Last month I had the pleasure of making my way down to Johannesburg, South Africa. I wasn't attending the World Cup, though I did learn the Diski dance - a dance comprised solely of football moves - while I was there. Instead, I was there to help host the Imabasa Yegolide Awards, the South African awards for pension service providers alongside the Principal Officers Association, and to attend the POA's winter conference.
The South African pension industry has its unique challenges. The aging populations plaguing most of the west, for example, is not an issue in this African country.
But some obstacles are universal. Principal officers and trustees work hard to combat apathy and encourage pension savings, they operate in more complex markets and are working to improve their own corporate governance practices to secure their members’ pensions.
At the heart of these issues is trustee training – ensuring those decision makers are well qualified to meet their goals.
It’s been about a decade since the government required employee representation on pension boards and a major question being asked around the lunch tables and the conference hall was, “How well informed are these trustees”.
Given South Africa’s chequered history, the education level from one employee to another can vary drastically. One attendee told me some employee representatives have only very basic education, and struggle to understand investment concepts or other pension policies.
Meanwhile, trustees could turn over every three to four years, so the knowledge gained in the first few years of service could be quickly lost.
But I was glad to see there seemed to be a strong desire to improve the situation. Panellists were asking about putting minimum education requirements in place for trustees and potentially creating industry standards for governance. And independent trustees, much like the ones widely used in the UK, are gaining traction.
The POA conference served as an opener for the Imbasa Yegolide Awards – the only South African Awards that allow principal officers to nominate their service providers.
For full a full list of the winners and to read more about the evolution of the South African pension system, see our awards supplement on page 47.
The People's Pension, Atlas Master Trust and The Cheviot Trust have been granted authorisation from The Pensions Regulator (TPR), taking the total number of authorised master trusts to 18.
Pension schemes have been warned they may now face a more challenging legal test if they wish to fix drafting errors.
The Greene King Pension Scheme has appointed XPS Pensions as its actuarial and investment adviser following a competitive tender process.
Professional Pensions has compiled a list charting the progress of master trust authorisation. View our list in full here...