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Stobo lays out manifesto for savings revolution

A new report authored by Craig Stobo, former head of BT New Zealand, has made a raft of recommendations to lift the country’s savings and wealth levels.

Friday, September 26th 2008, 8:54AM

by David Chaplin

Stobo says in the report, titled Creating wealth for New Zealanders – a primer on the possibilities, that “unless New Zealanders innovate and compete in this area our future will lie in someone else’s hands”.

“It is my belief that we can progress to a position where New Zealanders are wealthier, where financial intermediation is more efficient and diverse, and where New Zealand is the most favoured destination for people to live, work, save and create wealth,” he says.

According to Stobo, New Zealand should consider fundamental changes such as creating a government Asset and Liability Management Office to look after state-owned assets “as a changing set of portfolio of risks at arms length to Parliament”.

Other initiatives floated in the Stobo report include: zero tax rates for non-residents in New Zealand entities that own or manage foreign assets, and; lifting local debt issues by changing the Approved Issuer Levy.

The report also suggests the government needs to address the issue of KiwiSaver investors making overly-conservative asset allocation decisions.

“In the absence of more efficient advice delivery systems, there may only be two choices,” Stobo says. “Either a paternalistic view is taken and decisions for these savers are made by introducing mandatory investment categories according to age; or New Zealanders are provided with education on basic concepts such as portfolio diversification benefits and the power of compounding so that they become financially literate.”

In the report, Stobo also calls on the New Zealand Superannuation Fund to help establish more local fund managers “and deepen our physical and derivatives markets”.

“Why does it not require all its appointed fund managers to establish a presence in New Zealand?” he says.

The report, released yesterday, was commissioned by the ‘Taupo Group’, an association of various companies including: ABN Amro; First New Zealand Capital; Fisher Funds Management; the NZX; Tyndall; Forsyth Barr, and; Macquarie.

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