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FISA Heritage Project – the role of BoE

The role of BoE

The Board of Executors (BoE) was the second trust company to be formed in South Africa, following the SA Association for the Administration and Settlement of Estates.

The Board of Executors was created in 1838 following a meeting of 50 of Cape Town’s eminent citizens at the home of its first secretary, Advocate JH Hofmeyer, on the corner of Burg and Strand Streets.

The SA Association for the Administration and Settlement of Estates took affront to the formation of the BoE and wrote to Queen Victoria to ask her to discontinue the operations of BoE. This handwritten letter is housed on the fifth floor of what is now Nedbank Private Wealth in Cape Town. It took some four years but finally the queen decreed that BoE could trade. In effect therefore, for the first four years of its existence, BoE was trading “illegally”.

In 1856 BoE moved to its later premises on the corner of Wale and Adderley Streets in Cape Town, formerly the site of the hospital of the Dutch East India Company and opposite the old Slave Lodge.

The concept of a “board of executors” increasingly took hold, summarised by the below dates of formation:

1856   The Graaf Reinet Board of Executors

1861   The Eastern Cape Province and Guardian Loan and Investment Company

1862   The Paarl Board of Executors

1876   The Griqualand Board of Executors

1887   ER Syfret & Company

1890   The Midland Trust and Agency Company formed

1917   The Calvinia Board of Executors

1920   The North West Board of Executors (under the support of General Jan Smuts)

In 1947, Syfrets Trust and the SA Association for the Administration and Settlement of Estates entered into a partnership agreement whereby the two companies would develop trust companies in other parts of South Africa.

Thus grew the trust company movement in South Africa. The history of BoE/Syfrets/Nedbank in itself is detailed and complicated – see the references below for more reading if you are interested. Of course, in time other trust companies came into being, largely through acquisitions by the major banks. These all have their own fascinating histories and would in due course become members of the Association of Trust Companies (ATC), the precursor to FISA, which was founded in 1932.