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Arno Loots: Provident fund changes a setback, but not fatal reverse

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The last minute abortion of proposed changes to South Africa’s Provident Fund rules are being interpreted as a major victory for organised labour. After being threatened with a new series of strikes, Government kicked this particular retirement funding can down the road for another two years.

Liberty’s head of umbrella fund solutions, Arno Loots, unpacks what happened and explains why he likens it to a rocket launch being stopped minutes before blastoff. But Loots regards this as a temporary setback, not a permanent reversal for the promotion of a savings culture in South Africa. – Alec Hogg

I’m with Arno Loots. He’s with Liberty, head of Umbrella Fund Solutions and an actuary. Arno, you’ve been with Liberty only for a couple of years. Where did you study?

I basically studied in Johannesburg at the [then] Rand Afrikaans University (now UJ) and then from there, I went to Wits. I finished my Honours there and then qualified through the Institute of Actuaries in London.

Employee Benefits: Have you always been in that area?

I actually started there, did my crunch time/jail time there, valuing Group products for about three-and-a-half to four years. Then I went over to Individual Life for the next seven-odd years and now I’m back in the umbrella space for two years.

There’s been a dramatic development in the past week. Let’s just start off with this whole debate about Pensions Preservation because that’s really at the nub of the announcements that were made.

I think that is the end-game, the so-called P Day. Some of the unions don’t agree with that.

Why? What’s their argument?

I’m not exactly sure why they’re against it but from what I can see, what they’re saying is ‘don’t tell people what to do with their money’ and I guess that’s what they’re on about.

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