The good news is there is now one place online where you can go to find out information about specific investments.

Investment watchdog the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) last week announced its newly minted Disclose website was up and running with information on the first financial products to be offered under new regulations.

Companies providing investments to the public are now required to produce a Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) - a shorter and simpler document with prescribed details in it - and to lodge it on Disclose.

So far there's only around 10 financial products on the register and most of them are from fairly unknown providers.


That's because providers have a two year window to get their act together to get information onto the register.

The not so good news is that unless you know exactly what you are looking for finding the website to start with could be a challenge.

Under the new law all PDS have to include a link to the new Disclose website on the front page of the document.

Investors have to be given a PDS before they purchase a financial product for all offers which are regulated, according to an FMA spokesperson.

But if you are just poking around looking for what's on offer the name "Disclose" and its entry via the Companies Office website may not be what first comes to mind.

The Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment, which is in charge of managing the site, admits it has already had some feedback about the challenge in discovering Disclose when a person is not already familiar with the name.

An MBIE spokesman said it was making changes to help with that including telling the FMA to put more links on its site, putting more links on the Companies Office website and "approaching other potential sites where investors might be looking."

"We are also assessing the Disclose Register home page and other title pages to see if changes in key words might make a difference to how google leads users to the site."


But that's not the only challenge.

In my view using the site itself is also not that self-explanatory.

If you don't have a specific product in mind and want to just see what's on offer it's not immediately obvious how to do this. (Tip: you have to enter nothing in the search fields and the entire list appears.)

Searching for all equities or all debt products requires an advanced search.

John Hawkins, chairman of the New Zealand Shareholders Association, said it was in favour of the new PDS regime.

"Keeping documentation briefer and more relevant is important for many retail investors who do not want to read screeds of often repetitious information to find the key details that are relevant to making their decisions."

It would also be an advantage to be able to access original documentation over, he said.

"This can be a problem presently for debt issues, many of which run for seven years or more. Investors will be able to easily search all terms and conditions when doing due diligence."

But Hawkins said for this to work the website needed to be intuitive to use and easy to navigate.

"Our early experiences show this is yet to be fully achieved."

Hawkins said the association accepted that it was early days and the website was still a work in progress.

MBIE has said it will continue to make improvements and plans to launch another portal for managed funds information in the future.

One can only hope it will respond to investor needs over time.