‘Ross Greenwood – telling the finance story with style….’ – KB Hill

He has graphically described the ravages of a tsunami in Japan…..helped expose the hidden risks of Sydney’s recent Opal Tower debacle….given his prognostication of Donald Trump’s Trade War…..and was at the forefront with the all key players, as the Hayne Banking Royal Commission unfolded …………

 

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He’s a national multi-media personality… a star of TV and radio…rapid-speaking…effervescent…engaging…A shrewd analyst who can unpick the latest financial calamity and describe its repercussions to you in the most concise layman terms…

 

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The row of gum-trees that hover over the 287m fairway of Wangaratta Golf Club’s par-three first hole could well have been bowing to welcome Ross Greenwood home last Saturday.

 

It was 7.30am… The late-summer sun was just poking through, and offering a glimpse of a brilliant day ahead, when he stepped up to the tee.

 

“It was my first game at Waldara for almost 30 years, I reckon,” Ross said. “I played with a couple of fellahs, Laurie and Alistair, who were good company, and the course was in fine nick. But I played terribly.”

 

He loves his golf and the challenges it presents: “ The better you get, the harder they mark you…” His handicap, which generally floats around the 10-mark, has snuck out to 12 at the moment.

 

This was a real hit-run visit to his old home town. He arrived late Friday, and celebrated his mum’s birthday on Saturday arvo. Then, after Sunday ‘brunch’ with his parents Don and Betty and siblings Lisa, Peta and Ian, he jumped in the car and headed back to Sydney to prepare for his usual appearance on Channel 9’s ‘Today’ show the following morning…

 

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Ross does everything at a hundred miles an hour – always has.

 

When he was a nipper, he’d yell a greeting to whoever was passing by the Greenwood’s Nolan Street house. Consequently, everyone was on familiar terms with the freckle-faced, rusty-haired kid with a ton of cheek.

 

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“He had boundless energy,” recalls his mum Betty. “And when he’d flake out he’d sleep anywhere. I’d say to Don: ‘Look, the batteries are re-charging’. Then he’d wake up and be on the go again.”

 

Cricket, footy, baseball, athletics, volleyball, water and snow-skiing were all on the agenda in his time at the High School. And for good measure, he also represented Wangaratta in U.16 Basketball.

 

But, undoubtedly, through the influence of his dad Don, who’d played sub-district with Elsternwick and Preston (as well as State League Baseball), he began to ‘show a bit’ in cricket.

“I’ve got a vague memory of the only century I’ve ever made,” he recalls. “It was at Appin Park; I was 98, when one of the fielders in the deep let the ball run through his legs.”

 

I must say he’s under-stating himself a bit there. He was just 16, and opened for Rovers Seconds, helping them to a total of 2/216 off 27 overs. The Chronicle reported that: ‘Opener Ross Greenwood led the onslaught with a brilliant 103 not out, including six boundaries…’

 

He moved over to City Colts the next year, and played two seasons in the seniors, which included travelling back to play each week-end, after he’d moved to Melbourne…

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It was Ross’s fascination with Journalism which took him to the ‘big smoke’.

 

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Lion’s Club ‘Youth of the Year’ winners Gillian Hoysted and Ross Greenwood, are presented with their awards.

“Originally, I just intended to defer Uni for a year. But I received a telegram notifying me that I was one of 30 who’d be granted an interview for a spot as a copy-boy with Murdoch’s News Limited. Luckily, I got the job and started at the ‘Melbourne Truth’.”

 

“Mum gave me a lecture about the pitfalls of the big city…Grog…Drugs…Bad company…Bad women…But she forgot to mention Traffic Lights. I got cleaned up by a car at an intersection not long after I’d arrived, and was carted off to hospital…”

 

He settled in eventually, though, which was no doubt helped by playing cricket with Prahran, and later Richmond 4ths, and 50-odd games of footy with Amateur club, Melbourne High School Old Boys.

 

After nine months, he was granted a cadetship on ‘The Australian’ – another publication in the News Ltd ‘stable’.

 

One of his early jobs entailed covering the cricket. “I woke up with a big head one Sunday, and could hardly lift my head off the pillow. I decided to cover the game in front of the telly. That was okay, until Nine inexplicably switched over to another program. I had to bolt down to the MCG quick-smart.”

 

“I was being rotated around all of the different sections of the paper, until I arrived at the Finance Desk. Ian Perkin, who was the Finance Editor, gave me a timely piece of advice. He said: ‘Look, there’s a shortage of good finance writers. If you can make a go of it, there are plenty of opportunities’.”

 

“Luckily, I discovered I had a knack for doing it. I’d found my niche…”

 

It was an exciting time to be cutting your teeth in Finance Journalism. “By 1983 Keating had just floated the dollar …They were times of boom and bust…People needed to be informed.”

 

By now Ross had left the ‘Australian’ and was initially interviewed for a job with the Financial Review. Instead, he was lured to ‘Business Review Weekly’, and was mentored by its creator, Robert Gottliebsen.

 

“Robert was a brilliant journalist and, besides me, took people like David Koch, Adele Ferguson and Alan Koehler under his wing. To promote the magazine, he urged us to do bits and pieces of radio and TV.”

 

“I’d been doing regular segments on Ten’s  ‘Good Morning Australia’ with Kerri-Anne Kennerley, who’s still a good mate. When Mike Gibson was away, I would fill in as host.

 

“Gavin Disney, who’d produced ‘Hey, Hey, It’s Saturday’ set up a show on Channel 10 about this time, called ‘Healthy, Wealthy and Wise’. It starred, among others, Ian Hewitson, Tonia Todman and Peter Wherrett, and became a highly successful show. I was invited to be the show’s Finance guru.”

 

Ross became Editor of BRW in 1997 until, three years later, in one of those political situations which occur in the media game, was ‘shafted’ and found himself out of a job.

“Then a mate of mine rang up and said:  ‘I’m thinking of starting up the same sort of magazine in England. Can you tell me how to go about it.”

 

“So I headed over with Tanya, my wife, and our son Mitchell. We took a share in the proposed weekly digital magazine called ‘Shares’. I walked into a bare room in London, and within six weeks we’d put out the first issue. It boomed. We were originally going to stay three years, but 5 years later, were still there, with a staff of 40-50.”

 

Ross had done lots of radio and TV in London, with CNN, the BBC and Sky News and travelled around Europe in these roles.

 

So when he received a phone call from Channel 9’s John Alexander, pointing out that the network was thinking of replacing their Finance Editor, and offering him the job, it prompted a re-think of his future.

 

He says it was a big decision to leave the magazine that he’d helped build up: “But I was its public face. I had to walk away, to prove to them that it’d continue without me. Fortunately, my mate made it survive and grow. We sold the business about 5-6 years ago…”

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“We decided that we’d head home and give it a go for three years,” Ross says. “Fifteen years later it doesn’t look like we’re going anywhere. It’s been a hell of a ride.”

 

Besides his role as Nine’s Finance Editor, which included regular stints on ‘Business Sunday’ and the ‘Today’ show, Ross filed reports for 60 Minutes. His assignments have taken him to Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

 

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In 2006, he and Ellen Fanning replaced Jana Wendt as co-hosts of the ‘Sunday’ program, before Ray Martin took over less than two years later.

 

When 2GB decided to start up a Finance Show, Ross was the man they turned to. “It began as a half-hour segment; six months later it stretched to an hour; now it goes for two hours – from 6-8pm. It still relays through 3NE, from about 8pm, I think.”

 

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The top-rating program, called ‘Money News’, concludes the Ross Greenwood working day, which starts with his ‘Money Minute’ segment on Nine’s ‘Today’ show. He also presents stories related to Finance on ‘Nine News’ most days.

 

It’s a 75-hour working week for the almost-60 year-old, and there’s no sign of him pulling up any time soon.

 

But he still finds time to roll the arm over.

 

When he moved to England, Ross played with ‘Surrey Cryptics’: “You’d play on these amazing village grounds, where cricket was first played  Or it might be a private ground….and anybody could turn up. Like one time the owner’s neighbour, Ringo Starr, lobbed for afternoon tea. Incredible, funny experiences .”

 

He joined Mosman, the home club of the great Allan Border and pace great Brett Lee, when he moved to Sydney.

 

“It was 83/84 when I joined Mosman. I had a good year, and had taken 43 wickets in the Fourths, going into the Finals that year. Our captain, Leigh Clapham, wouldn’t let me go up a grade. He was desperate to win that flag.”

 

“Our home ground is ‘Allan Border Oval’ and the club caters for Under 9’s to Over 50’s, plus Women’s grades. I play with the Masters ( Over 50’s) now. I like to think I’m a quickie, but unfortunately, I’m now barely a medium-pacer.”

 

Forty-four years after that maiden century at Appin Park, the boy from Nolan Street still retains a passion for the game……….

 

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Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, with Ross Greenwood at the Australian Open. 

You can read more of KB Hill’s stories of local sports identities HERE.

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