The Transport Sector Retirement Fund (TSRF), a non-aligned, standalone fund whose shareholders are its members, has been awarded top honours at the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa (IRFA) annual Best Practice Industry Awards, which took place on January 23.
The TSRF received the overall Gold Standard Award for meeting all the criteria in eight areas of excellence. The fund also won the Investment Practices category and received a Best Practice certificate in the Transformation category.
The fund has about 70 000 members, 70 percent of whom are truck drivers working in one of the many sectors in the transport industry.
“All the proceeds of the funds’ initiatives are reinvested and we pursue ways to find savings, such as the more than R700 million we have generated through our self-insurance initiative,” says Joe Letswalo, principal officer of the TSRF.
“We have a very strict impact-driven investment orientation that enables us to achieve our set growth targets. We recently improved members’ death and disability benefits from two times annual salary to three times annual salary, and funeral cover from R30 000 to R50 000 for the member and spouse – at no increase in costs to them.”
Part of the TSRF’s responsible-investment strategy has been to build truck stops that ensure its members and the broader transport-sector community are able to park and sleep safely, while having access to accommodation, refuelling, mechanical services and appropriate primary healthcare and nutrition facilities
“The first of these truck stops – the Highway Junction Truck Stop in Harrismith – is one of the biggest in Africa and has provided more than 25-percent return on investment over the past 12 months. It is now one of the largest providers of jobs in Harrismith, employing 200 locals,” Letswalo says.
As far as transformation is concerned, the TSRF has a target of having more than 70 percent of its assets managed by black-owned investment firms. “To date 75 percent of the fund’s assets are invested with black-owned fund managers,” says Letswalo.
“We’ve extended this to our stockbroker policy, which gives clear guidelines on the percentage allocation given to black-owned firms. In addition, all the asset managers appointed by the fund allocate more than 50 percent outsourcing to black-owned business.”
Furthermore, TSRF’s robust internal controls, including frequent internal audits to evaluate best business practices and address potential risk factors, allow the fund to excel in good governance and compliance. For the past eight years the fund has received clean internal and external financial audits.
Having grown the TSRF’s assets from R2 billion in 2013 to R7,5 billion in 2018, Letswalo is confident that the fund’s outlook is positive and its various strategies are on target.
“We are definitely shaking up the industry with our nimble investment strategies, and people are really starting to sit up and take notice. We run a clean business and our members are placed at the heart of it. We are grateful for the recognition given to us by the industry,” he concludes.