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Understanding the Mandatory Provident Fund: A Comprehensive Overview


Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF)

The Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) is a crucial pillar of Hong Kong’s retirement savings system, designed to ensure financial security for the working population during their post-employment years. Enacted in December 1995, the MPF system was introduced to address the challenges an ageing population poses and encourage individuals to save for retirement. This comprehensive system requires employers and employees to contribute a percentage of the employee’s relevant income to a designated MPF account. This article will explore the key components, functioning, benefits, and challenges associated with the Mandatory Provident Fund.

Key Components of the MPF:

  1. Mandatory Contributions: The cornerstone of the MPF system is the mandatory contributions made by both employers and employees. Employees contribute a percentage of their relevant income, while employers are also required to make corresponding contributions. These contributions are calculated based on the employee’s income, subject to a prescribed income cap.
  2. Contribution Rates: As of the last available information, the contribution rates stand at 5% for both employers and employees, totalling a mandatory contribution of 10% of the employee’s relevant income. However, it’s crucial to note that these rates are subject to periodic review and adjustment based on economic conditions and policy considerations.
  3. Relevant Income: The term “relevant income” encompasses various types of earnings, including wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, and allowances. However, certain types of income, such as overtime pay and severance payments, are excluded from the calculation of relevant income.

Functioning of the MPF System:

  1. Fund Accumulation: The contributions made by both employers and employees are channeled into MPF funds, which are managed by approved trustees. These funds are invested in a diversified portfolio of assets, including equities, bonds, and other financial instruments. The goal is to generate returns that contribute to the growth of the fund over the course of the employee’s career.
  2. Individual Accounts: Each employee has an individual MPF account, where their contributions are recorded and managed. This account serves as a personalized record of the employee’s accumulated savings, and it allows them to track the performance of their investments over time.
  3. Investment Choices: MPF scheme members often have the flexibility to choose from a range of investment funds offered by their respective trustees. These funds may vary in risk profile and return potential, providing members with the opportunity to tailor their investment strategy based on their risk tolerance and financial goals.

Benefits of the MPF System:

  1. Retirement Savings: The primary objective of the MPF system is to facilitate retirement savings. By mandating contributions from both employers and employees, the system ensures that individuals build a financial nest egg to support them during their retirement years.
  2. Investment Growth: The investment component of the MPF allows contributors to potentially benefit from the growth of financial markets. Over the long term, the compounding effect of returns on investments can significantly enhance the value of the accumulated funds.
  3. Portability: The MPF system offers a degree of portability, allowing individuals to transfer their accrued benefits between different MPF schemes or providers. This feature enhances flexibility and enables members to optimize their investment choices based on their evolving financial circumstances.

Challenges and Criticisms:

  1. Limited Control: Some individuals criticize the MPF system for its lack of flexibility and control. While contributors can choose from a selection of investment funds, the overall structure and management of the system are subject to regulatory guidelines, limiting participants’ ability to have a direct say in fund management.
  2. Administrative Costs: Another point of contention is the administrative costs associated with the MPF system. Critics argue that these costs, which cover fund management fees and administrative expenses, can erode the overall returns on investments and diminish the effectiveness of the system in providing retirement income.
  3. Market Volatility: The performance of MPF funds is influenced by market conditions, and contributors may experience fluctuations in the value of their investments. During periods of economic downturn or market volatility, this can lead to concerns among scheme members about the security of their retirement savings.
  4. Coverage Gaps: The MPF system does not cover all individuals in the workforce. Certain categories of workers, such as the self-employed and casual workers earning below a specified income threshold, may not be required to contribute to the MPF. This results in coverage gaps, leaving some segments of the population without the benefits of the mandatory savings scheme.


The Mandatory Provident Fund is a fundamental component of Hong Kong’s social security framework, playing a crucial role in ensuring the financial well-being of individuals during their retirement years. By mandating contributions from both employers and employees, the system aims to create a sustainable pool of funds that can support retirees in maintaining a decent standard of living. While the MPF system has its merits, including the potential for investment growth and portability, it also faces challenges such as limited control for contributors, administrative costs, market volatility, and coverage gaps. As Hong Kong continues to evolve, it is essential to periodically review and enhance the MPF system to address these challenges and ensure its effectiveness in meeting the retirement needs of the workforce.


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