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‘Trustees protect investors and ensure transparency of transactions’


Funmi Ekundayo

STL Trustees is a success story in Nigeria’s fast evolving Trustee industry. In this interview with VICTORIA OJUGBANA, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, STL Trustees, Funmi Ekundayo provides valuable insight on the industry’s offerings and an evaluation of the sector in Nigeria.

Can you explain in details the roles of corporate trustees in business transactions and how it has changed over time?
The role of Trustees in business varies based on the structure of a transaction and our role also cuts across several types of business transactions. Trustees play critical roles in Bonds and debt issues where we represent the interest of the Bondholders and where there is a Sinking Fund, we manage same for the purpose of paying the investors their coupons and principal investment as and when due. In collective investment schemes- we represent the interest of unit holders and also ensure that the fund manager complies with the terms of the scheme; for debentures trusts, syndications and consortium lending, we hold the security pledged for loans/facilities to ensure repayment by the Borrower(s); in real estate/construction/project finance, trustees, act as intermediaries to ensure that the terms of the necessary agreements are kept while they hold title to the property on behalf of the all stakeholders to ensure that there is a seamless transfer of the asset to the ultimate off-takers. ·

In Private Trust, trustees hold assets and manage same for the benefit of third parties (including the settlor in some cases).

As for the question on how the role of trustees has changed over time, this has been quite significant and impressive when compared with where we are coming from.Trustees have come from being perceived as “fringe players” to being recognized as major players playing a critical role of protecting the interest of investors, as well as ensuring and safe-guarding the transparency and integrity of transactions.

Talking about private trust, how well can corporate trustees help solve problems associated with succession planning?
Succession planning is one of the main businesses of corporate trustees. As corporate trustees, our duty is to ensure that the assets left behind by the client is properly managed in accordance with the specific instructions and wishes of the client and also to ensure that such assets are preserved for the next generation. Where the beneficiaries have not come of age, the corporate trustees will oversee the assets with disbursement to the beneficiaries as provided in the trust deed to ensure that the needs of the beneficiaries are met at all times without the assets being eroded and when they attain the appropriate age same is transferred in accordance with either the trust deed or the will depending on the estate planning structure adopted.

STL Trustees has been involved in a lot of specialized transactions across different sectors of the economy. For instance, you are a delegate trustee to the first Sukuk Issuance in Nigeria, the State of Osun Sukuk Al-Ijara and you were recently appointed as a delegate trustee to the first sovereign Sukuk to be issued in Nigeria – the N100B FGN Road Sukuk 1. What set STL Trustees apart from others in the market place?
Well, at STL Trustees our core values are integrity, professionalism, commitment and innovation. These values ensure that in dealing with clients, whether individual or corporate, we strive to always deliver trust solutions, which are guaranteed to meet the need of our clients on a continuously satisfactory basis. Essentially, our ability to anticipate and meet the needs of our clients while at the same surpassing our client’s expectations is what stands us out from the rest.

Do you have some specialized products for clients?
STL Trustees has some products designed to ensure that even nominal income earners are able to create trusts for themselves, their children, and different personal reasons.

We have what we call STL CRV. That is controlling your retirement voluntarily. What does STL CRV enable you to achieve? Long-term goals. This is a savings product, which has been designed for income earners who are mindful of preparing ahead for post-retirement from paid employment. If you are an employee who has a pension plan being done already by your company, then you have the STL CRV to also complement that.

We also have the children education trust, which of course, like the name, signifies, and is towards educational trust. Do you want to have a plan ahead for your children? You can do that with our children education trust.

We also have the STL target event. Target event is for those who would wish to set aside some funds to meet a particular need at some determinate time in the future. The advantage of this product is that it simplifies savings for events by the client and ensures that the funds are available for the required purpose.

In addition, we also offer insurance benefits to all our retail products in order to give investors an edge in what they are able to get out of these products.

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