RFLAUN grow in leaps and bounds
The Retirement Fund for Local Authorities and Utility Services in Namibia (RFLAUN) is an umbrella fund established for the Employees of Local Authorities and Utility Services distributors in Namibia. RFLAUN mission is to effectively and efficiently invest, manage, and administer benefit funds on behalf of our members, pensioners and dependents, towards sustaining dignified living standards. Its values are hinged on – accountability, integrity, security, growth, and service excellence. RFLAUN’ Principal Officer Dorian Amwaandangi (DA) spoke to Lahja Nashuuta (LN) about the work of the Fund.
LN: Briefly give us background information about the Retirement Fund for Local Authorities and Utility Service in Namibia (RFLAUN)?
DA: The Retirement Fund for Local Authorities and Utility Services in Namibia was established in 1992 in terms of the Pension Funds Act, No 24 of 1956 to contribute to the socio-economic upliftment of the current and former employees of all participating local authorities and their associated entities through:
• the provisions of savings for their retirement;
• the provision of disability benefits;
• the promotion of other benefits such as housing loans as provided for in the rules of the Fund; and
• to promote the welfare of dependents in the event of a member passing away through the provision of market related death benefits.
LN: Take us through some of the remarkable achievements since the Fund was established?
DA: RFLAUN was established on 01 March 1992 as Defined Contribution (DC) and in the same year 15 Principal Employers applied to participate in the Fund at start of business. These were Grootfontein, Otavi, Karibib, Outjo, Tsumeb, Omaruru, Usakos, Otjiwarongo, Swakopmund, Keetmanshoop, Karasburg, Luderitz, Okahandja, Gobabis, and the City of Windhoek. The total market value as of 31 Dec 1992 was N$ 54 810 602. Today the Fund can confidently say that it sits with 43 participating employers with major first and second tier local authorities. As of 31 May 2017, the total market value of the Fund was N$4 090 974 644 and still growing. A further highlight for the Fund is when we built and moved into our own office block, after being housed by the City of Windhoek for many years. We also celebrated 25 years of our existence that was marked with new logo.
LN: What are the challenges facing the Organisation and what are the plans of action to address those challenges?
DA: Communications roll out was the major challenge the Fund was facing. But after the need was identified, the Fund overcame this challenge by investing in human capital. At this point, the Fund can proudly attend to all its valued stakeholders swiftly.
LN: Last month RFLAUN changed its logo that it has been carrying for almost 25 years. Please talk to us about what instigated the change of log?
DA: This wasn’t a decision we made lightly but rather guided by the Board of Trustees who after careful consideration initiated the process via management to re-evaluate the brand position of RFLAUN. As such we embarked on the process of conducting a brand audit to aid in crafting the new identity. We know that many institutions in our industry, both within Namibia and beyond, have developed their own brand initiatives and rebranded themselves in an effort to remain competitive. A global director for an organization called Interbrand, recently said, and I quote” “If places do not proactively and positively manage their brands, they will fall victim to the market defining who and what they are. This is usually inaccurate and unfair.” Therefore, our new brand strategy is about combating those perceptions and telling our own stories. We undertook an extensive assessment of stakeholder’s perception in terms of our brand, service delivery and the effectiveness of the communication channels used by the Fund. During this phase we made a few discoveries such as our old logo, caused confusion and was being mistaken for a GRN agency or political party due to its design and colours. Our brand was not top of mind and awareness was low and not at the desired level.
It was very obvious that we were not being smart about how we were promoting ourselves therefore change was absolutely required. Another factor, which played a major role and influenced the decision to rebrand, was the evolution of our Fund over the past 25 years. We realised it was time to claim our rightful position in the dynamic pension industry.
LN: RFLAUN has conducted an extensive assessment of stakeholders perception in terms of brand, service delivery and communication channels. So what were the results of the assessment?
DA: RFLAUN members want their contributions to the Fund to be well invested to ensure their benefits are enhanced, therefore the Fund exists to safeguard member benefits. The feedback we reserved from the assessment is that members would like the Fund to:
• Provides a safety net during retirement. RFLAUN needs to guarantee members that the Fund is run on sound business
• That their money is well protected.
• They want comfort.
• For RFLAUN to play a major role in the economic development of Namibia since we are the biggest defined contribution fund in Namibia with a large asset base. Hence the money is heavily invested in local economy.
• RFLAUN is transparent in its dealing with member investments (open door policy)
• And that members have access to information on a regular basis.
LN: Any other emphasis you would like us to take note of?
DA: Our members’ satisfaction is a key principle of our daily operation. We engage on regular basis with our members to obtain valuable concerns from them and act on it. We are therefore proud to announce that RFLAUN has also crafted a Customer Service Charter as a pledge to our members that we are serious about delivering the highest level of service to them. In the charter, we highlight our standards, what our members can expect from us in terms of turnaround times for the various benefits we offer, we also highlight what their rights and responsibilities are as well as how they can lay complaints should any arise.
The Fund plays a major role in the Namibian economy by investing in the local industry by investing in unlisted investments in Terms of Regulations 28 of the Pension Funds Act. RFLAUN is a full house employee benefit organization. We aim to elevate employment by offering benefits on retirement, death, disability, funeral, dread diseases, withdrawal and housing assistance. The Fund promises on superior service delivery to it stakeholders. As a wholly Namibian firm, we welcome the Namibian public to engage and interact with us via our social media (Facebook and twitter) platforms as well as visit our website www.rflaun.com.na. We wish to inform all our stakeholders that this new identity would not bring about any change to the existing name and governance relationship as contained in the Fund’s rules.
The intention is basically to change the outdated logo that was crafted 25 years ago and replaces it with the one that reflects the current stature of the Fund.