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Advisers help in the storm aftermath

The storms that hit Hawkes Bay might have subsided, but the silt is still there and so is the backlog of work for advisers in the region.

Tuesday, March 7th 2023, 10:03AM

by BusinessDesk

People like Judy Steiner avoided being flooded out personally.

But her clients who were not so fortunate have kept her busy in her twin roles of insurance adviser and mortgage adviser.

“We sent out three communiques through Facebook and Instagram to our clients, helping them get premium holidays if they can't get to work.

“Yesterday, I had a couple who live on State Highway 5. He's an engineer and he works at Clive, but he can't get to work, because there is a big hole in front of his place. So we have got him a premium holiday for his personal insurance.

“Another client lost her home, everything, so we got her a six month deferment on her mortgage through the bank, and we also got her a six month holiday on her personal insurance.

“We have had a lot of clients and the storm has been a huge shock for them and they just don't know what to do.”

Steiner said in the aftermath of the floods, there were people who felt guilty that they had not been swamped when others had been flooded out of their homes. But she said in crises like this, there was a greater need than ever for flood victims to have someone with a level head to fight in their corner.

“If everyone was affected, who would fix it?”

Paul Sewell is a planner with Financial Advice Hawkes Bay. He has a different focus from Steiner's work, but he was affected all the same.

“We lost power, we were working from home, we didn't have data … but we were able to transact some business via our mobile phones.

“Our clients knew there was an issue, so there was limited contact with them. It was just the urgent work that people got in touch with us about, such as a settlement for a home where a deposit was required.”

Sewell's office wasn't flooded, but it was effectively ruined by an unexpected event five days after the flood.

“When the power was rebooted, the server in the downstairs office caught fire, so we don't have premises any more. Luckily there is a concrete ceiling so the fire didn't get through to our office, but there is smoke and soot damage so we have had to relocate.

“We operated from my second lounge, I was the only one with power in my business, so we worked from my home until we moved in with some accountants who agreed to let us share their office.”

Meanwhile, Sewell spent some time with a shovel helping other flood victims clean away debris, and he remains philosophical about his own predicament.

“The BCP plan certainly got tested, didn't it.”

The Gisborne region was also ravaged by the flood. Tania Stallard is an adviser at the local branch of Mike Pero Mortgages, and she has been struggling ever since water swept through her home and the internet went off, came back on and then went off again.

But one of her main worries was much more basic.

“Roads were disrupted, supply chains were disrupted, so some things have been getting through and some things haven't.

“You would go to the supermarket and there would be no milk or no bread, so you would go again, and this time there will be milk but no chicken, and there hasn't been much in the way of vegetables.”

But help arrived, not so much as food parcels, but as a food suitcase. Colleen Dennehy is the network sales manager for Mike Pero Mortgages, based in Auckland, and she literally came flying to the rescue.

“She flew down with a great big suitcase full of food for us,” Tania said.

“It was full of chicken and vegetables, stuff we couldn't get.”

Christine Hay is an adviser at Financial Sense Ltd in Napier, who spent two weeks without electricity, even though her office was not flooded.

“I have had to work from home, doing a lot of zoom calls and that was after we got power back. It was a very unusual event to have both cell phones and power out, because normally you have one or the other.

“So there were two weeks with no communication, we didn't have phone, the internet, power or water. When we did get back on line, I wrote an email to all my clients saying we are back, we have got power, the phone, if there is anything you need, just contact me.”

Hay said most of her clients were from Hawkes Bay, so most were in the same position as her and in some cases could not contact her either. But when they finally got back in touch, the stories of their difficulties soon emerged.

“I have had some clients who have been badly affected, so after we have had insurance payouts and worked out shortfalls, we will be dealing with withdrawals from some portfolios to see that their lives are being set back up.”

Tags: Advisers Market Close

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