Good afternoon and thank you for the warm welcome. Let me also thank the Trans Tasman Business Circle for giving me the opportunity to talk to you today.
For those of you who don't know my background, I hold both British and Irish passports, came here by way of Hong Kong and I now run an Australian and New Zealand bank.
Given the Bledisloe Cup is just over a week away and it is to be played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney, it's lucky I don't have to pick sides.
While I’m a great rugby fan – and some have suggested that may be why we sponsored the Bledisloe Cup in Hong Kong last year - in sport, like in business, I’m a great believer in taking emotion out of decision-making and simply looking at the data.
On that basis things don't look too good for the Wallabies. The longest time the cup has been held by Australia is 5 years. The longest time the cup has been held by New Zealand is 27 years.
As Damon Runyon once said: “The race may not always be to the swift, nor the victory to the strong, but that is sure the best way to bet”. There’s no doubt that this rivalry between Australia and New Zealand in sport produces two countries that can punch above their weight in just about every area of international sport.
This makes sense in sport but I’m not sure it makes as much sense when it comes to some important areas of business where scale is critical.
I can't help thinking that here are two island nations, with small populations, in the middle of a huge ocean, a long way away from their original colonisers, whose national interests are both better served by working together to enhance the each other’s individual strengths. Sometimes, good natured rivalry lets us lose sight of this.
What I want to do this afternoon is share my views on the current state of the global economy and focus a little on the opportunities in New Zealand and Australia. While we mightn't like it, it’s at least reassuring to know that what is going on at present is part of a normal cycle.