When the Financial Sector Regulation Bill was sent to parliament for final ratification, it was returned with a number of proposed amendments, most of which related to financial inclusion.
This was also the subject of an address by the FSB at the 17th Batseta Annual Conference. Batseta is the Council of Retirement Funds in South Africa.
Wilma Mokupo, Head of Pensions Prudential at the FSB, highlighted the importance of reporting non-compliance by employers in paying out such benefits. Section 13A of the Pension Fund Act, 1956 (Act 24 of 1956) requires employers to pay over monthly employee contributions within seven days to the fund.
Where employers fail to do so, funds are required to act immediately and report non-compliance to the relevant authorities.
The Pension Fund Adjudicator, Muvhango Lukhaimane, said the bulk of the complaints received by her office related to the funds’ inability to pay out benefits, and upon investigation it was found that there are outstanding contributions from employers.
“Funds should take the lead in ensuring that they recover contributions and not leave this to members. Complaints are usually received when a benefit has to be paid, which is too late to sufficiently address the issue,” she said.
The conference brought together stakeholders in the retirement funds industry to discuss new products, technologies and regulatory amendments. An important part of these deliberations was the education of trustees around financial inclusion.
Moonstone Business School of Excellence, in association with Batseta, will offer the Professional Principal Executive Officer Qualification from next year. This qualification, at NQF level 7, provides recognition of competence in learners who wish to formalise their education and experience with a view to enhancing their career prospects. This includes trustees and a wide variety of other employee benefits functionaries.
“Taking regulation to the people”
After the success of a pilot project in Soweto, the FSB is rolling out the “Taking regulation to the people” campaign to the rest of South Africa.
The campaign, now also known as TRTTP, entails FSB staff members going into communities to afford consumers and potential consumers of financial products and services access to the services of the regulator. As part of the campaign, people are able to apply for unclaimed retirement fund benefits and retirement fund surplus apportionments, check if the FSPs they deal with are legitimate and even lodge complaints against these organisations.
Last year, the FSB assisted approximately 3 387 consumers in Soweto only, with many more contacting the FSB directly. The demand for the services of the regulator has definitely increased and as such, we will be rolling out to the rest of South Africa.
The FSB will be rolling out the campaign to the following provinces: Gauteng (Ekurhuleni), North West province (Brits), Eastern Cape (Mdantsane), Mpumalanga (Barberton), Free State (Qwa Qwa), KwaZulu-Natal (Umlazi), Northern Cape (Kuruman), Limpopo (Polokwane) and the Western Cape (Khayelitsha).
“This is a very important campaign that allows the FSB to visibly portray its empathetic nature,” said Elliot Modisa, Manager in the Consumer Education Department. “The FSB receives many tip-offs about unregistered tracers of unclaimed benefits. With the Taking regulation to the people campaign we will be able to spread the word that the FSB renders its services for free, and that people can contact us directly.”
“We are very excited at the prospect of rolling out such a huge campaign and increasing the FSB’s footprint in the country,” he concluded.
This initiative by the FSB is really very commendable, as many of those in need of education and assistance are often not reachable via modern communication methods.