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Super urgency

Two of the most senior public figures in the superannuation debate call for greater Government action.

Monday, May 4th 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Two of the most senior public figures in the superannuation debate have called on the Government to improve its efforts in this area.

"I would like to see and hear more from the political arena," Retirement Commissioner Colin Blair told the Society of Independent Financial Advisers conference in Wellington last week.

Meanwhile Jeff Todd, who chaired the Government's Periodic Review Group, called for greater commitment from the Government in the super area.

He suggested the Office of the Retirement Commissioner (OORC) was significantly under-funded, and it required more money to get its message across.

Currently the office receives $2.8 million a year from the Government and $1 million from the industry.

Todd suggested the office's budget should be in line with what the Labour government spent when GST was introduced.

He told the conference about $4 million (in 1977 dollars) was spent on that campaign 12 years ago.

Despite having a small budget the OORC is about to launch a new education campaign which will have "quite a bit more urgency" than previous ones.

It starts in July and will be a call to action, rather than an awareness campaign, Blair says.

The office has been doing research into why people are not saving and has concluded there are two significant groups of people.

One is those who are already saving, and the other is what Blair calls the procrastinators.

The savers feel uncertain and want some form of reassurance or confirmation what they are doing is correct, while the procrastinators lack the confidence to start saving.

Blair says both groups want realistic help and that is a good sign for the financial advisory industry.

However, "trust is crucial. These people want help and advice, they don't want to be sold a product."

"Advisers and producer groups have a lot to do to get the public's trust," he says.

The OORC is finding that people are starting to ask more detailed and complex questions about retirement saving and advisers have to be prepared for these "more direct and relevant questions"

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