Financial sector recognises the power of working together to support a stronger New Zealand

Hundreds of people from across the financial capability sector have turned out this week in Wellington to connect, collaborate and carve a united pathway to helping New Zealanders better understand money.

Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission invited partners involved with the National Strategy for Financial Capability and beyond to share insights, highlight challenges and rally behind future initiatives.

One year into the National Strategy, the theme of the conference “The power of together” recognises the strength of the sector working in partnership to help Kiwis increase savings, avoid debt and build investments all which contribute to sound financial wellbeing.

The sector heard from Minister Dr David Clark (Commerce and Consumer Affairs) and Minister Jan Tinetti (Women) who both commended the importance of the work that the sector is doing and reflected on the next steps required to build momentum to grow financial capability.

Retirement Commissioner Jane Wrightson says the National Strategy for Financial Capability is focused on bringing the industry together to better connect activities, reduce duplication and take actions to help Kiwis’ get ahead financially.

“Working together and providing solutions to problems we are all seeing across the sector is the driving force behind the National Strategy for Financial Capability.”

“Recognising the importance of financial education and role of advocacy for change was a strong theme and I’m excited about work that will empower Kiwis to make good financial decisions and provide choices for themselves and their families.”

With the cost of living a significant issue for many New Zealanders, representatives from the grass-roots community organisations attending the conference were united in their demand for policy-based decisions to introduce credit restrictions on Buy Now, Pay Later, and inflated car finance which is a trap for many vulnerable people.

The demand for clear, accessible information about money and how to invest was a rallying call from the sector.

Simran Kaur (Girls that Invest), Brad Olsen (Principal Economist and Director Infometrics) Te Kahukura Boynton (Founder Māori Millionaire) and Sonya Williams (Co-CEO, Founder, Director Sharesies) all put the spotlight on the importance of money conversations and providing content free from jargon.

For many of their peers, the recognition that they are excluded from traditional forms of wealth creation, such as owing their own home, has prompted a demand for information about investing. Recognising that putting their hard-earned cash in a savings account will never get them to where they want to go is a strong motivating force.

“I'd have to give up eating a metric ton of avocados each day to afford a house.” says Brad Olsen “In my view you can't afford to buy a house anymore just through work and saving. It’s only by investing and taking some level of risk, does a house deposit become possible.”

Tyrone Tangata-Makiri (Founder of the In The Flow State) and Pasitaua Haufano (Founder and CEO Zeducation) also provided opportunities to reflect on how to build trust with communities that need extra support.

Māori, Pacific People and women are target audiences for the National Strategy. Building trust and real genuine connection to support people on their financial journeys is a key driver that sustains lasting change for many communities.

Representatives from the major banks also contributed to the panels identifying the work that they can, and are, doing to help innovate and serve their customers, especially those who are struggling through the current turbulent times.

Jane Wrightson says: “it was heartening to see such a diverse range of people in the room, from financial mentors, government agencies, non-profit organisations to iwi, all of whom are very passionate about helping New Zealanders. The National Strategy is about uniting this community to create a powerful base from which to effect change.

“We are moving into the second year of the strategy with continued energy and determination to deliver a clear action plan and improve financial wellbeing for all New Zealanders - a goal that all partners are focused on achieving.”