I WAS AGAIN AFFORDED THE OPPORTUNITY TO CHAIR THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS DURING THIS YEAR, OBSERVING HOW MANAGEMENT AND MY FELLOW BOARD MEMBERS WORKED TIRELESSLY TO STEER TRUSTCO INTO NEW TERRITORIES, UNCHARTERED WATERS AS DAUNTLESS AS THE NAVIGATORS OF OLD.
This year felt much like a real live game of chess. Chess has long been considered one of the most strategic games in history, and just like each player begins the game with 16 pieces; one king, one queen, two rooks, two knights, two bishops and eight pawns, so too it was with Trustco. Its opponents were also not just one piece, but sixteen sounds about right. As each of the chess piece types move differently, the most important being the king and the least powerful the pawn, so too Trustco’s opponents and threats differ. The biggest threat must have been the devastating effect leadership (or the lack thereof) had on the South African economy and the knock-on effect it had on Trustco. The other opponents can be ascribed to various factors like the weakening rand (to which our Namibian currency is linked), junk status of our neighbour, the pressure from existing investors, stabilisation in the Namibian property market and challenges in the Namibian economy to name but a few.
With chess, the objective is to “checkmate” the opponent’s king by placing it under an
inescapable threat of capture. The biggest challenge is, of course, to prevent being placed in checkmate yourself, while pursuing the opponent and not losing sight of your own strategy.
A player’s pieces are used as a team to attack and capture the opponent’s pieces, whilst
supporting each other and that is what made the difference this year for Trustco. Teamwork.
I witnessed how management and the board worked together with fervor to overcome the
potential threat of capture, to find new and creative ways to circumvent obstacles to succeed, never backing down. In the face of all this, Trustco not only embraced the implementation of the King IV, but aligned itself accordingly as well.
“Ethical culture,” according to the Ethics Resource Centre, is about teaching employees by
example, “how things are done around here”. It begins with written standards of conduct
that are well conceived, carefully crafted and finally, effectively implemented. But, to be
meaningful, we require more than mere lip service to enforce ethical values.
When the board and management clearly uphold and endorse ethical values and standards,they are setting an ethical “tone at the top.” In addition to becoming strong ethical role models,management also needs to identify and remove the barriers that may prevent their employees from behaving ethically at all times. The advantages of a strong ethical culture are manifold.
Studies repeatedly show that businesses with strong ethical cultures tend to have employees who are more engaged and committed. Employees also feel less pressure to compromise company standards (and if they do observe misconduct, they are more likely to feel comfortable reporting it).
At Trustco unethical behaviour is not tolerated and management leads by example, every day, when no one is watching, and that is what makes the difference.
One can determine how well a company is performing by comparing the results of initiatives to previously set objectives and evaluating to what extent targets were met. Independently of that process, one can use financial indicators to evaluate the company’s business performance and compare it to that of other companies in a similar field. Both methods are valuable for evaluating company performance in an objective way and be in a position to identify opportunities and set new targets for achievement.
The chess player Emanuel Lasker said, “When you see a good move, look for a better one”. This classic quote encapsulates one of the most important lessons every new player struggles to learn. Finding a move that seems adequate — or even good — does not mean you’re ready to play it. Instead, you must search for the best move for a reasonable amount of time. (What that means is largely dependent on the time limits you’re playing with). Only then can you settle for the best move you’ve found so far.
Trustco’s results of initiatives and objectives are clear from the contents of this integrated
annual report. The group achieved all the targets they set out to meet in the previous year. The financial targets are the easiest to use as a point of reference. For Trustco, just performing well, is not good enough. A higher standard is always set to be achieved.
Trustco’s management, employees and board worked tirelessly to achieve the positive outcome reflected in this report. This goes beyond an internal focus on effectiveness and efficiency, but creates sustainable value for all shareholders. As a result management and the board might disagree from time to time, but in our differences lies our strength.
The chess player, Francois Andre Danican Philidor, once said: “The pawns are the soul of chess”. He was the first player to acknowledge the overwhelming importance of pawns in a well played chess game, where pawn structure and small material edges are more likely to determine the winner, than major blunders.
Like in chess, at Trustco every piece has its part to play and the directors, management and staff work together to ensure Trustco generates competitive sustainable value for all its stakeholders.
Legitimacy comes from the Latin verb legitimare, which means lawful. Legitimacy, then, refers to something that is legal, because it meets the specific requirements of the law. It also refers to a state of being, its right to be here and its authenticity.
Trustco’s undisputed credibility in the Namibian market and its contribution to the country’s GDP, marks its right to be and be seen even more profound.
Bobby Fischer, a famous chess player, described it so well when he explained that all have heard that chess is almost entirely about tactics, especially at the lower levels of the game. It’s true that for amateurs, nearly every game will be decided by a tactical error. But, he reminds us, that the likelihood of making such an error is based only on tactical skills; to really show tactical prowess, we must first reach good positions where the tactics are likely to favour us— and make finding the correct paths more difficult for our opponents.
And so it will continue for Trustco, we will play each game with all our hearts, we will strategise, we will use tactics and we will be ready, planning for the next move.
ADV Raymond Heathcote SC
(Chairman of the board)