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29 Apr 2022

Ryan Goh 

Source: The Straits Times © SPH Media Limited. Permission required for reproduction

CPF Volunteering celebrated its First Anniversary on 28 Apr 2022, graced by Minister for Manpower, Dr Tan See Leng.

SINGAPORE - Financial services manager Samuel Soh, 41, once held a negative view of the Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme, believing, among other things, that it limited the ways he could use his savings.


As someone who sold endowments and unit trusts, he also believed that CPF directly competed with his products.


"I had always felt that it was threatening and intimidating to my industry," he said.


Mr Soh's view of CPF changed when his boss told him to read up on the scheme to see how it could complement the products he marketed.


"That was when I started to see the good side of CPF, in particular, the interest rate (it offers)," he said.


"I used to think that there was no point to the 2.5 per cent and 4 per cent interest rate since our money is locked and I cannot get a single cent out. Then I read that a person who hits a certain amount (in savings can) actually do withdrawals early."


His new-found support for the scheme became so strong that he signed up for the CPF's Community Paying it Forward movement in mid-2021


He volunteered to share his knowledge of CPF to help others make the best use of their funds and be better prepared for retirement.


Mr Soh was among more than 200 volunteers honoured by Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng on Thursday (April 28) on the first anniversary of the campaign.


Since the movement was launched, the number of volunteers has risen to more than 4,500 today from the initial 800.


Noting the more than 10,000 online referrals for retirement sum top-ups, voluntary housing refunds and CPF nominations since the start of last year, Dr Tan commended the volunteers for their efforts.


"The CPF system can be complex and volunteers need to ensure that they are providing accurate information to help members make informed decisions about their hard-earned monies," he said.


"When my (constituents) ask me about CPF... I can use the website and the CPF Mobile app to... confirm the information before I address some of their questions," added Dr Tan, who is an MP for Marine Parade GRC.


Explaining why she signed up as a volunteer, retired educator Chung Yin Wah, 64, said she had published a book called Retire Happpy last August as she found it hard to find one single resource for information on the topic.


She realised that in one chapter on having adequate finances, she mentioned CPF a lot.


"After my book got published, a lot of people... told me that they found that chapter very helpful. That was why I wanted to further share my expertise through the programme," she said. 


Engineer Kelvin Chan, 56, is another volunteer. Together with his wife, he aims to explain the CPF scheme to their family members.


Like Mr Soh, he appreciates the compound interest earned from CPF savings.


He sees how that would help his elder sister finance her retirement needs. "With CPF, it allows my sister to have a steady stream of retirement income and secure a shelter for the rest of her life," he said.


To those who are doubtful about CPF, he said: "You should explore your own journey, but you have to be persistent, have trust and belief in the scheme, and after your money compounds many times, you will understand its benefits."


Mr Soh encourages others to join as CPF volunteers.


He said: "When you understand CPF very well, you will know that... (it is) a good deal. Yet so many people... are not paying attention to it. So we should do our part to educate as many people as possible."


Article was first published in The Straits Times on 29/4/2022