Newsletter 1

The Story of our Company's Heritage and Destiny

(Nico Both & Adv. Sarel Carstens)

(Nico Both & Adv. Sarel Carstens)

"Identity is Destiny"

-Laurence D Ackerman

If one meets a new friend, get introduced to new colleagues’ and or get exposed to a new company, the history of such an entity is always important. Understandably one is interested in where they come from to understand where they are going to, what the philosophies of the past directors were and how the new directors intend to continue building on the foundation that was laid by their predecessors. Hereunder follows the history of Stellenbosch Trustees and Trust Corporation Limited (hereinafter referred to as “Stellentrust”) as well as the people who were and are still involved.


History of Stellentrust

How it all began

The Public Trustee and Debenture Corporation (currently known as Stellentrust) was incorporated on 14 May 1952 as a public company with its registered office at 24 Wale Street, Cape Town, the former Syfrets Head Office. The registered address was later changed to cnr. Church and Somerset Streets, Graaff Reinet, from where the company provided fiduciary services to the Cape Midlands.

The share register of The Public Trustee and Debenture Corporation reads like a who’s who of the old Syfrets Trust, with names such as Clive Corder, Ed Carter, Hugh White, Ahston Dominy, John Cragg and Brian Robinson. They were all Syfrets directors who shaped Syfrets Trust into a marque with premium-class credentials. Syfrets had a rich history with its roots in 1834. For a century or more Syfrets was considered as a giant in the fiduciary services industry. In 1999 Nico Botha, Stellentrust’s current CEO, became the CEO of Syfrets Trust and he and his team took Syfrets Trust to new heights.

With its incorporation in 1952, Public Trustee and Debenture Corporation (currently known as Stellentrust) became part of the Syfrets “family tree”.

Whilst the heart of Syfrets was transplanted early in 2002 and its well-known burgundy colour turned blue (BOE) and as such, Nico Botha and his team continued to provide fiduciary services until his early retirement in 2010.

The Public Trustee and Debenture Corporation also changed after it left the “Syfrets Family Tree” and its name was changed to Stellenbosch Trustees and Trust Corporation Limited, commonly referred to as Stellentrust, when it became a subsidiary of Stellentrust Holdings (Pty) Ltd.


Stellentrust was Born

Nico Botha, being passionate about quality fiduciary services, came out of retirement to join Stellentrust and was appointed as its CEO. “For centuries the baobab has stood as an African icon of size, strength and longevity providing, food, water and shelter. The baobab dominates the savannah and so will Stellentrust in the future”, says Nico. With him at the helm and supported by Sarel as its Chairperson, so will Stellentrust stand above the fiduciary industry in South Africa. Stellentrust therefor has its roots deep in- and spread wide across South Africa that included companies such as Syfrets Trust.

According to Nico, “the baobab is known to live for hundreds of years, adapting to the vagaries of nature, and so will Stellentrust adapt to its changing economic environment and will continue providing first-class fiduciary services”.

As a Section 910 compliant company, Stellentrust is passionate about the “Family Home Office” and will continue providing high quality fiduciary services (estate planning, structuring and advice) to one generation after another.

LDP (Stellenbosch) is our current auditors and Standard Bank Clearwater Mall is our bankers. This new Fiduciary Service Provider has already taken appointments by the Master of the High court in Trusts and deceased estates.

Stellentrust has already secured mandates to provide Fiduciary Services to the Ultra High Networth clients of a number of Wealth and Asset Managers, with combined assets under management exceeding R60bn

Let Stellentrust help you to be the master of your own destiny by entrusting your affairs to this unique Family Home Office. Let our trademark become a love-mark in your affairs.


Family Home Office

The misguided belief that wills and trusts are enough.

The belief that wills and trusts are enough to sustain the legacy of wealthy families is misguided. Poor family governance, compliance and bad structuring can pose a risk to preserving and building wealth for current and future generations.

With the emergence of first-generation wealth after 1994, there is a need for families to confront the risks that could jeopardise the current asset base, their legacy and the wealth that is intended for future generations.

“More and more South Africans are looking for advice, assistance with planning from a reputable and independent source”, says Sarel, Executive Chairman of Stellenbosch Trustees and Trust Limited, a specialist Fiduciary and planning company for "ultra-high net worth families". But the figures of those seeking help should be much higher, judging by the amount of wealth that has been created, especially for previously disadvantaged groups.

Family governance and compliance can easily go wrong. "There are plenty of families that don’t talk to each other. Others talk via lawyers and trustees. Parents and children sue each other, putting the entire family wealth at risk. The only people who are not unhappy are the lawyers."

Take the case of the Vanderbilts, one of the richest families in the US who made their fortune in transport in the 19th century, but their descendants later declared bankruptcy.

Sarel says “wealthy families are frequently unable to articulate what the purpose of the wealth is. The biggest problem is the culture of entitlement, greed and jealousy. When you apply these traits with money the worst comes out. Without a good management plan for wealth, families can squander what they have within two generations or less.”

One of SA’s wealthiest families, whose wealth spans more than three generations, appointed a dedicated and independent Family Home Offices to deal with and advise on structuring, governance and legacy issues.

Marc Lubner, a businessman whose grandfather was behind Plate Glass (PG), says a "Family Home Office" has played a big role in preserving the Lubner family wealth to the third generation.

Lubner says through the Family Home Office they have been able to create single cost structures for all the beneficiaries. The Lubner family created a Family Office made up of professionals who are not members of the family.

"We have regular family meetings. We have a formal structure where investment decisions are discussed and in which we have the input of outside advisers. We make decisions by consensus. There is never a vote. The Family Office allows that to happen. It keeps the family together.

"One of my brothers decided we should not be investing in socially unethical areas (tobacco). That was discussed and debated. We came to a compromise and we decided we would not invest."

Through their Family Home Office, Lubner says, family members are able to invest independently as well as through the family structures. He says by investing together the family bond is strengthened.

The Stellentrust Family Home Offices looks deeper than traditional financial services institutions because our Familie Home Office offers truly independent “in-house” structuring and planning advice, governance, compliance, fiduciary and trust services to wealthy families. They help families deal with risks to the sustainability of the estate. They also advise on the best solutions to sustain the legacy and wealth for future generations.

Sarel says “first-generation-wealth families need to understand that there are various ways of preserving wealth and creating lasting legacies. These families have an opportunity to come together as a group through trusts, entrepreneurial structures and help create solid future businesses and talented entrepreneurs”.

The other way of creating a lasting legacy is by bequeathing wealth to charitable causes or using it to create scholarships. The Vanderbilts may have lost their wealth, but their legacy does live on, primarily in the form of the Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

We are a family- and employee owned business, where we understand the value of confidentiality and personal service. We are truly independent, thus offering you services free of conflict from the investment management process or service cross-selling.

Relying on his 40-year industry-experience, Nico says the following: “The key-critical issue in all planning, structuring and review is understanding the whole and the parts that comprise the whole as well as the interdependency between those parts. It is dangerous to plan, structure and or review only one part in isolation and often leads to unintended consequences”.