UCT Retirement Fund takes bronze in ‘rigorous’ industry awards

29 December 2022 | Story Kamva Somdyala. Photo Pexels. Read time 7 min.
The UCTRF team has been recognised for excellent work across six focus areas.
The UCTRF team has been recognised for excellent work across six focus areas.

The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Retirement Fund (RF) has won bronze in the Institute of Retirement Funds Africa (IRFA) Lwela Ukwenza Kahle Awards programme for 2022.

According awards convenors, “This achievement is all the more outstanding as this year’s contest requirements were considerably more rigorous than ever before. You may rest assured that this award ranks highly in the local retirement sector and on a global scale.”

William Nkutha, the UCTRF’s deputy principal officer, said the bronze, awarded in November, has been well received by the fund and its affiliates.

Kamva Somdyala (KS): Is this the first time the team has won the award? Please elaborate.

William Nkutha (WN): The UCTRF won an IRFA Communications Challenge in 2007. In 2015, we entered the IRFA Best Practices Industry Awards but did not win any award in that year. This was our first entry in seven years.

KS: What are some of the key things that put you in the running for this award?

WN: These awards had two categories – section A: gold, silver and bronze categories and section B: Innovation category. We entered in section A: gold, silver and bronze categories with six main focus areas:

  • stakeholder engagement
  • financial management and reporting
  • investment practice
  • trustee and principal officer competence and development
  • governance and compliance.


“We would have loved to have won the gold.”

KS: Is this an award you were aiming for? How has the team responded to the award?

WN: Based on the substantial work done in the various focus areas, we would have loved to have won the gold award, [but be that] as it may, we are happy with a podium finish. The UCTRF board, UCTRF office, UCTRF members, service providers and stakeholders have received the award with great delight for the incredible achievement in an extremely competitive retirement industry.

KS: What are some of the rewarding aspects you find in the work that the UCTRF does?

WN: Apart from striving to ensure that members have adequate retirement savings, investment options and insured benefits, continuous inclusive member communication and engagement is still the most rewarding [aspect] – to ensure that members are kept abreast of their retirement fund and that the tools and communication material provided by the UCTRF are being utilised as intended. 

KS: Do you feel this is a reward for the work done as a support staff team of the university?

WN: The award recognises the excellent work done by the UCTRF board and its stakeholders while the various committees [also] all have an integral part to play, as outlined in the six focus areas.

KS:  What are some of the departments you work closely with?

WN: From an administrative point of view, we work closely with UCT Human Resources (staff well-being and reward, analytics, risk, payroll and administration). When we have member communication sessions, we rely on UCT’s Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) classroom services.

KS: Because of the high-stakes environment you work in, how does the team manage expectations? What are the expectations on a day-to-day level?

WN: This response would require us to each provide our job descriptions. There are five of us in the UCTRF office and all have a role to play in the running of the office, but the short answer is we are here to service UCTRF members, whether onboarding new staff members, dealing with existing member queries or their beneficiaries, [as well as] engaging with service providers and asset managers, and servicing of the various UCTRF committees and board.

  • Investment Committee: it manages the UCTRF’s investment activities towards the objective of the achievement of superior and sustainable returns over long measurement periods to provide members with reasonable retirement benefits.
  • Financial Committee: it is responsible for the supervision of financial statements, the supervision and approval of the UCTRF’s budget and the consideration of issues arising from the financials and budget.
  • Administration and Rules Committee: it is responsible for the supervision of the UCTRF’s administration and rules management activities, and for the consideration of and decisions around issues arising from them.
  • Section 37C (Death Benefit Distribution) Committee: it is entrusted with implementing Section 37(c) of the Pension Funds Act. In particular, the committee’s mandate requires it to identify the deceased member’s dependants and nominees (if any), to investigate their respective personal and financial circumstances, to allocate the member’s death benefits among those dependants and nominees in the proportion the committee considers equitable, and to decide on the method of payment in cases involving minor and incapacitated adult beneficiaries.
  • Communications Committee: it is tasked with the implementation of the communication plan of the UCTRF as set out in the Communication Policy and Strategy Document adopted by the board, as well as the annual cycle of communication for the UCTRF.
  • Retirement and Exit Benefits Committee: itis responsible for ensuring the effective administration of UCTRF living annuities and exit benefits; and making decisions and proposals to the board regarding matters affecting withdrawals, retirees, living annuitants, deferred pensioners and phased retirees.

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