Face value: 'It’s a lot easier not to spend $100 than to earn $100'

Wealth creation has fascinated Bruce Hassall since he was a child, writes Tao Lin

Chief executive of PWC New Zealand Bruce Hassall has always believed in working hard for your money and saving from a ...
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Chief executive of PWC New Zealand Bruce Hassall has always believed in working hard for your money and saving from a young age.

Bruce Hassall is the chief executive and senior partner of PWC New Zealand and sits on the board of the firm.

He is responsible for the executive leadership of the practice, the determination and execution of strategy and all aspects of the New Zealand firm's relationship with other PWC member firms and with PWC International. He has more than 30 years' experience - 28 as a partner.

Bruce is married with three adult children and is an avid fisherman when time permits.

How financially savvy are you?

I have a good understanding of investments, wealth creation and the importance of saving. I've always had strong interest in the business world from a very young age and probably started reading the business section of newspapers when I was ten years old.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude to money?

I am one of five children from a middle-class working family from the North Shore. My mum and dad always worked hard and instilled in me a strong work discipline, career focus and financial goals and of course the importance of saving. There was never any substitute for hard work!

What's the best piece of money advice you've ever been given?

When I was a young graduate, I have never forgotten what a senior partner said to me: "It's a lot easier not to spend $100 than to earn $100," which reinforced to me the importance of getting value for money. Basically, if you're going to spend $100, then make sure you're getting value for money and it's achieving a purpose.

What was your first paid work?

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A paper round in our neighbourhood. I still remember the joy of getting up early in the morning at 5:30am to deliver the paper, particularly in those cold and wet winters.

And what did you spend that money on?

Probably lollies for the first few weeks! After that, I am sure I started to save most of what I earned.

If a child asked you the best way to make money, what would you say?

Work hard at school, enjoy the experience of learning and be curious. Learn to ask questions and explore news ideas and ways of problem solving and thinking. With the unprecedented level of change happening in the world today, the jobs of tomorrow don't exist yet, and the more you can think about "what's next?" will position you best for your future and make you successful in whatever career you embark upon.

Tell us your best investment decision ever?

Having a commitment to continually reinvest in yourself, never stop growing as a person and as a professional. I've always tried to reinvent, change, evolve who I am as a business leader while always remaining authentic. My best investment payback was when I was at university. I bought some shares and sold them a year later for five times what I paid for them… brilliant investment or pure luck? Not sure!

What has been your biggest investment mistake?

Buying a property believing the property market would always keep rising – it doesn't! That learning reinforced to me first-hand the theory of business cycles and how after every boom, there is always a bust.

How do you sum up your feelings towards spending?

Never had a problem spending money, as long as I always thought I was getting value from what I was spending, and that it would make a difference.

Do you trust the money men?

Most of them! There have been big improvements in recent years in the regulatory supervision of New Zealand's financial markets. The Financial Markets Conduct Bill has had a positive impact on the level of trust in New Zealand's financial markets which is a positive outcome for investors and NZ Inc.

Gambling is something of a national past-time. Do you like a flutter?

I'm not a big gambler. I must be waiting for Powerball to hit a big number. In saying that, I once won two Melbourne Cup sweepstakes in a row and in the third year - they wouldn't give me a horse!

 - Stuff

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