Building financial capability in New Zealand

The Government Statement on Building Financial Capability was released on 3 July 2015. The Statement sets out the Government’s approach for building the financial capability of New Zealanders and brings together current and planned financial capability initiatives.

Financial capability is about having the financial knowledge, understanding, confidence and motivation to make good financial decisions. Better financial capability will help us improve the wellbeing of our families and communities, reduce hardship, increase investment and grow the economy.

Government agencies will be working more collaboratively and building financial capability in more of the things we do, including projects such as the 50 Plus Research Project, Money Week, and financial capability pilot programmes within whanau, marae, land trusts and Pasifika migrant worker communities.

Government CFFC




3 July 2015 – Paul Goldsmith – Government Statement on Financial Capability announced

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith today announced a Government Statement on Building Financial Capability in New Zealand, which supports New Zealanders getting ahead financially.

“At the moment almost a third of New Zealanders have low levels of financial knowledge,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“If we can improve their financial capability we can improve the wellbeing of our families and communities.

“Financial capability allows people to better shape their lives, avoid hardship, and meet their goals.

“The Government is already working hard in this area across a range of portfolios and government departments. But there is an opportunity for more collaboration between existing agencies, and room for new participants to contribute.

“The Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) and the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) are already providing strong leadership in this area. Today’s announcement is intended to affirm that leadership, and provide a broad view of the work going on across government.”

The Government Statement is intended to provide further leadership in this area by

  • making it clear that building financial capability is a priority for the Government;
  • endorsing the National Strategy for Financial Capability led by the CFFC, and the Investor Capability Strategy led by the FMA;
  • providing information on the roles and activities of government agencies; and
  • reinforcing that building financial capability is a shared responsibility, and encouraging further contributions from all interested parties.

“There are three specific areas where we are increasing our support. They are; building Māori financial capability, better utilising the Ministry of Social Development’s networks and improving investor capability,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“I want to congratulate the Partner Working Group on the He Kai Kei Aku Ringa reports, released yesterday, which provide a snapshot of the financial capability issues facing Māori, highlighting where we need to tailor our services.

“I am also pleased to see the launch of the Investor Capability Strategy by the FMA. Its focus is on creating smarter KiwiSavers and helping investors make more informed decisions.

“Another initiative will see more agency collaboration, and better use of the Ministry of Social Development’s networks, to improve our reach out to communities and promote basic money skills and tips for where to go for financial support.

“A more joined up approach across government, business and communities will have a long term impact on people making better financial choices leading to a reduction in debt and hardship.”


Bill’s opinion on the current Greek debacle

In my own layman and humble opinion the other 18 Euro members won’t allow Greece to exit and will extend the deadline and accommodate Greece yet again, but at some point Greece needs to illustrate a willingness to face up to it’s debt obligations and show that they are prepared to make some financial sacrifices.

Again, my take on it (in recent times anyway – it’s been a massive and growing problem since 2010) is that the new Prime Minister recently got himself elected to power on the promise that the people wouldn’t need to worry about his Government imposing financial restrictions on anyone in order to meet the demands of their creditors (The European Central Bank {ECB} and the International Monetary Fund {IMF} and the World Bank) and the people voted him into power on that promise. I was livid. He was an obvious liar and con man. He knows that Greece will need to tighten the purse strings otherwise their creditors will eventually take whatever action is necessary to recover their money owed to them. Greece is essentially bankrupt and cannot meet it’s ongoing financial obligations to it’s lenders or to it’s people. They can’t even afford to pay the Government pension to the elderly or pay their Government employees’ their wages and salaries without borrowing more each week, yet they are in the streets screaming and protesting that their creditors are blackmailing them by saying, “if you don’t start showing us that you are prepared to cut back on the size of the pension payments and increasing taxes, plus a few other things, then we will stop lending you more money”. This will of course eventually lead to Greece defaulting on their debt obligations, yet they continue to live on with their head in the sand.

Again, I think that this will go to the wire again but the other Euro leaders will agree to another bailout, and I expect that this next bailout will contain undertakings by the Greek Government that there will be austerity measures put in place, however this will be seen by the Greek people as their lying Prime Minister breaking his election promises. I actually hope this happens and that the people drag him around the streets by his knackers.

The 10 point article below by Mohamed El-Erian is worth a read.

Greece is in immediate danger today, and so is the rest of the global economy – Article by Mohamed El-Erian


New local equities manager for NZ Funds

New Zealand Funds Management (NZFM) has diversified its Australasian shares exposure, appointing an external locally-based manager in the asset class for the first time.

Michael Lang, NZFM chief investment officer, said Devon Funds Management would pick up a $10 million Australasian equities mandate from April 1 this year.

Lang said the deal was a “significant appointment” for multi-manager firm NZFM, which traditionally has managed most Australasian shares in-house.

“We wanted to show our clients that we are most interested in giving them access to top quality mangers to look after their money,” he said.  “It doesn’t matter that we also [manage Australasian shares] in-house.  There are no sacred cows.” 

According to Lang, Devon offers a complementary investment style to NZFM what would benefit investors.

He said while NZFM concentrates on “harvesting dividend yields” and capital preservation, Devon has a wider growth-oriented remit.

NZFM will invest via the Devon Alpha Fund, which closed to new money earlier this year after hitting about $130 million under management.

Lang said NZFM appoints managers either to gain a strategic tilt to identified asset classes or as a way to gain access to quality management.

“With Devon it wasn’t a tilt,” he said.  “As trust and confidence builds, we’ll look for other ways to work together too.”

The $890 million NZFM has also recently increased exposure to several of its underlying funds including bond managers Wellington and PIMCO as well as hedge funds ISAM, Harness, Odey, Paulson, Survetta and Universa.

At the same time, NZFM ended its mandate with the Commodity Strategies fund, run by the recently-deceased, Robert Holroyd.

Lang said at any one time NZFM would have 10-20 underlying managers, of which about two-thirds are long-term appointments while the remainder operate as tilts.

“There’s a natural rotation,” he said.

Lang said the firm reviews about 100 managers each year.

According to the most recent NZFM portfolio report, the firm had 15 external managers as at the end of this February.


profile_MichaelLang_quoteMichael Lang

Chief Investment Officer | BA (Econ), LLB (Hons)


Michael has over 15 years of investment industry experience. He returned to NZ Funds after spending a period of time in London where he was a Partner at Eclectica Asset Management, a global macro hedge fund which won Lipper’s Top Performing Newcomer in Hedge Funds in 2004.

Michael joined NZ Funds in 1992 as an equity analyst. After completing an internship at Wellington Management Company in Boston, USA in 1997 he managed the New Zealand Property & Infrastructure Fund ($80 million) from 1998 to 2003. The fund won FundSource top performing New Zealand property fund in 1999, 2000 and 2001. Michael also managed the New Zealand Equity Income Trust ($200 million) which won FundSource top performing New Zealand equity fund in 1999 and 2000. Michael’s work overseas has seen him spend time in New York, San Francisco and London.

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