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Most of us would prefer that 2011 was a year of new beginnings but it's more likely to be a year for dealing with unfinished business.

For those still in holiday mode, don't worry. Take a deep breath. It might not seem an enticing prospect but we need - through gritted teeth if need be - to see 2011 as a year of opportunity. One obvious piece of unfinished business involves a certain rugby team and a tournament which will hog headlines this year.

But beneath the World Cup hype are a bunch of serious matters that we need to put right before we can move on from the woes of the global financial crisis.

A prominent issue we'll still be dealing with as the year unfolds is the fallout from finance company collapses.

This is the year that many of the biggest cases finally make their way through the courts.

The whole legal process is long-winded and complex. It's easy to get jaded and lose track.

About half a dozen finance companies have directors facing criminal charges or civil claims brought by government agencies or private parties. Another half dozen or so are still being investigated by agencies.

It is tiring to keep up but, when each case has its day in court, it is vital that justice is seen to be done.

Important as it is for those who lost life savings, it is also necessary for the healing of the wider financial sector.

For the good of the whole economy, (if we ever hope to improve savings rates) some confidence in the system must be restored.

Running in tandem is regulatory overhaul. The Government has made good progress in the past year and, if it sees things through, will have something significant for the campaign trail.

The Financial Management Authority Act should hopefully be law by April. Then we'll have our super regulator. If investment conditions keep improving we might even have something for it to regulate.

By July 1, all financial advisers must be qualified and registered, helping restore confidence in the market. The Securities Act review should also be completed this year.

That might still be a work in progress by election time, depending on the polling date.

Politically, the Government also has plenty of business to finish. For example, it doesn't yet have a policy on the ownership structure of state assets to take into the election. That's a political hot potato but there is a lot of expectation in the business community that some form of partial listing of some assets will be on the agenda.

Meanwhile, the biggest piece of unfinished business hanging over us all is the "great de-leveraging".

Sadly, we are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of paying down debt. That means both Government spending and consumer spending will continue to be squeezed in 2011 and it will be hard for the domestic economy to really get moving.

Money from the the commodity boom should start flowing to farmers this year so there could be some bounce in the regional economy, although many farmers are also still focused on paying down debt.

It seems there will be little respite for retailers in the short term and it's likely the property market will also be subdued for a while yet. That's going to make the year pretty tough for some. But if we want to fix what has been broken then addressing debt is something we can't avoid.

This is a year to put things right, restore investor confidence, build savings, pay down debt and - with a bit of luck - win that stupid cup.