Sigma Pensions Limited has just had a change of baton at the chairmanship level. Alhaji Rasaki Oladejo, the immediate past chairman, who served since 2005, bares his mind on his career, time at Sigma and the contributory pension scheme. Excerpts:
As the chairman of Sigma Pensions, what will be your story today?
My story today is that of a happy and an accomplished person. Though we anticipated and had big dreams for the company, in truth, its growth in the last 13 years has surprised us all and I can only say it is the doggedness and commitment of management and staff of Sigma Pensions that has brought us this far. I am grateful to have been a part of that journey.
Can you take us through your achievements during your tenure as the chairman of the company?
As the chairman of the Board of Directors of Sigma Pensions, I witnessed the company growing from just a mere startup to its enviable position today, as one of the leading lights in the Nigerian pensions industry.
Sigma Pensions began with an initial authorized share capital of N300 million ordinary shares of N1.00 each and has since been raised to N1.250m of shares, with N985m of the shares fully paid-up.
Sigma Pensions is today one of the top five Pension Fund Administrators in Nigeria with Assets Under Management (AUM) of over N345 billion for more than 705,000 registered contributors. To date, the company has paid out over N89bn as benefits to its retirees. All these we have achieved organically in the last 13 years.
What were your most exciting moments during your tenure as chairman of the company?
One that stands out to me always, was the fact that the management and staff formed a family-like bond which bridged the gap between them and allowed for a cohesive working environment that ensured the delivery of results (goals). It was indeed a happy time whenever I was around for meetings or any other thing.
What would you expect the new chairman and board to do to take the company to the next level?
Being a very vibrant and knowledgeable board, I expect nothing less but exciting times ahead for the company. With the wealth of knowledge it has, I assure you, Sigma Pensions is geared towards forging ahead having already been the only Pension Fund Administrator in Nigeria; one recognised as the fastest growing companies in Africa by the London Stock Exchange.
The board is heavy on corporate governance, especially with the Actis representation on the board. I expect that the wealth of experience represented on the board will ultimately guide Sigma Pensions to even greater heights.
Having been part of the Contributory Pension Scheme in the last few years, what is your assessment of the industry?
The industry has surely evolved from where it all started with just seven licensed PFAs. Today there are 21 dully licensed PFAs in the industry. This shows that there was indeed the need for the scheme with the Nigerian working population increasing. It has also ensured that retirement has become a lot easier for senior citizens like me.
The industry has equally collectively recorded an Asset Under management of about N7 trillion already and this is only from the formal sector which makes up a smaller percentage of the country’s GDP. Imagine what the number would be if the informal sector had been included in the scheme from the unset.
The industry is evolving and will continue to evolve with changing dynamics and it can only get better.
What is your advice to the Nigerian public about preparing for retirement?
As mentioned above, the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) has eliminated retirement with tears. My advice to the public is that it is necessary for every individual who earns a living to participate in the scheme, be it contributory or voluntary, to ensure a secure future at retirement.
I always say to people that pension and retirement are two very different things. The former is the plan you put in place to ensure the latter. And each contributor can further augment his/her retirement balance by adding to the mandatory contributions stipulated by the National Pension Commission.