Meet the boss: Bankers' Assoc Kirk Hope

Kirk Hope is the chief executive of the New Zealand Bankers' Association.
Kirk Hope is the chief executive of the New Zealand Bankers' Association.

Kirk Hope is the chief executive of the NZ Bankers' Association, the lobby group for the industry that employs over 25,000 people.

It's election year - what could the Govt do to help business?
The government needs to maintain fiscal prudence. Controlling spending will reduce pressure on interest rates to rise, which is good for business. The government could also do more to listen to business, especially when it comes to developing quality regulation that delivers benefits for consumers.  

What do you like about doing business in Wellington?
Being based in Wellington makes sense for the Bankers' Association because we spend a lot of time talking to politicians and officials telling the banks' side of the story. Wellington is also a walkable boutique city with excellent coffee so is great for networking.

How will your business look in 10 years?
We've been around since 1891 and have seen huge developments in the banking industry. That change has accelerated enormously over the last few years with broad take-up of new ways of banking, particularly with the use of digital technology. We'll see more of that as banks compete to attract and retain customers, and continue to meet their needs and demands.

What's the biggest business mistake you've made?
Not adequately protecting IP.

What's the best advice you've been given?
Work hard, don't be scared to try things which you might fail at, and don't give up.

What did the GFC teach you about business?

It's a good idea to be clear about your business and stick to your knitting. No New Zealand banks failed or were bailed out through the GFC. That's largely because banking here is straightforward and our banks lend responsibly and have plenty of capital.

Why should people and companies do business in NZ?
New Zealand is a great place to do business and that's reflected in international ratings. For the last two years The World Bank has rated us third easiest place to do business out of 189 countries. We also do well in Transparency International's anti-corruption surveys, where we currently share first place with Denmark. That's great for our international reputation.

Tell us something that would surprise us about yourself.

I used to be a surfer with dreadlocks. My hair's a bit shorter these days, and I still get into the surf when I can.
I am part Maori - of Ngai Tahu descent.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Jim Morrison - you wonder what the Doors could have done if he had lived.
Dame Whina Cooper - shaped New Zealand history.
Norm Kirk - I am named after him.
PJ O'Rourke - outrageously funny.

What question do you wish reporters would ask you?

We have some excellent business reporters, but they don't often ask me why our banks are successful, and why that's good for us and our economy.