NEW aims announced by the National Savings Fund (NSF) are for wealth to be built up at the grassroots level and for a marketing drive to boost the fund’s membership.
With the strategies to add members while retaining existing members, the fund’s membership is targeted by the Ministry of Finance to reach 1.2 million this year.
Jaruluck Ruengsuwan, the newly appointed secretary-general of the NSF, said that a four-year plan to 2021 would be declared by the board on January 25, with three main targets.
The fund aims to attract 700,000 new members this year, enabling it to reach the target of 1.2 million, she said. Currently, the fund has about 520,000 members, mostly aged between 30 and 50.
Most of the members are farmers interested in boosting their savings through the fund, benefiting from the convenience of four sales channels, including the Bank for Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives. The others are Krungthai Bank, Government Housing Bank and Government Savings Bank.
The fund believes education on the need for retirement savings is vital, Jaruluck said. Students in secondary schools and universities will be among those targeted for membership, which is open to people aged 15 to 60.
The NSF will join with the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) and state-run banks to expand the savings network and broadly provide NSF-related information through public relations activities, Jaruluck said.
New channels for new applicants are expected to boost convenience, she said. The fund has been negotiating with several commercial banks for more points of applications.
Jaruluck cited her own wish to bring a savings discipline to people at the grassroots level as her motivation to become the NSF secretary-general.
“Public relations has been a weakness of the NSF. After this, I will talk to the president of the SET that the exchange can also be PR centre for us even though its base will be different from the grassroots,” she said.
The vision she wants to see is that the NSF with the highest number of members in Thailand with the easiest access into the fund. Presently, there is the base about 21 million people can access into. Excluding those with Social Security Fund, there remain targeted people of about 10 million.
Presently, the NSF is valued at approximately Bt2.9 billion. Its investment is divided into two parts. The fund has a policy to invest 60 per cent of total in low-risk assets including government bonds and bank deposits and the remaining 40 per cent in other assets such as corporate debentures and mutual funds.
Meanwhile, currently, nearly 80 per cent of total investment is centralised in low-risk assets and 20 per cent in other assets, Jaruluck said.
This year is expected to see NSF to invest no more than 15 per cent of total in the Thai exchange through mutual funds investing in SET50 first, she said. The NSF targets to keep its return to no more than 3 per cent per annum.