Weston Bell

1957 to 1960

 

No achievements or prizes during my college years, but on leaving with mainly a science background I was fortunate to have decided to go into accountancy. I started my career in Wellington when there was an acute shortage of such people at that time. This led me into obtaining roles well ahead of my years or qualifications. The first of these was in the role of a cost accountant with an electronics firm at just 17. Then followed positions as assistant to the finance secretary of the University Grants Committee (formerly the University of NZ), Administrator of Philips Records and then as a research accountant at ICI’s head office. I was taking my degree on a part time basis and finally completed my B.Com degree at Victoria University in 1966 and also my chartered accountancy qualification.

As I was planning on getting married and had no desire to be one of the thousands of commuters coming into Wellington each day, I decided to go teaching instead. As a result I ended up with a position at Wanganui Collegiate teaching Accounting and Maths, and was House Tutor in Selwyn House. In addition to that I took on tutoring at Wanganui Tech teaching final year accounting Students in Advanced Financial accounting and Quantitative Analysis.

However, in 1969 I had an opportunity to join an accounting practice in Wanganui which I decided to accept despite enjoying the teaching role. The firm I joined was heavily into the Racing industry, acting as secretary to several racing clubs and a Hunt Club. This served to further my interest in the racing world. I eventually took over the accountancy practice myself and was senior partner in it from 1971.

One of my clients had invented a child proof bottle top which he had tried to market and had done so in NZ but his efforts to do so overseas had not worked out. I believed it had commercial potential and decided to buy into the technology which I progressively did. I then decided to try and get it licensed to a multi-national in the US and also one in the UK. In the end I was successful at both.

The additional income from the royalties led me to purchase a dairy farm with plans to turn it into a Stud farm for horses.  I started to buy racehorses and brood mares and trained one or two of them myself. Overall I managed to win some fifteen races with them.

The workload had become a little too much, with the accounting practice, the farm, the horses and the growing overseas business interests led to a marriage breakdown and in 1980 I sold up everything and moved to Remuera with my three young sons aged from 11 to 5. They became pupils at Kings school.

As a solo Dad with no job at all, life was very different. To complete my day I took up Bridge which I thoroughly enjoyed. During my time in Wanganui I had taken a keen interest in computers and had purchased a lot of equipment and learnt programming. When the NZ Racing conference decide to stop publishing the Turf Register I decided to try and fill the void by producing my own publication - the NZ Thoroughbred Statistical Record similar to the English version. To this end I purchased more computer equipment including a mainframe and I have been told by people in the industry that I was the only private individual to ever own a mainframe. The venture was a disaster though as Dalgety’s and another person also did the same thing as me but the latter got the blessing and the rights from the Racing conference first.

With the completion of that I then managed to obtain an appointment as Technology Consultant with the government owned Development Finance Corporation of NZ (DFC). Their interest in me derived from my success in licensing technology in the US and the UK. My job was to try and license other public sector technology and get a return from this for the universities and government departments such as DSIR. Associated with this was a fund of $5m from the government with which to develop technology from the private sector. Also linked to this activity I became NZ’s rep. on the Licensing Executives Society (LES) in Australia which in turn is a branch of the international body dealing with the licensing of technology around the world, along with patenting and law.

Venture Capital became the new thing during the eighties and the technology part of DFC was spun off into its new Venture Capital arm - DFC Ventures which I came part of taking an interest in Venture Capital opportunities both here and in the USA.

In the meantime, since 1982 I had taken an interest in the financial markets, all US based, as NZ did not then have a free market but in 1985 this was transformed by Roger Douglas and trading Foreign exchange and the markets became my dominant interest. This resulted in my leaving my job at DFC in January 1986 and becoming a full time trader and FX consultant. It also got me caught up in the mad world that prevailed prior to and leading up to the 1987 crash and that was not a happy time to put it mildly. However, one of the projects I had bought into as a founding shareholder and helped in its commercialisation was a fixed magnet power generator and this went on to be listed on the stock exchange and is still there today

Later following my second marriage to an Australian whom I had met at the Auckland Bridge Club, and also wanting to escape the Auckland scene I moved back to the Waikato. I obtained a position in a law firm and also took on a role in developing software and undertaking research for a diverse group of independent financial planners. I finally retired to Albany in Western Australia in 2008.

Of my three sons the eldest attended Auckland Grammar and is now a pop musician and a music writer relating to commercial advertising, the middle one attended Wanganui Collegiate School and is now marketing executive for a corporation in Dallas Texas, the youngest attended Kings College and is currently a music teacher at his old prep school Kings after having a similar position at Avondale College for eleven years. He is an accomplished organist, composer, and was musical director at St Matthews in the city for 13 years. He and his older brother are well known in Auckland musical circles.