Kanyisa Mkhize, Chief Executive Officer at Sanlam Corporate, says the pandemic has been a setback for South African retirement fund members and retirees. “The ultimate financial effect of COVID-19 was the reduced contribution level due to contribution suspensions. The industry also recorded an increase in the number of employees cashing in a significant proportion of their withdrawal benefits.

“Tragically, 7% of standalone funds are in the process of liquidation and no less than 40% of funds and employers have shared with us that their staff or members experienced a reduction in pay. 27% of standalone funds and 31% of participating employers cited retrenchment at the workplace,” says Mkhize.

Issues within the retirement industry have been well documented over the Benchmark’s 40-year history with findings repeatedly highlighting a lack of adequate preservation leading to retirees not maintaining their lifestyle into retirement – and many unable to make ends meet.

The industry could certainly not afford the pandemic, but it has happened, and it is time to regroup and work hard to improve the outcomes for South Africans. We cannot ignore the impact and the reality of the pandemic.

“Ultimately, our goal at Sanlam is to empower our members and help them live with confidence before and after they retire. Our strategy is to put the member firmly at the centre of everything we do – focusing on partnering with them to manage their retirement successfully, during and after their working lives,” said Mkhize.