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The Trustees of Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Fund are concerned about the continued publications attributed to the Trustees in the Daily Nation Newspaper. trustees-press-release
logos   PRESS RELEASE   Lusaka, 22 February 2018   Status of Saturnia Regna Pension Fund (the Fund)   Joint Statement from African Life Financial Services (Zambia) Limited (Aflife, the Fund Managers) and Benefits Consulting Services Limited (Bencon, the Fund Administrators), collectively the Fund Service Providers.   Aflife and Bencon, the Fund Managers and Fund Administrators respectively of Saturnia Regna Pensions Fund wish to assure members and stakeholders of the Fund that its assets are safe and fully accounted for. Further, the assets are invested in line within the Fund Trustees’ approved policies based on the provisions of the Pension Scheme Regulation Act (PSRA) and the Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA), the regulator. Since the inception of the Fund in 1992, international audit firms have audited its accounts annually and its current auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) have given an unqualified audit opinion and certified that the Financial Statements of the Fund as at 31st December 2016 fairly represented the financial position of the Fund. Owing to press accusations of irregular practices, during 2017 the Fund was also subjected to an independent audit as directed by the Ministry of Finance through the PIA. The independent audit was conducted by KPMG, an international audit firm and the report has been submitted to the Ministry of Finance. The report findings will be tabled for discussion at the Fund Members’ Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday, 28th February 2018 as arranged under the guidance and authority of the PIA. It is against this background that the PIA has directed the Fund and Bencon to reconvene the AGM as soon as possible and this decision was made in the best interest of the Fund and its Members. Therefore, Bencon has followed due process and already sent the relevant notices and invitations to all Participating Employers and Members. It should be noted that the AGM has twice been postponed and the last postponement in 2017 was to allow for an independent audit of the Fund. Further, Bencon wishes to state that the 2017 management accounts have been concluded and are awaiting the appointment of external auditors at the forthcoming AGM, after which the audited financial statements for 2017 will be finalised. The AGM is therefore crucial in normalising the activities of the Fund. It is important and critical that the AGM, which is the highest body in the governance of the Fund and its Members and Participating Employers receive these reports from the auditors and deliberate on them and consequently make all the necessary resolutions based on the findings. Bencon and Aflife are working to ensure that the AGM is held on schedule and in line with the directive of the PIA and the Fund Trust Deed. Over the past one year, we have noted publication of unsubstantiated allegations against the Fund and the Service Providers, in the Daily Nation newspaper. Despite our rebuttals against these allegations through our lawyers and through a joint press statement by the two Service Providers in June 2017, this particular newspaper has continued with publication of these allegations. In the recent publications, we have also noted attempts by the Daily Nation Newspaper to discredit the independent audit report that has not yet even been released by the Ministry of Finance. We also note that most of these articles purport the Fund Trustees as their source but the Saturnia Regna Fund Board of Trustees during August 2017 wrote through their lawyers to the Daily Nation Newspaper and also released a Press Statement denying that they were indeed the source as quoted by this newspaper. Throughout the subsequent period, the Service Providers have opted to remain silent and let due process be followed as directed by both the parent ministry and the regulatory authorities and not to dignify the unsubstantiated allegations by responding to them. It was important for the independent auditors to carry out their assignment without the undue influence of our comments and responses to the allegations. We have fully cooperated with the relevant parties involved in the exercise as we all believe that such actions are in the best interest of the Members as the ultimate beneficiaries. The objective of the Service Providers has always been to maintain the stability and growth of the Fund, and to ensure that it operates in line with the provisions of the Trust Deed and those of the Pensions Scheme Regulation Act. We wish to reiterate that all the operations of Saturnia Regna Pension Fund are still under the regulation and oversight of the PIA, as well as other supervisory bodies and that the assets of the Fund and Member records remain safe and sound.       Signed:                                            Geoffrey Musekiwa  (Aflife Chief Executive Officer)                                                                                              Bryson Hamanzuka  (Bencon Chief Executive Officer) For further information contact:   Geoffrey Musekiwa, Chief Executive Officer, African Life Financial Services Zambia Limited (geoff@aflife.co.zm) | 0211 254841, ext. 244 | 0965 433168 and; Bryson Hamanzuka, Chief Executive Officer, Benefits Consulting Services (hamanzukab@bencon.co.zm) | 0211 254517, ext. 209 | 0977 791500
To: Members and Sponsoring Employers of the Saturnia Regna Pension Fund From: Benefits Consulting Services Ltd, Secretaries to the Saturnia Regna Pension Fund Subject: Update On The Activities Of The Fund Date: Thursday 18th May 2017 Dear Esteemed Members and Sponsoring Employers,   1. Introduction The objective of this communiqué is to respond to the needs that the Saturnia Regna Pension Fund (SRPF) Members and Sponsoring Employers have expressed to us and who have requested us to clarify certain statements in the press that have been published over the past few weeks and also to give you an update of the Fund’s performance over the past 12 months. Saturnia Regna Pension Fund (the Fund) remains the largest Multi-Employer private sector pension fund in Zambia with assets that you own which were valued at ZMW 1.85 billion as at 31 st December 2016. The Fund has a large responsibility looking after the retirement savings of over 35,000 Members employed by over 140 companies. The Fund has been compliant and continues to be compliant in meeting all its legal and statutory obligations, and also continues to be regulated by the Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA), and supervised by the Investment Committee (IC), the Audit and Risk Committee (ARC) and the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Fund. Therefore the process of investing and monitoring the assets of the Fund, while initiated by the service providers, is a collective effort with various governance structures of the Board of Trustees who approve the investments in line with the Fund’s Investment Policy and regulatory guidelines. In addition to the above oversight, there are 3 more committees and boards of directors for both service providers that scrutinise all your investments and activities on a regular basis. We are glad to also announce that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the external auditors, concluded their statutory annual audit of the Saturnia Fund for the financial year 2016 and we await the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Fund for the auditors to formally table their successful audit findings and financial results. 2. Management of the Fund The Fund’s administration and secretarial services are provided by Benefit Consulting Services Limited (Bencon) and the Fund’s assets are managed by African Life Financial Services (Zambia) Limited (Aflife). The asset managers created this fund 25 years ago in 1992, grew its membership through its commitment to integrity, trust, responsibility and innovation to the industry and have managed to grow your savings within an agreed risk profile with oversight from the IC and the Fund’s Board of Trustees that are in the best interest of the Members. We would like to point out that that the last 2 years have been turbulent years for many countries like Zambia whose economies are dependent on mineral exports and who have been hence economically affected, not only in the sub-Sahara region, but also in the Americas and in Asia. It is true that during this period, Aflife and some Members and Sponsoring Employers of the Fund had differences in opinion with some of the Fund’s ex-trustees, which led to the parties seeking legal advice on certain issues that are of importance to the Fund. We realise and regret that some newspapers have chosen to misrepresent these differences in different ways but we believe that these matters are confidential to the ex-trustees of Saturnia and as such do not wish to comment on subjects that may be misrepresented again or be sub-judice. However, we wish to reiterate that all pension fund assets that are owned by the Fund on behalf of its Members remain registered in the Fund and all Fund governance processes follow the regulations governing the industry and Fund’s Trust Deed. In addition, we would like to highlight that 9 out of the 10 Board of Trustee positions are vacant for numerous reasons, and therefore a quorum cannot be formed to hold meetings of the BoT, and we are working on your behalf to urgently convene an Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Fund, which will give the opportunity to elect the candidates whom you proposed in March 2017 to fill these Trustee positions. As service providers licensed by the PIA, we have a fiduciary duty to protect the Member’s interests by rigorously following the Pension Scheme Regulation Act of 1996 which governs our industry, the Trust Deed of the Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Fund and the directives of the Regulator, the PIA. We assure you that we have fulfilled our obligations and will continue to protect your interest in line with our obligations as fiduciaries. We are also disappointed that you were not able to elect the trustees of your choice at the scheduled AGM of 24th March 2017, even though you had participated very strongly in the Trustee elections process; but we can assure you that we are in the process of enabling the AGM and fresh elections to take place as soon as possible, and will be in a position to announce the modalities for the Trustee elections by Monday 23rd May 2017. 3. 2016 Performance The returns for the year 2016 could at best be described as modest as the Fund endured negative performance from the local equities market which had a return of negative 30% on the back of a very tough operating environment which saw most listed companies not declaring dividends and also reduced profitability. Although the global equities (outside of Zambia where some of the funds are invested) did well, the Fund incurred negative returns due to the appreciation of the local currency. The other asset classes; money market, bonds and the property portfolio all did very well and made up for the negative performance of the equities. Gross return was about 8% while net distribution to members amounted to 4.4%, which was below inflation of 7.5%. 4. 2017 Performance So Far The year 2017 started off on a very good note, supported mainly by a strong recovery in local and international equities. Although interest rates are coming down and will most likely come down further, the Fund is also still enjoying good interest rates from investments from the prior year. The property portfolio also continues to contribute through rental income although there is pressure on vacancy. For the first 3 months 31 March 2017, the Fund’s investment return and income were more than what was achieved for the whole year in 2016. We remain fairly confident that in 2017 the fund will perform well relative to its objectives, particularly given how well the assets are spread across all asset classes as shown below: fund_perform 5. Conclusion As your Administrators and Fund Managers, we have a collective fiduciary duty of care to ensure that members of the Fund get real returns and achieve their retirement objectives at the end of their working life. This we do through our best efforts, which are underpinned by investment in our staff, our operating systems as well as management of the risk environment. All this is overlaid by the governance structure within our own firm as well as those of the Trustees and the regulators. There will be some years where the objectives will not be met, like in 2008/9 as well as last year. We can nevertheless assure members we will continue to invest the assets entrusted to us prudently in pursuit of members’ long term objectives. If you wish to have more information, could you please call us at +260 211 253772, 0211 252265, or email us at newsletter@bencon.co.zm