It will come as no surprise to most people that older males with high incomes are the ones who feel the most confident about investing in the financial markets.

Or that women and younger people with low incomes are the least confident.

But Rob Everett, the head of New Zealand's Financial Markets Authority, believes that needs to change and with that that Kiwis must drop the attitude that investing is only for the rich.

Annual FMA research on Attitudes towards New Zealand financial markets released yesterday shows confidence in the markets has dipped in the last year from 65 to 62 per cent although it remains higher than between 2013 and 2016.


Investors were more likely to feel confident than non-investors although people who were only in KiwiSaver had similar levels of confidence to non-investors.

Everett said there were no real revelations from the research and from a New Zealand standpoint there had not been a lot of change from an economic standpoint.

"What this survey tells us, and we already know, is that gap between those who people who know or think they know about investing ... there are some really marked demographic features."

That's not surprising says Everett but it does help the FMA, the Commission for Financial Capability and financial product providers to focus on those age groups that need the most help and who probably should be looking at the financial market but are intimidated or don't think they have enough money to invest.

Everett said in a lot of other countries he had worked in he had seen a lot more people investing a little bit in financial markets.

"I just think that a lot of people here opt out."

While KiwiSaver had filled some of the gap by opting people into the scheme, Everett said a lot of people were not that engaged in it because it was a retirement product they could not access.

Not just for the rich

The FMA has recently targeted younger female KiwiSaver investors to get them thinking more about fees and which fund they should be in.


Everett is convinced more targeted campaigns are the way forward.

"We just have to keep working on it.

"The markets are something that should be accessible to everyone, not just people with tons of money."

He said it was not up to the regulator to push people into investing in something they were not comfortable with but to give them the confidence to try it.

"There is a lot of people sitting on the sidelines with money in term deposits, or taking on debt to buy property."

He would also like to see even those people who don't have a lot of money but are already in KiwiSaver consider investing in the financial markets.

Changing industry

Traditionally Everett said the financial services sector had focused on people who already have money to invest.

But that needed to change and a shift into online financial services was helping that, although it was not just about putting the same dry material into an online format.

However he pointed to the likes of Sharesies, Investnow and Simplicity who were using technology to access different markets and to give people information they wanted.

He said the FMA had been working with managed fund providers to get them to treat people fairly and acknowledge people don't have a lot of time to read swags of information.

"We consistently find people are intimidated and a bit overwhelmed. Even after all the effort we have put in around KiwiSaver.

"I am convinced more can be done."

Not all good

The research also found confidence in our financial market regulators has been dented in the last year.

Confidence the markets were being effectively regulated dropped significantly, falling from 66 per cent to 55 per cent, although a change in the wording of the question was largely blamed for the drop.

Everett said it appeared to reflect a shift of more people into the don't know category rather than fewer people who were not confident.

He said the timing of the survey - carried out in May, coinciding with the beginning of Australia's Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Financial Services industry, and its fall-out here may also have influenced it.

"I suspect it would have raised questions. Even though those aren't really financial markets issues, people do put those two together."

He said for a lot of people there was an inherent distrust in large financial institutions."

In the survey those who felt confident said the main reason was the stability of the markets and the economy.

While those who were not confident put it down to a lack of faith and knowledge.