Harnessing benefits of pre-retirement training
THE benefit of pre-retirement training cannot be overemphasized. Retirement to some involves significant changes to daily routine including income, use of time and other aspects of life.
In this part of the world, people view retirement with a mix of emotions. Even those who are looking forward to retirement, usually feel a deep sense of loss.
But, experts have repeatedly emphasized the need to prepare ahead especially through training. They argued that, the better prepared, one is, for changes, the more successful retirement will be for all segment of workers.
The development may have prompted the management of Trustfund Pension Plc, to organise a pre-retirement seminar for its subscribers in Lagos at the weekend.
The forum, attended by numerous subscribers, featured an agro- allied expert, who trained the subscribers on how to start fish farming and other agricultural based businesses.
Speaking at the forum, Trustfund’s Zonal Manager, Central and South Zone, Maurice Ogar explained that the purpose of the forum is to ensure that the company’s subscribers live quality lives after retirement.
He said: “What is happening here today is part of Trustfund Pension Plc’s policy to occasionally invite some of our customers who are about to retire and have a forum for them where we prepare their minds for their retirement life.
“We educate them on what they will and can do when they eventually retire to be able to access their accounts by way of collecting their entitlements and beyond that, we also give them some tips by which they can live quality and comfortable lives even after retirement”.
He said Trustfund usually use the forum to address the fears entertained by some subscribers. “You know Nigerians are usually apprehensive when they want to retire because they don’t know what the future holds for them but at this forum, we are going to assure them that there will not be much difference between life in retirement and active service because they have already made plans by opening retirement savings account for themselves”.
Explaining further, he said: “We as the managers of their retirement savings account are going to ensure that we pay them their entitlements and continue to pay them their monthly pension.
“For instance, we have a facilitator here today that will give a talk and train them on fish farming and other agro allied production capacity start up training.
“The training is basically to ensure that they can have what they can do to argument their monthly pension earnings so that the standard of living will not depart drastically from what it was while in active service, the whole essence is that the standard of living will not descend from a high standard to a low standard while they are in retirement”.
Besides, he said Trustfund is conducting the forum to ensure subscribers live quality lives “because what they might be earning as monthly pension may not be as high as the salary they were earning while in active service”.
He added: “When they have one or two things they will do at retirement, it will soar up whatever they might earn as monthly pension so that they will be comfortable with whatever they are earning alongside their families.
“The whole essence of the forum is to give them hope and confidence that they can live comfortably as Nigerians even after retirement.
“The pension law as amended last year, reduced the period of waiting after loss of job to be able to access his / her account.
Under the old pension law, that is the pension reform act 2004, such a person was expected to wait for six months, if after six months, such a person could not find a job, he will then be able to access the account by 25 percent but the new law has made the waiting period four months.
So, if for instance you lose your job in May, you can access your account by September, which is the fourth month of having to look for job without being successful.
That means you can take 25 percent of what is standing in your account, after collecting the 25 percent, if you are lucky to get a job, you can then continue with your remittance, if not, you will then have to wait till you are 50 before you can get your remaining contribution.
“Once you are 50 you can come back for the remaining, because if by 50 you don’t get a job, you are qualified to get your full deduction.
“The law does not empower us to give monetary support to our clients. What we are empowered to do is to help them save for life after retirement and what we have done at Trustfund is to get our clients trained for such a life.
“Besides, we serve as advisors through forums like this so that we can teach them on how to manage whatever is accrued to them from their contributions, while in active service because you know some people cannot really manage money without having proper advice”, Ogar added.
According to him, some people have money but don’t know how to start a business with it: “Before they can start business, they will have to meet a consultant and such a consultant will have to be paid before advice on how to start the business is given, but we are here giving the advice free of charge, the facilitator we have brought is going to give that advice and we are paying the facilitator, so invariably we are paying for that service on their behalf.
That’s the much we can do in terms of assistance. Today we are going to teach them how to start fish farming and some other agro-allied based businesses.
“We are doing all we can to ensure that our clients are well attended to and to achieve this, we have a moving office with the aid of a bus to ensure that we can attend to them round the clock.
This compliments our services at our branch offices. “We have such moving offices already operating in Abuja and Lagos and we intend to bring more on steam across all our areas of operations nationwide. This will surely complement our services across the country.
In Lagos for instance, we have four offices, one on Ikorodu road, Apapa, Victoria Island and one sharing boundary between Lagos and Ogun State at Ota.
“Apart from the physical statement of accounts that we issue to our customers, they are also empowered through the use of their phones to check their status, they can send an SMS to the number we usually give to request for their balance, once they put their pin and send to that number, they get their balance in two minutes or they can go to the internet and get the details from our website.
“We have an online facility for our customers and they only need to activate it with their pin, once that is done then such a customer can then access His/ Her account.
We equally alert them immediately remittance is made into their accounts but if the employers do not remit the contributions, they don’t get the alerts.
“We have planned to ensure that we meet with our subscribers as regular as possible, in fact we had even planned regular regional meeting but management feels that it might not have the spread we need to interact with our customers, so we have decided that every branch will now be having a forum for the customers of that particular branch on a quarterly basis.
We intend to be doing that frequently than it’s used to be and more branches will be able to have the forum, all they need do is to request from the management and approval will be given to ensure that” Ogar added.
Also speaking at the forum, the pension managers’ Lagos Regional Manager, Oladetohun Jacob explained that Trustfund put the forum together to discuss with subscribers on how best they can manage life after retirement. He said: “We want to discuss with them about the benefits options they have before retirement.
We want to check whether their documents are up to date and interact with them on any issues they may have with our services. We are also looking at training them and we have the resource person on ground here to do that.
“We are providing them a skills acquisition training so that they can be gainfully employed after retirement. We believe that the people have been busy serving other people and government and as they are going to retire soon, we believe we can help them through forums like this to start their own businesses and manage them well and live more comfortable even after retirement.
“Besides, we equally have retirement forum for the retires, where we counsel them and check on them to see how good they are doing after retirement and we do that at least once in a year.
We also relate through phone calls”, Oladetohun said. Similar forums have been held in different parts of the country in the past by the management of Trustfund for its subscribers.
It was held in the South West Zone in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, recently. The zone is comprised of Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ogun and Kwara State. The seminar, which is in two series is the first for the region this year.
Besides, the seminar also had facilitators who taught the participants on how to prepare toilet wash and dish soaps while a Medical Doctor was on ground to give a talk on healthy living to the participants.
Speaking on the development, the Regional Manager SouthWest, Femi Arobadi said the seminar was organised to educate Trustfund’s subscribers within the region on quality living after retirement and equip them with small skills vocations.
In a chat with The Guardian, Arobadi said Trustfund decided to embark on the Pre-retirement seminar because it forms part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to customers and the society.
He explained that the vocational training is in the interest of retirees and other members of society.
“What we do is to equip them with a vocation before they retire. We are in partnership with Skills Acquisition Centres in our various regions to ensure that our retirees are well equipped before they collect their benefits.
They already have an idea of what they want to do at retirement”, said Arobadi. Explaining further, he said: “The seminar is basically to educate them on life after retirement because being retired doesn’t mean one should be tired.
With the trainings given to them, they will be able to find a niche for themselves after retirement without having to only rely on the monthly stipends they are entitled to.
“Besides, they can even at the end of the day be employers on labour if they choose to toll the line of the training given to them. By so doing, they also contribute back to the society in terms of Job creation.
To ensure that our subscribers live a worthy life after retirement, Trustfund as a socially responsible entity decided to adequately equip them with vocational trainings. “Actually the pre- retirement seminar is done twice a year and with each seminar, we train them in two vocations including training on how to make toilet cleaners and dish washers.
“We choose trainings that wouldn’t take much of their time as well as that which would not involve much capital investment. You know that these products are everyday use and comes handy, hence our decision to train them on this vocation.
“We have other vocations that we have also outlined before the end of the year such as hat marking, pastries, bead making and a whole lot of others. This vocations being less capital intensive, they are equally less stressful to embark on.
The whole essence is to ensure that even after retirement, they are active and making money thereby contributing back to the society without having to be liabilities at old age” said Arobadi.
According to Arobadi, there are follow up to the trainings, adding that, “We equally provide health talks for our subscribers about healthy living” He said apart from pre-retirement seminars, which comes up twice every year, Trustfund also organise customer forums where issues are exhaustively discussed. “Even after they retire, we still keep tab on our subscribers.
In fact, we have more than 15,000 retirees that we pay nationwide on a monthly basis. We call them and usually keep them abreast with happenings as regards their pensions regularly.
“One of the focal point of the pre- retirement seminars is also to keep our subscribers abreast on their monthly subscription, because most times they retire without knowing their status. We usually educate them on the need to always check their status of remittance with us before they retire.
We equally use the forums to enlighten them on the need to check their remittance status because according to the pension act, if employers for instance don’t remit to us even after deduction from employees, we are not mandated to pay such subscribers after retirement.
“We usually encourage them to walk into any of our offices to demand for their statement so that they can have an idea of their status and probably rectify any anomalies before retirement. “We usually bring with us mandate forms so that subscribers can update their details at such forums”.
Speaking in a similar vein, Head of the Benefits Department of Trustfund, Tunji Longe said the essence of the seminar is to equip the subscribers with basic and necessary information required before retirement.
Longe said: “The whole essence of this pre- retirement seminar is to equip them with the necessary information they need that has to do with their retirement”.