Me and My Money: Rob Hennin, CEO, nib New Zealand

nib CEO Rob Hennin
Rob Hennin, CEO at health insurer nib says it's important to understand risks and be prepared to challenge financial recommendations. Photo credit: Supplied.

"After following my accountant's advice without understanding the risks I was taking, I lost a lot of money in the global financial crisis.

"It turned out that my accountant didn't understand the risks either. He's no longer my accountant."

Rob Hennin, chief executive officer, nib New Zealand.

Money. It's the driving factor behind many life choices, but is it the be-all and end-all?

'Me and My Money' is a regular feature that investigates Kiwi attitudes towards money and what drives the choices they make.  

Having lost money during the GFC, Rob Hennin, chief executive of health insurer nib New Zealand says it's important to understand financial recommendations before acting on them - and to be prepared to challenge them.

Spending money on travel and hobbies can help physical and mental health - something he says more people are making a priority. For Hennin, that means buying a boat to explore the Hauraki Gulf (and enjoying the odd fine red wine).   

1. Are you a saver or a spender?

A spender. 

My definition of spending is not just day-to-day spending we usually think of, it includes investments in shares, property and other assets.

Each spending decision involves some trade-off between my short and long-term goals.  So I consider investments to be 'spending' as well.  

2. What's been your biggest financial lesson? 

To not invest in things I don't understand and to be prepared to challenge financial recommendations (whether from friends, family or professionals).

After following my accountant's advice without understanding the risks I was taking, I lost a lot of money in the global financial crisis.

It turned out that my accountant didn't understand the risks either. He's no longer my accountant.

3. How are good health and wealth connected? 

Research tells us about 60 percent of people believe their biggest priority is keeping healthy. 

People are spending quite a substantial amount on travel and hobbies - both of which are considered to be major contributors to good physical and mental health.

There's no doubt wealth increases choices, including health and the ability to access healthcare when and where it's needed.

Wealth isn't all about good health - but it can definitely improve quality of life.

4. Your mobile phone dies - what do you think is a reasonable amount to spend on a new one?

I'd buy the latest iPhone (again) - around $1500.

My phone and iPad are an integral part of the way I manage my life - staying in contact with others, working, learning and relaxing.

As I read books and articles on my devices, I see these as necessary investments.

5. Give an example of a recent purchase you consider was value for money?

My boat (I hope my wife doesn't read this).

While it was a costly purchase and ongoing maintenance doesn't come cheap, I get a lot of pleasure from learning about boats, engine maintenance and navigation. 

I love exploring the Hauraki Gulf and enjoying a glass of wine on the deck as the sun goes down.

So despite the cost, it's a great investment as it's contributing to my overall wellbeing and happiness.

6. What was your last impulse or 'fritter' purchase and how did you feel about it afterwards?

I bought Central Otago red wine (Amisfield and Terra Sancta) online during lockdown. 

I feel great about it. Definitely an impulse purchase, but it's lovely to drink when I'm winding down for the day.

7. If you had spare money to invest, what would you invest in and why?

Buying or growing a small business that exports New Zealand produce.

Supporting small businesses is fun (getting to feel every decision made) and New Zealand produce is revered around the world.

It would be a great way to support local producers and communities.

8. Do you use a credit card and if so, do you pay the full balance off each month?

Yes, I use it for everything, from paying utility bills to dinners and entertainment. 

I'm religious about paying off the full balance every month.

9. Does having more money increase happiness?

No, but it gives more choice. 

A few years ago, my brother paid for my dad's heart surgery so he didn't have the stress of being on the waiting list (he should've had health insurance)!

The surgery changed my dad's life.

 8. The best money advice someone's ever given you?

Pay off your mortgage as fast as you can. 

I've tried to follow this and found as I pay off debt sooner, there's freedom to pursue other possibilities, like visiting family and friends more and investing in family learning experiences such as cooking classes or scuba diving lessons. 

Of course, the surplus can also be invested.

The views expressed in this article are personal and are not professional financial advice.