Craigs Investment Partners broker Noeline Munro sits
in her soon-to-be-vacated office surrounded by flowers, cards
expressing good wishes from clients and boxes of memories.
Business editor Dene Mackenzie reminisces with Mrs Munro on her
last day at work.
Noeline Munro. Photo by Craig Baxter.
The inscriptions on the cards sitting on the desk of Noeline
Munro pretty much sum up the goodwill and warmth the Craigs
Investment Partners broker has generated with her clients and
Some people write how they were so pleased they were never
made to feel ''dumb'' when they asked questions about
financial products and services.
Others were proud they were treated like ''real people'' and
that they felt they were never left behind at any stage of
their dealings with Mrs Munro.
Women, in particular, say how pleased they were that after
being treated like they knew nothing about finances for most
of their lives, once their husbands or partners died, they
found dealing with Mrs Munro very easy.
''These cards have been coming in during the last couple of
days. I can't believe the words they are using but they
summarise what I am all about. I have an interesting client
base - some struggling and others in good financial shape.
But I treat them all equally.''
There was no need to be mysterious when it came to financial
management, Mrs Munro said.
This reporter has dealt with Mrs Munro in her various
professional and community roles for more than 25 years and
can attest to the fact that she is a straight talker and one
of the fiercest advocates of Dunedin as a place to live and
Mrs Munro said she wanted to educate people on investing but
sometimes she found herself learning a lot from her own
Aged 66, Mrs Munro believed it was time to think about
retirement and getting on with some other activities in her
life. After starting work aged 16, 50 years of work was
enough. She had moved to Wanaka but was unlikely to alter her
sometimes frenetic life. She wanted to surround herself with
people she could meet for coffee and a chat about her wide
range of interests which, of course, included financial
markets as well as sport and cooking.
One of her motivations for retirement was the new AFA
(Authorised Financial Adviser) status required to be a
broker. That required one-on-one contact with clients and to
do that properly, a broker needed to work full-time. In fact,
cutting the ties was easier than she thought.
''I have children, grandchildren, friends, brothers and
sisters. I am tired of telling people I am so busy and they
are probably tired of me telling them. I want to live life at
my own pace and enjoy some of the things that I have set
''I have thousands of cook-books and I want to use them. We
have had a house at Wanaka for many years. I am looking
forward to setting up gardens and meeting new people. I don't
know what it will be like, but I am up for it. I love the
views in Dunedin but look what I will get there in Wanaka.''
Mrs Munro was one of eight Bleach children born in Dunedin.
Her father was a Gallipoli veteran who started having a
family aged 40, with the last child born when he was aged 60.
Being in a big family taught them all not to waste, she said.
''I still have some of those traits. I still believe you
appreciate what you have and you work hard for what you
Her mother was a matriarch who had high expectations for her
children. She expected all of them to excel in whatever they
Mrs Munro was consistently first in class at St Bernadettes
Primary School but when she went to St Philomenas, she was
first equal in one of her classes. That was not seen as a
positive by her mother because first place was shared with
While she still had the certificates from school, her
proudest possession was a small cup that said ''Best All
''That's a lot about me. I loved school but wanted to go
further. I had to leave school early because of the need to
help support the family.''
She took time out from the official workforce to raise her
two boys but tended to find work to help pay the bills. She
had a radio programme and wrote articles for magazines. Her
family were ''tolerant'' of her desire to succeed and of her
plans to move into broking from banking.
Always attracted by a challenge, Mrs Munro became fascinated
by markets. As a young mother, she turned up at auctions to
bid on boxes of fruit she could use for her family. Her
family had an extensive vegetable garden.
''I got to know how auctions worked. I liked the cut and
thrust of the auctions and it was natural to go into
As her family were growing up, there was a tendency for
people to put their savings into a bank but Mrs Munro always
believed there were other opportunities to use her skills
honed at the auctions. In 1986, she joined Forsyth Barr in a
broking role, something she said was exciting. Being female
had its advantages and disadvantages. Female brokers were not
common in the late 1980s so people recognised her because she
was the only female in the room. But others thought she had
got the job because her father was a broker, or that she was
just an assistant.
''Being a ground-breaker can be a lonely existence. You do
try harder to justify your position.''
From Forsyth Barr, she established her own broking firm which
eventually merged with Wilson, Elsom, Greenslade, then
Greenslades before it became Craigs Investment Partners.
Growing up, the Bleach family would sit around a large wooden
table talking about their day and debating issues, Mrs Munro
''All of us were doing well and we were a competitive family.
We had an expectation about our lives and knew we had to
fight to get ahead.''
Mrs Munro was always a strong advocate about equality and
worked hard in her career to ensure that all people received
equal opportunities. One of the first battles in her career
was working in a bank where only men were allowed to take
exams. She was ready to take exams - in fact the women took
over the roles of men when they were away on courses.
However, exams were restricted to men.
Her experience on boards of directors showed that gender was
just one issue involving diversity. Most of the diversity
involved people from different backgrounds, and understanding
their roles, she said.
Some of her appointments to boards such as ACC and the
Business Development Board had been from the government of
the day. Others, she had earned in her own right.
She had learned early there were ''buddy appointments'' where
friends of directors were also appointed to the same boards.
And she found that often, close connections could block vote.
''One of the most important things being on a board is being
up for the challenge.''
Before becoming a director, it was important people honed
their skills on small groups, including school boards, sports
groups and non-profit organisations. That demonstrated a
desire to become part of a group and take on leadership.
It took courage to become a sharebroker because clients
expected their adviser to get things right, she said. Those
sorts of skills were not learnt overnight.
Mrs Munro has no regrets about staying in Dunedin to further
her career. She knew it would have been a different
experience living and working in Wellington. She knew if she
could run a business in Dunedin, she could run one anywhere.
''Dunedin is an excellent place to work in. You get to know
your community and if you want to become prominent, you can.
It's a great place to bring up children and a great place to
''Dunedin is a compact place and I just love communities. I
don't like large groups and prefer more intimate gatherings.
''I have no regrets. I have worked to the full and got the
results I have desired. Accountability is very high on my
priorities. The people I deal with are friends, neighbours
and relations. Experience is valuable but is not valued
enough. I will draw on that for the rest of my life.''