Hong Kong, September 28, 2020 – Mercer, a global leader in redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking health and well-being, and a business of Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC), today released the latest findings of the Mercer Mandatory Provident Fund Satisfaction Index (MPF SI). Launched in April 2017 to gauge the sentiment of Hongkongers towards the MPF system, the monthly index recorded a rating of 53.2 for August, a slight increase compared to the average rating of 51.5 since its launch.
Against the backdrop of the pandemic, the index was not significantly influenced by market movements from January to August 2020. While the index saw a dip in June to 49.8, it saw a swift bounce-back to 54 in July when the MPF’s total assets surpassed HK$ 1 trillion. March saw the index’s highest-ever satisfaction level at 57.3. This coincided with the intensive advertising and promotion of the government’s TVC program as the MPF providers went out in full force to encourage sign-ups before the 31 March 2020 deadline. The increase in awareness likely drove higher engagement and as a result, higher satisfaction levels. The same month also saw severe falls in equity markets, as investors reacted to reports of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across the globe along with the cascade of border closures, lockdowns and business disruptions, suggesting that satisfaction levels have low correlation to market movements.
The survey also indicates that members still prefer in-person interactions when it comes to the MPF. While there was a 10% increase in members using digital channels to access information and advice on MPF matters in the early days of the pandemic in Hong Kong, the reliance on digital channels dipped as social distancing restrictions eased.
Freddie Cheng, MPF Segment Leader for Mercer in Hong Kong, said, “It’s clear that Hongkongers still value the human interaction when it comes to the MPF. So while the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority (MPFA) aims to increase efficiencies of administration through the e-MPF platform, providers should plan for their workforce of the future, where there can be differentiation through quality of one-on-one advice and/or guidance to MPF members for their retirement planning.”
More financial planning education needed to improve satisfaction
The survey results also suggest that respondent engagement is positively correlated with satisfaction with the MPF – the higher the knowledge level, review frequency or participation in voluntary contributions, the higher the satisfaction level.
Mr Cheng adds, “Those who feel they are more knowledgeable about the MPF tend to be more satisfied. The MPF providers have been stepping up efforts at improving trustee governance and offering more member services. The MPFA has also intensified communications to the public. Yet only 27% of respondents expect the MPF to cover half or more than half of their post-retirement expenses. More can and should be done in financial planning education so that more members can understand the benefits of the MPF. As the scheme turns 20 this year, it will be timely for all the stakeholders to consider the effectiveness of the programs on promoting education and engagement.”
Account consolidation and portfolio reviews for retirement planning are key to greater satisfaction
The average satisfaction index score for respondents with only one MPF account was 54, higher than respondents with multiple MPF accounts (49.3). These figures show that the ease of managing MPF accounts is a key driver in MPF satisfaction. The findings reflect that the number of MPF personal accounts has been diminishing, which is an encouraging trend and industry players should continue to promote the benefits of consolidating accounts.
However, when it comes to portfolio reviews, more can be done. According to the survey, 30.8% of respondents review their MPF portfolio less than once a year and 6.4% have never reviewed their MPF portfolio.
“Educating employees about the importance of regular MPF portfolio reviews is critical to ensure alignment with long-term financial/retirement goals,” says Mr Cheng. “Reviewing their MPF accounts will also help them check that their personal contact details are up to date and explore the services that their MPF providers are able to offer.”
Note to editors
The Mercer MPF SI was conducted by Nielsen to track the satisfaction level of MPF members. The survey interviews more than 2,000 respondents each year, connecting to the working population with MPF accounts and whose monthly personal income is not less than HKD 7,100 (minimum threshold eligible for MPF membership).
The survey was conducted through methods of online self-completion (age 20 – 54) and approaching members of the public (age 55 or above).
Mercer believes in building brighter futures by redefining the world of work, reshaping retirement and investment outcomes, and unlocking real health and well-being. Mercer’s more than 25,000 employees are based in 44 countries and the firm operates in over 130 countries. Mercer is a business of Marsh & McLennan (NYSE: MMC), the world’s leading professional services firm in the areas of risk, strategy and people, with 76,000 colleagues and annual revenue of $17 billion. Through its market-leading businesses including Marsh, Guy Carpenter and Oliver Wyman, Marsh & McLennan helps clients navigate an increasingly dynamic and complex environment. For more information, visit https://www.me.mercer.com/. Follow Mercer on Twitter @Mercer.