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Kiwisaver good for insurance industry

The government’s KiwiSaver workplace savings scheme represents a big opportunity for the country’s insurance business, says Tower Group managing director Jim Minto.

Friday, February 10th 2006, 10:32AM

by Rob Hosking

"KiwiSaver is going to be very good for the insurance industry in this country,” Minto says.

A great deal of insurance in Australia is sold off the back of that country’s compulsory superannuation scheme, he says.

"Obviously we’re not so keen on the ‘opt out’ aspects of KiwiSaver," says Minto.

"But it still represents a step forward for the whole industry, and that includes insurance."

Minto says although the recent restructuring and reorganisation at Tower had been driven initial by other factors, it had been made with the arrival of KiwiSaver very much in mind.

Although yesterday's annual meeting was not the angst-torn scene of recent years, some shareholders had questions about the profile of the company and whether it is doing enough to make itself known.

Minto told shareholders Tower is the best-known New Zealand insurance company, by far.

"We’ve got market research which shows you that if you ask New Zealanders to name an insurance company 48% of them name Tower. It’s at the top. And some of the brands you have mentioned here today are barely known.

"So our profile is right up there. What we have to do, and where we have been missing, is not that people don’t know us, but people have had a poor service experience with us. "That is something we are focussing on in 2006."

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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