Making time for members

Dressed like typical office workers, if you met them on the streets, you would never guess that the trio we spoke to today were from the CPF Board. Now, you will get to meet them as part of a group of volunteers who offer their weekends to advise CPF members at Retirement Planning Roadshows.

17 years and counting, Chong Lin is an IT veteran in the Member Application Systems department. Joyce has worked 5 years behind the scenes, in the Housing Schemes Group helping members with their applications to use their CPF savings to buy a HDB flat. As for Iver, he joined the Board 1 and a half years ago, providing internal training on retirement schemes like CPF LIFE.

Let us find out what drives them to do more for CPF members.


CPF’s weekend warriors (left to right): Iver Tan, Joyce Ong, Lim Chong Lin

Why did you decide to be a volunteer at the CPF Retirement Planning Roadshows?

Iver: My scope of work covers retirement planning. So naturally, the Retirement Planning roadshow appeals to me. It’s also a good opportunity to meet CPF members in person and understand their concerns, so I can explain the CPF schemes to help them make informed decisions about retirement. Actually, I was so excited to meet them that I’ve signed up for all the roadshows!

Chong Lin: I feel that to experience the full spectrum of things that the Board does, it’s good for me to make use of opportunities like these roadshows to do something different from my usual role. By volunteering at roadshows, I can also have face-to-face interactions with CPF members, hear their feedback and share my own thoughts about the issues they face.

Joyce: I know a lot of CPF members have misconceptions about CPF, so I wanted to play my part to help them know more about CPF, and reassure them that we are here to help.

Any memorable encounters during your time at these roadshows?

Joyce: There was this one occasion where I spoke with a few CPF members for almost 45 minutes. They thanked me and said they were grateful to us for organising this roadshow because they found it very beneficial. They even offered to buy us liang teh (herbal tea), but of course we couldn’t accept! It is little things like these that make us want to volunteer because we know our members appreciate what we are doing.

Chong Lin: There was this 24-year-old young man who had just graduated and started working only about a month ago. When he told me that he wanted to know more about retirement and start planning for it, I told him that I wished I had the same mentality when I was at his age. As a father, it’s heartening to see youngsters already thinking about retirement.

There was another incident when a member wanted to know why the increase in CPF LIFE payout was not proportionate to the increase in the retirement sums (i.e. Basic, Full, Enhanced Retirement Sum). Note: To find out the answer to this FAQ, visit our website. As he spoke quite loudly, a crowd actually gathered around me which was quite daunting. However, we managed to explain the rationale behind it, and we could see the people around us starting to understand.

Iver: I was at the kopitiam still in my CPF T-shirt after the roadshow. I was just about to order my food when an elderly lady came up to me and said she wanted to find out how she could leave her CPF monies to her children. I sat down with her to explain the CPF Nomination Scheme and how it works for about 20 minutes. The lady was very thankful and complimented us for giving up our weekends to share useful information with CPF members.

What questions do you frequently get asked at CPF roadshows?

Chong Lin: Many members have asked me to give them an overview of CPF retirement plans and this usually takes at least 15 minutes (laughs). On one occasion, I spoke to a member for 30 minutes and after that she said she finally understood how CPF helps with her retirement after so many years. She also said that we should have a roadshow every week!

Joyce: For me, I get a lot of questions about CPF top-ups and whether they would be eligible for tax relief if they were to do a cash top-up for their parents.

Iver: One of the most common questions I get is “how much money can I withdraw at age 55?” Some also wanted to know more about CPF LIFE – if it would give them a lifelong income, and whether they would still get any payouts if their CPF savings are exhausted. The roadshow made it possible for us to assure our members that they will continue to receive their monthly payouts for life under CPF LIFE.

What is the one activity everyone should try out at the CPF Retirement Planning roadshow?

Chong Lin: Try out the interactive tool called the Retirement Estimator that tells you how much retirement savings you must have at different ages based on the retirement income you wish to receive every month.

With each member’s unique situation as the beginning point, the calculator makes it easier for them to understand retirement from their perspective and how CPF can help them achieve their desired retirement lifestyle.