Being creative with governance
There is a shift in thinking about governance happening in the creative sector.
For Tahana Tippett-Tapsell, his admiration as a Sharesies customer now extends to his role on the board.
Tahana Tippett-Tapsell lives in Tāmaki Makaurau/Auckland and has a role on the Sharesies board. As the investment manager of the Māori Investment Team at New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE), Tippett-Tapsell says working with Sharesies and gaining an inside perspective has been invigorating.
“It’s been awesome. I was a customer of Sharesies for quite a long time and I always admired the company’s values and the way it was operating, and how accessible it was to invest and manage funds,” he says.
When speaking about the energy of the board, his eyes light up. He has been impressed by their passion and commitment to the strategy, and in particular, its strong focus on purpose. “It has been one of the greatest experiences and you can feel the energy, passion and determination . . . the positive effect on your wairua,” he says.
A post-graduate executive business scholar from the University of California, Berkeley – supported by his whānau trust Tūaroapki – Tippett-Tapsell started his career as a commercial banker with ASB before moving into a business development manager role at Select Wealth Management.
He joined the Sharesies board in March 2022 and says it has been fascinating to see how the board makes decisions around balancing profit and purpose at a governance level. “It is really awesome to see how they prioritise purpose over everything,” he says.
Tippett-Tapsell draws an easy parallel between his full-time role at NZTE to being on the Sharesies board and describes the start-up as the ‘Golden Child’ of raising capital from private investment. Both roles have allowed him to see the types of issues faced by customers in raising capital to grow a business, and ensure it doesn’t fall over.
“I value diversity on boards and in governance, and I believe co-governance is the right thing. But I don’t value box-ticking exercises. I’m a big believer in having the right and most capable person for the job.”
Business and the financial world are a far cry from anything he was exposed to growing up in a big family in Tāmaki Makaurau, with parents who didn’t finish high school. He says his family struggled financially from time to time. “I remember as a kid, sometimes not even having lunch and going to school. These are things I don’t want my child to have to experience,” he says.
His priority is to have a good quality of life and that includes providing quality education for his son. This comes as part of his deep desire to create generational change, which also fed into his pursuit of post-graduate studies in business and accreditation in the US.
Tippett-Tapsell is also passionate about empowering others to become financially literate, something which helped him and his wife buy their first house in Auckland when he was 25 years old.
A strong advocate of the Sharesies ethos of ‘making wealth and investment accessible for everyone’, his contribution at the table has been about sharing a Māori perspective, looking at new ways to reach communities in remote areas, and bringing an experience of creating his own personal wealth.
As a future director, Tippett-Tapsell also believes in honouring Te Tiriti. While the idea of co-governance might be hotly debated, he says as a partnership model there should be a relationship where at least 50% of councils, for example, are made up of Māori seats.
“I value diversity on boards and in governance, and I believe co-governance is the right thing. But I don’t value box-ticking exercises. I’m a big believer in having the right and most capable person for the job,” he says.
Tippett-Tapsell has been approached by a number of boards, but at various times has questioned whether the offers were related to his experience, or his Māori background. He never wants to be in a position where he is asked to sit on a board simply to fill a quota.
“I want to be picked based on my skills and experience and at Sharesies they really appreciated my knowledge around financial markets and were really genuine around that,” he says.
One of his goals is to help create investment capability for his iwi, guided by the key principle of enabling self-sufficiency, rather than being reliant on others to survive. “I want to give back to my iwi – Ngāti Pāoa, Ngāti Raukawa, Tainui and Te Arawa. It’s my long-term focus to be involved in governance and to make good governance decisions,” he says.
This also includes sharing his knowledge with the next generation. He would like to run financial literacy programmes to empower younger iwi members. “I want to take them through how it all works because we have to learn these key things in life.”