As our year is drawing to an end, we would like to take this opportunity of wishing all of our loyal Clients a safe and peaceful Festive Season. If you are travelling on our roads, we urge you to take care and should you be travelling further and outside of our borders, we also urge you to take care in this crazy world we find ourselves in.
This year’s “staff address” was delivered by Emma Fuller.  Her thoughtful and thought provoking words are worth sharing in our end of year newsletter....
An Attitude of Gratitude

The start of my year was accompanied by a feeling of sadness and I have to say I was concerned about the year ahead.  A little boy in grade one at Highbury was diagnosed with a rare cancer and a week later he died.  My husband Gerry lost one of his close friend’s to cancer and one of our friend’s son of 12 years old was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour.  Our Uncle Stan had to have his right leg amputated which was very traumatic for him and our family.

 It was during this time that I consciously began to appreciate what I have to be grateful for and believe me when you think about it, we have so much to be thankful for.  I wondered why we often neglect to express our gratitude.  Perhaps it is because it sub consciously reminds us that we are not entirely in control.  Gratitude can sometimes be an uncomfortable emotion as it forces us to recognize that none of us is wholly self sufficient and require the help from others.  I find it often brings out feelings of guilt for all the things that we have that other’s may not have.  Guilt is a negative emotion and it should not come in the way of our feelings of gratitude.

There is no doubt that when we experience gratitude, it is difficult to feel negative emotions like envy, anger or hatred.  Studies have shown that grateful people appear far more able to cope with the stress and strains of life, they are more resilient because they find the good even in difficult circumstances.  People are more willing to come to the assistance of those who have expressed gratitude toward them in the past and there is the good old saying “What goes around ...comes around.”

One psychologist argued that feelings of gratitude broaden one’s mind – one is more likely to consider a wider and more creative array of possibilities, options and alternative courses of action when one feels grateful and looks at a negative situation in a positive manner.

Expressing one’s gratitude by taking the time out to thank someone is so important yet so often overlooked.  I am sure all of you would agree feeling proud when a client takes the time out of their day to thank you for a job well done.  We too need to be aware of this and remember those two words “Thank you” can make such a difference.

Colleen and I were privileged to be invited to the Gillitt’s Primary School Prize giving.  We were both so humbled by the experience, to see these little children who mostly come from underpriviledged backgrounds and who do not have the opportunities that most of us have had.  Their excitement and enthusiasm was contagious.  The dreams their Principle and her staff have for this little school are so apparent.  What was also so noticeable was their gratitude for what they have and their appreciation for the support they receive from their sponsors and the community.
We at Cooke Fuller have so much to be grateful for.  We are here today enjoying a Christmas Party which the Company has sponsored and our in house “Social Club” has put together.  I am sure you will all agree that our Social Club have once again done a fantastic job.  This year you have put on so many lovely events all with different themes and ideas.  We have celebrated our staff’s birthdays, farewells, world events such as the Rugby World Cup and have all together created a great atmosphere.  So from all of us I would like to thank Kitty, Shoneen, Joanne, Kristen and Chantal for doing such an amazing job, we really appreciate it and are privileged to also have the financial support of the company to facilitate these events .

This year we welcomed two new staff members, Kerry who joined our Risk Benefits Department and Manesh who is now the thorn amongst the roses or perhaps the other way round.  Whichever option, what I do know is you have certainly brought a different dynamic to our Claims Department.  I hope the two of you will be extremely happy here and we look forward to getting to know you both in the years ahead.

Adrian celebrated 3 important milestones – he got married -  at last (we were beginning to despair), in true Fuller fashion he married a client.  Adrian is very aware of our core purpose -  always aiming to please.  Hopefully he is doing a good job.  He also turned 40 ... 4 days after their wedding and lastly he celebrated the launch of his book Eli.  Anyone who has read it will never be the same again!

Karen once again successfully completed her 6th comrades marathon.  This is an incredible feat and something to be proud of.

Mat’s oldest daughter Emma got married and his youngest daughter Amy had a beautiful baby girl.  Mat has also overcome his health hurdle and for this we are all so very grateful as this time last year you had us all worried.

Erika became a granny for the first time and then a few months later became a granny for the second time.  Erika I am sure your gratitude cup is overflowing as the birth of a grandchild is such a special occasion and the fact that you got to experience this twice within a few months is fantastic.

Jayne’s son Peter got married in Cape Town and Maryse’ daughter got married in Johannesburg.  Maryse is also expecting her first grandchild – all these celebrations only go to prove life is good and that we have so much to be grateful for.

Moganie is expecting her first child early next year – being pregnant is a miracle, enjoy every moment and we cannot wait to meet your little one. 

We have also celebrated many of our staff passing their Exams – Kerry passed her RE Exam, Rebecca and Chantal have passed the exams they have done as part of their NQF Level 5 and Kristen has continued to study towards her B Comm.  Studying whilst holding down a full time job is not easy and not for sissy’s.  We are very proud of you – Congratulations on your achievements.

As a Company we need to constantly change, embrace new challenges and look for ways to improve our service and product offering.  I feel we have been successful in this area and am grateful to all of you who accept these changes even when it’s initially often difficult and inconvenient.

 Our underwriting hubs have embraced our relatively new renewal process and I have often overheard the discussions which they have with our clients where they are constantly encouraging our clients to review their sums insured, make clients aware of potential shortfalls and provide them with a clear understanding of the cover they have.
The time they spend doing this has now freed up some of the external broker’s time which gives them more time to spend with clients building relationships and writing more business.  The quality of work has improved and we can see this by the increased number of compliments that our underwriting staff  have received  from our clients.

I know the same applies to our claims staff.  New systems such as the introduction of the sms facility which keeps our clients informed of the progress of their claims are all little things that go a long way to improving our service and adding value to our business.

We are grateful to our support staff who make our lives easier by ensuring our accounts are up to date, our phone is answered timeously, professionally in a warm and friendly manner, our grounds and workplace are kept in a pristine condition, and our IT systems which run smoothly and effectively and always strive to keep abreast with the ever changing world of technology.

I know that I can certainly speak for myself that I am grateful for the team of people that Adrian and I get to work with every day.  Without their support, dedication and hard work we would not be able to cope with writing new business, cultivating our client relationships and handling our Director’s duties.

I am grateful for my fellow Directors and the support we show one another.  We may not always get it right, however I can honestly say we do our best and every decision taken has the Company’s best interests and the best interests of the staff in mind.

We know in life things are not always easy.  We are constantly faced with challenges and this year was no different.  We lost our biggest short term account through no fault of our own.  It’s in times like this that we need to dig deep and really be grateful for the fact that we were fortunate enough to have had the account for so many years.  We know that we can be proud of the job we did and we know that we will recover from this and it is only a bump in the road. 

We are grateful to our loyal clients for the support they give us.  Most of our new business comes from referrals from existing clients.  This means that we are attracting like minded clients who obviously appreciate what we do for them.  We need to take the time to continue to strengthen these relationships, to proudly fly the Cooke Fuller flag and to be true to our pay off line – We look after you.

I would like to end off by thanking each and every one of you for the contribution you make to our Company.  The Directors and Shareholders really appreciate what you do and we are proud of our Team.

May 2016 be a wonderful year for everyone. My encouragement to all of you is to approach the New Year with an attitude of gratitude.  Thank you.
Our wish for all of our Clients is that 2016 is a year that is good for you and your families, a year that brings you success and happiness.