As is my custom at this time of year (and after being prompted) I have put a few thoughts together below.
When much younger, planning ahead was as easy as looking out the window – the extent of “my future” was as far as the horizon – dark black clouds meant that rain in the next few hours was possible while sunshine meant I wouldn’t get wet riding my motorcycling to school or work. With age and experience, most of us come to look a bit beyond this, safe in the knowledge that night will follow day, and that despite wet and dreary winters, summer will eventually come.
We also know that much of life has an element of certainty, and I suppose getting older day by day is the most certain thing of all. We know that cycles play an important part – every boom will inevitably be followed by a bust (some bigger than others), with the recent “stabilising” of the NZ housing market a prime example. Anyone around in the late 1980’s will recall incredibly high interest rates (18-22% mortgages were common at the time), high unemployment, a period of austerity followed by the share market boom where the fortunes made trading almost any shares were wiped out overnight, together with the life savings of too many over enthusiastic punters.
Roll on 35-40 years (a time frame unfathomable to the young) and we’re in a period of very low and reducing interest rates, an unemployment rate of less than 4% (anyone who can get out of bed can find a job), but where that intangible commodity of business confidence is on a rapid decline, an economy apparently on the brink of stagnation. Promises made prior to the last election have long been forsaken as the by-product of MMP, where as the price of acquiring the baubles of office, pragmatism trumps integrity every time. Handing a multi-billion lolly-jar to our erstwhile Minister for Porn has yet to pay tangible dividends to the country… and with the abject failure to deliver all but a few “Kiwibuild homes”, nor much sign of the 100 million pine trees we were promised would be planted each year by the otherwise idle of Northland. The children from Decile 6-10 schools are taking up “first year free fees” at University, while those the program was probably targeted to are actually decreasing. Any yet, the “middle class” pay ever more in tax, often covertly as inflation takes them from one tax bracket to the next with no discernible increase in income. One of my favourite quotes from Winston Churchill sums it up quite nicely.
“We contend that for a nation to try to tax itself into prosperity is like a man standing in a bucket and trying to lift himself up by the handle” – Winston Churchill
A long time friend, now retired, who “made it” in business despite having been raised in a poor but devout Salvation Army family states that in his opinion it does not matter who holds the reins in Wellington, one side inevitably smooths out the strengths and weaknesses of the other, and I suppose there is a maddening rationality to this reasoning.
With less than a week until Christmas Day, it is safe to say that 2019 has come and nearly gone and in spite of the broken promises of the well-intended the business community continues to do fairly well, although the problem of finding qualified and competent people remains. Each of our respective businesses has suffered as the consequence of the inability to find the right people, and based on the undeniable fact that the right people are the foundation stones on which any successful and reputable business is built, this is not a good thing. Having said that, we’ve had a very good year. We’ve worked on becoming more efficient, and rather than increasing our charges to clients, we’ve realised that the clients will pay for the work we do, particularly that “extra” work attributable to Customs, MPI, carriers, etc. as long as they understand what it is we’re doing. Rather than become engaged with what competitors may be doing, we’ve focused on what our clients want (and need) us to do, and in so doing often find ourselves in a market place of our own. I’d liken this year to a test match – high intensity, a well-trained and motivated team, solid support staff, well coached and with a plan that allowed the flexibility to exploit opportunities and minimise the consequences of the odd “dropped ball”. We are looking forward to 2020, primed and ready to start at a pace that increases with each passing year, but safe in the knowledge that we have the right people doing the right things.
As always, we thank our clients for the opportunities they have entrusted to us, and our people for having the care and commitment so many others lack. We’d also like to set an example within the community as punching well above our weight when it comes to supporting those worthy charities that do so much for so many, and suggest that other organisations follow our lead.
Donations and support have been provided to the following:
- The Burn Support Group Charitable Trust
- Harbour Hospice
- Totara Hospice
- Franklin Hospice Charitable Trust
- Starship Foundation
- Cancer Society New Zealand
- The Salvation Army
- Stroke Foundation NZ
- Muscular Dystrophy Association – Northern Region
All the best for the festive season, enjoy, recharge the batteries, love and be loved, and be kind to yourself!
Owner and Managing Director