The 300-strong, record turnout at last weekend's Shareholders Association annual conference helped illustrate a major challenge facing the local sharemarket.
The attendees' average age was probably closer to 70 than 50 and a similar crowd can usually be found at the annual meetings of NZX-listed firms. In short, a large segment of New Zealand's direct retail share investors are really getting on.
NZX chief executive Tim Bennett raised the issue in his opening address, saying: "We don't have the next generation of investors in the market. We need to educate our children to invest either directly in equities or at least through KiwiSaver and be cognisant of what they're investing in."
ENCOURAGE THE YOUNG
Bennett recalled a parcel of Brierley Investments shares his father gave him when he was 13 or 14.
"There used to be a fight in the common room at school when the evening paper was delivered - not to see the sports results but to see what was happening in the sharemarket," he told the conference. "It's that sort of enthusiasm that we need to get the next generation of investors into the market." Of course, many young people have a stake in the sharemarket through KiwiSaver, which is driving growth in the funds management industry. And the conference audience might not have been a completely accurate snapshot of this country's shareholding public.
But encouraging younger generations to invest directly in equities will be a challenge. Reaching the supposed promised land of home ownership is a more pressing concern for many. Buying shares will hardly be a priority when a huge proportion of your income is going towards a mortgage.
Shareholders often find it frustrating when regulators hand down fines to companies they're invested in. Rather than penalising the managers or directors responsible for the wrongdoing, it's the investors who foot the bill.
Just this week Diligent Board Member Services reached a settlement with the NZX over the late filing of earnings reports. The New York-based, NZX-listed technology firm has agreed to be censured by the NZ Markets Disciplinary Tribunal and pay $100,000 to the NZX's Discipline Fund.
One investor raised the issue of such fines with Financial Markets Authority boss Rob Everett after his speech at the weekend's conference.
Everett, who joined the FMA in February, sympathised.
"I agree with you," he said. "The practice of fining the company is often counterproductive." But Everett also defended the market regulator, saying it had a solid track record of holding directors personally accountable.
"We have sent directors to jail," he said. "We have fined directors and banned directors from the industry. The central part of our enforcement activity is to hold accountable those who are accountable and to protect and recover money for those who had lost money."
Financial markets across the globe have been shrugging off an increasingly rocky geopolitical outlook this year.
Conflicts have been raging in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, but investors have been largely unperturbed and stock indices - including the NZX 50 and Wall Street's S&P 500 - are hitting records.
NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub wonders whether investors fully understand the risks.
Addressing the conference he said geopolitical hazards were currently "right up there" and the conflict in Ukraine alone should be scaring the hell out of market participants.
"And yet I look at financial markets ... they are so resilient and risk appetite is so high," Eaqub said. "I wonder if it's risk appetite or just complacency and how much of it is a long shadow of the GFC and the experimental [economic] policies we saw on the back of it?"
Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shares are continuing to rally on the back of a solid earnings outlook and weakening New Zealand dollar.
The medical device maker's stock hit a record close of $5.26 yesterday, pushing the company close to the $3 billion market capitalisation mark.
The company has come a long way since August 2012, when its share price fell as low as $1.89 as the business came under pressure from the high kiwi dollar.
Since then the firm has come to terms with the strong currency through a successful hedging programme, new products and a ramping up of production at its facility in Tijuana, Mexico.
It lifted its full-year net profit guidance to $100 million - up from a previous forecast of $97 million - last month.
F&P Healthcare derives roughly 50 per cent of its operating revenue in US dollars and its latest profit forecast is based on the kiwi trading at about US84c until the firm's financial year ends on March 31.
Things are looking pretty good on the currency front, with the kiwi falling from above US84c on August 22 to trade as low as US81.78c yesterday after the Reserve Bank said it would hold the official cash rate steady at 3.5 per cent. The currency was trading at US81.86c at 5pm.
ANZ expects the kiwi to fall to US81c by the end of this year and US75c by the end of 2015, while BNZ has a similar view. There's a good chance F&P Healthcare's annual profit might exceed the current guidance.
Apple Pay appeals as stock rebounds
It wasn't Apple Inc's iPhone 6 or even the fandangle new Apple Watch that got Wall Street excited during the tech giant's product launch on Wednesday.
Its share price peaked at US$102.78, up 4.5 per cent on the opening price, shortly after chief executive Tim Cook revealed the firm's move into mobile wallet technology through its Apple Pay near field communication (NFC) system.
Apple stock then fell during the presentation of the Apple Watch and ended up closing slightly in the red at US$97.99.
The payment system will be available on the new iPhone 6, the larger iPhone 6 Plus and the Apple Watch. Users will be able to make payments at retailers by simply swiping their devices past NFC terminals. Visa will support Apple Pay in New Zealand from next year.
Android smartphones have been NFC-enabled for some time but previous versions of the iPhone have not had the technology.
Apple shares closed up 3 per cent at $101 yesterday.