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.
People Focus: Stuart Thomas
Director, Wealth Management Adviser
Stuart Thomas provides strategic investment and portfolio management advice to high net worth individuals, trusts, charities and businesses across the South Island.
Stuart joined Jarden’s Christchurch office in 2018, bringing with him over 25 years’ experience in financial services at BNZ, where he held a number of roles across retail, business and strategy. In 2004 he joined BNZ’s private banking team, providing highly customised services to the bank’s leading personal clients, including lending advice, investment portfolio management and foreign exchange.
He has a BCom (Accounting and Business Administration) from the University of Canterbury, a Dip Banking from Massey University and a PG Dip in Personal Financial Planning from the University of Waikato. He is an Authorised Financial Adviser and NZX Adviser.
Whether clients are seeking long term growth, income or wealth preservation, Stuart enjoys developing optimal, bespoke investment solutions. When his work is done, you’ll find him restoring his creative energy over a game of golf or tennis, or twirling his wife around the dance floor, ballroom and latin-style.
After 25 years at the BNZ, why did you choose to move to Jarden?
After 14 years as a private banker, I was ready for a change. Jarden was well known in the North Island and among corporate clients, but had only recently taken a foothold in the South Island, so I could see there was an opportunity to develop the brand. It was a dynamic and growing business that offered both strong back office support and flexibility in the way I run my wealth management practice. That was very appealing.
How does working at Jarden compare with working in a traditional bank?
The major difference is the level and sophistication of the advice we deliver.
Jarden’s focus is around building the New Zealand capital markets, building wealth for people and fostering growth both economically and individually. That’s a much narrower operational focus than that of a traditional bank, which tends to have less flexibility, less appetite for risk, and may have constraints caused by legacy systems or centralised processes.
Our investment advice is backed up strong back office support for the adviser network, including very good wealth management tools, access to live market information and specific company or sector research. People are always coming up with ideas to develop the tools even further, so there’s an endless process of improvement.
That enhanced access to data, systems and processes brings a responsibility too. It’s behoven on you to truly understand what you’re advising and recommending to clients.
As a firm, Jarden is truly independent in its advice, so it doesn’t matter which investment clients choose. We are also able to offer select clients a range of interesting and non traditional opportunities to help build their wealth, for example, through our Principal Investments business.
Tell us about your approach to wealth management
I have a strong belief in spreading your risk by investing across different classes of assets, and using quality research to support your decisions. Jarden’s wealth research team provides in-depth insights into both funds and individual companies, to support that decision making process and the allocation of assets from one year to the next. That empowers me to be more strategic in my approach.
What do you find most satisfying about your work?
When I see clients for a review meeting, we’ll often share a meal together. I love hearing about their families and what they have been up to since we last met.
The numbers on the screen are important, but even more important is what clients are able to do as a result. Many of my clients have children who live overseas, and a portfolio designed to generate income brings them a lot of freedom. Knowing that they can take that holiday every year, visit their grandchildren overseas or even shout their children a holiday, is such a gratifying feeling.
A number of my BNZ clients have followed me to Jarden, and that’s a testament to the relationships you build over time. The relationship is the glue that holds it all together and goes a long way towards helping clients ride the inevitable ups and downs of the market.
Tell us about the culture at Jarden
The Christchurch office is a small team, so we work very closely in an open plan office, and the working environment couldn’t be better. The team is warm and welcoming, and everyone I’ve engaged with in the wider Jarden business has been only too happy to provide information and support, or offer guidance.
So much so, that when my cousin returned from New York to New Zealand, I told her there was only one financial services firm she should work for. She’s now joined Jarden’s Auckland office.
Tell us about your interest in ballroom and latin dancing
In this line of work you can be stuck behind a desk all day. I’ve always enjoyed sport, especially tennis and golf, but I wanted to find something my wife and I could enjoy together.
We’ve been dancing twice a week for just over a year. Dancing can be very challenging. The steps are quite complex, and sometimes the body just doesn’t want to do what you’re asking it to do! Dancing uses a completely different part of the brain from my daily work and that has been valuable on many levels.
What are your future plans?
I’m focused on looking after my clients and continuing to build Jarden’s presence in the South Island. The Christchurch economy continues its recovery from the 2011 earthquake and the government’s foundation rebuild projects are still coming on stream. Central Otago is booming, and we cover the West Coast and the whole of Mid, North and South Canterbury too. There are huge opportunities to grow the business and that’s really exciting.
Shikha works in Jarden Digital as part of the DevOps team, using cloud-based technology and automation to support the continuous improvement of digital platforms.
As a UX Designer at Jarden, Samantha works to ensure Jarden’s technology works smoothly and intuitively to help clients reach their investment goals.