24 April 2024

NJMPF embraces the future by celebrating the past

Banking & Finance
| The European |

NJMPF’S 80th anniversary marked the many achievements of the past, whilst also heralding a new era for South Africa’s pension fund industry – Sizwe Tshabalala was at the event

An anniversary provides an opportunity to reflect on the past, on our accomplishments and shortfalls, whilst carving out the beginning of a new chapter. This year NJMPF celebrates over 80 years since it was first established – 80 years of providing superior retirement services for KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa) local government employees.

What better way to celebrate decades of industry recognition, excellent service, and exponential asset and membership growth than with a group of people who have made a significant contribution to its history. NJMPF hosted a day-long celebration conference at the Durban International Convention Centre. This intellectually stimulating day included a series of panel discussions by actuaries, investment consultants, and industry regulatory bodies – including the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa, Counsil of Retirement Funds for South Africa – tackling issues such as pension funds governance, investment strategies, and market performance, to name a few. These issues highlighted the fact that NJMPF continues to serve stakeholders not only with integrity, but also with a commitment to protect members vested interests even during the global pandemic and ensuing market volatility.

NJMPF’s roadmap for success

NJMPF is a name that has been synonymous with secure retirement services for KwaZulu-Natal local government employees for over 80 years. The Fund’s journey to providing retirement services to KZN local government employees began with a story embedded in superior service, excellent governance, investment strategies, and superior customer service.

In 1942, the NJMPF superannuation fund was established as a defined benefit fund providing a lump sum and monthly pension benefits upon retirement members. The retirement fund followed years later, in 1967 – this fund was initiated as a defined contribution fund and was subsequently converted into a defined benefit fund to accommodate the lower income members, eight years later (1975).

Twenty-one years later (in 1996) just two years after South Africa stepped through the door of democracy – the provident fund was established, a defined contribution fund as an option for members who opt to receive a lump sum payment upon retirement. Benefits in this fund are calculated based on the total accruals from both the member’s and the employer’s contributions, plus the profits and interest earned.

Currently, NJMPF provides retirement services to 55 municipalities across 10 municipal districts in KwaZulu-Natal. It manages assets worth more than ZAR30bn ($1.61bn), has more than 22,000 members and more than 9,000 pensioners. NJMPF’s mission is to serve the best interests of its members by ensuring a high level of quality retirement services to provide financial security. This mission is executed through the Fund’s responsibilities such as pension administration, the collection, reconciliation, and sound investment of contributions through sensible investment risk parameters.

Reputation

Reputation is said to be the passport to unlimited possibilities. Indeed, without NJMPF’s continuous efforts to create a reliable and robust brand over the years, the Fund would have not progressed this far. Financial institutions, such as retirement funds, are subject to strict regulation. For an institution of this nature to stand the test of time, grow its membership base and assets, continuously get clean audits from the Auditor General for decades is a substantial achievement. It has introduced a multitude of platforms aimed at improving its members financial literacy and in turn ensuring that more and more members retire comfortably – this is a reputation that NJMPF and its stakeholders should be proud of, and a shining example for other retirement funding institutions in local government.

Winning awards may not be the Fund’s core objective, however NJMPF believes that it is as important as the service they give their stakeholders. The service the Fund provides is being recognised by other institutions and industry regulators for best practices. This affirms that providing superior retirement services is not just the NJMPF’s motto, but a code the Fund lives by. It ensures that members’ retirement outcomes improve and that more and more members improve their financial literacy, which in turn will increase the number of people who retire comfortably.

The Fund is one of South Africa’s most awarded pension funds in local government, with over a hundred awards in categories such as Investment Practices, Governance, Stakeholder Engagement and Education, and Fund Administration, to name a few.

Transformation is key

The success of an organisation and its business outcomes is directly tied to organisational transformation. For an organisation to thrive, in any sector or industry, transformation needs to be top of the agenda during the organisations business continuity planning process. In line with this, the NJMPF has transformed its Boardroom, from a predominantly White, male representation to one consisting of Black, White, and Indian (majority ethnic groups in South Africa) trustees with all genders represented. Naturally, women are nurturers so it is important for women to occupy key leadership roles and encourage its members to nurture their retirement savings and see a new financial future unfold – one where most South African’s retire comfortably. Two of the Fund’s three executives are Black female, 9 out of 15 managers are female, representing all ethnic groups in KwaZulu-Natal, and its administration team has a balanced blend of all ethnic and gender groups.

“NJMPF has introduced a multitude of platforms to improve members’ financial literacy”

Members of the Fund have a democratic right to elect and vote for Board of Trustees in a free and transparent manner. The Fund recently promulgated rationalised regulations for its two defined benefit funds, and removed any historic discrimination between these two funds. Further to the regulations being promulgated, the Fund still aims to continue with its quest for transformation and achieve a perfect equalisation of benefits in these funds by merging both these funds.

There is no one approach to inspiring people to take charge of their retirement future, at NJMPF we are committed to exploring every strategy – from making members feel represented, not just across
its administration team but in the Board of Trustees and Asset Managers as well. We are led by women: our nurturers. We are in the early stages of our transformation journey, but we know we are in good hands, because who better to help us grow than the women steering the NJMPF ship, whose natural instinct it is to nurture and ensure growth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sizwe Tshabalala is Communications Manager and Staff Pension Fund Principal Officer at NJMPF.

Further information

njmpf.co.za

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