Naomi Aduku is head of Marketing and Business Development, AXA Mansard Pensions Limited. Aduku, who joined the company in April 2015, holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. She has attended several training programmes in management, financial and credit analysis. In this interview with Olaseni Durojaiye, Aduku discusses the country’s pension industry and the imperatives of pension administration. Excerpts:
The typical attitude of young people to pension is that it is something older people worry about. What is your reaction to this?
It is best to start saving for retirement when one is young. With moderate contributions set aside monthly, one can save for retirement and avoid carrying a heavy financial burden in old age. Young people have an excellent opportunity to start building up their retirement fund from their youth rather than carry the burden in their old age.
To what extent have Nigerian professionals embraced the contributory pension system?
As a result of the statutory nature of the contributory pension scheme, compliance has generally been good among blue chip employers, where many professionals work. In addition to this, there is very good compliance by professional services firms across the country, and in the federal public service. Some states are also at different levels of implementation and have, therefore, embraced the scheme.
What is your advice to Nigerians who are sceptical about the security of the funds in their pension accounts and those who doubt if they will be able to access the funds at the right time?
With regard to safety of pension contributions, there are numerous well-functioning safeguards and protections embedded in the enabling legislation, as well as regulations issued by the National Pension Commission to ensure the safety of pension contributions. For example, there is a clear separation of roles between pension fund administrators and pension fund custodians, which means custody of the funds is separate from management. Of note, since the inception of the contributory pension scheme over 12 years ago, there has been no single instance of fraud or inability to meet obligations to contributors.
Tell us about AXA Mansard Pensions Limited.
AXA Mansard Pensions Limited was incorporated in 2006 as Penman Pensions Limited. In the last quarter of 2014, AXA Mansard Insurance Plc. (formerly known as Mansard Insurance Plc),one of the leading Nigerian insurance companies, acquired a majority interest in Penman Pensions, thereby becoming the majority shareholder with a view to repositioning and transforming the company. Following the acquisition, the company was renamed AXA Mansard Pensions Limited. AXA Mansard Pensions is licensed to operate as a Pension Fund Administrator to both private and public sector employees.
The National Pension Commission is set to open the RSA transfer window. What would be the implication of this?
I believe both the pensions industry and customers will be better for it. Service will be taken to the next level with PFAs vying to ensure they retain their customers.
How would you assess your experience so far in the industry?
The fact is that this is a well thought out system that ensures that, by default, an employee is saving and planning for his/her retirement from day one. It’s a system that looks out for all workers to ensure a good life after having worked for so long.
What strategies would you advise young professionals to adopt to help them achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?
Remain focused and diligent. Have a passion for what you currently do. Put in the hours, and stay committed.
What is your business philosophy?
My personal philosophy is this: No excuses! You will always find a reason not to do something. Don’t find a reason, do it.