• Monday, July 15, 2024
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Inflation, weakening naira threatening returns on pension fund – Adebiyi

Inflation, weakening naira threatening returns on pension fund – Adebiyi

Rotimi Adebiyi is the MD/CEO of CrusaderSterling Pensions Limited. In this interview with BusinessDay, he spoke about the Nigerian pension industry and what his organisation is doing differently. Excerpts:

Please give us an insight into CrusaderSterling Pensions Limited and what you do?

CrusaderSterling Pensions Limited (CPL) is a leading pension fund administrator in Nigeria and a member of Custodian Investment Group. We are licensed by the National Pension Commission (PenCom) to manage pension funds in Nigeria.

CPL was incorporated in October 2004 and commenced operations in 2005. Our Assets Under Management (AUM) has grown over the years to over N470 billion. We currently operate with a paid-up capital in excess of the regulatory benchmark of N5 billion.
Over time, we have consistently helped our clients create wealth for retirement and ensure they retire to a life of value.

We understand the concerns and uncertainties that accompany retirement, especially financial wellbeing during retirement, and we have innovative services designed to meet client’s need within private, public and informal sectors.

Our services include Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA) – which are opened by employees to save towards retirement; Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVC) – these are optional extra savings added to the mandatory pensions contributions; Gratuity Schemes/Legacy Funds – these are schemes managed on behalf of private and public sector firms in line with their gratuity policies.

At CPL, we believe that everyone deserves a secure and prosperous future, and we work tirelessly to make this a reality, thus helping our clients eradicate the fear often associated with retirement, and embrace retirement with peace of mind.

Our team of seasoned professionals bring a diverse expertise to the table. We stay abreast of the industry market trends, identify high-yielding investment opportunities, and implement effective strategies to optimize returns on our clients’ RSA funds.

Devotion to our customers is at the heart of everything we do, and we ensure that our clients enjoy a personalized service tailored to meet their individual needs. We view each client as a unique member of the CrusaderSterling Pensions family, and the trust imposed in us is our most prized asset. Our commitment to excellent customer service is paramount, thus fostering lasting relationships with our clients. These collective qualities make CPL stand out in the industry.

In spite of the success recorded in the nation’s pension industry, which now has assets running into trillions of naira, so many Nigerians are still not captured. How can the system be improved upon?

In order to enhance the process that would enable more Nigerians to be captured on the designated platform: the Enhanced Contributory Retirement System (ECRS), the following interventions should be implemented:

Increase Sensitisation: The need for improved awareness and education on pension contributions cannot be over-emphasized. Despite the significant progress made in the nation’s pension industry, a considerable portion of the population remains unaware of the importance of saving for retirement. This has led to many Nigerians being excluded from the contributory pension scheme, which limits their financial wellbeing at retirement. PenCom, PFAs through PenOp should invest in public enlightenment programs about the importance of pensions, and the advantages of being part of the scheme in order to secure their financial wellbeing, upon retirement from active service.

Address Trust Issues: Some individuals may be hesitant to participate in the pension scheme due to lack of trust in the system. Open communication, regular updates on fund performance, and assurances of fund security can help build trust among potential participants. The Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), which is now 19 years in Nigeria (June 2004-2023) is yet to be adopted by many employers and their employees.

For instance, many state governments and their workers still do not participate in the scheme.

Simplified Enrolment Process: The enrolment process should be made simpler and more accessible to potential participants, especially the Micro Pension plan for the informal sectors, and business owners. Reducing bureaucratic hurdles and manual work can encourage more people to join the scheme.

In your opinion, to what extent have Nigerian professionals embraced the contributory pension system?

Due to the statutory nature of the contributory pension scheme, compliance has generally been good among many employers. In addition, there has been very good compliance in the private sector and federal public service. Some state governments are complying while others are at different stages of implementation.

As a Leading Pension Fund Administrator in Nigeria and a key player in the industry, what value does CrusaderSterling Pensions offer in terms of standard service delivery and what are you doing differently despite the numerous PFAs in the country?

At CPL, we take pride in our commitment to providing exceptional service delivery in the pension industry. Our service delivery tools are technology driven to ensure customers have ready access to all our services online, from anywhere in the world. CPL mobile app is readily available on the Google Play and IOS stores; CPL automated chatbot – where customers can interact and access our various services with minimal human interaction. We are also available on WhatsApp (09031316029) to ensure that our customers can easily engage us anytime. We have our social media presence across all major social media platforms and our phone lines are all open for our customers. CPL website is live 24 hours, with a readily available self-help platform for on-line registration, on-line access to customers’ account statements, and 24/7 on-line access to account balances and all our services.

Our core value propositions revolve around integrity, professionalism, and devotion to our customers’ needs. We firmly believe in conducting our business with the utmost integrity and transparency. Our clients can trust us to handle their pension funds with the highest level of ethical standards and accountability. We are dedicated to maintaining the trust our customers place in us and always act in their best interests.

Our customers are at the heart of everything we do. Our customer service representatives are always available to assist and guide clients through the pension process, providing them with the information and support they require. We are notable for premium ROI across the RSA multi-fund structure and excellent service delivery through efficient customer service and personalized relationship management. Our branches/service centers across the 36 States of the Federation are equipped with functional facilities.

We take special pride in our Fund Price, which demonstrates our commitment to creating wealth for retirement. Our Fund Price, which was valued at One (1) naira at inception, has grown by over 600% to Seven Naira Fifty-Nine Kobo (7.5975) naira as of July 24, 2023. Which implies that for an RSA contributor who opened an account with CrusaderSterling Pensions in 2006 and contributed One Million (1,000,000) naira into the account at inception without any other contribution, the fund would have grown by 659% and would be worth Seven Million Five Hundred and Ninety-Seven Thousand, Five Hundred (7,597,500) naira only on July 24th, 2023.

How is the country’s current accelerating inflation affecting pension remittance since the beginning of the year?

The Nigerian pension industry has shown remarkable growth with N15 trillion assets under management. The funds are invested in various portfolios with the hope of getting good yields for contributors. But the rising inflation and weakening naira continue to erode the value of income and returns that PFAs deliver on the pension funds. A suitable remedy is to wisely place your fund with a PFA that delivers the highest value.

Since the opening of the transfer window which allows contributors to switch PFAs, how has this impacted your company alongside other government policies?

The transfer window allows seamless transfer of RSAs from one PFA to another; facilitating the transfer of pension assets within the industry; engendering ethical competition among PFAs; and improving service delivery to RSA holders. This has impacted positively on CPL in terms of additional assets under management and the number of RSAs that we have recorded, since the commencement of the transfer window from November 2020 till date.

Tell us about your expansion outlook and how the sector has contributed in Nigeria’s financial inclusion strategy?

Our expansion outlook is to drive and grow CPL’s Assets Under Management through strategies that will create, capture, and deliver value to our Contributors and potential clients across all sectors and improve CPL’s brand equity.

The Micro Pension Plan (MPP) caters for the informal sector (about 30% of the working population) which has been a significant tool for driving financial inclusion in the country. The Plan is tailored to meet the unique needs of these individuals, providing them with a seamless and accessible pathway to secure their future. By breaking down traditional barriers, MPP empowers the informal sector and entrepreneurs to effortlessly participate in the pension scheme, securing a safety net for their retirement years. The Micro Pensions Plan (MPP) not only promotes a culture of saving but also instills a sense of financial security and stability among beneficiaries, fostering economic growth and prosperity at the grassroots level.

At CPL, we believe in the transformative power of financial inclusion, and we remain committed to creating a more equitable and prosperous society, where every individual can confidently look forward to a dignified retirement.

For enquiries, please call us on 01-2714605, 08180112985 or email us via [email protected]
Visit our website: www.crusaderpensions.com