Tue | Dec 10, 2019

Prime Asset, Fitz-Ritson offer pension course

Published:Sunday | January 31, 2010 | 12:00 AM

Avia Collinder, Business Reporter

Rezworth Burchenson, managing director of Prime Asset Management Limited. - File

Prime Asset Management Limited and trainers Fitz-Ritson and Associates have teamed up on a programme to educate the overseers and administrators of pensions funds and human-resource managers in a new academic course to be delivered quarterly.

The new three-week pensions certificate course will make its debut on February 9, the first of three to be delivered in 2010 at the University of Technology.

The cost: $40,000.

"We are targeting those who want an understanding and appreciation of the business of pensions," said managing director of Prime Asset, Rezworth Burchenson.

"A very critical component is going to be a segment concerning trust law, which is the basis of pensions. We will cover what it means to be fiduciary and how to act in the best interest of pensioners; and also discuss what questions to ask agents so they can better contribute to governance of the plan."

safeguarding of pension contributions

Under the reform of the private pension-funds sector, under way since the early 2000s, trustees and managers of superannuation and retirement funds are legally responsible for the safeguarding of pension contributions in the funds they oversee.

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) is still in the process of registering the schemes that have passed its test, but there are approximately 500 funds worth more than $200 billion in operation, some in the process of restructuring their business models.

For employers who might be pressuring their human-resource representatives with questions related to the changes fostered by new legislation and other regulatory issues, Burchenson said that the course would provide answers.

"More individuals within Jamaica are getting serious about saving for retirement and there are also more persons offering pensions administration. For those new in HR, this course will also help them to understand questions asked by their members in relation to members," he said.

"We will have three segments: one in February and two later in the year. It is a comprehensive programme and covers pensions, law, governance, conflict of interest and all aspects of the pension issue."

Burchenson said as well that "with the passage of the Pension Act in 2005 and the new regulations which state that some trustees have to be nominated by pensioners many have accepted nomination and are serving, but for most, this is their first time in the role."

financial management

The three-week course will include principles of design, administration and financing for defined benefit and defined contribution pension plans; determination of the overall investment strategy, the selection of asset classes for investment, associated risks and the controls, and reporting requirements.

Participants will also be introduced to actuarial considerations - looking at the valuation of plans, the related risk involved in the funding methodologies, and the overall financial management of the plan.

Prime Asset partnered with Fitz-Ritson, Burchenson said, because it has a track record in staging seminars and is also approved by the University Council of Jamaica.

Prime Assets is also hoping the course will become the standard-bearer for the industry and is current lobbying the FSC to put its imprimatur on the programme.