The 1987 sharemarket crash changed attitudes towards share investing but younger generations have moved on since, say experts.

Thursday marks 30 years since the darkest day on New Zealand's sharemarket, which saw investors' capital wiped out as company values plummeted.

"I have very little doubt that crash and the aftermath of the crash had a big impact ... particularly on my generation," said Rob Cameron, an investment banker who was in his 30s at the time.

Some people were permanently put off share investing, while others lost large chunks of their assets in the crash, Cameron said.


But other investors who were hit had since returned to the market and younger generations had a different view.

The Crash: 30 years on
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"I think the attitude is totally different today. With time there has been a change in the composition of the population. The younger generation is nowhere near as traumatised."

Personal finance expert and Weekend Herald columnist Mary Holm, who was business editor of the Auckland Sun at the time, said anecdotal evidence certainly pointed to people being put off the sharemarket after the crash.

"That is certainly what people say. We are very under-invested in shares compared to other western countries. The crash affected us more than other countries."

Holm still heard stories of people being talked out of buying shares by their grandparents.
"Everyone says that is why rental property is popular now."

One main difference between then and now was a lot of people borrowed money to invest in shares, she said.

Another feature of the time was share clubs.

"Everybody was in them. That was very much part of the social scene."

Holm said she had a bit of money in shares but took it out ahead of the crash to buy a house in St Heliers only to find when she sold it two years later that property in blue chip suburbs had dropped by 30 per cent.

"We thought we were lucky ... and then we weren't."

The property drops were caused by people rushing to sell their homes to pay off debts after the sharemarket crash because they had borrowed money to buy shares.

Robert MacCulloch, an economist at the University of Auckland said overseas research showed if you grew up during a major economic event like the Great Depression or a sharemarket crash you were likely to be affected by that for life.

MacCulloch, who graduated from university at the time of the 1987 crash, said those most likely to be affected would have been in their formative years - aged 18 to 25 at the time and in their 50s and 60s now.

Many of his friends had expected to get jobs in the share broking firms where their parents worked but by the time they finished university a lot of those firms were bankrupt.

MacCulloch does not own any shares.

"You think oh gosh is that going to happen again?"

But Rue Bourke, a wealth management adviser at broker First NZ Capital, said there was a lot of speculative money in the market at the time of the crash and today's market was very different.

People who invested now were much more cautious about where they put their money.
"I suppose it did frighten people away from the markets for a few years."

In the 80s there were high interest rates and a very speculative sharemarket, whereas today there were low interest rates and people investing in shares for their dividends, Bourke said.

"It is a totally different environment now than in 1987."

Cameron, who oversaw a taskforce which recommended changes to the capital markets after the global financial crisis in 2008, said the GFC had been a bit of a test and most of the bad behaviour which emerged then came from unlisted companies.

People now saw the sharemarket as a valid way of saving provided they had the right discipline which included diversification and not taking a short-term view.

"I think it is a different, healthier environment now."