Money Week Q&A: Allan Yeo, Co-founder, Booster

Allan is the founder and Managing Director of Booster, a default Kiwisaver provider based in Wellington that looks after $2 billion for more than 100,000 members.

Tell us a little about yourself Allan!

19 years ago, I founded the company that is now Booster. It began with a handful of people and that can-do attitude that makes things happen. Put simply, we wanted to create a better way for people to save.

I had been working around the world for one of the big Investment banks. It was so refreshing to be back in New Zealand and feeling like I was making a difference.

Today the team is a bit bigger and we now look after the savings of over 120,000 people across New Zealand through KiwiSaver and Investments.

I’m personally committed to getting New Zealanders on the financial front foot — I’ve seen the difference it makes in people’s lives. The team at Booster share my passion. We think everyone should know their money inside and out too and we are on a mission to make that happen. We want everyone to feel like they really know their money because with knowledge comes confidence… confidence to make the most of it.

What’s the most satisfying thing you’ve spent money on?

Education. I came to New Zealand as a teenager to study. The money spent on my education opened up the world for me. Now I’m spending money on my kids’ education and it’s rewarding — even if their subjects of choice aren’t mine!

What’s the worst thing you’ve spent money on?

A timer for my garden hose and sprinkler. It malfunctioned while I was away and instead of healthy plants, I ended up with a huge water bill; and there wasn’t any warranty on the timer!

What’s the best money advice you’ve received?

Understand the difference between “good” debt (borrowing to invest) and “bad” debt (borrowing to consume). You are not assured of getting rich by incurring good debt (that will depend on how wisely you choose your investments) but you are guaranteed to stay poor by borrowing to consume. It is interesting to note how difficult it is to convince a bank to lend you money to invest but banks will quite happily give you a credit card to spend on consumption. Not a helpful thing for most people.

How do you manage your money today?

Very carefully! I still have the same attitude to money now as when I first started work, which is to consume within my means and always ensure that I am saving for the future. I have a real gripe with some of the fees banks charge — I make sure I never get hit with those ridiculous ‘missed payment’ charges.

What’s your best money hack?

The power of compound interest. It’s so much easier when your money is working for you. Good savings habits are fundamental. But once you’ve saved it you want that money to grow. Investing and taking advantage of compounding returns will mean you get far more out of your hard-earned savings. It works the reverse when you are in debt which is why so many people struggle to get out of debt.

This interview is part of New Zealand Money Week (NZMW) 2017. NZMW is led by the Commission For Financial Capability, and it involves events all around the country to encourage New Zealanders to talk about money and develop greater financial capability. To further the conversation about money we got in touch with some of our favourite Kiwis to get their perspectives on their finances.

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