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All great changes are preceded by chaos

I want to acknowledge how challenging these times are and that moving between lockdown levels does not help our state of mind, so please feel free to reach out even if it is just to share, we have a very well connected ecosystem who are here to help.

For some COVID has been an opportunity to pivot their business or get their product to market more quickly, we have seen partnerships like Westpac and CoGo who are shaping a new conversation around Insurance move into the market with momentum.

Reflecting on all the events we ran during lockdown 1.0 and TechWeek (more than 25 of them) we received great feedback not only from the speakers but also those who attended the sessions from all over the world. It was great to have Minister Nash join XERO, Kernel Wealth, Kiwibank and the Golden Ticket program to discuss what support is available for SME’s and further work that is required during and most importantly post COVID. I am trying to gauge appetite for creating a Task Force focused on SME’s so if you are keen please do get in touch.

During TechWeek it was great to see how strong our relationships are with our overseas partners in Hong Kong, Singapore and Australia and that the discussions around the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are progressing well with a strong focus on Technology and FinTech. This is a real opportunity for FinTechs in New Zealand to utilize the fantastic relationship we have with the UK and others. The Digital Economy Partnership Agreement (DEPA) will also help open more doors with Singapore and Chile, so if these are your target markets then please do get in touch.

COVID is making the return of conferences pretty hard with so much uncertainty, FinTechNZ and InsurTechNZ are supporting a number of streams at the Financial Services Council conference and I am sure we will hear from Richard and the team shortly as to how it will move forward if we remain in level 2. I am sure Lynn at the Financial Services Federation will also be considering alternative delivery methods. The line ups look amazing and no matter whether it is face to face or virtual it will be amazing to hear from some of the worlds most forward-thinking individuals.

We are looking to host a number of events before the end of the year so if you have an interesting matter to discuss or address and want to use our platform, then please contact me.

Even before our friend COVID came along Mental Health and Wellbeing has always been a big issue here in New Zealand. With the latest suicide figures released last week, we are celebrating the fact that the numbers are lower than last year. COVID has made life so incredibly uncertain and suicide, attempted suicide and people’s general mental health and wellbeing are being impacted more than we know.

I bring this up because technology can play a role here to help people talk more about how they are actually feeling and we should embrace that. We are in deep discussions with a company that recently launched in Hong Kong to provide them with a platform to help address this issue from a unique perspective. If you’d like to be involved in an event around Health and Wellbeing then please do get in touch.

Lastly with the election now pushed out to October and the Prime Minister being clear that the date won’t move again, hopefully by the time we come out the other side we will not only have a clear picture of how to help the economy recover but also how technology will play a role in job creation, job redeployment, attracting investment and becoming the significant pillar that helps drive economic growth.

My final point is around remote working, zoom fatigue and trust. Prior to COVID some companies would not have provided the option to work remotely or flexibly because of trust. That must have been a challenge due to a forced lockdown, however, what I know is that COVID has proven working remotely/ flexibly does work. All the research and white papers prove that doing it correctly increases productivity, reduces the number of sick days and helps to address the challenges around mental health and wellbeing. That is why I am the 4 Day Week Ambassador for New Zealand, as a country we need to lean into the technology sector the way we have with Tourism and Primary industries, this is the moment to define the future of this country and one I hope you will help me achieve.

Remember you are not alone, never suffer in silence we are all here to support one another.

James Brown
General Manager

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