In August, I had the rare opportunity to take some time off, so I used that time to do some serious “life admin” housekeeping such as service my car (it’s woefully overdue) and most importantly, put my financial house in order. I got online access to my financial accounts (such as EPF’s i-akaun and Public Mutual online), checked the state of my unit trusts, insurance and finally my retirement accounts.
It was during this that I discovered EPF’s Retirement Advisory Service (RAS).
The service was introduced way back in 2014, and according to this NST article, it aims to give “free advice and impartial guidance to members on how they can make vital decisions about their EPF savings, and make their money last longer throughout the golden years”.
The RAS service has even won an international award!
Since I was a little blur about planning the right strategy for good retirement, I decided to book myself an appointment.
Some tips before you start:
Not all the branches have RAS, so do check the list of offices that do provide the service on their website.
Get an i-akaun before you go. It’ll give you online access to your EPF account. During the consultation, the RAS advisor will have to refer to it and he will ask you to log on to your account. I activated mine really easily. I went to a nearby EPF kiosk, registered and received a temporary password to access my account. These kiosks are often found in banks, so do visit EPF’s website to find out where you can activate your i-akaun.
Although the EPF website said that you can just walk in to meet an RAS officer, it’s best to make an appointment. I called their general help line and made an appointment.
The day of the appointment
I have to say i’m super impressed when the RAS officer called me an hour before my appointment that he has reserved the counter for me, so all I have to do is head to the specified counter to begin the consultation.
When I arrived, I immediately headed to the specified room and we began right on the dot. Efficient!
The RAS officer asked me what I’d like to do, and I told him that I wanted to know more about unit trust investing. So, he taught me how to use EPF’s new unit trust platform to analyse my existing funds’ performance.
He said that he can’t tell me what to do, but he showed me how a fund has to reach a certain percentage in profits to be worth investing in. Using that benchmark, I can decide to hold or move on. (Again, I’m impressed by his impartiality.) While mine was in the green (meaning, it’s making a profit), it did not outperform EPF’s 5-6% yearly dividend. I could wait it out and hope for the best, but I decided to move on and shifted my money back to EPF.
After that, we calculated the amount I’d have for retirement. I was super nervous about this but I was very pleased to discover I was on track to have a decent amount in my EPF at age 55. Phew!
I love the RAS. I love that it exists for every Malaysian, rich and poor. On the whole, the service is really efficient and very useful - especially to beginners trying to grasp personal finance matters.
My fellow Malaysians, I urge you to talk to an RAS officer before you make any major financial move that involves withdrawing from your EPF (either at retirement or before). These folks will highlight the ramification of a financial decision and guide you to make the right decision.
Time is key here - try to have a clear idea of your retirement strategy years before your retirement, not just at 55. If you have enough time, you can reverse bad financial decisions and recover well.
Part 2: The million dollar question: Should you invest your EPF money into unit trust?
Have any of you used the RAS service? What’s your experience? Also - what’s your experience with investing your EPF money into unit trust?