The government’s development agenda outlined in MTP II has underlined the importance of saving for retirement and the use of such resources for national economic development. The MTPII provides a strategic framework to guide existing plans and establish the necessary co-ordination to ensure that the overall goals for the sector are realized. The MTP II recognizes that the Pension sub-sector is expected to play a critical role in mobilizing savings by raising institutional capital through pension fund reforms in order to deepen financial markets. These expectations are premised on the existence and operation of credible, transparent and robust pension industry.
Despite the government intentions, coverage has stagnated at 15% of the working population. In order to expand the pension sector the Authority has to ensure increased awareness of the benefits of saving for retirement within the population, improve the supervision and regulation of the industry.
The Retirement Benefits Authority is a regulatory institution charged with the mandate of regulation and development of the Retirement Benefits industry. This entails creating awareness on the importance and need for retirement saving to the Kenyan public.
REASONS FOR THE CAMPAIGN
• Low coverage due to lack of compulsion – Over 90,000 registered employers, only 1300 registered schemes.
• Perception that long-term saving for the future will compromise the quality of youthful life.
• Poor saving culture – Kenyans want to access their money NOW. Long term saving is not a favourable option.
• Leakages due to the unlocking of 50% of the employer’s and 100% of employee’s contribution, gives an early withdrawal option.
• The drop of retirement as a priority in the aspirations of Kenyans. Most Kenyans are busy investing through other vehicles to secure their “immediate” future. We do not picture ourselves as old people with white hair, we live for today and some believe we won’t see tomorrow. Retirement is not a reality!
• Perception that retirement saving does not have any tangible value.
• Misconception of RBA’s mandate by majority of Kenyans who think that RBA is a scheme.
In a world of increasing financial risks, financial education and awareness is becoming critically important. However, uncertainties and sophistication of the financial landscape coupled with low financial literacy and competing needs for the pay cheque is a major barrier to the uptake of pension products. In Kenya, the majority of the population is living for “today”. They are working hard and spending their money NOW. They do not want to postpone their gratification through long term saving vehicles like pension plans. Most of the people saving for retirement do so, not because they understand it, but because their employer happens to have set up a scheme to which employees belong.
Moreover, as a people, Kenyans have a very poor saving culture. They do not have the patience to watch their investments grow. They would rather put their money in a chama and access it quickly to meet emergencies, buy land, or educate their children, etc. With the recent unlocking of employers portion of the benefits, members of Retirement Benefit Schemes can withdraw up to 75% of their benefits before attaining the retirement age. This has elicited renewed appetite to withdraw benefits, thus negatively impacting their replacement at retirement.
RESEARCH FINDINGS ON AWAENESS LEVELS
A Baseline Survey undertaken by IPSOS Synovate to establish the level of awareness on saving for retirement in July 2013 revealed the following:
1. Consumers appreciate the importance of saving for retirement, nevertheless life priorities
Supersede their willingness to save as they would have wished.
2. Approximately, 80% of the respondents are engaged in some form of saving. The main reasons are mainly;
a) To cater for their daily needs
b) To invest in a business and access loans
c) To cater for contingencies/emergencies
d) To cater for the children’s education
e) To safeguard them and their families in the retirement years
3. Preference in terms of savings is for Chamas amongst a considerable number of respondents (28%) with the aim of improving their livelihoods through various investment options.
4. The baseline index on the level of awareness on the available avenues for saving for retirement was at 83%.
5. The baseline index level on the level of awareness on the need for saving for retirement stands at 34%, and 12% cited using pension products either personally or jointly. .
6. Recall rate for RBA’s communication stood at 63%.
Although majority of Kenyans are aware of the importance of saving for retirement, they are not saving through a pension scheme. They have built a false sense of security that their land and children are their fall-back plan.
To surmount these challenges, the Authority has activated a Thought-provoking “Call-to-Action” Pension Education campaign on TV, Radio, Ground and Social Media platform that will demonstrate the consequences of not planning and saving for retirement, thus shocking Kenyans into action that will lead to increased pension uptake. The campaign targets viewers and listeners from both the formal/informal sectors and all segments between the ages of 25 – 44 years.
OVERALL OBJECTIVES OF THE CAMPAIGN
Increase the pension coverage by 5% by 2019
1. Demonstrate the value of saving through a pension scheme
2. Compel Kenyans to start saving for retirement by illustrating the consequences of not having a back-up plan!
3. Encourage Informal sector workers to save for retirement (Mbao Pension Scheme Advert)
4. Encourage employers to establish pension schemes for their employees
5. Positively influence existing members of schemes to save more by increasing contributions
6. Motivate Kenyans to visualize the realization of their aspirations/dreams through pension saving
7. Enhance the Brand image of the Authority
• Formal Sector workers
• Informal Sector workers
• Members of Pension schemes
• Young Kenyans
• General public