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FNPF Plans For More Offshore Investments

FNPF Plans For More Offshore Investments
Fiji National Provident Fund chief executive officer Jaoji Koroi
April 08
12:15 2018

Who will be the next Fiji National Provident Fund (CEO) chief execu­tive officer?

This was the question many Fijians asked after the then CEO Aisake Taito announced his resignation in 2015 after seven years in the position.

Then came Jaoji Koroi, who was appointed by the FNPF board to be the acting CEO until March 8 this year, when he was announced as the new CEO in accordance with Section 20 (2) of the FNPF Act 2011.

Announcing the appointment, the chairman, Ajith Kodagoda, said the Board had confidence that Mr Koroi will ably lead FNPF through the next three years given his experience, skills and qualifications.

The board, Mr Kodagoda said, had under­taken a thorough, stringent and transparent selection process to ensure that the best candi­date was appointed to the job.

Mr Koroi was Chief Operating Officer (COO) for the last two years but seven years before that he was the Chief Investment Officer (CIO).

Mr Kodagoda said: “Mr Koroi has provided strong leadership that has contributed to the achievements in the Fund’s financial, invest­ment and operational performances.

“He has consistently displayed strong stra­tegic and change management skills and we have confidence in his ability to lead the organ­isation into the future, especially in reshaping and transforming the corporate culture of the institution to deliver service excellence and consistent returns to members.”

Mr Koroi recently led the Fund’s restructure that saw the consolidation of member ser­vices, strengthening and realignment of con­tributions collection and compliance, and the streamlining of other support functions.

During his tenure as CIO, Mr Koroi led his team to successfully rehabilitate the Fund’s non-performing assets with prudence.

Excerpts of an interview with Mr Koroi be­low:

What are your current goals?

My number one goal is to improve our ser­vice delivery to our members and stakehold­ers. It’s not going to be easy and requires bet­ter understanding and active collaborations with our stakeholders.

It also means more awareness from our side on our requirements and we will be using the digital platform more and more to deliver ser­vices effectively.

What’s the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

When it comes to investment – I am a risk averse, according to my profile.

Mr Koroi, I understand that you started your career with Reserve Bank of Fiji, Fijian Holdings Limited General Manager Investment, and FHL CEO for a short while and also as an Executive director for RB Patel. How has taking such po­sitions mentioned earlier moulded you to be­come a CEO for a big financial institution such as FNPF?

The RBF gave me proper grounding and in­stilled some good work ethics like discipline, accuracy and the value of continuous learn­ing.

FHL was where I learnt most of my invest­ment skills after my post graduate studies. The exposure was great and was also fortunate to be working with some prominent corporate leaders.

Being a retailing business, RB Patel gave me the real business insights and taught me about business operations. Retail is all about details.

Whilst these experiences have been helpful, joining the FNPF in December 2009 was quite a challenge.

By comparison FNPF is a much bigger or­ganisation with a wider range of stakeholders.

There are some 417,000 registered FNPF members and that’s almost 70 per cent cover­age of the population – if you exclude those below the age of 16 years.

On a monthly basis, we collect contributions from some 8,000 employers, we process on aver­age 7,000 pre-retirement withdrawals monthly, and we look after the welfare of about 7,000 pensioners.

The Fund invests in all types of investments (equities, bonds, lending, properties, property development) in major sectors like tourism/hotels, telecommunication, properties and so on.

We are a regulated entity by the RBF and are administered by the FNPF Act through the Minister for Economy.

So our operations and accountability is to much larger audience. Everyone in Fiji has a direct or indirect stake in the Fund and that’s a honourable challenge.

You have worked under successful business leaders such as Suren Patel, Sitiveni Weleilake­ba and Ajith Kodagoda. Their leadership styles are different. How has it influenced you and the way you lead?

Alongside those mentioned, I have also worked with other leaders at the RBF, FHL, R.B.Patel, FNPF and in Fiji.

These are exceptional leaders who have helped mould me.

As leaders they share one common trait – they are driven and know exactly what they want to achieve.

Can you confirm if FNPF has bought Sheraton and Westin properties?

We are pursuing the opportunity but can’t make any comments at this stage.

Are there any plans for FNPF to develop as a property developer?

One of our challenge is the limited invest­ment opportunity that meets our profile lo­cally. So we have to create our own opportuni­ties and property development is certainly an asset class.

It means that rather than just buying ready-developed properties, we will also be looking at developing properties either for commer­cial, residential, integrated hotel and others. This requires us to develop a robust govern­ance framework and have the right people both in skills and attitude.

Are there plans for more offshore investments?

Nine per cent of our current investment are offshore and there is a target to take it to 20-25 per cent over the long term.

This allows the Fund to spread its basket. So we will continue to work with the RBF on this opportunity.

As a member where is FNPF moving too?

The Fund has been in reform phase for the last six years under the leadership of the for­mer CEO and the directive of the Government.

We have now placed FNPF in a much strong­er financial and prudent footing. Some of the achievements are:

  • New Modern Legislation – FNPF Act 2011 (first overhaul after 45 years)
  • Better preservations (70 per cent) and reduc­tion in withdrawal grounds
  • Improved Governance – Board appointment, provisions for prudential oversight by RBF
  • Sustainable Pension Scheme – separate fund, age-based and actuarially certified
  • New IT system – major overhaul from a lega­cy system (since 1980s)
  • Investment Rehabilitations – GPH, FIL, Momi, Natadola, MyFNPF Center, Nadi Retail etc.
  • Organisation Restructure – from 480 to 430, align to new direction

The theme of our three-years strategic plan is “Transformation is a journey and the focus is our people”. It covers four key areas.

a.Recalibrating our core purpose (why we are here) which is social security. In other words, we are here to improve peoples’ lives.

b.Transforming our culture to that of stew­ardship – one that cares deeply for our mem­bers and demands leadership that motivates and looks after our people.

c.Go Digital – more automation and using the ITC platforms to deliver services.

d.Investment diversification through growth and offshore investments.

What would be your message to FNPF members?

We are here because of you, so please engage more with the Fund.

Take time to understand our requirements and talk to us if you need more information. We need to work together.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj

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