n South African Actuarial Journal - The effectiveness of South African defined-contribution occupational fund benefit statements to inform and persuade : framework and initial applications

Volume 19 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1680-2179



Members of defined-contribution retirement funds may be able to make choices that affect their retirement outcomes. The benefit statement is considered a key resource in this process, and trustees and administrators may design these statements specifically to inform and persuade members to make appropriate choices to improve their retirement outcomes. For a statement to be theoretically effective at informing members it should be effective at communicating the inherent risks, be appropriate for the audience, have meaningful and realistic illustrations, use reasonable and consistent assumptions and show sensitivity to these assumptions, be balanced and complete, include a statement of principal assumptions and definitions of key terms and outline the options available. For a statement to be theoretically persuasive it should use emotion appropriately, identify behaviour to change, identify the member’s needs and create a link between these needs and the behaviour to change, be positively framed, personalised and appropriately timed. These characteristics can be used to develop a framework to assess the theoretical effectiveness of benefit statements. This framework was applied to a small sample of administrator benefit statements to assess their effectiveness. When member data from one fund were analysed, it was found that improving the theoretical effectiveness of the benefit statement for this fund was not sufficient to improve the contribution rate. This merits a larger scale investigation.

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