From our beginnings in Australia, Honan is proud to have a global presence.  In our Satellite Series, we introduce you to our international teams, as they share a snapshot of life and the local market.

Meet the General Manager of our New Zealand hub, James Baxter.

 

 

JAMES BAXTER – GENERAL MANAGER

SATELLITE OFFICE: NEW ZEALAND

YEARS WITH HONAN: 11

 

 

 

Currently focused on: keeping in touch with clients and prospects.

Staying sane through #Covid by: walking to the beach with my dog Charley.

 

BACK TO BASICS: before we dive into #COVID, give us a little context on NZ…

Total population: 4,951,500

By density? 18 people per sq km.

Agriculture / Industry / Service breakdown?

As of 2018 data, GDP is $310 billion, 65% of which came from service industries and 20% from manufacturing. Tourism was 13% of GDP in 2019.

Health of economy at the end of 2019?

In the December 2019 quarter, growth had slowed to 0.5%. Retail spending had declined over Feb-March 2020, with hospitality, fuel and apparel taking a particularly big hit.

                                         

 

DIVING INTO #COVID: hit us with your headlines…

Your Last Two Months in 2 mins?

On March 21, the NZ Government introduced a 4-Stage Alert Level System, with an immediate nation-wide shift to Level 2. On March 23, we moved to Level 3, and by 25 March, Level 4 and an official State of Emergency were declared, with Parliament suspended until April 27.

On April 20, PM Jacinda Ardern announced NZ had successfully broken the chain of transmission of COVID-19. With just three new cases on April 23, and a steady decline of active cases in the fortnight prior, we were able to shift back to Level 3 on April 28, with the next review slated for May 11. 70% of COVID-19 cases in NZ have now recovered.

 

And how are things looking now, health-wise?

Once our international borders were closed, Covid-19 infection rates were rapidly brought under control. Similarly, when widespread contact tracing is implemented, ongoing risks are anticipated to be low. Cross-community spread of the virus has been low in NZ.

 

And the economy?

With our move to Level 3 restrictions on March 25, the NZ economy was effectively shut down. Only businesses deemed to be essential by Cabinet were permitted to remain open. The definition of an ‘essential’ business caused considerable confusion at the onset.

Treasury estimates suggest economic activity will run approximately 25% below ‘normal’ levels during Level 3 restrictions. While some retail and hospitality activity will resume at Level 3, many businesses will remain closed. A recent survey conducted by the NZ Restaurant Association found that only 1/3 of hospitality businesses plan to reopen.

 

Greatest challenge/s experienced by clients thus far?

Businesses are looking to first survive, then revive, and in due course thrive. In March, our Government introduced a 12 week Wage Subsidy Scheme for eligible businesses. The greatest challenge now is uncertainty. A number of clients are already reducing headcount as they prepare to restart operations, and are being very conservative with their forecasting for the next 6-12 months. The NZ tourism sector has been severely impacted. For YE March 2019, tourism expenditure was $40.9 billion, comprising 8.4% of our workforce.

 

How has Honan responded?

We have been supporting clients remotely throughout the COVID-19 pandemic; working closely with them to support their ‘BAU’ operations alongside the many new queries and concerns they have about changed circumstances. Much of our days are spent collaborating with clients to form a clear picture of the challenges they face in order to develop robust solutions to meet their needs.

 

WHERE TO FROM HERE? 

What are the major anticipated (Covid-19) milestones for May / June? Your core focus for May?

We are expecting / hoping to move to Level 2 on May 12, but won’t know for sure until 11 May. Now that COVID-19 appears to be (relatively) contained, people are anxious to get back to business. We’re looking forward to getting back to the office and seeing clients and partners again.

 

With you all the way

 

We’d love to hear from you.

jamesb@honaninsuirance.co.nz

(09) 303 3355

(021) 307 376

 

Online resources:

Regular updates and information can be found at the New Zealand Government’s site Unite Against COVID-19 .

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