16 June 2011

New centre aims to make Kiwis more financially savvy

A specialist financial education centre aimed at improving New Zealanders’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviour towards money matters launches today with two groundbreaking initiatives.

The New Zealand Centre for Personal Financial Education, founded by Westpac New Zealand and Massey University, has designed a certificate programme for Personal Financial Educators and will undertake a 20-year study to identify why so many Kiwis struggle with their finances.

Finance Minister Bill English will announce the initiatives – both New Zealand firsts – at the launch on the University’s Wellington campus.

The new programme and longitudinal study will help improve the quality and access of education on personal finance and identify knowledge gaps and how they can be addressed.

Massey University will provide a multi-level certification programme for personal financial educators. The programme will include time value of money, financial systems, risk assessment and management and the presentation and communication of financial information. It will be delivered via blended learning with a mixture of face-to-face teaching and online learning.

Westpac Chief Executive George Frazis said the partnership with Massey University is an opportunity to meaningfully improve the financial literacy of New Zealanders for the long-term benefit of the country.

“Westpac and Massey University have a shared interest in developing a financially literate New Zealand and will work together on research, programme development and advocacy,” Mr Frazis said.

“Over time, we expect work by the Centre will contribute to our business from a product point of view and how we connect with customers.”

The second initiative will see up to 300 New Zealanders between 18 and 20 years old selected for a baseline survey of their financial literacy and experience of financial education. The survey will be repeated with the same participants every five years for the next 20 years to understand Kiwis’ needs for financial knowledge at different life stages and where they get information needed to make money decisions.

Massey University Vice-Chancellor Steve Maharey says financial literacy is the new currency for the future security of any nation.

“Massey University takes its responsibility to apply our expertise to real-world issues seriously and through this joint initiative with Westpac we will be empowering New Zealanders to be more savvy when making financial decisions.

“The longitudinal study is the first project of its kind to benchmark knowledge, attitude and behaviour and represents a long-term commitment by the University and its partners to improve financial literacy,” Mr Maharey said.

The Centre will be based on Massey University’s Albany campus with Professor Martin Young, Head of the School of Economics and Finance, its interim Director. A search for a full-time Director is underway.

ENDS

Fact Box

Founded by Westpac and Massey University, the New Zealand Centre for Personal Financial Education will focus on:

  • Research, programme development and advocacy
  • Through Massey University, the Centre will offer a three-level certification programme for personal financial educators.
  • A baseline study over 20 years will focus on New Zealanders’ attitudes and behaviours to financial literacy and changes that occur over the period.

About Westpac NZ

Westpac New Zealand Limited provides a full range of financial banking services for retail and business banking, including home and business lending. Westpac New Zealand employs 5,500 people and has more than 200 branches and 500 ATMs nationwide. We are committed to our community, and support it through a range of business excellence awards, and sponsorships of organisations, services and facilities such as the Westpac Rescue Helicopters and the Sir Peter Blake Trust.

About Massey University

The engine of the new New Zealand. New Zealand is emerging with a new confidence on a global stage. As a country we have the desire, innovation and creativity to take on the best the world has to offer. For more than 80 years, Massey University has helped shape the lives and communities of people in New Zealand and around the world. Massey’s reputation for outstanding research and teaching grounded in real world issues is well established. We are New Zealand’s national university, teaching 34,000 students on our campuses in Manawatu, Albany and Wellington as well as through distance learning and the country’s leading university for finance research.