A lack of cash and low levels of knowledge are the biggest barriers to investing directly in shares, research has revealed.
Just one in five New Zealanders have a direct investment in shares and those who own shares are more likely to be male, over 60 and from Auckland, according to a survey undertaken by share investment platform Sharesies and NZX Smartshares.
Sonya Williams, founder and director of Sharesies, said New Zealand's direct ownership of shares was low compared to other countries.
"Two in five Australians own shares and half of Americans. We are just not as likely to invest in shares."
Asked why they didn't own shares, 36 per cent said it was because did not have the spare cash, 34 per cent said they did not know how and a further 31 per cent held back because they thought it was too risky.
Williams said there was a perception that people needed heaps of money to begin investing in shares.
On average people believed they needed around $100 a month to begin investing in shares, the research found.
Sharesies was launched just over a year ago with the aim of making share investing more accessible and people can invest in shares via the platform from $5.
Williams said it came through strongly in the research that most people did not feel knowledgeable about the share market with only 35 per cent saying they understood how it worked.
While more men than women were invested in the share market both sexes viewed share investing as risky and 50 per cent of those surveyed believed it was more risky than investing in property.
The research also revealed differences between men and woman when it came to money.
Women were significantly more likely to say they are financially living for today and not thinking about tomorrow and that thinking about money is stressful.
While men were much more likely to think investing in shares was a good way to grow their money and that it's a good thing to do no matter how much money you have, while women believe it is only for the rich.
On a day-to-day basis, women prioritised keeping healthy and spending time with friends and family while men were significantly more likely to say making money motivates them.
The research also found a difference in the investing styles of men and women with men more likely to take a DIY approach to selecting their investments, while women would prefer to "delegate" investment decisions to their partners.
Williams said while the profile of direct investors were skewed towards older males via Sharesies 80 per cent of its customers were under 40 and around 52 per cent were male versus 48 per cent female.
She said the more women began investing the more women would talk about it and it would become a normalised part of society.