News 19 Apr 2018
Newly appointed PCF board member John Fiso saw himself as a teacher when he began the New Zealand Institute of Sport in his hometown of Wellington in 1997. When he had sold the organisation two decades later, his prime skillset had changed dramatically.
“I learnt a lot about business and had basically become the financial controller at the end,” says John (pictured left, with PCF CEO Craig Strong), now the Managing Director of the Fiso Investment Group Ltd.
“We learnt a lot about the ancillary businesses that we normally wouldn’t be involved with. We got into the property game and came to grips with the import and export trades due to the sporting equipment coming to and from offshore. We ended up building businesses internally within the organisation.”
From his dealings with private equity and publically listed companies, John learned how various financial deals are made and what financial engineering – involving financial theory, methods of engineering, tools of mathematics and the application of technical methods - is capable of doing for business.
“It’s basically about the structure of your finance as you’re effectively rolling up stocks and selling them on with a much higher volume,” says John.
As NZIS grew, so did the need to bring in expert financial advice from the likes of KPMG and BDO, with legal advice from Chapman Tripp and Kensington Swan. The stakes were high as specialist advice was needed and provided by larger firms including handling mergers, acquisitions, wealth creation and finance.
“If you’re struggling to meet those challenges, you won’t be there for very long. Thankfully, we were able to meet them and grow as a business group.”
Selling his business and gaining financial security in doing so hasn’t dimmed his appetite to make a further contribution to the business sector, which includes the Pacific region. It’s one of the reasons John joined the board at PCF.
“Interest in the Pacific is increasing across the globe with the growing Chinese presence and the Americans also looking closer at the region,” he says.
“Much of the interest relates to either improving infrastructure or growing the energy sector. A friend of mine spent three months in the Solomon Islands and saw enormous potential capability.”
John wants to see more young Pacific men and women take on the private sector and economic development space, despite its challenges. But he admits there remains a long way to go to see those goals met.
“I know from experience that education is the key to that. A good education expands minds and helps to understand how others have succeeded,” he says.
“It takes certain skills to stay and succeed in business, but wouldn’t it be great to have more Pacific people excelling across the sectors.”