Issue: September-November 2011


Train, train, train . . .

In your article "Problems in practice" (TT June-Aug '11), you quote my article (written in a personal capacity) entitled "Who is fit to be a trustee?" that had appeared in a 2008 edition of the FSB Bulletin.

At the outset, I want to state categorically that I support the training of trustees focused on empowering them to carry out their duties as the custodians of the benefits of the members of funds, regardless of who does the training.

Contrary to the impression created in your article ("This is a quantum step from the way FSB chair Abel Sithole believed...."), I did not diminish in my article the value of training. I argued that one has not to be qualified in any specific discipline to be a trustee. In other words, being qualified in a specific discipline does not automatically qualify one as a trustee.

The need for trustees to be trained to fulfil their fiduciary duties with honesty and integrity (dedicated, objectively, an enquiring mind and desire to do the right thing) applies to all trustees regardless of their background and level of experience and education.

I have always been a great proponent of learning in general. I started my career as a high school teacher, was involved with learning and education in the financial sector, served for several years on the education committee of the Institute of Retirement Funds and was for a while a board member of the Financial Planning Institute. I was instrumental to my employer funding the training of many trustees through in-house courses and using external providers.

In 2008 I took a sabbatical from the industry at an academic institution where I have been teaching and doing research.

During my tenure as chairperson of the FSB, it instituted trustee and financial advisor education programmes. The FSB has a department dedicated to financial literacy and education in the broader society.

None of the above provides any semblance of me depreciating or not appreciating the value of educating and training trustees. While my article must be read as a whole, the following sentence says it all: "Training, education and learning must be encouraged and supported."

I will appreciate it if you can ensure that my views are put in the proper perspective.

Abel Sithole
Institute for Futures Research, Stellenbosch

The quote from Mr Sithole was: "What counts is judgment and wisdom, which can be enhanced by education and experience but is not dependent on them." –Ed.

Specific focus

This letter is written in response to your article entitled "Adjudicating the Adjudicator" (TT June-Aug '11). There are some issues I wish to clarify in the article to give your readers a proper perspective.

Your article gives the impression that the FSB had commissioned an open-ended investigation into the affairs of the Office of the Pension Fund Adjudicator. This is not so. In March last year I, in my capacity as executive officer of the FSB, brought the possibility of fruitless and wasteful expenditure by the (previous) Pension Fund Adjudicator to the attention of the Minister of Finance.

The reason for this was that there had been some irregularities in the circumstances under which lease agreements were entered into and later cancelled.

As a result, the Minister asked the FSB to launch an investigation into the matter. The Minister's request was very specific and limited only to the "possible fruitless and wasteful expenditure for the unnecessary rental of offices by the Pension Fund Adjudicator during the 2009-10 year".

Your article incorrectly suggests that the Minister, and therefore the FSB, had other concerns to probe in the specified office, besides the rental issue. Also, the scope of the investigation was not as wide as portrayed in your article.

Gobodo Forensic & Accounting conducted the forensic investigation and finalised its report on 8 June 2011. The report is currently being studied and will be served before the Board at its next meeting for consideration of further action to be taken.

Dube Tshidi
Executive Officer, Financial Services Board, Pretoria