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May 27th, 2016

UTC’s Chairman’s address at AGM

 

 ADDRESS BY MR. KRISHNA BOODHAI –
CHAIRMAN
ON THE OCCASION OF THE TRINIDAD & TOBAGO
UNIT TRUST CORPORATION’S
34TH ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
HELD ON TUESDAY MAY 24TH, 2016 AT
THE QUEEN’S HALL, ST. ANNS

GOOD EVENING, Fellow Directors of the Trust, representative of the Auditor General, specially invited guests, Management and staff of the Corporation, our valued Unitholders, representatives of the media, ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to be addressing you at our thirty-fourth (34th) Annual General Meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation.

I would firstly like to graciously thank Mr. Wendell Mottley for his stellar service as Chairman of the UTC over the past two (2) years. We also bid farewell to several long-standing Board Members. I pay tribute to their tremendous contribution over the years and I also warmly welcome the new members of our Board, as they begin a new chapter in the Corporation’s history books.

In accordance with our statutory requirement, as stated in Section 31 of the Unit Trust Act, the Board is required to convene an Annual General Meeting not later than six (6) months after the

later than June 30th each year. As such, we are here today to adhere to our requirements and ensure that our Corporation’s corporate governance continues to be one of the best in Trinidad and Tobago.

I would like to focus for a moment on our governance efforts. At the heart of this undertaking is our fiduciary duty to our unitholders, our responsibility to our stakeholders and our commitment to the values of probity, fairness, transparency and accountability. Our aim is to go beyond compliance in order to ensure that our governance practices are best in class. To this end, we have begun a benchmarking exercise to assess our governance practices using best practice standards such as the Central Bank’s Corporate Governance Guidelines for Financial Institutions; the National Code for Corporate Governance of Trinidad and Tobago (2013); the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Principles of Corporate

Responsible Investment; among others. These are all voluntary codes and therefore go above and beyond our current statutory obligations.

Over the years, we have laid a strong foundation for effective governance having implemented many best practices, including the development of a Board Charter, which outlines our commitment to good governance. We have developed charters and terms of reference for our Board committees, we have a balanced and diverse Board, we regularly review policy, strategy, risk and financial performance, we monitor management’s performance, we maintain healthy relationships with regulators and investors, and we communicate with stakeholders customers and employees.

This year, we plan to engage in an externally-led Board evaluation and Director development process, to further amplify

have done in so many other areas.

My time here, at the helm of this great institution has been a truly humbling one and a most meaningful experience, particularly as it affords me the opportunity to collaborate with such a diverse and experienced team of investment and finance professionals. Despite the turbulent financial markets in 2015, which were marked by the significant decline in energy prices, we were able to navigate creditably, primarily due to our management’s diverse expertise and years of investment experience with domestic and international financial markets.

Financial markets in 2015 were characterized by a prolonged depressed environment for commodity prices, divergent interest rate policies and significant geopolitical events. In August, global equity markets experienced a sharp correction as investors grew concerned about the weakness of China’s economy, which was followed by an unexpected devaluation of

Government failed to support their two major drivers of growth, investment and exports, despite a rise in consumer spending.

Alternatively, based on positive employment data, the US Federal Reserve decided to raise its benchmark interest rate in December 2015, to a range up to 0.25 percent. However, across other markets such as Europe, Central Banks continued their quantitative easing programmes, maintaining low interest rates. Ultimately, the S&P 500 Index returned 1.38 percent for 2015, dragged down by the energy sector as oil prices continued to fall.

Our local economy also contracted in 2015, due to lower oil and gas prices, although the non-energy sector showed some expansion, buoyed by a strengthening consumer sector. In addition, Government spending remained elevated, ahead of the general election held in September 2015, leading to a wider fiscal shortfall.

tighten monetary policy, hiking the benchmark repo rate to 4.75 percent in December 2015, from 3.25 percent a year earlier, in order to limit capital outflows in light of US monetary policy normalization and to rein in inflationary pressures. The Trinidad & Tobago stock market performed much better in 2015, despite the economic conditions, delivering a modest performance. The Trinidad and Tobago Composite Index (TTCI) returned approximately one percent in 2015, up from negative performance of the previous year of -2.88 percent in 2014. Conversely, rising local interest rates negatively impacted sovereign and local bonds.

Amidst the volatile financial markets and the economic challenges, we maintained our focus on the long-term stable positioning of the Unit Trust Corporation. A corporation can only improve its effectiveness to its stakeholders if it can forecast its

to those problems.

In 2015, we embarked on our five-year Strategic Plan 2020, refining our Mission and Vision, developing our long-term objectives (with the development of strategies to achieve these objectives), along with a systematic procedure for monitoring our progress. This Strategic Plan was approved by our Board and will be implemented in 2016. Our Strategic Plan builds on our commitment to our mission of being your preferred financial services provider.

This can only be realized through a focus on innovation and the development of our endogenous talent, while making the best use of our external environment. In pursuit of our continuous innovation and development of the capital market, we launched a pioneering fund in October 2015 adding to our local financial landscape, that is the Calypso Macro Index Fund. This is a closed-end index fund, which trades on the Trinidad and Tobago

Tobago’s top local stocks and some international Energy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), with much lower fees. We continue to forge forward, developing more innovative products and streamlining processes to adapt to our changing environment.

CONCLUSION
As we continue to maintain our market leadership in the mutual fund industry, I would like to sincerely thank you, our distinguished unitholders, for the continued trust you place in us. Similar to other energy-producing economies, the outlook for Trinidad and Tobago is challenging, given the volatility of energy prices.

However, despite the direction of the economy and financial markets, we remain committed to our watchwords of Safety, Strength and Stability. More importantly, we remain committed to

you with competitive returns, superior customer service and enhanced investment solutions for you and your family.

On behalf of the Board and Management, I would like to thank you, our unitholders, whom we consider our “Partners for Life”, for continuing to place your trust in us. For the past 34 years, you have demonstrated your faith in our stewardship and this Board will continue to serve you and the people of Trinidad and Tobago by safeguarding the long-term value of the Unit Trust Corporation.

With our five-year Strategic Plan approved and in queue for execution, I want to assure you that I intend to do all within my power to advance the initiatives set out and I look forward, with great enthusiasm, to leading and working with Board of Directors and Management in accomplishing even more for our unitholders in 2016 and beyond.

I thank you.