New Zealand Money Month Q&A: James Blair, Wealth Director at Lighthouse Financial

James has been a Financial Adviser for the better part of ten years. He helps clients from their first job all the way through retirement, and he believes in keeping finances simple and making advice accessible to all Kiwis. James provides advice on managed funds, KiwiSaver, investment property, budgets, debt repayment, and insurance. You can also get weekly money tips from his podcast Cheques & Balances.

Icebreaker! Buy Now Pay Later — yay or nay?

Absolutely not. 10% of those who use Afterpay are missing repayments and are getting crushed by big interest rates. If you want something — save for it. It creates an unhealthy relationship with money. 

What’s your approach to managing money?

Automatic payments. I’m a simple guy, and the easy way is APs so you don’t need to think about it. If it’s taking more than ten minutes a week to manage your money that’s too much for me. 

Do you do anything special to keep engaged with your money?

I’m big on goals in all areas of life. I write a note on my phone at the start of the year. No more than five goals. I look at it all the time which keeps me on track with the money decisions I need to make to stay on track. 

How important are financial goals and do you have any you’re working towards?

We’re wired for instant gratification. I think the only way to stick with delayed gratification is meaningful financial goals. We had a few goals this year: 

  1. We have an 8-month-old son, Cooper. My wife Hannah is now on unpaid parental leave so making sure we have enough money set aside for that. 
  2. I have a $70k floating loan that I’m paying off that I want cleared by the end of the year. 
  3. I have an income goal for the year.
  4. We want to buy another investment property before the end of the year. 

Where do you get your financial knowledge from?

As a Financial Adviser, it’s now just a big part of my life. Before I was a Financial Adviser I was lucky enough to start my career as a graduate banker and learned a lot then! I have also learned a lot from my dad. 

What do you love spending money on?

All the good stuff — nice dinners, holidays, spoiling the family, clothes. 

What has been the best investment you’ve ever made?

On paper, it would be buying my first home which is now an investment property, but I can’t go past becoming my own boss. Being in control of your own future is a game changer if you get it right. Not to say it doesn’t come with risk! 

Have you ever experienced financial difficulties?

Starting your own business definitely raises stress levels and gets you up nice and early in the morning. 

What advice would you give someone just starting out with their finances?

Subscribe to Cheques & Balances on Spotify! One thing I see all the time is everyone is in too much of a rush. Take the smallest step forward you can and build on it. 

What’s the silliest thing you would put on a new design for the $100 note?

A Cheques & Balances logo?

This interview is part of New Zealand Money Month 2023. NZMM is coordinated by trusted personal finance resource Sorted, in partnership with the financial capability community, 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 pals in the personal finance space to get their perspectives on their own finances.

Related articles

New Zealand Money Month Q&A: Dean Anderson, Chief Executive of Kernel
After spending five years as Head of Product at a large ETF provider where he was involved in creating, launching, and developing index funds, Dean saw there was an opportunity to create better options for investors. Taking a fresh approach to the investment sector, he created Kernel — a personal finance platform where innovation meets investment.
How I Use PocketSmith With My Clients as a Financial Adviser
Have you ever considered talking to a Financial Adviser about your money? They’re not just for society’s financial elite! James from Lighthouse Wealth tells us about how he’s helping his clients feel empowered about their money decisions in his role as a Financial Adviser, and how he uses PocketSmith in his process.
“What Insurance Do I Need?” Q&A With Financial Adviser Elle
Underinsurance in New Zealand is a significant problem, particularly in the life, trauma and health space. We chatted with Financial Adviser Elle Wuthrich to understand more about life and health insurance cover, why we should consider it, how much we need and how to find a trustworthy adviser.