Face Value: Save, spend, enjoy

FULL CIRCLE: Credit Unions boss Henry Lynch likes to keep his money in New Zealand.
FULL CIRCLE: Credit Unions boss Henry Lynch likes to keep his money in New Zealand.

Henry Lynch is chief executive of the New Zealand Association of Credit Unions, which represents 22 financial co-operatives with over 200,000 members.

Change is afoot, with a new mobile app launched last week and a name change to "Co-op Money NZ" going to the board for approval at the end of the month.

The new branding has drawn the ire of The Co-operative Bank, but Lynch is sticking by what he sees as a generic, longstanding term.

The former Westpac banker also teaches aikido, and sees parallels between the fluidity of martial arts and the "beautiful cycle of money" in community-owned banking.

What was your first paid work?

It was delivering the Auckland Star after school, in [Auckland suburb] Balmoral. I then moved into after school and late nights managing an appliance shop. I was pretty young - I was still only 14 or so, I think. I used to sell everything from toasters to lawnmowers to fridges to TVs.

How did your parents shape your attitude to money?

They were the typical hardworking Irish immigrants. Working class; blue-collar I suppose you'd call them now. We didn't have a car or a phone until, I think, I was about 18. Mum and Dad's attitude was making sure you had a house, food on the table. Those so-called luxuries would come later.

How would you describe your own attitude?

I'm frugal on the right things, but a spendthrift on the things that matter - family, friends, memories - and books!

What's the number one money issue you think New Zealanders need to get clued up on?

There still seems to be stress around money worry. It seems to me that it's OK to talk about sex, rugby and religion at the dinner table, but not about the money worries.

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

I'd tell them to save, spend and enjoy. And that you've got to take the risks that you're comfortable with. You've got a long time, but you've got to start saving sooner than you think.

Tell us about your best and worst investment decisions?

I invest in shares. Direct holdings, and also through managed funds. I've never had anything that's absolutely fantastic or gone the other way.

The one thing that Fiona, my wife, keeps reminding me about is that I did buy these phone cards. I had [pro golfer] Bob Charles on these ones. They were supposed to be collectors' items and everything like that. I think they were $1000, a long time ago. And then the company went bankrupt - they were useless!

Do you collect anything else?

I like to collect first edition books of novelists I read. But they're ones you'd get from Paper Plus, not the rare books store. Some of those are martial arts books that I collect, and they would be quite old. That's for entertainment and learning, not for an investment.

Do you bank with a credit union yourself?

My family and I have a credit union KiwiSaver. My car insurance is through credit union insurance. And I have my personal account at a credit union.

It's like aikido. It's all circular, so what goes around, comes around. In a co-operative, you're seeing the beautiful cycle of money being recycled in services and products. When you have a mainstream banking system . . . that money isn't getting circulated in New Zealand, it's getting circulated out of New Zealand.

As an ex-banker, do you trust the "money men" and the mainstream banks?

The mainstream banking industry does very well, looks after their customers pretty good. They're trustworthy, but they're also trustworthy to make a dollar.

The Big Four Aussie banks are earning, after tax, about $70 million per week in profit. I'm concerned at that level of profit regardless of economic conditions.

Do you ever have a flutter on the horses, or buy Lotto tickets?

In all the years that Lotto's been going, we've never missed a weekend, always using the same numbers. We picked them at the time, 27 years ago or whatever it is. God knows what they mean now. They've come up, but they've been wins like $30 or $80.

Would you change the numbers?

No - 'cause then they'd come up!

Sunday Star Times