Issue: April/June 2010


ASISA Academy and Today’s Trustee form a partnership to assist trustees of retirement funds

Terence Berry

Berry...meeting the challenge

With effect from April 2010, the Academy of the Association for Savings and Investment South Africa (ASISA) will effectively underwrite the viability of the Today’s Trustee magazine. This arrangement is intended to advance one of their mutual objectives in helping to enhance the education and awareness of retirement-fund trustees on matters pertinent to their fiduciary performance.

The Academy is a non-profit Section 21 company which functions separately from ASISA. It was established to provide the SA savings and investment management industry with an independent and practical learning environment that could be applied to further the young talent emerging from within the industry.

Today’s Trustee, founded five years ago by financial journalist Allan Greenblo, has established its niche and credibility in this industry and amongst the trustee readership that it specifically targets. It is published quarterly and is distributed, mainly by post directly to individual trustees and principal officers, from a present print run of 11 500 copies.

Until now, the publication’s revenue has been derived predominantly from advertising by individual ASISA members. The new arrangement enables Greenblo to concentrate his focus on editorial activities and strengthens the magazine’s platform for communication with the trustee community that both Today’s Trustee and the Academy wish to promote.

Terence Berry, principal of the Academy, says that adequate and independent education of trustees in some 10 000 retirement funds is a major challenge. He believes that trustees also require credible coverage of developments in the pension-fund sector and a forum for public debate on policy-related issues. In this space, Berry emphasises, “the independence of Today’s Trustee is vital”.

Greenblo is similarly enthusiastic about the Academy’s sponsorship, initially formalised for one year but capable of extension: “My ownership of the magazine remains intact, as does its independence. The purpose of the exercise is defeated if the publication is seen to become an ASISA organ.”

Today’s Trustee will continue to accept advertising. In future, however, it will no longer need to solicit or be reliant on it. Advertising revenues will be channelled to the Academy for investment in other educational initiatives.

Programme under way

The Academy recognises that the greater part of trustee education, specifically the investment aspect, remains the domain of individual asset management companies. Berry notes that this often creates the perception, even if unwarranted, that the education is tainted because it amounts to product promotion.

Through a process of broad consultation, the Academy has therefore proposed to the Financial Services Board (FSB) and other key stakeholders that it launches a trustee education programme to complement the initiative spearheaded by the Insurance Sector Education & Training Authority (INSETA) in 2007. The Academy programme will emphasise the investment context and the investment-strategy process within the retirement funding context.

The intended outcome of the ASISA Academy programme would be to enable trustees to understand better the investment environment, apply their learning to the governance of their retirement funds and interact more effectively with their fund’s investment advisers and investment-related service providers.