Just this week Gilligan Rowe + Associates Ltd, (through our trustee company Cornwall Trustees Ltd) was awarded the prestigious ‘2008 New Zealand Corporate Trustee of the Year' award by the New Zealand Trustees Association.
Naturally, we're pleased. But while it may be a big deal in our little world and make us feel pretty good about ourselves for a second or two, it's only on reflection that the real message behind this story jumps out.
And that message is all about two things: security and procrastination. Let me explain.
According to Errol Anderson, Registrar NZ Trustees Assn, "A real strength of this Corporate Trustee (GRA) is the hands-on commitment from the Directors through to clerical staff where their integrity and personal belief in the structure and process provides the client with a high degree of security."
It's this ‘high degree of security' that I really want to impress upon readers. It seems like we all want it, but in many cases never believe that ‘out-of-the-blue', negative, life-altering events can ever affect us.
It's sad. We see it time and time again; New Zealanders who want the protection of a business or family trust after a major financial disaster, relationship split or unexpected life event! And while we can help some people and protect them from future events, most often it's just too late!
In short, I believe Professional Trustees are not meant to be in the ambulance business. To me, we're in the protection business.
Procrastination and putting off decisions to set up a Trust can cause pain. Real pain. And it's not just financial. It can also affect health and relationships. We know because we get to see it all too regularly.
So, rather than tell you train-wreck stories about people who get it wrong (hmmm, maybe a good idea for future articles?), I've decided to share a TRUE good news story where our client actually did the right thing, made the decision, and took action.
For privacy reasons, we've changed our client's name in this story...We'll call him ‘Mike'.
Mike and his business partner had grown their services company to a very large and successful enterprise in NZ. They had a firm with a recognisable brand and a great reputation.
Everything was looking up and looking good. It would have been easy for John to simply believe that they we're bullet-proof. After all, the company was expanding and making money.
But he didn't. He knew that in business (and life) things can come out of ‘left field' which you may have no control over. So three years ago, he contacted our firm and set up a Trust. Full financials were completed and all Trust administration including gifting was concluded.
Along with his business partner, Mike had business dealings in Australia and gave personal guarantees to a creditor. Sadly, the company got into financial difficulties (through no fault of Johns) and John's partner elected voluntary bankruptcy. This automatically involved Mike and bankruptcy proceedings are presently underway.
Is Mike happy that his business failed through no fault of his own? No. Is Mike relieved that he didn't procrastinate and took action to establish a Trust to protect his assets? Yes!
The relief came because as Professional Trustees, we understood his situation and we had a strategy. Next, we implemented the strategy and reviewed his situation each year for three years. In this case, our client is protected.
We have an industry in New Zealand that we can be proud of. So, on the outside while some people might view our job as a mystery or even stuffy, we know that as Professional Trustees it's all about helping people to protect what's important.
We have a good industry full of good and professional people who care. But while we think we're good, we're not good enough to force you take the first step.
That job's completely over to you.