Heritage education fund recruiting sales reps, looks to grow beyond Kingston
The Jamaican arm of Heritage Education Funds International (HEFI) now has more than US$112 million in assets under management, according to new agency director Kameka Headley Clarke.
That translates to more than $14 billion in local currency.
The investment fund is targeted at parents saving towards college tuition for their children to either study in Jamaica or overseas. Its operation is centred in Kingston but the new boss has signalled plans to expand.
"Since inception we have paid out over US$115 million to help families pay for a post-secondary/tertiary education for children," the new agency director told Gleaner Business via email.
The funds are managed on HEFI Jamaica's behalf by Scotia Asset Management and Fiera Capital Corporation.
"Contributions are invested primarily in US-dollar government-issued, guaranteed and fixed income investments. Income earned on contributions may also be invested in equities to maximise returns," Headley Clarke said.
Her appointment on July 1 formalises responsibilities she has undertaken since 2016 as interim director. She succeeded her father, Lyndie Headley. As the new head of HEFI Jamaica, Headley Clarke said she aims to convince more Jamaican parents of the need for education savings.
"Over 20,000 students from Jamaica have benefited from their Heritage plan. We have returned more than US$35 million to Jamaican families," said the director. "Our programme has helped thousands of Jamaican families over the years. Our international plan currently has 4,500 children attending school all over the world - Canada, USA, United Kingdom, Asia, Australia, Europe, Russia and of course, many right here in Jamaica."
The agency director wants to grow the number of students that HEFI funds send to school, saying they are in the process of recruiting new sales representatives and ultimately plans to set up offices beyond the Corporate Area.
Citing the high cost of tertiary education, she said recent estimates for a four-year programme in the sciences in Jamaica is US$30,000 to US$40,000; and that at a conservative five per cent rate of appreciation for the currency, parents may need as much as US$90,000 for a child born this year, or as much as US$370,000, to finance four years of study in the United States.
"Our programme is designed to encourage parents to save as much as they can comfortably afford now, to reduce the burden when the time comes," Headley Clarke said.
With its head office is located in the Winchester Business Centre in Kingston, Headley Clarke said Jamaica is a stand-alone outfit and is one of Heritage's top operations.
HEFI Jamaica funds under management yielded 6.7 per cent returns for 2016 and 7 per cent in 2015, she said, while touting the investment as low risk for parents.
"At maturity, parents consist-ently tell us that they wished they had started earlier and had been able to save more," the agency director added.