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South Africa’s New Pension System – ‘the Lesser of Two Evils’

Although there are some concerns about South Africa’s new Two-Pot retirement system, it is still better than the current system in use.

The new Two-Pot system will come into effect on 1 March 2024 and allow for up to one-third of all retirement savings to be withdrawn before retirement, whilst the remaining minimum two-thirds can only be accessed at retirement age.

Although this is well-intentioned, as it will provide an emergency fund, there are concerns that it will defeat the point of a pension fund.

“This system will likely amplify the existing culture of short-termism, where individuals prioritise present needs over future financial security,” said Michelle Acton, Retirement Reform Executive at Old Mutual 

“South Africans are expected to dip into those accessible pots in significant numbers, accessing up to one-third of their available future retirement savings post the 1 March effective date.”

However, the new Two-Pot system also counters the biggest problem of the current system – the ability to access one’s entire pension savings.

Currently, a pension fund will allow a member to cash out completely when changing jobs, whereas most use all of their savings and have to start all over again whilst also losing out on compound interest that builds over time.

According to the National Treasury, only 6% of South Africans expect to have a comfortable retirement.

The Two-Pot’s short-term access is the lesser of the two evils. At the very least, it solves one problem: more South Africans can retire better,” Acton said.

Immediate relief

Considering the challenging economic environment, the Two-Pot system’s initial sending of 10% capped at R25,000 from the existing pension fund into the savings pot offers a welcome respite.

“Yet, it is essential to recognise that this injection, while providing momentary relief, should not be misconstrued as a panacea for all financial ills. Instead, it is a stepping stone toward a more secure financial future based on prudent financial planning and saving,” Acton added.

“Critics might question the Two-Pot Retirement System’s efficacy in ensuring short-term relief and long-term prosperity.”

“But this system does not pretend to be the silver bullet to today’s current woes. Instead, it seeks to establish a foundation upon which future financial security can be built. It is not merely about granting access but cultivating a sense of responsibility over one’s financial journey.”

Acton added that this new system will likely force members to play a far more active role with their retirement savings.

Members WILL have to reach out more often to figure out how much they can access from their savings Pot whilst also being aware of how much their savings have grown yearly.

Source: Business Tech



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