Why Kiwis don’t get financial advice

Like going to the dentist or getting a will, many Kiwis know they should probably get some financial advice.

But research undertaken by the Financial Services Council has revealed just 18 per cent of Kiwis actually get it and there are two main barriers.

Richard Klipin, FSC chief executive said 65.2 per cent of those it surveyed thought they did not have enough wealth to warrant getting advice and 62.5 per cent believed it was too expensive.

Klipin said it was not true that advice was only for the rich.

“It is a gateway to getting in far better control of your finances. The earlier you start the better.”

Klipin said people could get advice without having much money at all, pointing to the Sharesies phenomenon where thousands of Kiwis have jumped into share investing this year.

While platforms like Sharesies, Hatch and Investnow did not offer advice, Klipin said before people made a decision they were out there getting some kind of information.

“I don’t think the only answer is getting financial advice from a financial adviser, there is an absolute purpose for that.”

He said its research was grounded in the fact that New Zealanders needed to get better with money but he said that information could come from places like the Government-backed website Sorted or regulator the Financial Markets Authority.

Klipin said getting advice from a real live person had clear benefits but it was not the only answer.

He said in the KiwiSaver space people were getting informed and educated whenever they got their KiwiSaver statement.

“So it’s piquing the interest to then drive behaviour so then people say I am going to find out more and that is on a continuum.”

But Klipin said that with any professional service there was a cost involved.

“You have got to weigh the cost with the benefit and the benefits are not just the financial benefit but the link between wellbeing.”

Its research found those who sought advice saw on average a 4 per cent increase in investment returns, had about 52 per cent more in their KiwiSaver account and saved 3.7 per cent more for their retirement than those without advice.

Of those who got advice nearly 47 per cent rated their wellbeing as high or very high and their relationships, physical and mental health all significantly improving.

Klipin said collectively the industry had to get a lot smarter.

“Covid in that regard has almost been an opportunity to collaborate our efforts, at regulator, government, sector level on the one hand but also there is an innovation piece.”

He said people were designing products and services that different generations of New Zealanders wanted to access.

“There is a whole fin-tech sector focused on this, but I can see it in already changing behaviours and the way people access the sector. I think that is one of the solutions.”

Klipin said the other was the sector needed to ensure it designed products and services and communicated effectively and provide access for people regardless of how much money they had and those with different life cycle trigger.

He said that was the other bit of information to come from the research – that it was life events which triggered people to get advice and buying property was the highest trigger for that with nearly 24 per cent seeking advice.

“Kiwis are taking on increased levels of debt; so to have 75 per cent of respondents signal that buying a property wouldn’t trigger taking any external advice is a real area of concern.

Klipin said in 2019, first home buyers borrowed an average of around $400,000.

“These levels of debt, coupled with the introduction of KiwiSaver, and growing levels of savings needed for retirement, create increasingly complex financial conditions.

“In these conditions, getting advice is not just an abstract concept. It can make a real difference to your future financial wellbeing.”

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