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From the courtroom to the trading floor

3 February 2023

A spotlight on Rebecca Thomas, Founder and CEO of Mint Asset Management

This month we are spotlighting  Rebecca Thomas, the Founder and CEO of Mint Asset Management.  Learn about how personal experiences drove her to seek opportunities for herself and others when it comes to managing your finances. As well as, successfully navigating the C-suite as a young woman, in a largely male-dominated industry, which gave her the expertise to start her own business Mint Asset Management in 2006. With experience in the financial services sector in England, the United States of America, and New Zealand, her purpose was to give Kiwi’s better access to professional investment expertise.

Tell us about your background?

I started in financial services in the mid 1980s, I’d originally trained as a barrister and I moved into financial services then, at the time of Big Bang in London and ahead of the 87 crash. What really got me interested in finance was the fact that there had been some instances of mismanagement of trusts in my family when I was a teenager, and that got me looking at the way that other people’s money was looked after, and I thought that there was a lot of room for improvement in that particular area.

So that early experience, with the mismanagement of trusts in my family, made me believe that it was very important that people equip themselves to be able to control their own finances. That's all people but women, in particular, needed to have a better toolkit in terms of managing their finances.

Tell us about why you started Mint?

I moved to New Zealand in 2004. I had a lot of experience in offshore markets at that time. New Zealand was a highly unregulated market, there weren’t a lot of choices for investors. One of the main reasons for that was the tax regime that existed on managed funds at that time, they [investors] were tax penalized relative to say investing for yourself. So when the tax changes came round in 2007, I anticipated this and  formed Mint at the end of 2006. Really to take advantage of the fact that managed funds were going to be the main savings vehicle for KiwiSaver, as the newly introduced superannuation scheme. I thought that would give Kiwis much better access to lower costs of saving and also access to investment expertise.

I wanted to use the overseas experience that we had to demonstrate to Kiwis that actually professional investors could do a better job. They didn't necessarily have to manage their savings themselves [or invest in high risk/ high yield products] which had been happening to a large extent up until that time. 

What are your career highlights?

The industry has been very good to me, I ended up as the Chief Executive of a listed company in London, and that made me the youngest and one of the few female Chief Executives of a listed company in the London market. Shortly, after my arrival in New Zealand in 2004, I decided that I wanted to start my own business in this industry because of the changes that were taking place. In 2006 we founded Mint and I became one of the few female CEO’s in this industry in New Zealand.

Rebecca adds, “Before this I joined the Board of the newly formed regulator, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) from inception and I am pleased that we have made significant progress since its formation at the time of the financial companies collapse, in terms of identifying future risks in the sector and ensuring markets and products are fair, transparent, and managers act in clients best interest.”

In closing, we asked her to comment on What’s next for the industry?

“After a very strong period of returns, recently things have been more challenging for investors and fund managers alike. Risk management comes to the fore and we all need to be realistic about the level of returns we can expect going forward as global economies deal with slowdowns and the headwinds of high-interest rates and inflation.

In New Zealand, we are moving into an environment where local companies and fund managers will be required to undertake carbon reporting on their portfolio investee companies and themselves as managers of other people’s savings.

The cost of the juggernaut of reporting across the spectrum of environmental, social, and governance factors will ultimately be borne by the investors and impact returns. Hopefully, investors will be better informed in relation to the risks that these factors highlight and how managers and governors are tackling them.”

Disclaimer: Rebecca Thomas is the Chief Executive Officer at Mint Asset Management Limited. The above article is intended to provide information and does not purport to give investment advice.

Mint Asset Management is the issuer of the Mint Asset Management Funds. Download a copy of the product disclosure statement.

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