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Middle-income earners much more confident in markets

Middle-income earners much more confident in New Zealand’s financial markets

Almost 70 per cent of middle-income earners are now confident in New Zealand’s markets, an increase of 13 percentage points since 2013. A Financial Markets Authority survey of New Zealanders’ attitudes to financial markets, released today, has found confidence in our financial markets is growing. Overall confidence has risen five points to 59 percent from 54 percent in 2013.

Three-quarters (75 percent) of those surveyed hold an investment product, either through shares in the stock market, KiwiSaver, managed funds or bonds. This is up slightly from 72 per cent last year.

Rob Everett, Chief Executive, FMA, said “these are encouraging signs for our financial markets given the focus on New Zealand’s equity markets in the last twelve months, with the recent partial floats of three state-owned enterprises. “

“The fact those earning between $50,000 and $100,000 per year are a lot more confident points to broader participation in share markets and financial markets more generally. This reinforces the increasing importance of KiwiSaver, as people watch their balances grow.”

However, only half (53 percent) of those with investments said the materials they received about their investments were helpful in making an informed decision about whether to invest or not.

“While it’s disappointing that half of investors didn’t find investment materials useful, this is consistent with other feedback we’ve received,” said Mr Everett.

Under the new Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013, these materials will become simpler and easier for retail investors to read and understand. Investor materials in this context include the new product disclosure statements (PDS) which will replace the current prospectuses and investment statements.

The new PDS are retail, point of sale materials that provide the relevant information investors need to make decisions about investing in shares or in other financial products.

The requirement for simplified documents coming into effect this year should have a positive impact on confidence scores in future said Mr Everett. “The surveys we’ve done make it clear to the financial services industry that investors want clear and simple materials, in plain English, to help them make more informed decisions.

“The regulators and the industry need to work together to provide documents that help investors rather than solely protecting issuers” he said.

The survey also shows that those with investments are more likely to express confidence in financial markets (61 percent compared with 52 percent of those without investments). Additionally, 24 percent of investors said their confidence had increased since last year compared with 15 percent of those without investments.

“It’s the second year we’ve polled the public about their attitudes to financial markets and it’s encouraging to see confidence improving year on year. However, it’s vital to distinguish between confidence in the way markets are performing and confidence about the way investment markets and products are understood and used by investors,” said Mr Everett.

“As a regulator, FMA is focused on promoting fair, efficient and transparent markets. We want to ensure the infrastructure around the markets delivers a robust system that’s well–regulated and protects investors from wrong-doing. With increasing confidence in the infrastructure and its regulation we’d hope people become more confident about participating in the markets while understanding that markets move in cycles and positive outcomes are not guaranteed.”

Colmar Brunton conducted the survey and interviewed 1,015 people from 12-18 March 2014.


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