Authors: N Van Zyl AND DJJ Van Zyl

Abstract: The significant shift from defined benefit to defined contribution retirement funds in South Africa has led to many fund members bearing responsibility for a range of risks. Many of these risks, such as those related to investment, longevity and cognitive deterioration are unavoidable. Another category of risk is that related to the choices made by government, employers, trustees, advisors and/or individuals at either national, scheme or individual level. These choices may also pose a threat to a member’s financial wellbeing in retirement. Behavioural economics and finance helps to explain the choices made by these stakeholders in the retirement industry. The authors explain this concept in the context of industry stakeholders and the unique South African economic and demographic landscape, focusing on defined contribution retirement funds. Key behavioural insights applicable to the retirement industry are explored and, where practical, illustrated by stakeholder behaviour. Possible ways to harness these insights in order to improve retirement wellbeing are then discussed.

Keywords: Behavioural economics; behavioural finance; heuristics; retirement; annuitisation; choice architecture