Benchmark Retirement Fund breaches N$2 billion mark- Strong governance, strong investment returns drive growth
Local umbrella retirement fund, the Benchmark Retirement Fund, breached the N$2 billion mark in May 2016, said Principal Officer Kai Friedrich this week.
Administered by Retirement Fund Solutions, the Benchmark Retirement Fund was established in the year 2000, at the request of financial professionals, to manage their retirement investments. The Fund subsequently expanded its operations to include participating employers that do not require, or are too small, to have their ow private retirement fund. In 2014, ‘Benchmark Mini’ was launched, catering for retirement provision on the part of employees of SMEs.
Talking about the N$2 billion milestone, Kai Friedrich attributed it to a combination of member growth, as well as exceptional investment returns.
He says Benchmark has earned a reputation for prudent management of investments geared to produce superior long-term investment returns, and backs it with strong governance vested in the Fund administrator Retirement Fund Solutions (RFS). This, he continues, gives a high degree or security and trustworthiness, preferred by entities and individuals investing in the Fund. Benchmark’s reputation has fueled the growth of its member base, which is currently in excess of 9,000 with 150 participating employer groups.
In terms of governance, Friedrich said that administrator RFS has translated governance principles into operational approaches. These principles include, among others, a high degree of expertise assigned to Benchmark, ongoing adaptation to the dynamic Namibian financial regulatory environment, prompt and transparent reporting to members and stakeholders, a strong emphasis on internal audit and compliance, ongoing actuarial supervision, state-of-the-art IT systems and an off-site disaster recovery centre to secure business continuity.
The independent trustees of Benchmark Retirement Fund are Harald Müseler (Chair), Martin Moeller and Afra Schimming-Chase. Trustees from the ranks of the administrator, RFS, are Tilman Friedrich, Marthinuz Fabianus and Günter Pfeifer. Between the trustees and the Principal Officer the Fund call on exceptional expertise including that of four chartered accountants!
On the topic of investments available through Benchmark, he says the Fund provides for a range of long-term growth strategies in various risk profiles which provide for a range of risk appetites. Investments, he said, are made available in a basket of reputable investment managers that adhere to the requirements of the local regulatory environment.
In terms of investment returns, Friedrich said that the Fund is aims to produce superior long-term growth as is required by the typical retirement investor. He says investment returns are derived from a range of Fund member expectations that run the gamut from capital preservation to CPI + 6%. The Fund’s capital preservation option, Friedrich notes, seeks to avoid negative investment returns over any extended period and to reduce volatility.
Friedrich stated that the Fund offers a totally transparent fee model, unlike other funds which often do not disclose the fact that they ‘skim’ returns, thereby weakening the member’s prospects of retiring with a livable pension. He added that Benchmark, at its core, seeks to provide full value to investors through excellent services and superior returns to each individual member of the Fund.