Dannevirke: It's good to share one's success

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From left, financial adviser Daniel Watters, business innovator Annette Kendall of Ankle, Chris Gunn principal of Dannevirke's St Joseph's School and John Robertson of Viking Financial Services. Photo /  Christine McKay
From left, financial adviser Daniel Watters, business innovator Annette Kendall of Ankle, Chris Gunn principal of Dannevirke's St Joseph's School and John Robertson of Viking Financial Services. Photo / Christine McKay

Dannevirke schools will benefit along with the clients of Viking Financial Services, thanks to a new approach to business, financial adviser Daniel Watters says.

"It's about strengthening our community through strengthening local business," Daniel said.

In May of this year, John and Josie Robertson and the team at Viking Financial Services embarked on a project to develop and grow their business and began working with business innovator Annette Kendall of Ankle.

The project has gone so well the business is in a position to give back to the community and during Term 4 Daniel is donating a portion of his own commission to schools in the Dannevirke area.

The Robertsons have been in business in Dannevirke for almost 30 years and John said the company is all about building enduring relationships with clients.

"If you build relationships you get client loyalty," he said. "A lot of trust has gone into relationship building, but sometimes you need to look at how you do business and Annette has helped us with that."

For Josie, making their business succeed and being able to sustain it in Dannevirke for a long time is key.

"Being in business in Dannevirke hasn't been detrimental," she said. "We've had Annette working with us one day a week, but she didn't come in and say 'I'm the expert', instead she sat in with us for a week observing and then she came up with ideas which we all contributed to.

"We were all able to contribute to a plan which was then pulled apart and we came up with a road map to follow."

Taking Daniel into the company came at the suggestion of Annette and the Robertsons say he is part of the succession plan for the business.

"Annette's help has been wonderful and we've had a huge year, with increased profit which helped us to bring Daniel on board," John explained. "Daniel is passionate about helping people and there's much more of a team approach now with everyone working towards one goal."

John said everyone feels they have ownership in the business, rather than just working for the business.

Daniel was raised in Hawke's Bay and his father was a tutor at Smedley Farm training school.

"I'm positive about the long term and finding my role here satisfying. There's no place I'd rather be," he said.

"John and Josie have been very generous and supportive directors. They've been brilliant.

"With good support here, good product and integrity, we're doing the best for our clients. Schools will benefit from our current promotion and we know our clients will too and of course, people need to get their insurance from somewhere. It's all about being part of the community."

John said Annette's help in refocusing the business had also involved putting robust systems in place.

"Changes to the Financial Management Act have made doing business more challenging and now you can't be a financial adviser unless you're suitably qualified," John said.

"At the heart of our business is the farming community, so for me, coming from a farming background has been immensely helpful.

"Josie and I have run the business together from the beginning and now having Daniel with a farming background has been beneficial for us all."

Annette said she believes the way forward for economic growth in towns such as Dannevirke is by helping existing businesses grow and diversify.

"Traditionally, the thinking has been that the way for Dannevirke to survive and grow is to attract big companies to town," she said.

"But when times get tough margins are squeezed.

"The secret isn't attracting companies to town, we've a wealth of businesses who have their heart and soul in Dannevirke and who are not going to leave when times are tough.

"The way to develop the area economically is to invest in the people who are here," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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