Articles by The Professional Trustee Team
Christmas is always a time for celebration but in my book, it's also a time for reflection and some forward thinking. "What did the year bring and what will the New Year look like?" are often questions that cross my mind as I see one year out and another year roll in.
This year, we've all been touched by the global events that have faced
our world. New Zealand is not an island that stands outside the global
economy and we have truly felt the effects of the global recession at
The majority of our markets, including retail, property, tourism and exports have all taken a bit of a hit. The labour market has definitely felt the effects of the global recession and we all know how the finance/credit market has tightened and affected us personally and our businesses.
They say, however, that every cloud has a silver lining and I think this is true with respect to the global recession we've all faced this year. Out of emergencies, better people and better processes emerge. We set about the subject of learning and we start to think about how we can manage our lives, our households and our companies more effectively and efficiently. Often, we emerge and find ourselves in a much stronger position simply through having to focus on how to survive and build a better, stronger future.
Additionally, we frequently ask ourselves what makes us really happy. This is a very interesting question because it usually involves not only having enough assets and money to do the things we want to do, but it also encompasses having great relationships with our family and our friends. And to build those relationships we need time. So once again, we look at where and how we spend our time and how we can achieve closer relationships with those that we love whilst at the same time, meeting our work and business commitments.
As the professional trustee here at GRA I've seen lots of good things this year. In particular, my fellow partners and I have pushed really hard to dig deep and gain an in-depth understanding of our clients' needs and wants. This work has lead to us completing over 128 presentations throughout New Zealand in 2009 and to us developing some innovative products and services that have assisted our clients with the issues they have been facing. Some of these new products will be released next year and I just know our clients are going to find them very instrumental in helping them achieve their financial goals.
One of the biggest highlights for us as a firm and for me personally as the professional trustee, was being awarded the prestigious Corporate Trustee of the Year Award by the New Zealand Trustees Association. This was the first time in the history of the New Zealand Trustees Association that an award like this had ever been given to a corporate trustee and we took it home! That made me incredibly proud. And a little bit of pride is a good thing in my world because it makes us continually strive to deliver top notch service to our clients.
Unfortunately, I've also seen my fair share of friends and clients feeling pain and stress this year. Some of our clients' businesses have been adversely affected by the recession and some have even suffered personal relationship problems. One person close to me didn't cope well with the pressures the recession brought at all and sadly isn't celebrating Christmas with any of us this year.
As a firm and as the professional trustee, we do our utmost to help clients when they face really difficult times and we try hard to help them make decisions in their lives that will either solve their issues or at the very least, help minimise their pain. As a human being I really sympathise and empathise with people who face difficult problems. I've lived long enough and been though enough life experiences to know that hardship can strike each and every one of us without warning.
So, I guess this year I can say I've seen the great tapestry of human life. I've witnessed the good and the bad. Throughout the year, however, one thing has remained constant in my mind. This one thing has come up time and time again when I have been presenting and meeting prospective clients.
Many people when they are enjoying life and events are going their way, do not pause to consider what could occur if life was heading in the other direction – southwards. As a consequence, they fail to keep their eye on the ball. They forget to strategise and plan and take steps to protect what they have worked so hard to achieve and gain. As a result, by the time the horse has bolted from the stable and they are faced with difficult times, it is too late to put a plan into place.
So the one thing that I urge everyone to do over Christmas is take a moment. Think about this ...
Have you done all that you can do to put your affairs in order?
Have you taken every step you can take to protect your assets?
Do you have an up to date estate plan?
Have your written your "letter to the living" that I've blogged about?
Have you sat down with us and spoken to us about your forthcoming year, your goals and aspirations and asked us how you can legally minimise your tax liabilities?
Have you had a meeting with us to discuss how you might get ahead financially?
A half hour discussion with us could be the difference between
maximising your life and the economic opportunities available to you,
The last thing I ask everyone to do over their Christmas break is enjoy and savour each moment. Think about giving and serving your family and friends. Be thankful. It may well be true that not everything has gone as planned this year in your life. Things may have been a bit hard and in certain cases, downright difficult. But there is a new year to plan for and if you have friends and family around you then you are very rich indeed in love and support. It's these things I believe that give us genuine happiness and satisfaction.
On behalf of the Trustee Services Team and the Professional Trustee I want to take this opportunity to wish all of you the very best for Christmas. Christmas is meant to be a time for pure delight, so fill each moment with joy and cheer. Savour this special time. Have fun with each other and have happy and safe holidays. Remember, it's the memories that we create that we look back on. So, ensure the memories you are building are happy ones that you will be glad to treasure and pull out in the future and relive.
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