[OBITUARY] Highly respected adviser passes on

Admired for his intense loyalty, honesty, love of family, friends and golf, well-known insurance adviser Steve Richens has passed away suddenly at the age of 66.

Friday, September 24th 2021, 2:46PM 7 Comments

by Matthew Martin

Steve Richens.

Richens suffered a stroke on Monday this week but died on Wednesday in Christchurch after suffering another stroke on Tuesday.

He leaves behind his wife Robyn, their two sons Matthew and Andrew and seven grandchildren. His funeral will be held in Christchurch next Tuesday.

His son Matthew told Good Returns his father's death was very sudden and the family were still in shock.

He says if there was to be a small silver lining to his father's passing it was that he was an organ donor and will help six people due to his kindness in death.

"He promised mum he was going to live to 87, so she's obviously a bit annoyed.

"But dad was really loyal with people and the firms he worked with. He was an old school guy and was never about stitching people up.

"He built up a good business for himself and had a really good lifestyle...he was always there for us."

In 2015 Matthew left his journalism career to join his father at his broking business and in 2018 he and his business partner Nick Hau bought Moneta where his dad stayed on as an investment adviser until March this year.

"I think he just ended up playing more golf, to be honest."

Matthew says his father was a bit of a character, especially at conferences where he could, on occasion, be found falling asleep in a corner somewhere.

"At my first Fidelity [Life] conference I was just 'Steve's son'.

"We'd gone from being father and son to being mates and when I joined the business we went back to being father and son - he had a lot to try and teach me and he's left big shoes to fill.

"His whole thing was about legacy building and he was most proud of building a business so he could take his whole family away for holidays.

"In March last year, we all went to Rarotonga, which he paid for - it was a measure of success that he could do that for us.

"He also had the coolest relationship with my mum, Robyn, they were great travel buddies and had a great life."

Matthew says his dad was especially competitive when it came to golf and had hit two holes in one, "I'm not sure if he was more proud about having two of them or because he's got one and I haven't".

Close friend and business associate Eion Willis was with Richens when he suffered his first stroke on Monday and is still coming to terms with the loss of his mate.

"It's hard to comprehend, one minute he was here and then he's gone.

"He was a great guy that's for sure.

"You ask yourself as an adviser 'would I want him as my broker or adviser'?"

"Yes, Steve ticked every box going. He was totally impeccable in terms of honesty and integrity and put his clients first, second and third."

Willis says Richens was a "wonderful connoisseur of the grape juice, but never really went overboard".

He says golf was Richens' passion but underneath everything else he had a desire to help people.

"Not many people who had a busy work life would take time off to help people outside of his business, but Steve did.

"We travelled the world together - he'd ring up and say 'what about doing this or that?'"

"We had more than 30 trips together, he also loved his cricket and was our intrepid traveller and tour leader."

In 1999 they were together in London when Richens still had long hair and decided to get a haircut.

"This was when the dollar was worth about 28 pence," says Willis.

"He went to the barber and got a haircut and paid 28 pounds - I doubt he'd paid 108 dollars for a haircut in his life."

Willis says his mate was a wonderful companion and in their 35 years of friendship had never had a bad word to say to each other.

"He was a fine mate with 100% integrity."

Another great friend, former Fidelity Life chief executive Milton Jennings, says Richens' passing was tragic as he had just retired and was looking forward to the good life.

"He was a good friend, a very loyal guy to me and to Fidelity, and we went on many trips together.

"We shared a love for golf and not having that going forward is very sad.

"He was the most enjoyable company to be around and a great guy with a great sense of humour."

Jennings says Richens was a keen family man and a very good broker who was well respected by his clients and everyone in the profession.

"He was easy to deal with and fun to be around - he will be a great loss to the industry as a whole and as a role model for how advisers should operate a business and how to treat clients.

"He ran a very good business and it's fantastic his son Matt has taken that over," Jennings says.

Fidelity Life’s head of adviser distribution Todd Allan says Richens was a true character of New Zealand’s life insurance industry.

"He was a loyal and long-standing supporter of Fidelity Life, and his contributions were recognised with his winning of the Chairman's Trophy 2012/2013 and the Fidelity Life Shield in 2014.

"A founding member of the Select Broker Group, Steve was well liked by his peers, including the many Fidelity Life staff who not only became Steve’s customers, but also his friends."

Allan says Richens was an unfailingly generous man.

"When the Christchurch earthquake devastated Fidelity Life’s office, Steve accommodated our staff at his own premises for more than three months until suitable office space was found in Cashel St.

"He combined his generosity with his love of golf and, over the years, was always on hand to help run the Fidelity Life South Island golf tournament.

"It’s with real sadness that we wish a legend of the industry farewell and send our deepest condolences to the Richens family," Todd says.

Richens and his former business partner Tony Vidler set up Moneta Financial Group in Christchurch in 1997 where the company now offers health, life, trauma, mortgage and income protection insurance, as well as KiwiSaver products to their clients.

They also worked together at Norwich Union in Christchurch where they met in 1988 and would have cold-calling competitions with each other.

'"Or beat the streets together to call on business owners to talk about endowment policies that we’d price from the rate books we were carrying…with bragging rights and free beers paid for by the other on the Friday afternoons."

Vidler says Richens was one of the best in the business at balancing life and work and maintaining an unrelenting focus on what mattered most to him, which was “his” people.

"He made a difference in the world," Vidler says.

"He deserved more time, and his family and friends deserved more of his time in the years ahead.

"Steve’s loss is a terrible loss to a hell of a lot of people, especially his family. It just feels terribly unfair.”

Tags: Fidelity Life health insurance Insurance Advisers Insurance People Life insurance Milton Jennings Obituaries Tony Vidler

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Comments from our readers

On 24 September 2021 at 3:55 pm David Beattie said:
Huge shock and hard to believe. Such a great, straight-up bloke who was always a pleasure to be with, both socially and professionally. RIP Steve.
On 26 September 2021 at 4:41 pm Stephen O'Connor said:
This is very sad. I served with Steve on the FPIA Board from 2001-2004 and always enjoyed his company both professionally and socially. My condolences to his family. RIP Steve.
On 27 September 2021 at 8:30 am Murray Thompson said:
Very sorry to hear this. One one of those overseas trips my wife and I were newbies and standing awkwardly in a foyer with everyone. Steve realized and came over and said let me introduce you to everyone. That was Steve and a gesture I will never forget. Gone to soon. My sincere condolences to his family.
On 27 September 2021 at 6:02 pm Referee said:
So sad Steve has had his life cut short so early. A top guy with great energy and true passion for the business.

We had many chats over the past 20+ years, whether it was trying to get some cover for one of his valued clients, or on mutual IIAA and FPIA interests.

Heartfelt thoughts to family and close friends - RIP.
On 28 September 2021 at 1:27 pm Bikedude said:
So very Sad. Steve was a funny guy and great to spend time with. He will be sadly missed.
On 28 September 2021 at 5:05 pm Chris Boon said:
Very sad news.

Steve was a wonderful human being and true professional. My heart goes out to Robyn, Matthew and Andrew. I totally agree with Tony's comment "He deserved more time, and his family and friends deserved more of his time in the years ahead".

Rest in Peace my friend
On 5 October 2021 at 6:19 pm Phil Belcher said:
This is very sad to hear. I knew Steve back in the Norwich Union days when I was starting out in the insurance world.

Always enjoyed my trips south to catch up with Steve and T.V. Vaguely remember they had a great love of test driving luxury cars, I think there was a bit of a competition going on between them around that too.

A great man, a great loss, but so many lives enriched by him along the way. RIP Steve.

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