Someone, posting anonymously, has attacked me a few times for my views on the treatment of orphaned money. He asked if there were orphaned money in NTUC Income during the time that I was the CEO.
During my time, we adopted a different approach. We distributed a high rate of reversionary bonus to each class of policy that could be supported by the actual long term investment yield of the fund. We kept a portion of the surplus to be paid as special bonus on the maturity or termination of the policy.
More importantly, we were able to distribute to the policyholders an attractive rate of return, which is now used by the new management in their advertisement. This attractive return was possible due to low expenses and a high payout to policyholders, i.e. not retained as orphaned money.
I became alarmed when NTUC Income decided to cut the reversionary bonus recently. Under the new structure, it is difficult for a policyholder to know if he or she is getting a fair payout on the maturity or termination of the policy. It now becomes important for an asset share should be calculated for each policy, to guide the final payout.
I decided to study the concept of asset share in more detail. I like the approach adopted in Malaysia. It requires an asset share to be calculated for each policy based on the actual experience of the fund. It credits the premiums paid and investment income earned and deducts the actual expenses and other charges. The regulator requires that the full asset share should be paid to the policyholder on the termination of the policy, after it has been in-force for a certain number of years.
This method is simple, transparent and fair. I hope that MAS will adopt this approach in Singapore.
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