Interview with Luigi Wewege

What inspired you to launch your business?
The Global Credit Crunch had relatively little effect on the New Zealand banking sector. In part, this fortunate stability was a result of the health of the country’s financial market and lending sector, which always faced much sterner regulation and control than many other countries during the boom years between 2002 and 2007.

For such reasons, since the 1990s, New Zealand has been the destination of choice for global investors, who have been well rewarded for their faith. Particularly, those from countries such as Japan and China, who flocked to place their household savings in New Zealand, have since received interest rates well above their domestic offerings.

It became apparent to me in late 2013 that many global investors wanted to enjoy the attractive rates offered from New Zealand, without exposing themselves to exchange rate risk and thus the idea for the financial services Group – Vivier was born.
What issue does your core product help solve and how so?
Vivier & Co is a boutique financial services firm with a core focus on offering our private clients high-performing savings accounts without market risk volatility.
What has been your biggest challenge as a business owner and how have you met that challenge?
We had to push back our timeline of expansion into Southeast Asia. There were numerous challenges for us and access to boutique financial services remains low across much of the region. In addition, many consumers don’t have an awareness about the meaning of “boutique financial services,” so the burden falls on the first movers, like us to explain the benefits to the market.
What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you/your Company?
What excites me is how the industry is evolving so rapidly, and over the past several years’ financial service innovations have contributed to a complete new way in which consumers are able to bank, threatening the status quo of traditional banks and redefining a banking model which has been in place for generations.

These technological advancements have facilitated the rapid emergence of digital banking firms which has led to established high street banks being forced to reduce the amount of regional bank branches they have, as well as to increase their pace of digital adoption; due to being unable to stop mass client attrition to these agile start-ups and niche players.
Have you had any mentors or role models that have influenced you? Describe the impact.
I consider Elon Musk as an inspiration due to his business philosophy, in that he has taken on the most pressing possible causes to give humanity the best chance of a good future through commercial ventures. His visionary ideas have been the subject of much skepticism and at times he has faced great adversity but has proved the naysayers wrong and prevailed every time.
Do you consider yourself successful and by what means do you measure success?
Success would be having grown my business internationally to where we are operating on virtually every continent, and generating solid returns in each region. Also when I receive my first offer of acquisition from a bigger player in my industry, this is the day I will consider having succeeded. This due to my belief that that moment when someone is trying to acquire you, is an indication that you are succeeding and so much so that someone views you as a threat to their bottom-line.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs and business owners? What do you wish someone told you?
To always seek input from others so as to aide you in reaching the best possible decision for your business/start-up. This is due to entrepreneurship for the most part being about taking calculated risks and you will always create better strategies if more facts and information go into the decision-making process.

Also this is going to sound overly simplistic but take the time to step away every so often even if it is a 30 minute walk and you will be pleasantly surprised as to what you can think through or of while being disconnected from work.
You must have set standards that are followed in selection of team members?
I believe in a holistic approach when it comes to assessing team members especially those who I will work closely with. Although we all communicate daily with each other, often we’re all incredibly busy and don’t have much time for informal discussions. Thus I believe it to be absolutely essential in getting to know your employees as not just work colleagues but as people. By meeting with them outside of the office in a relaxed setting will creating the necessary environment so to have frank and open discussions about their views on the business and the role they play within it.
Best interview question you’ve asked?
How do you plan on assisting the company improve its bottom line?” More than an academic pedigree, I am looking for lateral thinkers who can develop creative solutions to bolster our current initiatives. Someone that is inherently innovative and can be counted on for delivery of creative solutions is absolutely invaluable for any company.
What is the secret to effective recruiting?
Naturally, one must have an exceptional human resource team available to you, but to ensure the continued success of your business you must involve yourself in the process. By being part of every single recruitment decision, even if only in a small introductory capacity, allows for a better screening of candidates as well as providing your HR team with alternative input, which they may not have considered.
What makes your company culture unique?
I set company wide goals for employees in addition to their position specific ones, which has helped build morale and camaraderie in the company. This came about due to noticing over a period of time that my employees tended to be more receptive to a goal they were responsible for with others, rather than being solely accountable. Once this was implemented it completely transformed my business due to employees becoming much more self-aware, focused and willing to put in the extra hours when needed because they realized that their actions impacted not only their fellow employees but also the financial success of the company.
Published 2017-01-16.
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Books by This Author

The Digital Banking Revolution
Price: $18.92 USD. Words: 33,120. Language: English (South African dialect). Published: January 16, 2017. Categories: Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Banks & banking, Nonfiction » Business & Economics » Personal finance
How financial technology companies are rapidly transforming the traditional retail banking industry through disruptive innovation.