Education and training in the pension fund industry : education and training to intermediaries to reduce consumer claims to the Ombudsman.
The South African pension industry has been regulated by the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services Act (FAIS,2002) and numerous claims have recently been brought forward by consumers of pension funds. The question arises, and the main reason for the research, is to investigate whether there is a lack of training and education on pension funds by intermediaries, and if in fact it holds true to say that claims that end up at the Ombudsman are in fact due to the lack of education and training by intermediaries. With a regulated Financial Services industry the primary function would be to advise consumers on a needs basis as first priority, and to make sure that they are up to speed with how pension funds work, the rules, and policy contracts. Pension funds should be made easier to understand and there should be no hidden clauses that will lead to consumer complaints. The research methodology was of a quantitative and qualitative nature in order to grasp the reality of the pension industry, to gather data from the intermediaries themselves on whether they lack education and training, and if intermediaries are in fact providing the appropriate training and education to consumers. Critical training was able to assist the researcher to find out what knowledge intermediaries and consumers did have about pension funds and where the gap for training could be found. Franchise Agency group based in KwaZulu-Natal of a multi-national Financial Service Provider was researched using a survey questionnaire approach. Semi-structured interviews from the same group were conducted. Critical training with a group of intermediaries and existing pension fund members on products and rules and benefits of funds was conducted. A training session with an intermediary conducting a presentation to propose a new pension fund was observed. A focus group session of five intermediaries was taped and an array of questions posed to them outlining their views on education and training in the pension industry and assessing their knowledge.