Trust in Pension Funds

Hi All,

There is a well-known maxim in life that goes something like: “Delivering what you promise and promising only what you can deliver is really the essence of integrity.”

One of the questions that always intrigued me about Pension fund applications was the question: “Age next Birthday” – so, as I would now have to write down 70 today, there is a related issue that I feel strongly about.

I worked for the Rhodesia Railways for 4 years in the latter half of the 1970s and, when I resigned to start travelling the world, my Employer promptly paid me out every cent of what I had paid in plus their Company Contribution. With that $5200 I paid for a return flight to the UK, via Switzerland, and had enough money to hitchhike around Europe for several months.

Then, in the 1980s, we had lots of successful salesmen travelling around the country selling Pension and Annuity funds to myself and many of my peers – we had seen how reliable the Pension companies (Trusts?) had been in dealing with our parents during our formative years. We were promised that the said Pension Funds would take our money and invest it wisely so that when we reached our selected Retirement age we would have a very healthy,  regular Pension income worth a lot more than our contributions. The said Pension funds then wisely bought the top valued property at prime locations all around the country.

Then, 2008, along came the quadrillion dollar note – the wise investments of the Pension funds were worth a VERY healthy amount in US$ terms but we were suddenly told that, as our Pension agreements were quoted in Zimbabwe Dollars (were they really?), we could only be paid out a pittance in that currency- so low that it cost more to bank the cheque than the value thereof!

When we moved across to US$ in 2009, gullible folks like myself were once more talked into taking on another in-house Company Pension fund – with a different Pension Fund. My own personal contribution was worth US$60k the one day and then 1/100th of that the next.

My argument here is that, even though the Ministry of Finance stated that all pension fund payouts be converted into the Zimbabwe $ equivalent, Pension companies should have felt/feel a moral obligation to deliver what was the right thing promised – i.e. give all contributors, and resultant pensioners, a bonus payment to make up for the falling (true) value of the RTGS. They might have to sell a few of their prime real estate but I doubt they will go out of business – they will, instead, then be seen as a company that is prepared to make large sacrifices to recover their original business model.

Pension Funds / Trusts would be well advised to search back through their archives, work out those of us that were short-changed and give us what I believe is a welcome bonus payment.

Failure to make this sort of amends means that very few companies in this country will start new RTGS pension funds. No one will Trust Pension Fund Trusts!

 “Age next Birthday 70!

Mike G

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