Despite rising unemployment, the economic slowdown, and the pandemic still in full force, contributors of the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Lembaga Tabung Haji (TH), the pilgrims fund board, can remain optimistic this year after both organisations recently announced their dividends and profit distributions for the year ending 2020.
The EPF has announced rates of 5.20% for conventional accounts and 4.9% for shariah, with a payout amounting to RM4.76 billion. Cumulatively, the total payout for 2020 amounts to RM47.64 billion.
TH, on the other hand, has announced a competitive profit distribution of 3.10% (after zakat) to all its nine million depositors, compared to the 3.05% rate in 2019. The 2020 profit distribution involves a total payout of RM2.24 billion as against RM2.14 billion in 2019, it said in a statement today.
Both organisations have announced rates that are higher than Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd’s 4.25% announced last year.
EPF navigates through a pandemic-stricken 2020
Despite twin health and economic crises, EPF has managed to record an average five-year real dividend of 4.62% for Simpanan Konvensional and 4.32% for Simpanan Shariah after adjusting for inflation— EPF exceeded its strategic target of declaring at least 2.00% real dividend on average for a rolling five-year basis.
Following lower net contributions during the year, the EPF’s ability to adapt to the current times ensured its investments were able to deliver long term sustainable returns under the new normal. The fund recorded its highest ever gross investment income of RM60.98 billion, with RM6.15 billion allocated to Simpanan Shariah.
EPF had rebalanced its investment portfolios based on thorough consideration of how the COVID-19 pandemic and global uncertainties such as the U.S. Presidential election in November 2020, the continuous US-China trade dispute, and the impact of the Brexit negotiations had influenced capital markets worldwide.
“We managed to safeguard our members’ retirement savings well while meeting their immediate needs to deal with the current challenges. It was not easy at times as we had to walk a tightrope in ensuring that our members survive the difficult times while balancing their future needs,” said EPF Chairman Tan Sri Ahmad Badri Mohd Zahir.
“The quick spread of COVID-19 and its transmissibility made it a Black Swan event that many found challenging to manage. However, we were proactive in managing the pandemic and that helped us to ride through the challenges. Our focus on digitalisation enabled us to assist our members more efficiently and seamlessly while ensuring that we remain relevant to more members who are technology-savvy.”
“The EPF’s speed of adaptability in its investment strategy and processes ensured that we were able to deliver optimum performance, and we further leveraged on the strength of our approximately 250-strong investment professionals who diligently managed the portfolios and took proactive measures. Solid teamwork and digital infrastructure ensured that we could adapt seamlessly to the new work norms,” Tan Sri Ahmad Badri added.
EPF dividend rates over the last 10 years
|Year||Per Annum (Simpanan Shariah)||Per Annum (Simpanan Konvensional)|
EPF’s outlook for 2021
Commenting on the outlook for the year, Tan Sri Ahmad Badri said, “The vaccine rollout in 2021 will have important bearings on the outlook for the year, as we are also cognisant of new strains of COVID-19 that are easily transmitted. However, we believe that the situation is being well managed, with governments everywhere ensuring that the vaccines get to people as efficiently as possible while in Malaysia, the first batch of vaccines have arrived and will soon be administered to the population.”
“The EPF, being a 70-year-old institution and one of the oldest pension funds in the world, will remain focused on our mandate to help members have enough savings for a sustainable retirement. We will also embark on a new withdrawal scheme to allow members to purchase insurance or Takaful products that were announced in Budget 2021, slated for an end of year rollout.”
In the same statement, the EPF also announced that it is the first institutional investor to establish the largest Shariah-compliant Private Equity co-investments mandate in the world, with the launch of the US$600 million Shariah Private Equity Co-Investment Separate Managed Account. “This certainly bodes well for our Simpanan Shariah fund, in which members’ savings balance has crossed the RM100 billion mark and continues to grow sustainably,” said Tan Sri Ahmad Badri.
EPF’s investment assets hit the RM1 trillion mark on December 3, 2020
EFP’s strong performance was due to the prudent approach guided by the Fund’s overall Strategic Asset Allocation (SAA), which has kept the EPF resilient despite the unanticipated crisis. According to the EPF, their asset classes consist of Fixed Income instruments (46%), Equities (42%), Real Estate and Infrastructure (5%) as well as Money Market (7%) instruments.
As of December 2020, 33% of EPF’s investment assets across the board were outside of Malaysia. Equities, particularly foreign equities, continued to be the driver of returns with a total income of RM28.71 billion. The private equity portfolio also demonstrated strong performance with consistent income distribution.
TH remains resilient—announcing a competitive profit distribution for 2020
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Established in 1963, the fund was launched to help Malaysian Muslims save their money for Hajj, the fifth pillar of Islam. As of February 26, 2021, the total deposits has reached RM76.7 billion—its highest ever level, reflecting the confidence of depositors.
YB Datuk Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al Bakri, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) expressed his gratitude for TH's financial performance which remained positive in the year 2020 despite uncertainties in the global and domestic economic environment since late 2019 due to the pandemic.
“Alhamdulillah, TH depositors will be able to enjoy better profits despite facing a relatively soft economy last year. As an institution entrusted to administer nearly RM77 billion in deposits of Malaysian Muslims, TH needs to act in the best interest of its depositors and invest the funds wisely to ensure the sustainability of this institution,” he added.
TH has also made a zakat payment amounting to RM106.2 million for 2020 compared with RM86 million in 2019; hence, depositors do not have to pay zakat on the savings and profit distribution received. The zakat paid will benefit the asnaf community throughout the country.
"Although the hajj was postponed last year due to COVID-19, we shall continue to pray for this pandemic to end soon so that we can become Allah’s guests again. We have to be prepared for any possibilities. I would advise all prospective pilgrims to join the hajj courses which are currently conducted online. I would also like to remind them to take care of their health by exercising regularly and consuming nutritious food because the hajj rituals will demand physical and mental strength," said YB Datuk Dr Zulkifli.
Related: The Basic of Islamic Banking
The Government of Saudi Arabia has yet to issue any official statement on this year’s pilgrimage although it has received about 100,000 umrah pilgrims since November 1, 2020.
Depositors can check the distribution of profits credited to their accounts after noon today through the THiJARI application, TH counter, Bank Islam and Bank Rakyat and through the electronic channel of TH strategic partner bank namely Bank Islam, Bank People, Maybank and CIMB.
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