Moçambique Previdente received a prestigious award in London for the Best New Pension Fund Management Company in Mozambique for 2014. What factors led to this success?
We are the first pension fund company in Mozambique and we started a new business with different processes and a new way of thinking. We apply our expertise in terms of technical capabilities, marketing, and human resources, and have gained a high profile. The Global Banking & Finance Review commended us due to our professional conduct. Our new marketing and communication strategies are expected to expand the size of our portfolio. We started with three pension funds of around $1.4 million and then doubled that amount within a year. Among the companies doing pension funds in Mozambique, there is no ranking available. The statistics are hard to come across, but we know for sure that we are at the forefront and we have the largest market share. In 2015, we want to not only be the Best New Pension Fund Management Company in Mozambique, but the Best Pension Fund Management Company in Mozambique.
Moçambique Previdente has invested over $1 million in infrastructure and training. What was the strategy behind this decision?
There is a lack of financial education and understanding of what the basic concept of saving is in this country. Not only did we have to train our own staff, but we also have the entire infrastructure to develop. We are required by law to have our service and our IT infrastructure in-country, and we did this from the outset. Fortunately, our partners and shareholders agreed that investing this amount was the best way forward. We started small in terms of infrastructure but we immediately started catering to bigger businesses as well. We started with only three funds but already we have five funds and recently closed the CFM fund. We created this CFM fund and are due to finalize it, hopefully by managing an increase in our staff as well. There are other companies that we are on the verge of closing contracts with. This means that we will be ending 2015 with six clients. We are increasing our staff by another five people, which means we will also have to increase training. The investment in infrastructure and training is a never-ending process. We are starting small but we want to be able to cater for bigger opportunities in the future.
What are the biggest challenges that Moçambique Previdente is facing at the moment?
One of the issues that we are facing is a lack of understanding about saving. We have a national social security scheme and our pension funds are complementary and essentially voluntary schemes. Some people do not understand what this is or lack the required financial understanding. The other issue is that the country lacks investment. Our stock exchange only has five companies right now, so there are not a lot of opportunities for sourcing funding. Aside from the real estate sector, there are not a lot of instruments for in-country investment. These will ultimately hinder the profitability of the funds. We try to seek out alternative ways of putting fund money into safe investments with good returns.
What are the highlights of the benefit system Moçambique Previdente has instituted?
We basically understand what a client wants, what they need, and what they are doing, and we create a tailored pension fund for their system. We are working with final contribution funds and final benefit funds and, in some cases, we are actually creating hybrid funds with added benefits. We include risk benefits such as funeral coverage, group life insurance, life insurance, disability, and death.
In practical terms, how are you aligning your operations with government initiatives to further develop the Mozambican economy?
One of the things about being a complementary pension fund is that we deal with people wanting more than what the INSS offers. They often look to us for an alternative solution. Our service provides added coverage compared to what the INSS is doing. The government wants to provide social welfare and benefits to people in the formal sector. We are also trying to increase the number of funds and increase asset value. We have to bring profits to the funds we serve and, in a way, we have to see where the government strategy is going.
What are your expectations for the year ahead?
For 2015, we are trying to provide solutions for the formal sector, such as establishing pension funds as well as providing unique products for individuals. These are our biggest aspirations for this year. We want to consolidate in terms of our investment portfolio and want to venture into real estate, not only because it dictates the growth of the country, but also because it is also a profitable market. We are also trying to provide solutions for SMEs, and are working to this end with a network called REDE PME. We are not only providing pension funds and social welfare to their members, but on the investment side we are looking to see how we can invest more in SMEs. We do not have a stock exchange that it very active itself, but we can invest part of our funds in their venture capital and in new businesses.