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Super products "dodgy": English

National’s incoming finance spokesman, Bill English, has sounded a sharply sceptical note about the KiwiSaver – and also about the financial services industry.

Wednesday, November 29th 2006, 6:37AM

by Rob Hosking

National’s scepticism about KiwiSaver is nothing new – as English himself points out, new leader John Key is similarly sceptical.

On KiwiSaver, English says it “looks to me to be a fairly expensive solution to a badly specified problem. If it’s on the books and in place National may yet end up keeping it. But if you end up with large numbers of low balance accounts, high cost accounts and no particular increase in savings, you’d have to question what it’s supposed to achieve.”

On the wider financial services industry, English notes the traditional reluctance of New Zealanders to invest in areas other than property but says there are rational reasons for this.

“One of the constraints on growth in the superannuation industry has been a lot of the products are a bit dodgy. That’s come through pretty strongly in some of Gareth Morgan’s analysis. If people don’t understand the product, why would they buy it?

“I’m old enough to know people who were burned by the surrender value of financial products – they put their money in and it disappeared. The fact is, there’s reasons why Kiwis don’t favour financial products and equities. They’ve been burned.”

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

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