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Johan van der Berg  | Financial Controller, 49

Had seen his fund projections shrink by 80%

‘The mechanic whose car doesn’t work’

Johan van der Berg used to describe himself as “like a mechanic whose car doesn’t work” because he spent his days making sure that big construction projects finished on time and on budget, yet his own retirement savings plan was totally off track.

That all changed when the name of this lucky husband and dad was drawn randomly from 17,830 entries to win the 10X Investments’ R1 million competition.

Before his lucky break, the 49-year-old Johan said, he had been bitterly disappointed with the retirement savings industry. Despite having saved for 25 years, he was getting increasingly worried as he watched his Retirement Annuity with one of the big South African life companies miss projections year after year.

When he started saving into the fund, he said, he was led to believe that he would retire with R5-6 million, which looked good to him then. But the projected riches did not materialise, and it started to look like he would be cashing out around R1 million when he reached the policy’s maturity age of 55.

Failing to hit projections by such a long way, by at least 80%, would be totally unacceptable in most other spheres of life, a truth this 49-year-old father-of-one lives every day in his job as a financial controller in the construction industry. The later projections meant Johan was looking at retiring on a maximum of 20% of what he was expecting before.

“I spend my days punching numbers into a computer, looking at schedules, timelines, costing, budgets … to make sure that projects are executed on time and within budget,” he says. “But, like the mechanic whose car is always broken, I have not made the best choices with my own money.”

The sole breadwinner in the family, Johan said, he had started to get really worried. “I didn’t know how I was going to get out of that situation, how I was going to support my wife and daughter.”

His error was to blindly trust a third party with his retirement, a mistake so many people wake up to only when they retire and realise they have a lot less than they expected and need.

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