Financial pressures force 50% of consumers to cash in retirement funds Sanlam Benchmark research reveals

02 July 2024 Sanlam
Kanyisa Mkhize

Kanyisa Mkhize

On 11 July, at The Maslow in Sandton, Sanlam will reveal findings from its much-anticipated Benchmark research. The seminal body of research sets an annual benchmark for the nation’s financial mood.

This year, with the Two-pot system and NHI top of mind, the research focuses on health and wealth – two key levers for accelerating a better working South Africa.

CEO of Sanlam Corporate, Kanyisa Mkhize, says, “We’re excited to uncover our findings around our theme of ‘Accelerating a better working South Africa’, which delves into how systemic problems arise and what should be done to prevent them at the source. “With 2024 marking 30 years of democracy for our nation, we know there’s a lot to fix. We know lifestyle changes can relieve the burden and expense of non-communicable diseases on the nation. Similarly, we know what needs to be done to change people’s retirement outcomes. The challenge remains overcoming shared challenges at a macro and individual level. Corporate South Africa has a crucial role in leading the change that is needed. It will take collective will to accelerate a better working South Africa.”

Key findings to be discussed at the 2024 Sanlam Benchmark Research gathering:

As affordability makes medical aid potentially unreachable for many, employers have a pivotal role to play in making integrated wellness solutions accessible to their teams to address the dual killers of productivity: absenteeism and presenteeism. Sanlam Benchmark research revealed 53% of respondents believe that a holistic integrated health and financial wellness programme delivers higher productivity and staff happiness. At the same time, an overwhelming majority of employees (93%) view wellbeing as important as their salary, and 87% would consider leaving a company that does not focus on wellbeing.

Corporate health solutions may also go some way to addressing the country’s quadruple burden of disease and growing healthcare inflationary expenditure, which impacts everyone. With the question of NHI in the background, what’s the best way forward right now?

In 2022, Sanlam Benchmark research found just 31% of respondents said they’d access funds from their Two-pot savings component; in 2024, this jumped to 59%. Two-pot may address the problems of the present, but, in a nation where under 10% of the population can afford to retire comfortably, what will the ramifications be later? What alternatives can we give people now to empower them to preserve their retirement savings while alleviating some of their current cash crunch?

Research indicates that rising financial pressures on consumers have led 50% of respondents to cash in all their retirement funds. This marks a regression from the 35% who did so in 2023. These findings underscore the importance of the Two-pot system, which aims to encourage and maintain savings throughout an individual's career. However, well-intended regulatory changes can have dire consequences down the line depending on execution. Clear communication, meticulous planning and implementation is needed to ensure that policies achieve their goals without unintended negative consequences.

Mkhize adds, “As the financial services sector, we need to find more ways to preserve the wealth of our retirement fund members, pre- and post-retirement. Sanlam’s north star is to empower Africans to be financially confident, secure, and prosperous. Our sustainability strategy is deeply entwined in this mission, with the aim to contribute towards the seven Sustainable Development Goals. Importantly, we want to change people’s stories and help them build long-term prosperity for their future selves and their families.”

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