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FISA Heritage Project – The Association of Trust Companies

The Association of Trust Companies

The Association of Trust Companies (ATC) was formed in 1932. It was considered an extremely prestigious body and quarterly meetings were formal with strictly suit and tie attire. The Association had several special purpose committees and played an important role in influencing some key fiduciary developments, such as an increase in executors’ remuneration in 1991, following discussions with the then Minister of Justice, HJ (“Kobie”) Coetsee.

Membership of the ATC was corporate. In the early 1960s there were some 64 members. As the smaller trust companies and boards of executors were taken over in the “wave of corporatisation” that started in the mid-1960s, so the number of ATC members fluctuated and gradually decreased, holding steady at between 10 and 20 corporates.

The annual reports of the ATC chairman over the years make for interesting reading and give an idea of the extent of industry input that was undertaken. For example, the ATC was also involved in in-depth discussions with the Registrar of Deposit-Taking Institutions and the Reserve Bank on the question of securitisation, debentures and money broking. It was also involved in setting up the Association of Mortgage Bond Scheme Managers (“part bonds”) which were an important area of business for many ATC members.

The formation of FISA

In 2001, with the appointment of a permanent Secretary, the operations of the ATC become more centralised and in 2003 the idea was mooted of promoting the concept of a fiduciary profession built on individual membership.

The Fiduciary Institute of Southern Africa (FISA) was duly constituted, with industry veteran Nico Botha coming up with the name. FISA formally “took over the book” from the ATC on 1 June 2008. For a few years FISA allowed for both corporate and individual membership, until the constitution was changed in December 2011 and a resolution adopted at the AGM in March 2012 to focus solely on individual membership.

The sound objective of this development was to allow for the professional development of fiduciary practitioners, with the introduction of the designation of Financial Practitioner of South Africa ® being the ultimate standard towards which members should strive. In time we can expect the FPSA® designation to carry the same weight and importance as the CFP® designation in the financial planning industry.

Much as the ATC was involved in lobbying initiatives with the authorities, so too FISA has continued with this work, making submissions on behalf of the industry and working at smoothing processes with SARS and the Master’s Office.

According to Nico Botha, 2018 holder of the FISA Chairman’s Award and CEO of ST&T, the establishment of FISA has brought together chartered accountants, attorneys, financial planners and former members of the ATC. The sharing of skills and practical experience by such a diverse group of practitioners can only augur well for the fiduciary industry in a fast-changing world.

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