Leader of the Year – Chairman of New Zealand Home Loans

The chairman of New Zealand Home Loans Neil Richardson has been named Leader of the Year at the 2014 Westpac Waikato Business Excellence Awards. New Zealand Home Loans also took the top prize for Professional Services.

The Leader of the Year award is given to a business person who demonstrates exemplary leadership. New Zealand Home Loans’ chief executive Mark Collins says that description is “spot on” for Richardson.

“We’re absolutely rapt that Neil’s exceptional leadership has been recognised with this award,” says Collins, himself the winner of the 2013 Leader of the Year award. “His inclusive communication style, his empathy, his fairness and his overwhelming desire to ensure New Zealand Home Loans’ core values are never compromised, make Neil a truly outstanding leader.”

In addition to his role at New Zealand Home Loans, Richardson is an Adjunct Professor at Waikato University and is involved with 11 Boardsin the capacity of adviser, director, shareholder and chairman. He is actively involved in the Te Awa Cycle Trust and the Momentum Foundation and is a regular contributor to the Waikato Institute of Directors Leadership Programme.  He supports a number of charities and is chairman of Child Matters.

Richardson first joined New Zealand Home Loans as a mentor in 2002. At the time, the company was a successful start-up managed by its two co-founders, with little infrastructure and a small but growing franchise network.

Richardson quickly developed a vision to turn a great local business into a nationwide success story. He established New Zealand Home Loans’ board and took on the roles of director and chairman. When the company was sold to Kiwi Group Holdings  – owners of Kiwibank – over a six year period from 2006, the Kiwibank board asked Richardson to stay on as chairman.

Collins says Kiwibank’s request was testament to Richardson’s expertise and a widespread respect for his leadership style. “Neil’s steady guidance and innovative leadership have ensured the stability and growth of our company through some challenging times,” says Collins.

The award was presented to Richardson at a black tie dinner on Friday night hosted by broadcasters Samantha Hayes and Jesse Mulligan. It was a poignant moment for Collins, who won the 2013 Leader of the Year award thanks in part to Richardson’s guidance.

“Neil has been a trusted advisor and a valued mentor since I took over as CEO of New Zealand Home Loans,” says Collins. “His support has been instrumental in developing my own leadership skills and his personal values have helped us develop a culture of generosity and respect at New Zealand Home Loans.”

Winning the Professional Services award caps a stellar year for the Hamilton-based franchise company, with record loan sales of $1.3 bn and the addition of ten new franchises taking its nationwide network to 77 branches.

“This award celebrates the incredible efforts of our staff over a period of rapid growth,” says New Zealand Home Loans CEO Mark Collins. “Everyday our team empowers more kiwi familiesto reduce their debt, create wealth and achieve their dreams.”

Collins says the growth in the company’s loan sales is largely driven by recommendations from happy customers. “New Zealand Home Loans has saved our customers over $34 million in interest and taken years off their home loans. We’re helping our customers get debt free faster – no wonder they want to talk about it.”

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