Local retirement funds, which are among the best out there, excel in best practices

Some of the proud winners at the awards ceremony of the IRFA conference 2016

Some of the proud winners at the awards ceremony of the IRFA conference 2016

The long-awaited ceremony that recognises excellence in the retirement industry was held at the gala banquet of the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa’s annual conference on Monday evening.

The anticipation and excitement at the event were palpable as IRFA president Wayne Hiller-Van Rensburg announced the winners in the prestigious awards programme.

The awards programme entered its 29th year in 2016, and the programme itself has grown from recognising best practices in retirement fund communication to include governance, stakeholder engagement, trustee development, financial reporting and investment practices.

Competition in the awards programme is fierce said Hiller-Van Rensburg, who said that this year’s programme saw double the amount of entries received from 2015.

“Local funds are out there among the best of the best. Our awards programme is linked to our best practices research on a global and local scale, and the endeavour awarded by these trophies and certificates represents best practice in every way,” he said.

His comment was borne out by the fact that two of the funds receiving IRFA Best Practices trophies this year have recently been awarded international recognition for stakeholder engagement and governance practices. One of this year’s IRFA winners, the SABC Pension Fund, has received two International Business Awards for reputational research and stakeholder engagement, while the Natal Joint Municipal Pension/Provident Funds was awarded Best Pension Fund of the Year in Europe as well as Best Corporate Governance Fund in South Africa by Capital Finance International. Each of these funds received three Best-in-class awards at the IRFA banquet.

The IRFA Best Practices Awards are judged by acknowledged industry specialists, leaders and subject matter experts who give their time and expertise voluntarily without compensation. This year’s awards process was moderated by Wilma Mokupo from the Financial Services Board, and local research and development consultant and past International Association of Business Communicators chairperson and Research Foundation trustee Stephanie Griffiths, both of whom have worked with the programme for many years.

The awards consist of Best Practice Certificates for entries scoring above 75%, which recognise and laud best practices in each category, Best in Class Trophies (highest overall score) in each category, plus a further breakdown in Fund sizes. Merit certificates are included at the judges’ discretion, to highlight specific initiative.

In total 14 best in class trophies were award at the banquet, 22 Best Practice certificates were handed out and five merit certificates recognised practices worthy of special mention.

“The core aims of the awards programme have always been the recognition of the professionalism and excellence of players in our industry and the encouragement of a culture of excellence,” said Hiller-Van Rensburg.

“The motivation of the industry to evaluate, review and upgrade Fund processes, the creation of a greater understanding and awareness of the value of retirement funds in South Africa and beyond our borders is what makes these awards so special for the industry,” he added.

This year’s IRFA Best Practices trophy winners are:

Governance

  • SABC Pension Fund  
  • Natal Joint Municipal Pension/Provident Funds  

Financial Reporting

  • Old Mutual Superfund  
  • Natal Joint Municipal Pension/Provident Funds  

Trustee Development

  • SABC Pension Fund
  • Municipal Employees Pension Fund

Investment Practices - Best Practice Certificates

  • 10x Investment
  • Natal Joint Municipal Pension/Provident Funds

Stakeholder Communication Project

  • Fedtrust Beneficiary Fund
  • Old Mutual Superfund  
  • Gijima Pension and Provident Fund

Stakeholder Communication Strategy

  • ISASA (Independent Schools Association of Southern Africa) Pension Scheme and Provident Fund
  • SABC Pension Fund  
  • Road Freight and Logistics Industry Provident Fund

In addition to the trophy winners who also receive certificates, an additional eight best practices certificates were awarded to:

Financial Reporting

  • ISASA Pension Scheme  
  • University of Johannesburg Defined Benefit Fund

Stakeholder Communication Project

  • Liberty Provident Fund  
  • KZN Municipal Pension Fund  
  • Municipal Employees Pension Fund
  • Vodacom Group Pension and Provident Fund

Stakeholder Communication Strategy

  • Fairheads Umbrella Pension Fund  
  • Sanlam Umbrella Fund

Merit certificates/special mention certificates were awarded for the following initiatives:

  • Government Employees Pension Fund — Development of a Braille Members Guide for Disabled members
  • Road Freight and Logistics Industry Provident Fund — Effective use of technology using SMS links to engage with stakeholders
  • Municipal Employees Pension Fund — For the rigour of constituent stakeholder research
  • Municipal Employees Pension Fund — For peer group & performance appraisal systems
  • Tourism Hospitality and Catering Pension Fund — For empowerment of HR partners with educational programmes.