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Tauranga Welcomes You!

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Alex Talopa’u Brings Good Financial News to Everyday People in Tauranga
13 June 2018
Alex Talopa’u Brings Good Financial News to Everyday People in Tauranga

Alesana (Alex) Talopa'u grew up in the 'real' Samoa, on the island of Savaii. He first came to New Zealand as a high school student in 1984 before moving across the ditch to pursue a commerce degree in Australia. He began his career in his home country, where he worked as an accountant and helped set up a successful family business, before moving to Auckland in 2000.

It was on a family trip down to Tauranga, in 2011, that Alex fell for Mount Maunganui. He was so taken with the place, which reminded him of an updated version of his hometown, that he said, "when I retire, I will retire in Tauranga."

Instead of waiting until retirement, the Talopa'u family moved to Tauranga in July 2016. Alex has since set up a one stop shop financial services group, ARBEZ, with the goal of showing everyday people how to find money, attract money and make their money work hard for them.

Meanwhile, life in Tauranga is better than he could have ever imagined.

Alex, tell us about starting your career in Samoa.

I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1994 and returned to Samoa where I worked in accounting for seven years. I spent most of my time in Samoa as an auditor and the rest in business advisory and compliance.

I also started a taxi business for my family so my three brothers could redirect their youthful energy into something that could generate income for our family. Today this business is a big success and we have expanded the services to a supermarket and own a taxi stand but are no longer driving the taxis.

When did you return to New Zealand?

I moved to Auckland in 2000 and worked at various chartered accountant firms in Auckland. Most of the work I did was business advisory and compliance for sole operators through to big companies, before specialising in franchise businesses like McDonalds and Club Physical.  

What is the story behind starting your own Auckland accounting firm?

My wife and I had our first child on 24 Dec 2000 at 11pm, which was the best Christmas present ever, with our second child following in 2002. An unexpected health challenge with my wife brought about some changes which led to her returning to work in 2003 while I stayed home with the kids.

This hit us hard financially – we could barely pay the mortgage and the next pay cheque always seemed so far away. I had to dig deep into my soul for answers to our situation. Accounting work was all I knew and I came up with the idea to target the taxi driver market, helping them file their GST returns and IR3s. I approached taxi drivers in Henderson and got two call backs later that afternoon. This was the beginning and the birth of my accounting firm in Auckland which I ran from 2005 right up until 2016 when we moved to Tauranga.

When did you first start thinking about moving to Tauranga?

In 2011, we came down for the Easter basketball tournament, where my youngest son played for an Auckland team. I set foot at the Mount and saw the beach, ocean, sand and everything that reminded me of growing up in the islands. It was simply paradise. I love New Zealand and saw that this place was so special. Five years later, we moved down here.

What is your vision for your business ARBEZ?

ARBEZ  was birthed out of my home in Bethlehem in May 2018. 

The name - ARBEZ is simply zebra slept backwards. It is the A to Z of a Resource Based Economy (RBE). ARBEZ is your one stop shop financial services group that starts with the end in mind, turning what is considered normal upside down, working from the inside out while keeping everything simple. I use my many years of experience and knowledge of finances to help as many people as I possibly can.

I am inspired by the story of the miracle of five loaves and two fish: I truly believe we can do more with less and I want to share that with others. People are not poor because there isn’t enough to go around, they are poor because of the lack of knowledge to be able to make wise and informed decisions. ARBEZ allows everyone to access resources that they didn’t realise were already available to them. We aim to teach and show how money can serve us for the rest of our lives.

What are you trying to do differently with the services that you offer?

People think that accountants and financial advisers cost a lot of money. They don’t realise that the resources of a mortgage broker, insurance adviser, Kiwisaver adviser are free. They have shied away from the very resources they need and can access right now. I want to show people that accountants and financial advisers can find you money, save you money and make your money work hard for you.

Why was Tauranga the right place to start ARBEZ?

ARBEZ is the manifestation of a dream I had back in 2009 which had been building in my mind ever since. The move to Tauranga has allowed the whole vision to become clearer and my 25 years of experience in the financial industry has allowed me to see opportunities people cannot see for themselves.

How would you describe Tauranga's business community?

We have a lot of business support in Tauranga and everyone seems to be supportive and willing to work together. The Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Tauranga, the business market, Toastmasters and individual business owners who I have met through the business networks have all been very helpful. It has been a very smooth transition and we have built up a sizable network of business colleagues and friends.

What vision did you have for your life here?

Buy a nice big home with an ensuite, continue to serve wherever my skills are needed and live happily ever after.  We wanted a relaxed lifestyle with less worries and stress, and to get away from the mad Auckland traffic.

How close is the reality to that vision?

The reality is actually better than what I saw in my vision. My family is very happy, we have met some amazing people whom we now call family friends and we have connected with a community of people who believe what we believe.

I get to walk up the Mount every day, (275 times last year), the kids are happy at school and our eldest son was made a prefect at Tauranga Boys' College this year. The kids run a Saturday business for themselves selling pork buns, we go to the beach anytime because we can and not because it’s a public holiday or the weekend, and we love our home.

What has surprised you about Tauranga?

It’s not the retirement village that everyone makes Tauranga out to be. I have met more young people than pensioners. The fruit trees come in abundance when in season and we have sun most days but when it rains, it buckets down heavier than I have ever seen before!

What do you do for fun here?

We always get together with family friends with kids the same age as ours. We go to the beach a lot and have BBQs in summer, we go to the lakes in Tauranga and Rotorua. We have also picked up playing chess and even got a coach to coach the whole family to play.   

What has moving to Tauranga meant…
For your career?

The birth of ARBEZ is the pinnacle of my career and the pathway to living life doing what I am passionate about.

For your wellbeing?

I have never been happier and enjoy living life without the level of stress that I had in Auckland. I have had time for myself to think and to hear my own thoughts and meditate to the sound of waves at the beach. I live a much healthier life now than before Tauranga.

For your relationships?

Because my wellbeing is better, my relationships are also better. We laugh more and enjoy each other’s company as a family now that we are more relaxed and not in a rush all the time.


Gets You Thinking Doesn't It?

No-one can tell you when you're ready for a change of lifestyle...but when you are, we'd love to have you in Tauranga!

1. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaurangaWelcomesYou

2. Subscribe to our montly e-newsletter to receive stories just like this one about people who have already made the big move you are thinking of making. 

3. Have a story to share? We love sharing your sea-change or homecoming stories. Email me at kathryn@priorityone.co.nz to start a conversation.

Meet Kathryn Overall
Explore www.wishyouwereworkinghere.co.nz


Looking for work in Tauranga?

Send me your CV and a 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesess who are on the lookout for good people. Priority One is not a recruitment agency, but as the economic development agency for the region we seek to make connections for people where we can. There is no charge for this service.

Email me at annie@priorityone.co.nz.

Annie Hill | Priority One
Communications/Project Manager


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