Liz Koh, author and long-time financial planner, has studied at three universities but always thinks of Waikato as “my university”. Liz recently started Enrich Retirement – an online financial planning service – and her long and successful career started with a Bachelor of Social Sciences at the University of Waikato.
“I came to Waikato to study economics because I thought it sounded interesting. I couldn’t take it at Te Awamutu College and I was keen to start something new. I knew I didn’t want to study accounting.” Liz wasn’t sure where economics might take her when she began her studies, maybe into banking, but she found she enjoyed the strategic nature of it and not only graduated with a Bachelor of Social Sciences but stayed on to complete a Master of Social Sciences and a Diploma of Teaching – Secondary.
“I’d met my future husband and he was a year behind me, so instead of taking a job in Wellington when I graduated with my BSocSc, I stayed on to do extra study. And I’m glad I did.” There were very few women in Liz’s economics lectures, and very few people in her teaching classes. It was the first intake for secondary teaching students on campus and there were only about a dozen taking the course.
And while she didn’t take up teaching full time, Liz says the training helped set her up as a presenter, giving her the skills to deliver information in a clear and concise way.
Liz moved to Wellington after her teaching studies and started a job at DFC (Development Finance Corporation). She found that she really could do with some accounting knowledge, enrolled at Victoria University part-time and qualified as a chartered accountant.
But she didn’t work as an accountant either. Her focus was business planning, marketing and general management. “I’m not a nitty gritty sort of a person. I’m more about strategy, the bigger picture stuff, but accounting helped me with my tools of the trade,” says Liz.
Throughout the 1990s Liz worked for the Institute for Environmental Scientific Research holding down several general management positions. By the end of the decade she was GM Environmental Health Resources, responsible for 125 staff, and tasked with organisational development, including culture change, core competency development, succession planning, career planning, staff productivity, performance measurement and management and recruitment. It was a big job and with three young daughters at home, Liz felt for her own and her daughters’ sakes she needed to change direction. “I knew I either wanted to be a CEO, in charge of an entire organisation, or I could start my own business.”
With so many corporates moving their head offices to Auckland at the time, Liz opted to go out on her own. More study? Of course. This time at Massey University where Liz completed a Graduate Diploma in Business Studies (Personal Financial Planning). And for 22 years she ran her own financial advisory business called Moneymax and established a high profile as an expert in her field. She wrote a book on wealth creation (Your Money Personality; Unlock the Secret to a Rich and Happy Life) and regularly wrote articles on aspects of financial planning and wealth creation for a variety of media as well as presenting at seminars all over the country. She’s still a ‘go-to’ when media want comment about financial matters.
Liz sold Moneymax in 2020 and is now focused on Enrich Retirement. She thinks there are several reasons why people put off seeing financial advisors in person but that everyone should seek financial planning advice. For her new online service she’s downloading the knowledge she’s built up over the years and making it easily accessible at minimal cost. “The questions and issues people have are always the same,” she says. “Not understanding investing, afraid of investing in shares or managed funds, how much they’ll need in retirement, how to get a regular income stream.”
Liz has held several directorships – she’s a chartered director. And she’s always found time to contribute to her community, which in her case is the Kapiti Coast north of Wellington. She set up KEDA, the Kapiti Economic Development Association and recently found herself back in its chair; she was deputy chair of Wellington’s Nikau Foundation for seven years and has been an active member of Rotary and the Kapiti Chamber of Commerce. She’s well known on the Kapiti Coast. “When you live in a small place for a long time it’s easy to stand out,” she says.
But Liz’s key mission is to get people to plan successfully for their retirement and that Enrich Retirement will assist them along the way. “If I make enough money to cover my costs, I’ll be happy,” she says.