TO TUB EDITOR,
Sir,—l am glad to see that my letter of the 27th ult,, in your issue of the 31st idem, lias hart the effect of rousing the attention of at least one policy holder in this society to a sense of the inadequacy of the number of its directors.
With your permission, I will quote a few instances of other societies where the fund administered is, in nearly all cases, smaller than that of the A.M.P., and yet the number of directors is much larger. The Scottish Widows’ Fund has 10 ordinary and 20 extraordinary directors; the Scottish Provident Institution, 15 ordinary directors and 5 trustees; the Scottish Equitable, 12 directors and 21 extraordinary directors ; the Equitable (English), 15 directors ; the Equitable of the United States, 52 directors. The Scottish Widows’ Fund now amounts to about ten millions sterling. This is the largest in Great Britain. Several of the others mentioned have much smaller funds. All these oflicea are on the mutual principle. It may be argued, of course, that some of these .societies have too many directors; but taking into consideration the vast interests involved, and the safety and welfare of the policy-holders, I do not think the argument would be admitted. In any case, it seems to me that the A.M.P. Society has too few now to deal with its largo and rapidly-increasing funds. Mr Slack, the actuary of the society, states in his report to the directors, at page 49 of the society’s report on the seventh quinquennial investigation, as at the end of 1884, that “ it has built up a fund in these years ” (thirty-five years from the commencement) “which now amounts to more than live millions sterling, an amount exceeding by nearly a million the paid-up capital of all the banks established in New South Wales, . . . and is in
receipt of an annual ineome of 50 per cent, in excess of the entire revenue of the whole of the Australasian colonics and New Zealand at the dato of its establishment ” 1849. At present tho fund exceeds eight millions sterling. By-law No. 0 of the society is as follows A meeting of directors shall he held at tho principal office in Sydney, once a week or oftencr, for tho transaction of the general business of tho society ; and any three directors duly assembled at any such meeting shall form a quorum.” Three directors therefore are considered sufficient to manage the large and complicated business of tho society ! Ido not know, sir, how it is that we have all lost sight of this very Important fact for so long a time. Surely it is monstrous ! I low would tho shareholders in the various banks included in Mr Black’s remarks, above stated, feel if their interests were confided to throe perhaps rather elderly gentlemen sitting in a bank parlor ? “ Policy holder,” in his letter in tho Star of tho Ist inst., quite agrees that the number of directors should be increased, and suggests such a plan of action by committees of directors as that in force in tho Equitable of the United States. Tho method upon which directors should proceed may probably bo left to themselves with advantage, although there can bo no harm in taking a lesson from one of the largest offices in tho United States if it be found useful. Tho introduction of “ new blood ” in tho shape of more directors would probably bo found very advantageous to such a society as the A.M.P. All societies of old standing arc apt to crystallise, to get into a certain old-fashioned method of doing business from which they seem unable to extricate themselves—in a word, to get into “ruts” and stick there. Some of the British societies are still as antiquated in their methods as they well can be—fossilized, in fact—and do not move with the times at all, in most cases to their serious injury. Societies in these days must be progressive—if not they are simply retrograding and losing their places in the great race for new business; and any society that is not getting more and more business every year is therefore not doing as well as it ought to do. In such cases they seem to have touched high-water mark, and to bo undergoing a process of gradual declension toward tho fossil state.
If societies arc to remain in a healthy condition, they must, by securing an adequate amount of new business, keep the average age of their policies young. They must also have for directors men whoso minds are open to new ideas and new methods of doing and getting business. Improvements in life assurance are surely possible, and those societies whose directors refuse to see this fact, and act upon it, are not to be deemed altogether fortunate in their choice of men. Societies need something new, but at the same time true, to give tho business a fresh fillip, as in these colonies tho old style of assurance is worn pretty nearly threadbare. I think there can bo no doubt that if tho A.M.P. had decided to issue a wellconsidered form of tontine policy it would have commanded an increased amount of new business; but the society did . not realise the fact, and missed tho opportunity, Tontine has sometimes been decried as a gambling form of assurance, but if fairly examined it will be found perhaps tho most reasonable policy ever yet issued. The societies issuing it, however, must command tho confidence of the people of Australasia, or else in the long run they will not succeed in doing much business here. Safety, no doubt, is of tho first and utmost importance in all assurance ; with that and fair profits, and just treatment of policy-holders, nothing can bo bettor—few things can equal it. Tho A.M.P. Society is, to all outward appearance, a noble institution, doing an incalculable amount of good; but its day of small things is past, and this being the case it seems absurd that the number of directors should still remain as originally fixed, when such enormous interests are involved in its continued safety and prosperity.—l am, etc., Vox. Dunedin, Juno 11.
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A.M.P. SOCIETY., Evening Star, Issue 7933, 14 June 1889
A.M.P. SOCIETY. Evening Star, Issue 7933, 14 June 1889
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