Issue: April/June 2010

Not always black and white

Cathy McClune

Cathy McClune
Manager: Absa Trust Beneficiary Fund & Employee Benefit Trusts Marketing

Why Service Excellence

In a beneficiary fund and trust environment, one should never view the administration involved as just another job because it entails so much more. Just like someone who sweeps the floors at a hospital contributes to the hygiene of the environment, so we contribute to the beneficiaries' wellbeing and the minor children's development, says Cathy McClune of Absa Trust.

A trustee's fiduciary responsibility places him/her in a position of fulfilling the role of a parent to the minor beneficiaries, advisor and guide to the widow/widower, intermediary between beneficiaries and institutions like schools, universities, etc. The social responsibility towards the beneficiaries also requires the trustee to have empathy and patience as well as to ensure that they are well taken care of, thus the need for value-adding service.

Commitment to Service Excellence

The trustee should embark on setting a service standard by enhancing client service with value-adding solutions. Part of the strategy should be to equip those employees who are responsible for the administration with the necessary interpersonal skills required to deal with the beneficiaries. To accomplish this, one must invest a great deal in the development of skills and product knowledge. Adhere to high service standards and do not fool yourself by proclaiming service excellence while neglecting to keep your promises and make sure that you practice what you preach.

Be friendly, helpful, honest, reliable, accountable and supportive. Encourage employees to continually initiate creative ideas that will add value to your products and services, and reward and celebrate your successes. Design your products to ensure that dependants receive optimum benefit from the proceeds of employee benefit schemes and ensure that your cost structures guarantee value for money.

Provide annual financial statements to all clients to ensure that beneficiaries and the fund are well informed of the beneficiary fund's financial position.

The Way Forward

One should never say we have arrived; continuously venture into uncharted waters with new initiatives and continually review your products and services to ensure you meet the changing needs of your clients. Continue to empower your employees with the necessary skills as if they will never leave your company. Continue to invest in empowering and educating your clients/beneficiaries, and in so doing fulfil your social responsibility.