I had a holiday job working as a shop assistant in a large hardware store in my home town of Te Awamutu. The business was set up by my great-grandparents in about 1875 and claimed to sell "everything from a needle to an anchor". The success of the business was due to my great-grandmother, who was a very shrewd business woman. Later ... it was owned and managed by a number of cousins, one of whom was my father.
What did you learn from it?
My great-grandmother has been a good inspiration for me. I learned that it is much better to be a business owner than an employee! I also learned that being in business for yourself is much easier and more satisfying than having a number of shareholders with different views, goals and objectives. Succession planning for family businesses is a tricky issue, and dividing up the shares in a business as each generation moves on is not always a good solution.
What was the best advice you got from your parents?
My parents always managed their money quite frugally with the focus on their long-term future. In fact my father, who is 95, is still saving for his retirement! Their advice was not to buy anything unless you had the money to pay for it and, most importantly, don't buy anything unless you absolutely need it. There was only ever one income in our family and it was a modest one at that. My parents are a great example of how you create significant wealth even on a modest income by managing your money carefully.
How will you relax over the summer break?
My extended family always congregates at my parents' home in Hahei Beach at Christmas time and I will be there for a few days along with two of my three daughters and their partners. Then I am off to Melbourne for a couple of weeks.!
What are the big challenges ahead for 2016: For your company?
I am making plans to put as much of my business online as I can. That is where the future of financial advice lies. I am looking at how to make my knowledge and skills available to as many people as possible in a cost-effective way. There is a real shortage of Authorised Financial Advisers who are able to give investment advice.
And for the wider economy?
We need to adjust to very different economic conditions than we have had for decades. It is like a lid has been put on everything - we have low economic growth, low interest rates, low inflation and low investment returns. This is not good news for investors or for businesses. It is great news, however, for families with a mortgage. The challenge will be to take advantage of the low interest rates to pay down debt rather than increase spending. There will be tough times ahead for retirees who depend on interest rates for income.