|In this newsletter:
Benchtest 05.2021, rapidly rising inflation, which FIMA was approved, and more...
In light of the unfolding COVID-19 situation, our offices will be closed for any visitors until further notice. We have a skeleton staff complement in the office while other staff members are working from home.
We appeal to our clients and the general public -
We apologise for the inconvenience caused and appeal for the indulgence of our clients and the public.
NAMFISA industry meeting scheduled for 16 July
The next industry meeting will be held virtually and face-to-face at NIPAM conference hall on 16 July from 8h30 to 10h30. Attendance must be confirmed by 10 July. All relevant stakeholders are urged to attend, particularly those representing funds that intend to retain their current status as stand-alone funds!
Pension fund governance - a toolbox for trustees
Registered service providers
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...
In ‘Tilman Friedrich’s industry forum’ we present:
In our Benchmark column, read about
In ‘News from RFS’, read about:
In media snippets, read about:
As always, your comment is welcome, so open a new mail and drop us a note!
Monthly Review of Portfolio Performance
to 31 May 2021
In May 2021 the average prudential balanced portfolio returned 0.3% (April 2021: 1.5%). Top performer is Hangala Prescient Absolute Balanced Fund with 3.0%, while Ninety One Managed Fund with -0.9% takes the bottom spot. For the 3-month period, Hangala Prescient Absolute Balanced Fund takes the top spot, outperforming the ‘average’ by roughly 3.8%. On the other end of the scale Stanlib Managed Fund underperformed the ‘average’ by 1.5%. Note that these returns are before (gross of) asset management fees.
The Monthly Review of Portfolio Performance to 31 May 2021 provides a full review of portfolio performances and other interesting analyses. Download it here...
Understanding Benchmark Retirement Fund Investments
In the next few issues of our monthly Performance Review, I will be providing background and guidance on investments to assist Benchmark Retirement Fund members to take charge of their fund investments.
Rapidly rising inflation may seriously affect your retirement nest egg!
For the sake of readers who would like to get a view of where global financial markets are likely to move to and to reassess their investments, I believe the article in the below link should open the unexpecting investor’s eyes. It is a view that really resonates with me! Because it is a long letter, I recommend that you at least take the trouble to look at the pointers in the article towards rapidly rising inflation in the US. As the saying goes, when the US sneezes the world catches a cold – being forewarned means being forearmed!
With headlines like these, you may think it's time to panic...
"U.S. Inflation is Highest in 13 Years as Prices Surge 5%"
~ The Wall Street Journal
"Producer Prices climb 6.6% in May on annual basis, Largest 12-month increase on record"
"US Grocery Costs Jump the Most in 46 Years, Led by Rising Prices for Meat and Eggs"
"Higher Prices Leave Consumers Feeling the Pinch"
~ The Wall Street Journal
Jared Dillian writes “I called it earlier this year: The Fed will lose control, and we will hit 4% inflation this spring followed by 6% this fall.
And that’s exactly what’s happening. We started the year with a rate of 1.4%. In April, we hit 4.2%, and just last month we hit 5%... things are heating up quickly.
This is not an environment where “doing the same old thing” will pan out for investors. Only the smart, unconventional investor will survive…”
Read the letter from Jared Dillian ‘The Inflation King’s Playbook’, here...
FIMA bits and bites – compulsory preservation
For a member who withdraws after the FIMA effective date, regulation RF.R.5.10 which requires compulsory preservation of 75% of the minimum individual reserve (or fund credit) applies.
The question is whether the 75% compulsory preservation applies -
Scenario 1: 75% applies to member’s fund credit accrued up to the FIMA effective date as well
Scenario 2: 75% applies only on the member’s fund credit accrued from the FIMA effective date until the withdrawal date
Based on an informed opinion we obtained from NAMFISA, scenario 2 will apply. Other legal experts interpret the law differently and conclude that FIMA prescribes scenario 1. Should scenario 2 reflect the correct interpretation, the next complexity that has not been dealt with is whether the value as at FIMA effective date will continue to accumulate interest to the date of payment of a withdrawal benefit, to which scenario 2 will then have to be applied.
Confusion reigns on which version of FIMA was approved by parliament
When the FIM Bill was tabled in parliament early last year, we were provided with a version by NAMFISA reflecting a footer ‘B13-2018’, styled ‘National Council, Financial Institutions and Markets Bill, as Passed by the National Assembly’.
It was then recorded that the FIM Bill was approved by the National Assembly, with amendments to section 15 (principal officer and principal office, insurance chapter), 102 (principal officer and principal office, financial markets chapter), 185 (principal officer and principal office, collective investments chapter), 296 (principal officer and principal office, retirement funds chapter), 339 (principal officer and principal office, medical aid funds chapter) and 372 (principal officer and principal office, fund and society administrators chapter) were amended. It was then sent to the National Council who adopted the Bill with a few typographical changes. It is to be noted, that section 260 of Retirement Funds Chapter 5 of FIMA, dealing with the principal officer and the principal office was not amongst the sections to which the National Assembly required an amendment.
NAMFISA now uploaded version B.7-2021 to its website, styled ‘National Assembly, Financial Institutions and Markets Bill, As Read a First Time’. This version can be accessed at this link. We have compared this version to the B.13-2018 version and note that the sections referred to above on ‘principal officer’ and ‘principal office’ were amended in version B.7-2021. However, we also note that section 260 of Retirement Funds Chapter 5 of FIMA, dealing with the principal officer and the principal office was also amended although not so directed by the National Assembly.
According to the National Council minutes, only a few typographical changes to the version submitted to it were required, all of which were subsequently adopted by the National Assembly to conclude the parliamentary process. Version B.7-2021 however contains changes that were not raised by the National Council. We have so far not been able to establish which version was sent to the President for signature, but it should then certainly not be version B.7-2021. We also note that version B.7-2021 reflects material differences to version B13-2018, that are not of a typographical nature, but actually change the meaning of some sections.
We conclude that the FIM Bill version B.7-2021, uploaded on the NAMFISA website on 4 April 2021 is probably and hopefully not the version sent to the President for signature and that one should not spend time on that version until the confusion has been cleared up. We would indeed be very concerned if version B.7-2021 is the version sent to the President for signature as it contains material changes not originating from Parliament.
Botswana regulator enforces good governance practices
The Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund, the equivalent of our GIPF, recently outsourced its fund administration to a private company jointly owned by the Fund and NMG Botswana. The move is a result of a 2017 decision by Botswana’s Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA) that all pension funds in Botswana be administered by an independent fund administrator, for the sake of good governance.
While the FIMA aims to improve governance in the pensions industry by prohibiting the fund administrator, and other fund service providers, to be represented on the board of trustees for the sake of good governance, it fails to address the deficiency in good governance in self-administered funds in Namibia.
Barring the GIPF, all funds in Namibia are administered by a third-party administrator, which in itself manifests strong governance but at a cost to the funds and their members. Now FIMA imposes a huge amount of additional requirements on service providers and funds to improve governance, at a huge additional cost to these funds and their members.
Considering that these funds represent less than half the pensions industry and that the most glaring governance deficit is actually presented by the GIPF through it being self-administered, good governance in our industry would take a leap forward if this situation were addressed, ahead of a focus on the balance of the industry.
Compliment from an audit team manager
Dated 5 May 2021
“We would like to express our profound gratitude and sincere thanks to the Fund Administrator and Fund Accountant in the persons of Mr … and Mr … respectively.
The gentlemen adequately prepared for the audit, being proactive in their delivery of the supporting documentation we would ordinarily need to carry out our audit work. All such schedules and documentation were filed timeously and meticulously.
This further demonstrates the calibre of their personalities and the effort, time, and excellence they put into their work. This is what has necessitated us to make special mention of their excellent work.
We are aware that Mr … and Mr … work with a team. At this point, we would like to extend our appreciation to each team member for their contribution, time, talent, and effort. Thank you for the excellent filing and documentation of the paperwork. All of this has made the audit pleasurable and enabled us to reach the audit deadline.
Thank you for maintaining an open-door policy of open communication. It was very refreshing to work with Mr … and Mr … who not only are knowledgeable in their vocations but were willing and patient to clarify the plethora of queries we had.
We would also like to appreciate Ms … who kept the working room clean and tidy. Thank you for your efforts.
To the management, we revere you for setting a conducive work environment that enables employees to live out their purpose with excellence, dedication, and passion. This has reflected in the way all employees have carried out their work.”
Read more comments from our clients, here...
The Benchmark Retirement Fund welcomes new employers
We are excited to advise that the following employers have recently moved from their free-standing retirement fund into the Benchmark Retirement Fund as a participating employers:
Our business model is not to dominate the market through a low-cost proposition. We focus on transparency, exceptional reporting, and superior service. This should support and promote sound industrial relations and the employer’s employment philosophy and policy of attracting and retaining the best staff. If these are objectives important to your company and close to your heart, we should be your ideal partner in the provision of retirement benefits to your staff.
Benchmark Retirement Fund welcomes new trustee
The Board of Trustees of the Benchmark Retirement Fund recently announced the appointment of Ms. Sabrina Jacobs as a Trustee of the Fund effective 1 May 2021.
Ms. Jacobs is a Namibian citizen. She obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management and a BA Hons Degree in Labour Relations and Human Resources from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She also completed the Senior Manager’s Development Programme at the University of Stellenbosch Business School.
Ms. Jacobs is currently employed as General Manager: Human Resources at Cymot (Pty) Ltd, a participating employer of the Fund.
Ms. Jacobs also served in the following positions:
RFS sponsors restoration of a historic school building
Retirement Fund Solutions was approached by the board of directors of the Deutsche Privatschule Grootfontein some time ago, to support the school financially. Due to the Covid pandemic, the school, like many other schools, associations, etc., is lacking the urgently needed income to keep the school alive and to maintain the infrastructure.
Since Retirement Fund Solutions attaches particular importance to promoting school education and school sports, this naturally fits in well with its social responsibility policy.
For this reason, Retirement Fund Solutions agreed to support the school with its project to preserve its 'historic walls' with the sponsorship of N $ 27,500 to the AGDS, which in turn will use this money to renovate the historic veranda of the German private school Grootfontein.
Retirement Fund Solutions is pleased to be able to give something back to the community and hopes that with this support, the school will continue to exist for many years and that many children will find a solid educational facility in these 'historic walls'.
Kai Friedrich (r) handing over the sponsorship to Hanjo Böhme, Chairman of the AGDS.
Important administrative circulars issued by RFS
RFS issued the following fund administration-related circulars to its clients over the last month.
Distribution of death benefit and the ‘bloedige hand’ principle
This matter is a determination in the matter MEJ Nel (‘the Complainant’) v NETCARE 1999 Pension Fund (‘the Fund’) and Alexander Forbes Financial Services (‘the Consultant’)
Facts of complaint
The deceased nominated his wife as the sole beneficiary in 2013. This nomination amended an earlier nomination, reflecting his wife and his mother since his mother had passed away. The deceased and his wife were murdered on the same day, but the wife passed away before her husband. The biological daughter of the wife and her previous husband and her boyfriend were implicated in the murder and were held in custody. The divorce settlement with the wife granted her father sole custody of the daughter. The Complainant pointed out the daughter receives a child grant in respect of her minor child.
The trustees ignored affidavits submitted by the deceased siblings and excluded his wife’s daughter because she was involved in his and his wife’s murder. The trustees noted that the daughter and her child were not related to the deceased. The board argued that a beneficiary does not have to be a deceased’s biological child or grandchild to be allocated a death benefit. The board found that the minor child was financially dependent based on the deceased as he provided for the child. Furthermore, the board accepted an affidavit from a friend of the deceased, that the deceased and his wife intended to adopt the minor child. The board argued that it could not solely rely on the beneficiary nomination as this would fetter its discretion. Section 37C serves a social purpose and intends to protect people who were dependent on the deceased. The trustees resolved to allocate the full benefit of R 2,263,973 to the deceased’s wife’s minor grandson and pay the benefit into a trust for the minor child’s benefit.
The Complainant is a sister of the deceased. She submitted that the minor child was only part of her brother’s life for two years before he passed away and that the child’s mother will get her hands on the benefit, despite her having a ‘bloedige hand’. She submitted that her brother had no obligation towards the minor child but supported him out of courtesy. Furthermore, the deceased’s late wife did not have custody over her accused daughter. Her brother did not have any children of his own.
Matter to be determined by the tribunal
The trustees must affect an equitable distribution and give proper consideration to relevant factors but exclude irrelevant factors. They may not unduly fetter their discretion by following a rigid policy but should take into account personal circumstances and the prevailing situation.
The question in this matter is - Did the Fund’s board of trustees fail to carry out its duties set out in section 37C of the Act?
The tribunal confirmed that ‘de bloedige hand neemt geen erfenis’ is an established legal principle that does apply to pension funds. Pending the outcome of an investigation, Funds must withhold the payment of benefits allocated to an accused person in terms of section 37C, but allocate a benefit to the other beneficiaries. Once the criminal case is concluded, the balance of the benefit must be distributed. The accused may receive a portion of the benefit if he is not guilty; else the other beneficiaries must receive the benefit balance. Consequently, the minor child’s mother may not gain access to the child’s benefit, but the child’s benefit must be paid.
The tribunal stated that section 37C imposes two duties on the board of trustees. Firstly, it must investigate the whereabouts, and determine who the dependants and the nominees of the deceased are. Secondly, it must distribute the benefit equitably. The tribunal found that the biological father of the daughter of the deceased’s wife was granted sole custody over the daughter and was therefore responsible for her maintenance. The argument that deceased and his wife intended to adopt the minor child, based on a friend’s affidavit, was considered “…neither here nor there in establishing dependency.” The tribunal did not accept this argument. Although the deceased’s siblings did not claim dependency in their affidavits, the tribunal stated that the trustees of the Fund cannot merely rely on affidavits and needs to conduct a proper investigation in terms of section 37C. “The board should consider the extent of their dependency on the deceased as they qualify as factual dependants based on a reciprocal duty of support between brother and sisters.”
Findings of the Tribunal
The tribunal concluded that the Fund failed to consider the extent of financial dependency of the minor child and the extent of dependency of the deceased’s three siblings.
Order of the Tribunal
Reconfirming that it can only review the decision of the board of the Fund in cases where the board has exercised its powers unreasonably and improperly or unduly fettered its discretion, the tribunal set aside the decision by the board of trustees ruled as follows:
Read the full determination here...
Secondly, the determination states that adult siblings have a reciprocal duty of supporting each other. In Namibia, the Maintenance Act does not establish such a reciprocal duty between adult siblings. Therefore, unless common law establishes such a duty, the same case should result in a different determination in Namibia.
16. Take time to adjust and process your emotions
As I have expressed multiple times in this article; retirement is a process. So you need to build in time for yourself to process your feelings and emotions. Give yourself time to adjust to the new situation and get comfortable again.
You can do this by not planning a lot of activities in the first weeks or months. Take a retirement “honeymoon” to feel it out or another way that feels best for you.
Many people like to rush into other activities to run from their real feelings. In the long run, this can boomerang back to you. So take it easy on yourself and let the emotions and feelings be. Fighting or running from them will only make them bigger.
17. Start journalling
Journaling is an incredible stress management tool. Keeping a journal improves your mental clarity, it helps to solve problems and improves overall focus. With expressive writing, you’re clearing the mental clutter, and you also transform the problem you have from your head to the paper. It helps you to manage change better.
Starting a journal is a very healthy habit you can start doing before retirement. With writing your problems, thoughts, and feelings down, it will make you feel better, and have a more organized view on retirement.
Here are the five powerful health benefits of journaling:
Be prepared for the good things in life is also being prepared for things that can go wrong. It’s not to get a pessimistic view on things, but it’s more about applying critical thinking and foreseeing the bumps in the road. And deciding ahead of time how you will handle the problems that come your way. When you enter into change with your eyes open and solutions in your back pocket, you’re ensuring that you’re fully prepared for what’s next.
Talk to your spouse, family members, and financial advisors and go through different scenarios. Write down family decisions, bumps in the road that might occur and how you’ll approach them on a piece of paper or journal so you can look it up in the future. A reminder can be helpful in tough times.
19. Find a support team
When times get tough, you want to rely on a support team that can help you out. And it is possible that in retirement you feel lost and therefore you need a support system to help you out. And there is no shame in reaching out for help because everyone needs people in their lives to guide them in the right direction when you’re overwhelmed. This can be like-minded people, for example, other retirees or call up a close family member or friend.
You can even start a retirement club. Just like a book club, you start a retirement club to discuss the possibilities of retirement. This way, you’ll get a broader understanding and learn more about how other people prepare for retirement planning. And be each other’s support system when needed.
Research has proven that having a support system has many positive benefits for your health. Such as higher levels of well-being, better coping skills, and living a longer and healthier life. Social support reduces depressive symptoms, anxiety, and decreases stress. And that’s what we all want in life. So reach out to the person you think that can help you the best when you experience the downs in life.
20. Don’t let fear kill your dreams
Retirement is the time where you’ve worked hard for, and you owe it to yourself to make the most out of it. And sometimes fear can get away from our dreams. We let the negative inner voices distract us from what we want.
Don’t be afraid to dream big and go after what you want in life. It’s your life, so make sure you live it the way you want it. And have no regrets.
21. Celebrate your retirement
Retirement is a huge milestone in a person’s life, so that needs to be celebrated to make it even more memorable. Think about what you want to do to celebrate your retirement. This can be an adventurous trip you’ve always wanted to do, organizing a retirement party with friends and family, or giving yourself an (expensive gift).”
Read the full article: How To Plan Your Life After Retirement”
This was the final part of this interesting guide.
Three tips for when you are facing retirement
“…if you were one of the many investors who became unsettled and switched to more conservative options, you would have watched your portfolio lose about 15% during March/April last year. Furthermore, you would have locked in your losses and missed out on the subsequent market recovery,” says Moore.
It is estimated that South Africans lost R100 million of their savings overall between April and December of 2020 by switching funds. After many investors moved their savings into cash, SA equities delivered a huge 54% return in the 12 months to March 2021, which many missed out on…
So, if you are facing retirement, Moore offers some tips to consider:
1. Think about your retirement savings in two pots
Read the full article by Just, in Cover of 12 May 2021, here…
Investing is not a sprint but a marathon
“Schemes designed to part you and your hard-earned capital have a long and notorious history, perhaps most famously with Charles Ponzi’s original 1920s creation. More recently, in South Africa, we saw the 2007 Fidentia investment scam which resulted in mastermind J Arthur Brown being sentenced to 15 years in prison for fraud in 2014. Both Ponzi and Brown duped investors with guarantees of meteorically high yields.
As history tells us, of course, these expectations often come with a catch. This underlines the importance of knowing how to distinguish between a scam and a sound investment option that delivers solid returns.
…there are a finite number of asset classes in which you can invest to achieve a return on your money. These range from conservative cash investments in a bank to shares. Every asset class has a risk/return profile. If you want a low-risk investment, you must accept a low return. If, on the other hand, you are willing to take on more risk and invest in the stock market, for example, then you should get a higher rate of return, but you will experience more volatility during the process and will likely need to commit your capital for a seven-year period or longer in order to realise those returns. Then, between the extremes of low-risk cash and high-risk equities lies the asset classes of bonds, property, hedge funds and the like.
A direct offshore stock market investment, which is on the risky side of the spectrum, has provided an average return of 13% over the long term. Of course, there will be years of 20% returns or more, and also years of significantly negative returns such as those experienced during the 2008/2009 financial crisis and the first half of 2020 due to the COVID-19 impact. No one knows for certain which shares within the stock market are going to generate the best returns. The safest way to ensure your money generates a return above inflation is to diversify your risk and hold shares in different companies, in different sectors, in different countries and even in different currencies.
Getting the mix right between asset classes and ensuring that you have a nuanced understanding of the inner workings of options within such assets takes skill and deep investment knowledge…
Read the full article by Pierre Muller, Advisory Partner, Citadel in Cover of 28 April 2021, here…
How investors can mitigate prevailing high selection risk
“Selecting to invest in the wrong fund at the wrong time is something that happens daily. Industry flows and years of research show that investors habitually chase performance and are notoriously bad at timing the markets which, often have severe consequences…So, investors have plenty of choice but obviously that also comes at the risk of choosing poorly, and that risk we define as selection risk. And we believe the risk is very high at the moment, not only because of the number of funds available, but also because the dispersion of returns…Because when you run into volatility in the market and you don’t have a clearly defined plan to guide you and give you some stability and some peace of mind, you end up making mistakes, you start chasing performance…The key thing is to have a clear plan and stick to it.
You can’t invest on a whim, you’re a sitting duck for all the behavioural biases…A second thing to keep in mind is don’t pick an asset class. This is something that we’ve been seeing more lately in the industry, so as I said, investors like going either offshore or into cash. And that’s opened the door for investors looking at asset classes specifically and we actually think it’s a very good time to consider multi-asset funds which in recent years has fallen out of favour…And the offshore component is also something to keep in mind – that these funds that managed to do quite well, it’s vital still having a 30% odd investment offshore, but it has introduced a lot of diversification benefits in a period like last year when we saw the currency lose a lot of value…”
Read the full interview of Ciaran Ryan with Adriaan Pask of PSG Wealth, in Moneyweb of 9 June 2021, here…
Great quotes have an incredible ability to put things in perspective.
"Example is not the main thing in influencing others. It is the only thing.” ~ Albert Schweitzer