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The Two-Pot System will change the future of how we all plan for retirement

01 July 2024 Siyasanga Kashe, Executive: Member Solutions at Momentum Corporate

Truth time: South Africa is sitting on a retirement time bomb, and it is about to go off in less than two months.

With only 6% of the country’s population on track to retire comfortably, are we really ready to start dipping into our retirement savings while preserving our futures? Now is the time to put education first before we put our golden years even more at risk than they already are.

This stark retirement reality has shone a spotlight on the urgent need for effective retirement planning solutions in our nation. One such solution, the two-pot system, is set to rearrange how we approach retirement savings starting from September 1, 2024.

But to embrace the inevitable, we first need to understand what we’re in for.

Understanding the Two-Pot System
The two-pot system, despite its name, actually involves three distinct components. Those are the vested, savings, and retirement components. This structure will enable fund members to access a portion of their retirement savings before retirement without having to resign from their employer, a significant shift from the current system.

From September 1, members will be able to manage their retirement savings in a more flexible and accessible manner. The vested component consists of the retirement savings accumulated until August 31, 2024, which remains subject to the old rules (i.e. only for when you retire). The savings component allows for partial withdrawals in case of emergencies, reflecting the government's understanding of the financial realities many South Africans face. The retirement component, on the other hand, is strictly preserved for retirement, ensuring long-term financial security.

The benefits of the Two-Pot System
We all need to accept that the two-pot system marks a significant change in retirement planning by making it more adaptable to the needs of South Africans. Yes, it is making a lot of people in the retirement fund sector very nervous, but it does provide a few essential benefits that too many South Africans desperately need, this includes:

• Emergency access: The ability to access savings in times of need without quitting your job is a game-changer. This feature provides a safety net, allowing individuals to handle financial emergencies without compromising their long-term retirement goals.
• Disciplined savings: By restricting access to the retirement component until retirement, the system ensures that individuals are preserving funds for their future. This compulsory savings aspect is crucial in a country where saving for retirement has not been a strong cultural practice.
• Enhanced financial security: With the vested component still growing through investment returns, and regular contributions being split between savings and retirement components, individuals can build a more secure financial future.

Preparing for the transition
As September rears its head, it becomes critical to understand the implications and benefits of the Two-Pot System. Education and clear communication are vital. Fund managers should reaffirm their commitment to providing members with the necessary tools and information to navigate this transition smoothly.

But what does that mean exactly. Well, practically speaking, being ready for Two-Pot means we need to:

• Stay informed: Attend educational sessions and read all communications from your retirement fund provider. Understanding how the two-pot system works is crucial for making informed decisions.
• Evaluate your financials: Assess your current financial needs versus your long-term retirement goals. Use the savings component wisely and only in genuine emergencies.
• Plan contributions: Be aware of how your contributions will be allocated. From September, contributions will be divided between the savings and retirement components. Understanding this split will help you plan your finances better.
• Seek advice: Don’t hesitate to consult with financial advisors or retirement benefit counsellors. Professional advice can help you navigate the complexities of the new system.

A call for disciplined financial planning
Whether you like it or not, the Two-Pot System requires a disciplined approach to financial planning. In 2023, Desiree Ellis, Banyana Banyana Head Coach won the #gsport18 Coach of the Year award. She faced countless challenges across various spheres of her life but attests that discipline and perseverance are key to reaching any goal. The same applies to retirement planning. By staying disciplined and making informed decisions, we can all make great strides on our journeys to financial success.

So, yes, the Two-Pot System going live is a pivotal moment for our country. It offers a unique opportunity to transform our retirement planning culture, encouraging a balance between immediate financial needs and long-term security. But with great power comes great responsibility. We can only embrace this change with the commitment and understanding it requires. That way, our future selves will one day say: thank you, past me.

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