Group Manager Investor Education, Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC).
1. What attracted you to the position at the Commission for Financial Capability?
I’ve always had a passion for helping New Zealanders improve their financial well-being. For most people managing money is not the most exciting or sexy topic, but it does have a material effect on their overall well-being. By that I mean it’s not all about saving for retirement: it’s about enjoying the journey, being in control of your finances and hopefully achieving your life goals along the way.
I came from a very large corporate organisation. So I wanted to take my 33 years’ experience, and find somewhere with a national focus that I could genuinely get behind and where I could hopefully make a difference. The Commission for Financial Capability ticked those boxes.
2. What is the best part of your job?
One of the aspects of my role that I enjoy the most is speaking, either publicly or in the media, and getting to answer New Zealanders’ questions. These can be questions people are afraid to ask. Or questions they don’t ask elsewhere for fear they might be sold something.
I genuinely can’t find the words to describe the personal satisfaction I get from knowing that I have helped increase people’s choices around their finances and their future.
The Commission also gives me the freedom to come up with new, innovative ways of getting our messages out. The most recent example was using music to bring to life important points around KiwiSaver. I matched action points that would help KiwiSaver members get the best out of their accounts, with Kiwi songs. The feedback both from the public and the industry as a whole was incredibly positive.
3. What are your ambitions as Group Manager Investor Education?
I guess, simply put, I love being able to make a difference. That’s the reason I joined the Commission and that has always been my focus.
It’s very cool to be able to provide New Zealanders with access to better information, which will help them improve their financial well-being. Sometimes the most effective ways of educating the public are subtle and people might not even realise the Commission is behind their new-found knowledge and understanding.
And for those in KiwiSaver, I’d love everyone to understand the true potential of the scheme to improve their overall well-being when they decide to leave paid employment. By that I mean it is a nest egg that can provide a regular income in the future, not the lotto win of their life.
4. What are some of the challenges you face in your role?
My focus has been to look at the interests and well-being of people aged 50-plus. The challenge with any age group is that talking about money can be boring and life is very noisy. Unfortunately, many of the messages that the Commission and similarly interested organisations are trying to get across can be drowned out.
The biggest challenge I think all New Zealanders have is trying to imagine ourselves in the future. What will we need and what do we want to be doing? If we don’t have some idea now about how we see the future then it is very hard to plan for it. So our challenge is to make something that is quite hard, frankly, into an easier process.
5. Describe an initiative the CFFC is currently involved in that is having a significant impact on the financial capability of those involved?
The Commission has implemented many life-changing initiatives. But the one that stands out for me is our Sorted Pasifika, eight-week community programme, which more than 100 people have now completed. And results show that the financial
well-being of these people has genuinely improved.
6. What experience would you share with somebody who wants to grow their wealth?
If you don’t win a fortune or receive a family inheritance, then the only other realistic way to build up wealth is by earning it.
My thoughts on this, without providing advice, are that for most of us the best thing we can do is save a little from our earnings over a long time. Invest this money wisely and leave it alone, then let the eighth wonder of the world (the power of compound interest) work its magic.
You should also think of your future self each time you get paid, because once that payday has gone you can’t get it back.
So start saving now. I’ve just worked out if I got paid monthly I would only have 180 paydays before I retire. Luckily I’ve already started saving!