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[The Wrap] The terror attacks and us

The terror attacks last Friday in Christchurch weren't something I was going to write about; but they have dominated the media (rightfully) all week and impacted on financial services too.

Friday, March 22nd 2019, 6:25PM

I've just left the Multicultural Vigil and Reflection event at the Rotorua Village Green. Seeing it guarded by police with rather large rifles reinforced how things have changed in the past week.

The events of last Friday have dominated the news, and financial services hasn't been spared.

We fully expected the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill would actually be passed to law by Parliament this week. That's now been pushed back to the first week of April at the earliest.

We've seen Partners Life pulling its ads talking about death this week. While some questioned this, it's a sensible decision and shows respect to the victims of the terrorist attack.

However, and this may grate with some and be seen as inappropriate at this time, there will be stories out of this week where having insurance plays a role in helping victims' families.

A number of life companies offered their support this week, and that's likely to be broader than just policy payouts.

Then there has been the debate around the role of social media in the attack. 

Milford Asset Management dumped its shareholdings in Facebook on Monday and joined the call from government-backed retirement fund managers for Facebook, Google and Twitter to take greater care monitoring content posted to social media platforms.

The NZ Super Fund, Accident Compensation Corporation, Government Superannuation Fund Authority, National Provident Fund and Kiwi Wealth, which manage $90 billion in funds, are adding their weight to calls for Facebook, Google and Twitter to take action following the live-streaming and sharing of the terror terror attacks.

(Maybe Twitter should also monitor the handle @realDonaldTrump more carefully).

Decisions like this, arguably, will make investors more conscious about where their retirement savings are invested. Maybe there will be a flow-on effect which sees a pick up in interest in responsible investing?

But there is another area where this attack intersects with investing. In a low growth world, many fund managers are finding the companies delivering excess returns to their portfolios are the tech stocks including the so-called FAANGS (Facebook, Amazone, Netflix and Alphabet's Google). Indeed. T. Rowe price talked about the importance of technology stocks in a roadshow this week.

There's been other impacts too. We've seen some advertisers (banks) pause advertising for an unspecified period, and journalists have had lengthy discussions on how to cover the event, particularly with regards to naming the shooter.

But for me, the reaction of New Zealanders to what happened a week ago has been heart-warming. It makes you feel  good to be a Kiwi.

Image credit: EPA/Andy Rain, CC BY-SA

 

 

Tags: Opinion

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Last updated: 21 October 2019 9:16am

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