Protesters put Alexander Forbes under pressure to pay unclaimed benefits

The Unpaid Benefits Campaign has given pension fund administrator Alexander Forbes 14 days to act decisively on unpaid benefits it administers.
Alexander Forbes did not disclose the amount of unclaimed benefits in its books. But the industry watchdog, the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), reported in September 2017 that there was more than  R42bn in unclaimed benefits in SA and about 4-million beneficiaries were affected.
Demonstrators who descended on the administrator's head office on Monday were from pension funds including those of Mittal and Telkom, as well as the Global Pension Fund. 
Carrying placards that read “Telkom is here” and “We demand our own money”, beneficiaries handed over six boxes full of application forms and supporting documents for Alexander Forbes to process. They also made the administrator sign a memorandum demanding among other things that Alexander Forbes report back within 14 days on how far it has come in paying beneficiaries and reinstating cancelled funds.
“In each form we have given you codes for the pension funds you are administering. You must respond according to those codes …. We have given you everything. We’ve attached ID copies, death certificates for the deceased, everything you need is there,” said Bricks Mokolo of the Orange Farm human rights advice office in handing over the boxes.
The demonstrators said there was no telling how things would turn out if they had to return. “We are here peacefully today,” said Mokolo. “But we aren’t looking for peace, we are looking for justice.”
The group said its next target would be Old Mutual. It would also deliver application forms and supporting documents to the insurer “to prove that the people they say are not claiming are claiming”.
Lucky Scotland of the Unpaid Benefits Campaign said there had been repeated attempts by former workers and their dependants to access their benefits from Alexander Forbes and accused the company of relinquishing its responsibility to pay by transferring workers' monies into unclaimed benefits funds.
“Stop cancelling funds of existing beneficiaries,” he pleaded.

Alexander Forbes is one of the administrators of the dormant retirement funds that were cancelled by the FSCA, previously known as the Financial Services Board, between January 2007 and December 2013. 
Accepting the memorandum, a representative of Alexander Forbes promised to give a comprehensive report to UBC in 14 days and to give individual feedback to all beneficiaries who submitted forms on Monday.
Alexander Forbes’s interim group CEO, Marilyn Ramplin, said the administrator has been engaging with the FSCA to help trace and compensate beneficiaries of unclaimed benefits. “Administrators provide the FSCA with quarterly reports of benefits paid and outstanding unclaimed benefits, which is available on the FSCA website,” she said.
Pressure  applied by the movement, which was created in early 2017 by former workers, community groups and a few NGOs, has led to at least one administrator, Liberty, committing to reinstate 130 of the cancelled funds it administers. The group demonstrated outside Liberty’s offices in August 2017. While only members from the Vaal region joined Monday’s demonstration, UBC said it was gathering resources to be able to transport Abahlali baseMjondolo  in its next demonstration.



Liberty and the FCSA partner to educate communities on unclaimed benefits

CAPE TOWN – As part of the Money Smart Week South Africa (MSWSA) initiative Liberty Corporate is partnering with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FCSA) to educate communities on unclaimed benefits and heighten awareness around the importance of financial education.
Tiaan Kotze, Chief Executive of Liberty Corporate said: “Liberty believes passionately in the significant role financial education can play in uplifting people’s lives. We are proud to be part of this campaign in conjunction with the FCSA. We aim to empower communities through this campaign with financial knowledge and skills, particularly with respect to unclaimed benefits.”
Liberty is participating at events in Soweto, Alexandra and Mamelodi where they have teams on hand to assist the public in searching for their unclaimed benefits, as well as leading education sessions on how to prevent benefits becoming unclaimed.

"Any member of the community will have the opportunity to engage with the Liberty team and to search for their unclaimed benefits at the Liberty Corporate tables, as well as ask any questions on how to go about claiming their benefits", said Kotze. 

According to Kotze, the Money Smart Week South Africa 2018 (MSWSA) is an initiative championed by National Treasury and implemented through the FCSA to promote financial education amongst South Africans through a dedicated week of activities focused around key areas in Gauteng from 8 to 12 October 2018.
"Industry players were invited to participate and Liberty values the opportunity in order to assist the public in searching for their unclaimed benefits, as well as providing educational sessions on how to prevent benefits becoming unclaimed," said Kotze.
Unclaimed benefits, as defined by the Pension Fund Act, are benefits that have not been paid to members in more than two years following the termination of their employment from the sponsoring employer.
Liberty Corporate currently administers approximately 177,000 unpaid and unclaimed benefits with an asset value R1.8bn (of which 104,000 benefits with a value of R939m are in our Unclaimed Benefit Funds).
"We are in the process of tracing 96,000 of these members. As we make progress, we will extend our efforts to with the remaining members", said Kotze. 
This has been made possible through the significant increase in tracing activity and payment capability over the last 12 months, allowing us to pay out over R330m in unclaimed benefits in the first nine months of 2018.
When asked if the company plans on doing more of the programmes across  SA, Kotze said there is potential. 
"Liberty Corporate is investigating the possibility of participating in any future industry events in other regions, and will certainly support these opportunities as they arise," said Kotze. 
Here are three given by Kotze that you should consider when planning for your financial future:
  • Liberty Corporate believes that responsible employers provide employees with well-considered employee benefits such as retirement fund saving opportunities and death and disability benefits in order to assist employees to save from as soon as they commence working. 
  • Most people retire without sufficient savings to sustain their retirement.
  •  It is also important to consider protection against life events such as disability to ensure you do not burden your family and dependents.