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Little improvement in financial literacy: Hughes

The level of financial literacy in New Zealand was “appalling” when Sean Hughes started at the Financial Markets Authority three years ago – and little has changed.

Thursday, July 25th 2013, 7:30AM

In a candid answer to a question at the recent FMA stakeholders briefing, Hughes said there had been little improvement in financial literacy in three years.

However, he did add the caveat that it was unlikely change could happen in just three years.

One thing that has changed is that the FMA and others now have a “fundamental grasp of what we don’t know.”

He said there had been some good things and one example of this was the amount of discussion going on.

An example was the coverage of the Mighty River Power share offer that received an “enormous” amount of coverage.

That, he said, was helpful in making people understand concepts.

But he also said it wasn’t an FMA-only responsibility. It required many parties to be involved including investors themselves.

Hughes said the FMA is doing some work in this area and “will have something to say” in a couple of months.

Financial literacy is “not the role of the government alone”, Hughes said. It is a shared responsibility across the community.

“Mum and Dad investors have to take some responsibility, he said. “They can’t expect the government to hold their hands.”

He said it was positive that former FMA executive Dianne Maxwell was recently appointed to the role of Retirement Commissioner.

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