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A vital webinar pertaining to the road to retirement entitled: Navigate Your Journey to Retirement, a Durban University of Technology (DUT) Human Resources (HR) initiative, was held on MS Teams recently. 

An introduction and welcome to the guest speakers and the DUT community was given by Senior Director: Human Resources, Dr Vuyo Mthethwa. 

Dr Mthethwa welcomed and thanked the organisers for this vital session, as well as all the speakers that were invited and had agreed to do presentations for DUT pro bono. 

“I’m very passionate about helping people like yourselves as you get younger in your years. My few words that I want to share with you, from an HR vantage point, I want to share that retirement is a beautiful time, it’s a time where you start to imagine all the good things that you always aspire to do, and it is those things that you aspire to do that you will now begin to do. For me, retirement is about taking just a breather and slowing down in the rush of what you have been doing for many years,” she said. 

She stressed that for those considering retirement, it is allowing one more time to focus on one’s self, more on one’s own personal passions, to focus more time on one’s families, and to be able to wake up in the morning and be able to plan one’s day as best as one wishes, and take it slower and a little easier. 

“I also just want to say that my team which consists of Dr Manoshni Perumal, Charmaine Naidoo, Manager: Benefits and Remuneration, EWP’s Samantha Rajcoomar, all of who are equipped in different aspects to assist you while you are preparing towards your retirement. Please call upon us if you need any guidance or support in your preparation while you work towards that period of retirement,” she said. 

DUT’s Employee Wellness Programme (EWP) Manager, Samantha Rajcoomar said the presence of DUT staff at this webinar was indicative that retirement planning really matters. 

“We are all aware that the pandemic has changed our path to retirement not only financially but also definitely psychologically. Many are now forced to reassess their careers and review their retirement goals whilst restructuring their priorities.  Individuals who were planning to retire five years from now are changing their minds to retire prematurely due to issues around comorbidities and the fear of risk to themselves and their families,” she said. 

Rajcoomar stressed that aging is an experience that counts, and to remember that one’s health and well-being really matters. She then introduced Ms Nandisa Tushini, an independent Counselling Psychologist and owner of Nandisa Psychology Consultancy, who spoke on the Psychology of Retirement. Tushini does individual and group therapy and focuses a lot on group processes and holding healing spaces be it for NGOs, corporate entities or institutions of higher learning. 

DUT’s Dr Manoshni Perumal gave an introduction of the other various speakers present for the webinar. Giving his talk on Focusing on Healthy Ageing: Managing Your Health During Retirement was Dr Sandy Pillay. He spoke on the population growth rate globally, saying that worldwide, the population of the elderly people (60 years and older), will reach 2.1 billion in 2050. He relayed that the proportion of elderly people in South Africa grew from 7.6% in 2002 to 9.1% in 2020. 

“By mid-2020, there were 5,43 million elderly people in South Africa,” he said. 

He also emphasised on the causes of death in South Africa with Diabetes being the leading death in South Africa over the years.  He added that staying healthy during retirement is key. 

“There are challenges with age-most of these are preventable or treatable. Be vigilant for symptoms and signs. Schedule routine medical assessments and screenings. Growing old brings with it change, transition and fear, embracing this period of your life with optimism and positivity is essential,” he said. 

Dr Pillay has led various capacity development and health systems strengthening projects including a successful partnership with the KZN Department of Health resulting in more than 5000 health care workers being reached with various teaching programmes in HIV and TB management. 

The third speaker, Sylvester Appasamy, Principal Executive: PSG, spoke further on Understanding Your Medical Aid Benefits and Financial Impact During Retirement. Appasamy is the Principal Executive: Healthcare at PSG Employee Benefits (PSG EB) and has more than 15 years’ experience in various industries including healthcare, finance and insurance, both nationally and internationally. He is also a Director of PSG EB and is a member of various PSG Konsult committees. 

Ryan Coskey, Executive Financial Planner: Momentum, stressed the importance of Understanding Your Retirement Fund. Coskey is an Executive Financial Planner with Momentum Financial Planning (MFP). He specialises in Wealth management with a specific focus on retirement income. His approach to Retirement Planning is to ensure the members have a deep understanding of their own needs as well as the options available to them both within the fund and outside the fund. 

Adding to the conversation was Luke Howard, a certified Financial Planner and Wealth Advisor from PSG, who gave more information on Financial Education before and After Retirement

“There’s so much involved with planning for retirement that the earlier you start the better. There is no set date that is the right time, the earlier is always the better because then you still have time to make changes. We probably plan about 140 holidays, possibly celebrate around 80 birthdays, probably buy about 15 to 20 cars, probably own six to seven homes, might have four to five jobs. Some of us have two to three kids and yet we only retire once. This is literally a once in a lifetime opportunity that has to be made and we need to take careful thought into how we make those decisions that will have long lasting ramifications,” he said. 

He elaborated more on retirement planning pitfalls, early retirement and what is one’s action that one can get started with in terms of planning for retirement. He also stressed that one needs to consult with one’s financial advisor before making any changes to policies or investments. He also spoke about the tax implications with regards to taxes. 

“The three areas that the taxes will come into play is your income in retirement, your cash lump in retirement and contributions to retirement annuities,” he said. 

Howard uses his 10 years of experience to help approximately 230 individuals make the best financial decisions for their retirement. He does this by maximising their investments, generating a sustainable retirement income, paying as little tax as possible, and creating as much flexibility in the plan as can be. The result is a retirement of success, purpose and peace of mind. 

The last guest speaker was Ronald King, Head: Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs: PSG, who emphasised more on Wills and Estate Planning during a Pandemic. He is currently Head: Public Policy and Regulatory Affairs at PSG Konsult and serves on many industry bodies. 

He spoke on the topic of death, saying: “We have come to the conclusion that either you are going to get extremely old and your money is going to run out in retirement or you are going to die, so one of those things are going to happen to you,” he said. 

King conveyed further on estate planning in an academic world, will planning, offshore state planning, end-of-life planning and holistic financial planning. 

“We need to understand that probably many of our children will be immigrating and that will have an impact on our estates as well. Then we have got the end of life planning which I do believe which is quite important. A lot of people are not putting necessary effort into that,” he said. 

King relayed on re-focused themes during the pandemic, the changing needs and changing experiences. He explained more about estate planning tools saying that the focus of severe illness and even death has made people appreciate the value of having an organised estate plan. He spoke on the tools which include a will, bequests, trusts, donations, selling assets, life insurances, reducing taxes and matrimonial property regimes. He also spoke on the team behind an organised estate plan which consists of an estate planner, spouse, executor, accountant, attorney and financial advisor. 

“We are in unchartered waters and no one can confidently determine this pandemic’s full impact or for how long it will last. While we cannot predict or control global or local markets you can make key decisions, such as when to invest, how long to stay invested for and how to diversify while invested,” he said. 

King indicated that one should not panic and ensure a sound financial plan and stick to it. 

“Stay up to date with our communications on current events and market activity. Financial markets are volatile in uncertain times. Focus on the long term and where markets will be in a few years’ time, not a few hours or days. Stay invested, time out of the market is costly if you disinvest, you might miss the recovery,” he said. 

King is a prolific writer with a number of subject matter books as well as a bi-weekly column in a prominent magazine. He is a registered Fiduciary Practitioner of South Africa with The Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa (FISA) and a Master Tax Practitioner with the South African Institute of Tax Professionals (SAIT). He is also an International Chess Arbiter. 

DUT’s Dr Perumal gave the vote of thanks and said thank you to all the speakers for making time to address the DUT colleagues. 

“I hope you (DUT colleagues) have found it more informative and that you feel more comfortable now to address some of the issue that pertain to you personally, and also as a collective,” she said. 

Pictured: Senior Director: Human Resources, Dr Vuyo Mthethwa.

Waheeda Peters 

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