Tapping on the community spirit

When it comes to explaining a topic as multi-faceted as retirement planning, nothing beats a good talk for you to get into understanding the finer details. This is where the CPF Board’s Community Engagement Team comes into play.

We speak with 3 members of the team, Ong Chian Fuh, Caroline Lim, and Marvin Lim, to find out more about what they do and why the team focuses on working with external partners in their various talks and events.




How has working with community leaders and volunteers helped with the CPF Board’s outreach to its members?

What fascinates me when working with community leaders and volunteers is that despite being in a world where information is readily available online, they continue to reinforce the importance of interpersonal relations in reaching certain segments of our members.

They are key representatives in the community who have spent much of their time building up the “Kampong Spirit” among residents. By imparting the right CPF knowledge to them, they would be familiar faces that residents can better connect with to understand the CPF schemes.

What types of training does the CPF Board provide to volunteers?

The volunteers we reach out to are often community leaders who already have good public speaking skills and can effectively deliver messages to our target audience.

The training that we provide them therefore focuses on explaining the rationale behind CPF schemes and how members can plan better for their retirement with their CPF savings.

The training is conducted within the volunteers’ own community groups as this provides a safe and conducive environment for them to build their confidence before they start sharing with others.

Why did the team decide to engage partners in its outreach efforts? How have these partners supported CPFB in this endeavor?

With a small team like us reaching out to over 3 million CPF members, it is only logical that we should always be on the lookout for partners and organisations which share the same target audience as us.

Some partnerships enable us to extend our reach. For example, the People’s Association (PA) has helped us greatly in rallying the community to spread the CPF message through their base of passionate community volunteers. Other collaborations e.g. with government agencies such as HDB, MOH and IRAS allow us to tap on their expertise in areas such as housing, healthcare and income tax that would be of interest to our members.

With regards to the community talks organised in collaboration with PA, is there a difference between these talks and the other talks organised by the CPF Board?

Thematic talks organised by the CPF Board are more targeted. They provide an in-depth coverage on specific CPF schemes with the objective of helping members make informed decisions at key milestones.

Community talks are meant to raise general awareness and seed appreciation of the CPF system amongst the community. Hence, the messages are more generic, the setting more casual, and the communication style more personal.

What feedback/misconceptions do you frequently get about CPF from the residents attending these talks?

That one should withdraw as much as possible when they turn 55 years old, else they would not be able to do so thereafter. The truth is, members are not fully aware of the options they have with their CPF savings. If they don’t withdraw immediately, their savings can continue to earn attractive interest. They can also choose to earmark part of their savings for housing purposes so it does not form part of their retirement sum. Another option they have is to increase their monthly retirement payouts by topping- up or deferring the start of their monthly payouts till later on.

Chian Fuh:
One common misconception is that MediSave savings will not be returned to the beneficiaries when the member passes away. This falsehood had been circulated via WhatsApp. The fact is that MediSave savings will be returned to the beneficiaries either through a nomination or the Intestacy Law. In addition, MediSave can also be used to pay for the last hospitalisation bill of the deceased member.

Moving forward, what are the plans for the engagement team?

We are designing a portable kit that helps community leaders share the “CPF story” at community events, functions or even at 1-to-1 settings. We are also constantly gathering feedback during our outreach sessions on other CPF topics that are of interest to the community. This would help us improve our content when we do our next round of engagement.

Chian Fuh:
At the same time, we want to continue expanding the community engagement network. With a strong community network, we will be able to get a better sense of the ground sentiments which, in turn, helps us to introduce better policies that benefit the greater community.



A Partner’s View


Mr. Dennis Chee
Vice Chairman of PA Communications Workgroup


What made you step forward to be trained to speak on CPF policies?

I did it at the behest of the PA and CPF staff to gain a better understanding of the policies, so I can be somewhat proficient in answering residents’ queries.

How has it been useful?

I was able to present twice to my residents out of the 6 CPF sharing sessions conducted. Most importantly, I am now able to render more meaningful and substantive advice to the residents where CPF is concerned.

How did you feel after sharing on CPF for the first time?

I was relieved after the first time, but also had a sense of accomplishment as I could confidently field and answer most of the queries. However, I also realised the inadequacy of my knowledge since there were queries which I had to refer to the CPF officers. It always feels great to know that you have sound back-up while engaging in real-time steep learning.

Keen to help your community understand CPF schemes better? Write to us at intouchmag@cpf.gov.sg if you would like to be a volunteer.