Precision approach for BOP-based entrepreneur

By David Porter, Business Writer

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Nick McDonald From Documents With Precision
Nick McDonald From Documents With Precision

Nick McDonald realised he wasn't cut out for working for other people during a decade-long stint in the UK, and in 2004 started trading stocks, forex and futures on his own account.

By 2006 he had founded Trade With Precision, a business that trains people how to trade on financial markets. And because it was largely based online, with a global client base, he decided it was time to relocate to New Zealand with his family.

They returned to Auckland in late 2009, then moved on to Tauranga, where he has since set up another online-based business, Documents With Precision. Together the two businesses employ around 25 people across the globe. "I was always entrepreneurial," he said.

Earlier this year he joined the Tauranga Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Tauranga steering committee, and within four months had organised the first Precision Business Summit, a conference aimed at the region's small businesses, which pulled in 220 attendees last month. (see accompanying story)

"He pulled together what, in my opinion, has been the best business conference we've had in Tauranga in the 10 years I've been here," said chamber board member Steven Farrant, who chairs the Small Business Tauranga steering committee.

"It was a remarkable achievement for anyone, but more so for someone who is relatively new to the area."

Mr McDonald was born and brought up in Hamilton. He left Hamilton Boys' High at the end of the sixth form to do a two year diploma in business studies, then joined a mate on his OE to London and landed a data entry job at Natwest Bank. He moved on to Edinburgh and worked for the Bank of New York.

"It was much the same work, but it had a better title, and I finished up back in London as a senior dealer and started to do pretty well."

From 2001-03 he returned to New Zealand to work for Macquarie Bank, where he trained as a stockbroker, then set out to learn the technical aspects of financial markets trading by himself.

He returned to London and, after a year as an analyst with Citibank, where he crunched numbers for the financial team while spending every spare moment trading, he left to trade on his own account.

"I was never cut out to work for someone else," he said.

For the next two years he traded stocks, currencies and futures for himself, and did well.

So much so, that the people who'd told him not to quit his job, began asking him to teach them how to trade. Then his broker asked him if he would run courses for his clients, and he began to attract corporate training work.

"I never sat down and said I'm going to start a trading education business. But I could see my passion for markets could be turned into a real business."

By 2009, the business was executing almost all of its training via online VDOs and webinars, and he and wife Catherine made the move back to NZ.

As both come from the Waikato/BOP region, they moved with their two young sons to Tauranga in 2013 to be nearer their extended family.

A year ago, he set up Documents With Precision, which grew out of the training business.

"Corporate clients all over the world outsource their education to Trade With Precision," he said.

The company produces around 120 hours of content a month. In many cases that meant producing complex Powerpoints, which had to be branded for each different corporate client.

"Everybody on the team hated producing the Powerpoints," he said.

However, in Tauranga, he met Phil Waylen, who he said had a gift for making Powerpoints and Word files come alive, and more importantly, enjoyed doing it.

As the core training business was creating enough demand to get started, they decided to set up the documents business together.

A year in, the new business is doing well, says Mr McDonald. The plan is to perfect its online marketing reach in New Zealand and Australia before going global and targeting a 24-hour turnaround operation that produces documents for UK and US clients overnight while they sleep.

Tauranga chamber chief executive Stan Gregec described Mr McDonald as a "fascinating" character.

"He's someone who has had a successful entrepreneurial business overseas and he's chosen to come and live in the Bay of Plenty," he said.

"He's not only running an international business from the Bay, but he's also prepared to put back into the business community."

Nick McDonald
• Role: CEO and founder, Trade with Precision & Documents with Precision
• Born: Hamilton, New Zealand
• Age: 36
• First job: Data entry
• Recently read: How Google Works by Eric Schmidt and Jonathan Rosenberg

Last month's successful Precision Business Summit was pitched at the small companies that dominate in the Bay of Plenty, said organiser Nick McDonald.

The one-day event was first mooted at a Small Business Tauranga meeting earlier in the year, and by August had pulled 220 people into the ASB Arena, where a combination of six keynote speakers, plus 11 local speakers, talked about the challenges of growing a small business.

"I wanted to reach the many businesses here that are very small," he said. "Some are happy at that size, but others want to grow bigger and we were targeting those."

Mr McDonald said the event had received great support from the chamber and sponsors. And to his surprise, he discovered around 20 per cent of attendees were from Auckland, even though the summit had not been marketed there.

Small Business Tauranga chairman Steven Farrant said Mr McDonald had picked up the suggestion of doing a small business conference and run with it very efficiently and quickly.

"To be the first conference he had put on, in what was a relatively new city for him, was a phenomenal achievement," he said.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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