Stuart Thomas provides strategic investment and portfolio management advice to high net worth individuals, trusts, charities and businesses across the South Island.
People Focus: Aaron Shields
Wealth Management Adviser
Aaron Shields works with high net worth individuals and trusts to manage, grow and protect their wealth through diversified investments.
Aaron began his career on Westpac’s graduate training programme, gaining diverse financial experience across foreign exchange, institutional and credit trading and risk management.
He joined Jarden’s institutional trading team in 2015, specialising in New Zealand equity markets for both local and offshore institutional investors. Aaron managed the daily wholesale AUD/NZD forex risk for high volume and high value trades, placing and clearing some of New Zealand’s largest corporate actions and block trades.
In 2017, Aaron seized the opportunity to return to his native South Island and build a wealth management practice from Jarden’s Nelson office. As a board member of the Nelson/Tasman Chamber of Commerce, Aaron works to give the region’s businesses a voice and enhance connectivity.
Aaron has a BCom (Finance) from the University of Otago. Outside the office, Aaron relishes hunting, fishing and sharing his passion for the outdoors as a youth mentor with Big Brothers and Big Sisters of New Zealand.
What compelled you to take up the position at Jarden?
I’ve had an interest in shares and equities from a young age, so joining the Jarden institutional trading team was a dream opportunity. It was also a baptism by fire! Institutional trading is extremely specialised. It’s a high paced, high stress environment, trading big numbers and massive volumes of shares. A university degree gets you through the door, but you cannot learn trading from a textbook. You have to learn by doing and learn by failure.
When did you know you’d made the right decision?
Every month on the institutional trading desk, there’s a major closing auction in the last 15 minutes of the day that determines the price of every single stock or share. It’s both extremely exciting and extremely terrifying - it’s our job to be market makers and if you miss something, the consequences can be huge.
The end of every auction is such an incredible adrenaline rush and there are few jobs in New Zealand where I could get that experience. Learning in that environment has set me up for the rest of my career and I will never forget those days.
How does your time on the trading floor inform your work as a wealth management adviser?
Understanding why things happen the way they do is invaluable, and you can only learn that by being on the floor and riding the rollercoaster of the markets on the daily.
I absolutely loved trading, but now that I’m in a private client environment the rewards are much greater, because you make a real difference to people’s lives. It takes a monumental leap of trust for someone to hand over every dollar they’ve ever saved. They need to have confidence in you, and to know that you’re going to be around for a long time. It’s a huge responsibility, but when you see clients overcome their fear and you deliver great results, the rewards are unreal and the relationships are rich.
How did the Nelson move come about?
Trading is a demanding job, and you really need to switch off and get away. I’m an outdoorsy kind of guy, so when I was based in Auckland, I was always flying south for the weekend to go hunting and fishing.
After two years with the institutional trading team, I put out some feelers for roles outside of Auckland. It took a few months, but the firm really helped facilitate the move. To me, this is more than a job - I’m building a life here, creating deep networks I can rely on and trust. I can go hunting on the weekend, or go fishing before work and still be at my desk by 8.30am. It’s a unique opportunity and I feel very very lucky.
Tell us something that could only happen at Jarden?
On my first week in Nelson, I was asked if I wanted to add anything personal to the office, so I brought in a taxidermied bull tahr that I hunted in the Landsborough Valley near Haast. It took me six days to track him down. My love of hunting is one of the reasons I moved to Nelson so it’s pretty special and unexpected to be able to hang your pride and joy in the office.
What qualities have helped you succeed at Jarden?
A long term view and attention to detail. At Jarden, opportunities abound and every role is a stepping stone to the next thing.
Our business is all about calculated risks, and while I have a great balance of autonomy in the way I drive my business, what connects us all is one very simple mission: to get the best outcome for the client. If you have an idea for a business line that will help us achieve that collective goal, you’re encouraged to go for it. If you love financial markets, Jarden is a fantastic place to work.
As head of client solutions, Alana is tasked with building and strengthening relationships with corporate clients across Jarden. She provides investor relations advice, supporting listed companies to connect and engage with potential investors from around the world. She also works with teams across Jarden to develop customised and innovative solutions to client needs.
James has 20 years’ experience in the capital markets, from the early days of his career on Jarden’s trading desk, to his appointment as CEO in 2017.