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The head of New Zealand's investment regulator has fired a warning shot at KiwiSaver providers urging them to be more proactive in engaging with their members. Rob Everett, chief executive of the Financial Markets Authority, said KiwiSaver providers could not afford to treat members as "cash cows" raking in millions of dollars in fees a year without doing anything to communicate with them other than the minimum. Everett's call comes on the back of research by the FMA which found more people in KiwiSaver than any other investment have low confidence in New Zealand's financial markets. An annual report undertaken by the FMA found 28 per cent of those surveyed who are invested in KiwiSaver were not confident in New Zealand's markets and a further 14 per cent didn't know how they felt about it at all. Everett said the lack of confidence from KiwiSaver investors showed that for many people KiwiSaver was a passive investment and that providers were not reaching their members "in a way we would like." "There is a serious lacking in engagement and confidence." At the opposite end of the scale people who invested in managed funds and unit trusts were the most confident at 80 per cent with just 17 per cent not confident. Everett said that needed to change and KiwiSaver needed to move off the bottom of its investment table. Everett said it had been actively talking to providers about how they need to be doing more to communicate with KiwiSaver members and if they were not engaging asking them why not. "If you are not engaging with your KiwiSaver members that is a problem. "We are starting to get a sense of which providers are proactive, which providers feel they can't be and why and we, the government and CFFC (Commission for Financial Capability) are pushing them." Everett said he was less concerned about the number of people who had heard of the FMA and more concerned about KiwiSaver. Three out of five people surveyed said they had heard of the regulator - a figure consistent with last year. "We are not just a law enforcement agency. We are here to help people get engaged in markets." He said the FMA had undertaken research to understand why people were behaving in a certain way and to look at what needed to change to improve confidence. "We can't just tell people to be confident." Everett said its approach with providers was to use soft tools to help understand why they were not being proactive. Some claimed they thought they were not allowed to talk to members for fear of breaking the law around giving personalised advise. Everett said others had told him they simply could not get in touch with their members - with some reporting up to 40 per cent of members were uncontactable. He said the regulator was working with the IRD to try and get providers updated information on individuals. It was also doing research with government-owned KiwiSaver provider Kiwi Wealth on how best to engage members in a trial to be carried out later this year. Read the latest FMA survey on financial markets here:

ROTORUA DAILY POST
29 Apr, 2016 10:18am
2 minutes to read