Digital integration key to help members achieve retirement goals

From a client’s perspective, it may seem that there is relatively little that differentiates one retirement fund from another. However, one of the most important keys to unlocking a successful retirement is how well your retirement fund knows you, understands your needs and circumstances, and helps you make the most of your retirement fund membership.

That’s according to Elize Giese, CEO of Employee Benefits at FNB, who says that one of the biggest challenges for umbrella funds today is that their growth in member numbers increases the risk that they lose touch with the very people who they are supposed to be helping to secure their best possible retirement. “The rise in popularity of umbrella arrangements over the past number of years has certainly given many working South Africans easy and affordable access to useful retirement savings vehicles,” Giese explains, “but few of these funds have detailed insights into the financial circumstances, habits and needs of their members, which means that its largely left up to those members to ensure that they’re getting the most out of their retirement fund membership.”

Thanks to the direct banking relationship that FNB has with many of its umbrella fund members, FNB Employee Benefits has the benefit of these member insights; which means it is able to fully harness the power of digital integration to know its members and make sure they’re on the path to retirement success.

“Because FNB is both a bank and an employee benefits provider, we’re in the unique position to be able to transform fund membership from merely putting money into an investment, to being a comprehensive money management partner for our clients,” she explains, “one guided by detailed, holistic insights into each individual’s financial wellbeing and a bigger picture view of his or her current financial reality and ideal a pathway to successful retirement.”

Giese says that while retirement savings are a large component of most people’s financial plans, they are not separate from the rest of their finances and should not be considered in isolation from the rest of the person’s finances. Unfortunately, however, because funds seldom have access to the full financial picture of each of their members, that’s precisely how most retirement plans are developed. By harnessing the power of digitisation, and leveraging the broader banking relationships it has with many of its retirement fund members, FNB Employee Benefits is able to overcome this restriction, go beyond advice based on industry rules of thumb, and offer FNB Umbrella Fund members a truly integrated, holistic and personalised retirement journey.

“This broader, more detailed view of a member’s financial situation, and expectations, is especially valuable when it comes to setting and assessing retirement savings goals,” Giese points out, “because, for example, it allows our members and their advisers to use their current spending patterns to calculate accurate and fully personalised salary replacement ratios rather than aiming for an industry standard that the individual could discover is way off when they retire – at which point it is too late to do anything about it.”

She says that the value of this contextualised and personalised retirement membership experience cannot be understated, especially in terms of demystifying retirement fund membership and encouraging members to actively engage with their fund. “Few fund members have significant understanding of their fund, how it fits into their long-term financial plans, or how to optimise the benefits they get from it,” she explains, “but by bringing together all aspects of a fund member’s financial life in one place, and offering them a range of digital tools to engage with this information, analyse it, understand it, and adapt it where necessary, FNB Employee Benefits is empowering each one of its members to make their fund membership truly work for them and take control of their financial wellness.”