After a commercial career spent commuting and globe-trotting, chartered accountant Guy Roper is content to be settled in one place and giving back to Taranaki. Most of his more than 35 years’ commercial experience has been spent working in the dairy industry, particularly for Fonterra. “I’m a Taranaki person and spent a long time away from the province working with Fonterra in Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland and Switzerland.”
While in New Zealand he and wife Julie have mostly had New Plymouth as their base and Guy has travelled back and forth between Taranaki and the big cities. In 2013, he left the dairy industry to work at Port Taranaki, becoming the CEO in 2015. “Fitzroy to Ngamotu isn’t a big commute,” he smiles. But even while he was away, Guy felt drawn to home and has always identified with the mounga.
Last year, he became a board member of the TSB Community Trust and is also a director of TSB Group Ltd. “When the opportunity came up, I thought being on the trust was a great way to enhance, understand and give back to the community,” he says. “I’m enjoying it on the trust and it’s broadened my awareness of the community. I bring an open mind and a listening attitude to things. While I bring certain skills, I’m learning new skills at the same time.”
Guy’s main contribution comes from his expertise in business, accounting and investments. For nine years of his time at Fonterra, he represented the members of the dairy industry’s superannuation scheme. That involved looking after members’ retirement savings and making decisions on their behalf.
In 2017, the TSB Community Trust took controlling interest of Fisher Funds, which manages the retirement investments of many New Zealanders. The Trust’s other main asset is the TSB bank. Because of his financial background and expertise in superannuation investment, Guy joined the Fisher Funds board of directors in July this year. He says that as an award-winning KiwiSaver provider, Fisher Funds’ success in helping more New Zealanders to save for their retirement will mean even more positive outcomes for people living around the mountain. “The benefits will flow to Taranaki and that’s pretty cool. It makes it a better place for us and the next generation.”
The father of three went to New Plymouth Boys’ High School and then on to Massey University in Palmerston North, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Studies majoring in marketing and accounting. “I met my lovely wife there.” His first job was at Palmerston North accounting firm Barr Burgess and Stewart, which is now part of PWC. He joined the dairy industry in 1984. From an office with a view of Ngamotu Beach, he now oversees Port Taranaki. “I enjoy the beach and swimming in the sea – I’ve got a stand-up paddleboard – and keeping fit and active. I play golf, but not enough.”
Being active in the community is also important to him and involvement with the community trust has opened his eyes. “The experience of the last 12 months has highlighted to me that there are tremendous needs throughout our province. The numeracy and literacy work the Trust is doing with kids is really important,” he says. “My grandkids will be beneficiaries of that.” Guy also sees the Community Trust’s youth and child focus as crucial for the region’s future and builds on the opportunities it’s provided for the past 30 years. “I think the Trust is doing some really good stuff. It’s sort of a Taranaki way – it’s quite under-stated but the potential is there to do a lot more to create a great place to live.”