Switching MPF providers too slow for most

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 11:11pm


Half the respondents to a poll said they would not transfer their Mandatory Provident Fund contributions to a trustee of their choice, with most saying 'it's too much trouble'.

Because it would take a 'very slow' six to eight weeks to transfer the funds, it was natural some people would not bother doing it, said the consultancy firm Gain Miles, which commissioned the survey on a new portability scheme.

MPF portability will give employees the chance to transfer their part of the MPF contributions and returns to a service provider of their choice once a year. The Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority was looking at ways to shorten the processing time, a spokesman said.

Gain Miles commissioned the University of Hong Kong's public opinion programme to survey about 1,000 MPF contributors during two weeks last month. The survey was done in view of the new scheme, which takes effect in November.

Other respondents said switching was unnecessary, or they were happy with their schemes at the moment.

Almost 40 per cent said they would or might switch trustees when the portability scheme took effect.

The survey also found that two-thirds of them were confused about the scheme: of all the respondents, 36 per cent said they did not know about it, and 30 per cent said wrongly that they thought the employer's contributions could be transferred.

When asked to rate their level of confidence on a scale of zero to 10 in the scheme's ability to protect their retirement needs, 28 per cent gave it a five, and the majority - 56 per cent - put it between zero and four. The number 10 represented the highest confidence; zero was the lowest.

Gloria Siu Mei-fung, the firm's chief executive, said it was clear awareness of the new rules had to be raised.

'Since people don't understand these funds and don't know how they are administered, it's only natural they aren't confident they can protect their retirement,' she said. 'The system's ready for the change, but members don't seem terribly so.'

A spokesman for the Mandatory Provident Fund Schemes Authority said it set up a webpage to explain the scheme and would start a publicity campaign in the next few weeks to educate the public.

She said the authority was working with the trustees to shorten the processing time, which involved paperwork such as information verification and the mailing of cheques.