PENSION PROVIDERS WANT to expand their Mandatory Provident Fund business by attracting the accrued benefits people have amassed through changing employers. As most people are aware, the MPF does not allow scheme members to choose which pension provider they entrust their contributions to - that decision is made by employers. However, when MPF members quit or switch jobs, the accumulated MPF contributions and returns from their prior jobs, known as accrued benefits, can be transferred to a preserved account with any MPF trust scheme they choose. Many people have not taken advantage of the portability of these accrued benefits from previous employment to pick a good MPF provider. There is evidence that people are leaving a string of preserved accounts behind them as they move jobs. As the number of preserved accounts held by scheme members increases and the need to consolidate them becomes more apparent, MPF provider AIA Pension and Trustee has recognised an opportunity to expand its business. 'For the deferred member programme we launched in February, we're already into four digits in applications coming through,' AIA Pension and Trustee managing director Peter Crewe said. Consolidating multiple preserved accounts into one account under a deferred member programme simplifies management and reduces management charges. It also gives MPF members the opportunity to seek an MPF provider with an attractive range of funds. Mr Crewe said this was a timely message to put out because Hong Kong's stronger economy would lead to more job-hopping. 'With improving economic conditions in Hong Kong, you are going to see people's tenures with their employers reduced and theoretically people could leave a trail of accrued balances with different trustees,' he said. 'We're trying to get the message across that this is not a smart thing to do.' Another avenue of growth that AIA has been pursuing involves encouraging its scheme members to contribute to an individual retirement plan that mirrors its MPF product in structure and fees. Mr Crewe said that, along with consolidating accrued benefits from previous employers, getting people to contribute more to their retirement protection was 'the next step in the evolution of the market'. The company has set up a small 'worksite' marketing team that visits client companies to educate scheme members about the benefits of saving more for retirement. 'Our clients at the employer level endorse us to conduct employee briefing seminars to explain why they should consider saving more for their retirement. We conduct education seminars and, after, one-on-one interviews with employees,' he said. The marketing initiative has only been running since the Lunar New Year, but the company is already seeing good results in the form of applications for its individual retirement savings programme. 'With any new initiative, it takes time to get traction. We've had a good response from a number of medium to large-sized enterprises, where the HR departments have been quite supportive of our efforts,' he said. About 10 per cent of AIA-JF Mandatory Provident Fund Services scheme members made voluntary contributions, Mr Crewe said.