GroundUp | Ciaran Ryan | 16 January 2019 |
“This may seem small compared to the billions of unclaimed assets, but it is always nice to see a direct impact”
It’s nice to share good news every now and again. Late last year we published two stories (here and here) on R42 billion in unclaimed pensions owed to more than four million workers going back decades – and the sluggish response of the fund administrators in tracking down the beneficiaries of these funds. We included a link to the free search engine operated by Benefits Exchange which allowed more than 70 readers to track down over R650,000 in unclaimed benefits.
“This may seem small compared to the billions of unclaimed assets, but it is always nice to see a direct impact,” says Benefits Exchange founder Sean Rossouw.
Interestingly, 38% of the unclaimed benefits identified by Benefits Exchange are administered by the Metal Industry Benefit Fund Administrators (MIBFA), 29% by Alexander Forbes and 12% by Liberty.
A 2019 report by non-profit organisation Open Secrets titled The Bottom Line says the total amount of unclaimed benefits rises to R51 billion if funds falling outside the Pension Funds Act are added.
As we previously reported, there seems to be little serious effort among most administrators to track down beneficiaries of unclaimed pensions. As long as the funds remain unclaimed, the administrators continue to earn hefty fees, year after year.
Most of the unclaimed funds sit with just two trade union-affiliated fund administrators: MIBFA and the Mineworkers Provident Fund Administrators, with R19 billion and R4.3 billion owed respectively.