Retirement funds are precious. If they are well governed and managed and their assets invested in a sustainable way, writes Hilan Berger. Supplied

As we hear daily of new horrors about the plundering of state coffers – frequently with the assistance of the officials elected to protect them – 10X Investments is running workshops aimed at ensuring the security of another pool of South African citizens’ assets: private and corporate retirement savings.

The Zondo Commission into state capture and the commission of inquiry into the Public Investment Corporation have shown how vulnerable the massive assets under state control are to corruption and greed; the same is true of the nation’s pension and provident fund assets.

The last line of defence for these funds is the people who govern them as trustees. It is essential that trustees have the right knowledge and skills to ensure that workers’ savings provide them with appropriate benefits when they retire.

The Trustee Revelation Training series of workshops for retirement fund trustees, the second of which will be held on February 15 in Johannesburg, are designed as “independent forums where trustees get exposure to the most important topics facing them”.

Hilan Berger, head of Institutional Business at 10X Investments, said the idea is simply that the trustees will leave the event “better-equipped to perform their roles”.

He said the workshops were designed to be practical and informational rather than to push a particular agenda or products. “10X’s interests are served when the truth is exposed and trustees can make the most informed and objective choices regarding the retirement funds they serve.”

Rosemary Hunter, the former pensions regulator and now partner at international law firm Fasken, will be addressing the trustees at the event. Hunter, who is a leading pension lawyer and academic, will be sharing her thoughts on some of the numerous challenges trustees face in trying to ensure that funds fulfil their objectives and mission.

Hunter, the former deputy pension funds registrar at the Financial Services Board, came to public attention as a vigilant public official who took on her own employer as part of efforts to protect the interests of thousands of members and beneficiaries of pension and provident funds that had been deregistered without proper prior checks to see that the funds had no assets or liabilities.   

She has been quoted as saying: “Retirement funds are precious.  If they are well governed and managed and their assets invested in a sustainable way, they can provide ‘fit for purpose’, ‘value for money’ benefits for their members and their families; give their members collective financial muscle; promote good governance, transformation, sound labour relations and environmental protection by their suppliers and by the companies and other entities in which they invest; and contribute towards long-term economic stability and growth for the benefit of us all.”

Teri Solomon, the Head of the financial and professional division at Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc, and Steven Nathan, founder and chief executive of 10X Investments, will also be addressing the seminar.