BY MARGOT BUTCHER - REPUBLISHED FROM OUTRIGHT #49
From getting married to his longtime love Kelsey, to the birth of bonny son George, to vice-captaincy of the Stags and a maiden Blackcaps call-up, it’s been a huge 18 months for wicketkeeper-batsman Dane Cleaver. But with one eye on his eventual future off the park, he hasn’t stopped there.
During this winter, Cleaver is starting work with MacDonald Wealth — a Hawke’s Bay company helping people with financial literacy, planning and all things investment.
He first met director Brad MacDonald via an introduction from NZCPA PDM Jo Murray, when MacDonald was invited to come in to talk to the Stags players about financial planning and insurances.
MacDonald himself loves playing cricket and golf so there was instant common ground, but Cleaver was also interested at the time in exploring finance as a career path - and the pair also discovered they shared a perspective that financial services isn’t just all about making money, but an avenue to genuinely help other people with their lives.
Both came at the industry from other angles. MacDonald is an ex-Navy serviceman. Cleaver initially set out to be a practising psychologist. He has a conjoint degree from Massey as a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Bachelor of Business Studies in Economics that he embarked upon straight out of school, then started a Masters in Psychology which resulted in a post-grad diploma.
“My driver had been to have something after cricket that could be meaningful, and ‘meaningful’ to me is making a difference to others and helping people. I’ve always been like that, and I was really clear that I wanted to do that with my life.”
Initially, psychology seemed like the ‘how’. But as he got talking to MacDonald and realised MacDonald’s own driver was making meaningful connections with people through finance, something clicked.
“He wasn’t just trying to sell products. He genuinely cares about clients and wants to help them towards their goals, which I resonated with.”
MacDonald meanwhile saw a player with a passion for investing, Cleaver’s dressing-room chat likely to range from crypto to real estate on any given day.
“Sanj Silva as my previous PDM had a big influence on me getting into investing, as a practical avenue for planning for life after cricket,” says Cleaver.
“I started in property - the traditional, tangible kiwi way of investing! It was a good place to start as a younger person and cricketer though because a mortgage is a form of forced saving, and of course as an insecure cricketer contractually only paid to work for half a year, it’s really important you don’t just burn through what you earn. I got really into that, used to listen to investment podcasts every day.
“I was also always interested in the sharemarket because my Dad is really into that, and so I had some basic exposure growing up to that world of investing in equities companies.”
Dad is Mark Cleaver, CEO of Massey Ventures Ltd — Massey University’s commercialisation arm which, in a nutshell, helps turn academics’ ideas and research into financially viable companies and industry. He also was one of the people who started up Aero Sports.
“He sits on the boards of dozens of companies and helps runs them as one of the most experienced people in commercialisation in New Zealand. So I got lucky in that I got that business, investing side and passion from him, and initially I enjoyed investing more or less as a hobby in my spare time. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that turning into a job would be awesome.”
Thoughts are powerful things, and meeting MacDonald at that juncture was the piece of serendipity that turned it thought into reality — and, with total flexibility to continue chasing being the best cricketer he can be.
Eleven years ago, Cleaver was a fluffy-haired youngster keeping in a NZU19 World Cup in a match alongside Jos Buttler, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Tom Latham, Corey Anderson, Doug Bracewell, Tom Blundell and more. Quite a few keepers in that generational mix, and it’s translated into a tough battle to crack the Blackcaps in the specialist role.
Now with a T20 century and first-class double hundred in the books to underline his batting ability, he turned 30 at the start of this year and came agonisingly close to making his Blackcaps debut, earning a maiden call-up to the T20i squad in the solitary T20 International against The Netherlands.
If only it hadn’t poured down with rain all day.
That’s cricket: a unique, weird game that sweeps the rug from under you in an instant. “I don’t think we’ll ever understand fully why we play it, but it does help figure yourself out,” he laughs.
Since then he made his belated debut for the Blackcaps against Ireland in July and now he’s keen to get started on trying to figure other people out, professionally. “Even just finding out what happiness is for people is an important start in financial planning. What is the person or family’s goal? Not everyone wants to be a multi-millionaire. Some people want security and safety. Financial freedom means something different for everyone, so there’s a bit of psychology in it still.
“Meeting Brad has convinced me this is a good long-term option for me, so now I’m excited and I just want to learn as much as I can by immersing myself in this role over the coming months.”