A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

Inside Money: The consumers are revolting

Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

A new lobby group has formed with the aim of letting the little people, also known as consumers, have a say in the affairs of the retirement savings industry.

Carrying the unwieldy acronym KASPANZ (for the 'Kiwi Saver, Annuities and Superannuation Protection Association New Zealand Incorporated'), the organisation, officially created in February, explains its mission statement like so:

There is a need for an organization to represent consumers of retirement savings schemes to ensure that that their voices are heard and their best interests safeguarded.
And good luck to them.

As at the inaugural meeting, KASPANZ reported only 15 members but with over 2 million KiwiSaver members alone to market to, the group's growth potential is huge.

Chaired by Alec Waugh, who I suspect is the same Alec Waugh who penned this NZ Herald article in 2011, KASPANZ takes a broad swipe at the current level of public debate on retirement savings.

Media commentary on retirement income topics, are frequently superficial and crisis orientated when the requirement is for analysis and reflection including accurate statistical data and trends over time, the KASPANZ website says.

While the judgment is a little unfair, it's hard to dispute the need for a reasoned, evidence-based approach to the matter. I look forward to KASPANZ's contribution to the effort.

As I wasn't able to track down any of the KASPANZ leadership team prior to deadline, it's difficult to judge the group's main goals.

However, there are a couple of clues on the website where concerns are expressed about the lack of either Government guarantee or overview by an Independent Consumer Organization.

I don't see either of these goals as achievable, or even important, but the consumer revolution has to start somewhere.

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A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

David is a freelance journalist who has covered the financial services business on both sides of the Tasman for over 15 years. He is the editor of industry website Investment News. David has edited magazines and websites for the financial advice, investment and superannuation industries.

Read more by David Chaplin

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