CCANZ in The News: Putting Fizz Into Finance

Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand Managing Director, Chris Litchfield, learned a lot from playing Monopoly, he tells Rob Stock at the Sunday Star Times.

Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand Managing Director, Chris Litchfield, learned a lot from playing Monopoly, he tells Rob Stock at the Sunday Star Times.

Putting Fizz Into Finance

As told to Rob Stock

12 October 2014

Chris Litchfield learned the value of money early, but he says a balanced approach is needed to savings, leaving plenty of opportunities for fun with the family.

How financially savvy are you?

I like my numbers so I enjoy evaluating financial positions and options and looking for ways to create wealth. I'd say I do OK here, but there's a long way to go to get to any sort of mastery.

How did you pick up your money skills?

I'd probably have to say through my BCom in accountancy and many hours of playing Monopoly as a kid.

What was your first paid work?

I had various jobs at a young age, from mowing lawns to working in seasonal fruit over the long, hot Marlborough summers. But the first major paid role was working in a men's clothing retail store in Blenheim during the summer holidays. It was a great place to learn about retailing and customer service and looking back on it helped motivate me into a successful career in sales. Even back then I used to love closing off the tills and doing the reconciliations at the end of the day. It's a very fulfilling feeling when everything balances.

How did your upbringing shape your attitude to money?

I was bought up in Blenheim and was taught at a very young age if you wanted something, you had to work for it. My parents were always very supportive and made sure that we had everything we needed to be successful . . . an education, love and support and the motivation to go out and work for what we wanted.

There was also a bit of yin and yang . . . my father was a very focused saver - one of the best I've met, and my mother was a great spender - especially on the social stuff - and that lead to a great balance and a lot of fun.

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

Work hard and save what you can - it is much more fun being paid interest than having to pay it.

You've been at Coca-Cola for a fairly lengthy period of time. That seems rare these days. Does loyalty pay?

It has worked for me, but everyone is different. I've always had the view that I have to be learning and enjoying myself in every role otherwise it's time to change - and that day hasn't yet come for me.

Are you a spender, or a saver?

My wife would say saver . . . but if it involves clothes, cars or boats than I would say spender.

Tell us your best investment decision ever?

That's easy . . . my first house. It's a big investment decision for any young person coming into the market, especially if you've worked hard to save your own deposit. For better or for worse, the New Zealand residential property market has a strong record of appreciation and in my case getting into the market and focusing on getting my mortgage down as fast as I could was a great way to force some saving when I was young.

What has been your biggest investment mistake?

When I moved from Christchurch to Auckland many years back it took me some time to get my head around just how much money people in Auckland would pay for a house - even a small one - so I waited a few years thinking they couldn't get any more expensive . . . that was a mistake.

How do you sum up your feelings towards spending?

For me it's all about balance. I think it is important to spend enough to enjoy today, but be mindful of saving to support your long term lifestyle.

My wife Sara would say my accountancy background makes me a little too frugal. I don't think she's fully forgiven me for creating a spreadsheet for our wedding budget! Are you in KiwiSaver and if so, which fund and why?

Actually no, but I have been investing in a superannuation fund since my early work days here at Coca-Cola Amatil.

Do you trust the money men?

I am a little cautious with where I choose to invest, and trust is an important part of calculating your investment risk. I am a firm believer in looking for strong security and proven track records when investing larger sums. I don't mind taking risks - but I wouldn't "bet the house" if I don't understand the risk and trust the people I'm investing in.

Gambling is something of a national pastime. Do you like a flutter?

No, actually its one of the pastimes I have never got into . . . I'm amazed people consider gambling a national pastime given we live in the most beautiful country in the world, with such easy access to nearly every outdoor pursuit you could possibly imagine. We should be out there enjoying it.

- Sunday Star Times

View the original article here