Local branch refurbished and keen for bigger will uptake

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Jan Middlemiss.
Jan Middlemiss.

Perpetual Guardian has just moved back into its Rotorua branch, which has been newly refurbished as part of a national overhaul of its offices.

Perpetual Guardian was created when Perpetual Trust merged with Guardian Trust in 2014, and has had a Rotorua presence for more than a century. It moved into temporary premises late last year.

"We're committed to the local market," said Bay of Plenty regional manager Jan Middlemiss. Though the company had been operating from Pukaki St since 1996, it was not a new fit-out at the time, and the refurbishment is part of Perpetual Guardian founder Andrew Barnes' refresh of the whole business to make it more approachable and customer-friendly throughout New Zealand, she said.

"We are pleased to have had the privilege for many years of helping people in Rotorua and the wider Bay of Plenty meet their unique asset protection and preservation needs," said Mr Barnes.

Ms Middlemiss said the company was bringing all of its offices into line with one corporate look.

Her territory includes Tauranga and Hamilton. Tauranga was recently refurbished and Hamilton will be next. Each of the branches has three fulltime staff. The company is now recruiting an additional fiduciary services specialist in Rotorua to meet the increasing demand for services.

Perpetual Guardian is a leader in philanthropy, with the Rotorua branch responsible for $700,000 in charitable distributions in the past five years.

Nationally Perpetual Guardian holds more than 140,000 will relationships, but while Rotorua currently has several thousand, the rate of uptake is lower than in other similar-sized centres.

Ms Middlemiss said she was determined to improve the rate of uptake locally.

"A will is a simple but often and surprisingly overlooked document and as our research has shown us, many New Zealanders who should have a will do not have one. Though we have an established, loyal customer base in Rotorua, our population's rate of engagement with estate planning services is low compared with other parts of New Zealand. One of the ways we are addressing this is through innovation that meets the trend towards online access."

Half of all Perpetual Guardian's will business is now being written online, and the rate is increasing.

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