Retirement funds must first attempt to resolve disputes internally
Complaints to the Office of the Pensions Funds Adjudicator (OPFA) will only be investigated after the retirement fund concerned has been given the opportunity to resolve the complaint directly with the complainant.
If the complaint has not first been lodged with the retirement fund concerned, the OPFA will submit the complaint to the retirement fund on behalf of the complainant.
In the event that the complaint has not been resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant within a period of 30 days, only then may the complainant register a complaint with the OPFA.
This process which will be implemented from 1 September 2020 is something that various funds have long been calling for.
Pension Funds Adjudicator Muvhango Lukhaimane said the OPFA often receives complaints which have not first been lodged with the retirement fund or administrator in order to allow the retirement fund or administrator concerned an opportunity to attempt to resolve the matter internally before requiring the OPFA to investigate the complaint and make a determination on any issues that may remain in dispute.
“Having due regard to representations that have been made to the OPFA regarding the interpretation of section 30A(1) and (2) of the Act, as well as the principles that financial institutions must abide by in relation to their obligations to treat customers fairly, the OPFA has formed the view that it would be in the best interests of all stakeholders, especially members of retirement funds, that the retirement fund concerned be given the opportunity to resolve the complaint directly with the complainant.
“In the event that the complaint is not resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant within a period of 30 days, the complainant may register a complaint with the OPFA,” she said.
However, if the OPFA is of the opinion that a complaint may become time-barred in terms of section 30I of the Act if the full period of 30 days is afforded to the retirement fund or administrator to resolve the complaint, the OPFA will shorten the period that the complaint may be resolved internally in terms of section 30A(4) of the Act.