a position we fully associate with but - will our Minister of Finance take this to heart?
Read the full article by Elias Masilela in Moneyweb of 25 April 2019, here...
The danger of focusing on past performance
“For most investors who are choosing unit trusts, the first, and often only, thing they consider is past performance. This is despite the well-worn disclaimer on every fund fact sheet that past performance is no indication of what might happen in the future, and decades of research that proves it isn’t.
Yet it is not unreasonable. People need to base their decisions on something, and historical returns are an obvious choice...
As a starting point, it’s important to recognise the shortcomings of looking only at history. To illustrate this, Nedgroup Investments compared the three-year returns of unit trusts in the South African multi-asset high equity category over two consecutive three-year periods: from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2015, and from January 1, 2016 to December 31, 2018.
The results were remarkable, and are illustrated in the chart below. Each marker on the chart shows a particular fund with its performance over the first three years plotted on the horizontal axis, and the second three years on the vertical axis.
...Without that information, using past performance alone as a guide carries little value. For it to be worthwhile, investors need to appreciate how that performance was generated, and therefore how repeatable it is likely to be.
“On a superficial level, using past performance is dangerous,” Jugmohan says. “But if you are willing to do the hard work and dig deeper, then there is a lot to gain out of it.”
Read the full article by Patrick Cairns in Moneyweb of 25 April 2019, here...
A deceptively simple way to find more happiness at work
“Do you like what you do?...We don’t often step back to ask whether the small, individual components of our job actually make us happy.
But maybe we should. As many as a third of United States workers say they don’t feel engaged at work...
A study from the Mayo Clinic found that physicians who spend about 20 percent of their time doing “work they find most meaningful are at dramatically lower risk for burnout.” But here’s what’s fascinating: Anything beyond that 20 percent has a marginal impact...In other words: You don’t need to change everything about your job to see substantial benefits...
When you look at people who are thriving in their jobs, you notice that they didn’t find them, they made them...
To be sure, transforming your job isn’t easy. But you have to start somewhere, and there’s a wonderfully simple but surprisingly revealing trick that can help.
For a full week, carry a notepad at all times. Draw a line down the center of a page and label one column “Love” and the other column “Loathe.” Whenever you perform a task, no matter how small, be mindful of how it makes you feel. Are you excited about it? Do you look forward to it? Does time fly when you’re doing it? Or did you procrastinate, dreading every moment and feeling drained by the time you’re done?...
Understand what it is that lights you up. Understand what you run toward. Understand where you are at your most energetic, your most creative, your most alive, and then volunteer for that more and more and more,” he added.
This is, of course, just a starting point. You won’t instantly be happier at work once you have a list of things you dislike about your job. But this exercise gives you a road map about how to focus your time and energy on the things that get you excited. Rather than trying to get better at things you hate doing and know you’re not great at, reframe the issue and try to do more things that energize you and that you excel at. No one can tell you what those things are, and discovering them can be transformative...”
Read the full article by Tim Herrera in The New York Times of 7 April 2019, here...
Why hard work isn't enough to thrive
“Very few, if any, workplaces operate like strict meritocracies, where the very best performers reap the greatest professional rewards, argues Morgan Stanley Vice Chair Carla Harris. Instead, stellar performance at work functions more like table stakes in your quest for advancement. What truly helps you get ahead? The quality of relationships you have with people at every level of the organization you are a part of. Such oft-neglected “relationship currency” can lead to lasting success, Harris says.”
Did you ever wonder why??
WHY: Why is someone who is feeling great 'on cloud nine'?
BECAUSE: Types of clouds are numbered according to the altitudes they attain, with nine being the highest cloud. If someone is said to be on cloud nine, that person is floating well above worldly cares.