Kiwis' sense of job security plunged last month as Covid-19 lockdown measures hit, according to a new survey of financial confidence.
The first survey in a new series commissioned by the Financial Services Council shows that Covid-19 delivered an unprecedented hit to New Zealanders' financial resilience and wellbeing.
The Financial Resilience Index tracks how Kiwis feel on five key financial indicators from March 2020 onwards.
The timing of the survey presented a unique opportunity to track the impact of the pandemic on New Zealanders, said Financial Services Council chief executive Richard Klipin.
There had always been a plan to survey New Zealanders in March about how they felt about financial services and financial advice, he said.
"And then Covid broke."
That meant the survey was starting with "ground zero data" and the key indicators could now be tracked through the evolution of the crisis, he said.
The Index surveyed 2000 New Zealanders' views on five key financial resilience indicators: confidence; literacy; preparedness; job security; and wellbeing.
"Confidence doesn't come from savings; it comes from ability to earn," said Andrew Inwood, principal at CoreData which conducted the research.
So people's attitudes to savings and investment would be driven by confidence in the economy and the Government's ability to lead them, he said.
So far the results suggest Kiwis were happy with the leadership but not necessarily confident in the Government's long term ability to lead them through, he said.
The first round of the Index looked at how these views changed from March 2020 to April 2020, and subsequent rounds will be released in coming months
"None of us have ever been in pandemic before," said Klipin.
So the coming months would be increasingly revealing, he said.
"The first round of the Index, looking at how our views have changed from March to April, shows that Covid-19 has impacted Kiwis' financial resilience across the board, but with a particularly acute hit to job security, money worries and mental wellbeing," Klipin said.
"By late April, 50 per cent of us felt that Covid-19 was impacting on our job security, a jump of over 15 per cent since March."
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For 45 per cent of those surveyed, the situation reduced confidence in making financial decisions, an increase of 15 per cent in a month.
The survey also tracked changes to the way Kiwis invested. The proportion looking for low-risk investments jumped by around 20 per cent from March to April.
"With over 40 per cent of us now worrying about money on an at least weekly basis, the Index also shows that Covid-19 and associated financial concerns are taking a major toll on our mental health," Klipin said.
The survey found 51 per cent of respondents had their mental health affected at least once or twice by money matters, which represented a 6 percentage point increase since New Zealand went into lockdown.
The Index also provided a stark reminder of the challenging outlook for many Kiwis when it comes to preparation for retirement.
Even before Covid-19 hit New Zealand, over 50 per cent did not feel on track for the retirement they'd be happy with, and expected to have to carry on working past the retirement age, Klipin said.
"There is no getting away from the scale of this challenge, especially with the worsening economic outlook."
The hope was that the first stage of research and subsequent rounds, while painting a challenging picture, would drive understanding and spark a national conversation.