Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund (BPOPF) says after tumultuous months of bad public image due to strained relations with service providers, it will be engaging them to manage expectations, while also warning against those who see the fund as a potential cash cow.
Boitumelo Johnson, BPOPF’s Principal Officer, last week Wednesday told the media that the country’s biggest pension fund has suffered a lot of reputational damage in the past few months as a result of speculations surrounding its operations, in particular the ongoing saga with one of their asset manager, and also other issues that have portrayed the fund in negative light.
“We are also aware of the feeling amongst our service providers that to do business with the BPOPF sometimes is just putting yourself in a lot of trouble because you can be terminated.”
Under Johnson’s tough management, the fund has been quick to terminate their mandates with asset managers that appear to be errant. The first sign of these was when BPOPF terminated its P4 billion mandate with Flemming Asset Management after one of the company’s executives was alleged to be involved in inappropriate transactions. From there on, other asset managers like Kgori capital felt Johnson’s swift axe, losing P3.9 billion worth of mandates from BPOPF following its close association to the National Petroleum Fund Scandal that shook the country.
Currently the BPOPF is trying to recover over P400 million invested through Botswana Opportunities Fund, which was a partnership with Capital Management Botswana. The former partners have bitterly separated from each other and it has been an open war that played itself at courts of law, with the latest chapter resulting in CMB placed under statutory management.
Now in a charm offensive, Johnson together with the fund’s investment committee will be meeting with current and potential service providers, to allay their fears regarding terminations, and also to talk to them about what kind of relationships they expect as the nation’s pension fund.
“In the first instance, we are actually managing people’s money and it’s a relationship of trust. They did not appoint us nor appoint the fund’s board but they trusted us that the board, management and staff are going to do the right thing by them,” Johnson said. “And by extension the service providers as well, so we want to have a session with them to inform them that the reason why seem to be tough on delivery is not so much that we want to be terminating whenever we can.”
Johnson says their expectations is of asset managers is to also manage BPOPF’s funds as if they were managing their own money so to have that additional duty of care. She said as much BPOPF boasts of about P62 million in assets, it should be clear that as defined contribution fund, some members as individuals do not have enough money for retirement.
“So every pula and thebe really counts and we expect that service providers are aware of that. We do not want them to see it as a get rich quick scheme when you have business from the BPOPF,” she said.