While an overwhelming number of Kiwis are proud to be living in New Zealand, many doubt it is the smart thing to do financially, according to a survey released today.
Of the 2,000 polled in Westpac’s Waitangi Day Kiwi Perspectives survey*, 93% said they were proud to be living in New Zealand and more than half felt the economy is improving. However, asked about their own financial position, 46% said they were feeling the financial pinch or were over-committed and respondents were split on whether the economy provided the opportunities to be financially independent and have the career they want.
That uncertainty was also reflected in an emphasis on saving. Two thirds of respondents nominate increasing their savings as one of their main financial goals, and 90% are not considering any personal borrowing (not including home loans) in the coming year.
Mark Fitz-Gerald, Westpac’s General Manager of Business Banking, said adopting and acting on the savings message was a good change in the Kiwi culture, but the country cannot afford to forget that investing for growth was needed to create a step change in the economy.
“It’s encouraging to see that Kiwis are increasingly determined to live within their means and that they are seeing some patches of sunlight in the economy. But if we want to see that optimism sustained, and justified, then in the not too distant future we need to move to the sort of environment where people believe they can create wealth and help the economy to grow,” he said.
The survey also reflected the significant part housing plays in New Zealand’s financial landscape, with respondents at odds with those who say it has a negative impact on the economy. Asked if they felt there was too much emphasis on owning your own home in New Zealand 54% said no; when asked their main financial goals for 2013, 1 in 10 said buying a house and 25% said paying down their mortgage.
Thirty percent of respondents felt supporting local businesses was the best thing they could do to help strengthen the New Zealand economy, while global market issues were regarded as the single biggest economic issue the country faced.
Fitz-Gerald said the global financial crisis had taught many lessons which had been taken onboard. Kiwis now needed to have faith in the country’s economic potential and start working towards a future based on sustainable financial growth.
- 53% think the economy is improving or strong
- 30% feel buying NZ made and from NZ businesses is the most important thing they can do to strengthen the economy
- 46% feel they are either financially tight with little flexibility or over committed
- 50% rate the opportunities to be financially independent in NZ as average to very poor; 50% rate them good or very good
- 52% rate the opportunity in NZ to have the career they want as average to very poor
- 90% say they do not plan to take out any personal borrowing from a bank this year (home loans excluded)
- 42% say saving more is one of their main financial goals for 2013; a further 22% nominate increasing their retirement savings
*online survey of 2000 NZers