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Pension funds

SEMA sees growth in young members

The number of members in their 20s and 30s rose 60% to 48,000 in two years, mainly driven by the growth of the science industry

By Nov 16, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Huh Sung-moo, CIO of Korea Scientists and Engineers Mutual-Aid Association
Huh Sung-moo, CIO of Korea Scientists and Engineers Mutual-Aid Association

Backed by the growth of the information technology and bio-related industries in South Korea, Korea Scientists and Engineers Mutual-Aid Association (SEMA) has seen a lot of new registrations in recent years, particularly from young members in their 20s to 30s. 

The Korean retirement pension fund had nearly 99,000 members as of end-October of this year, nearly doubling the 55,000 members in 2016. The number of members in their 20s and 30s increased from 30,000 in 2019 to 48,000 at end-October 2021. In particular, the proportion of new members in their 20s jumped from 20% in 2019 to 30% in 2021, which contributed to reducing the average age of members from 46 to 44 in the same period.

SEMA credits rapid growth in the IT and bio-related industries to driving the increase in new members. The retirement pension fund allows experts in science and engineering organizations, such as scientific research and development institutes, software businesses, government-funded science research institutes and corporate-affiliated research institutes, to become its members.

It has attracted new young members by providing preferential interest rates. For one year from April 2020, SEMA offered 0.3% points higher interest rates to members aged 39 and under through an installment savings program. In detail, while the savings program provided respective 2.8%, 3% and 3.2% interest rates for one-year, two-year and three-to-five-year savings, the young members who applied for the preferential rates between April 2020 to April 2021 were offered 3.1%, 3.3% and 3.5% interest rates, respectively.

SEMA, with 10.6 trillion won assets under management as of October, has been accelerating its overseas alternative investments. The retirement pension fund said on Nov. 12 that it has invested $500 million in a joint acquisition of Vertical Bridge Holdings LLC, a leading wireless communication infrastructure operator in the US. Global real estate investment trust DigitalBridge Group Inc. led the joint acquisition by buying a 58% stake in Vertical Bridge.

The Korean retirement pension fund also expects there will be huge investment opportunities in infrastructure as the US and some developed countries are likely to bring forward investments in both traditional and IT-related infrastructure to cope with China’s increasing power said Chief Investment Officer Huh Sung-moo during the ASK 2021 forum in October


Write to Jae-fu Kim at hu@hankyung.com

Jihyun Kim edited this article.

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