More than a quarter of New Zealanders feel wealthier now compared to 12 months ago and many are feeling confident about the economy.
The new State of Investor Nation report from Kiwi Wealth shows a rebound from a more negative outlook on personal wealth in June 2020, when New Zealand had just come out of a COVID-19 lockdown, to a more positive view now.
Out of a survey of 2086 adults, 28 percent say they feel more wealthy now than they did 12 months ago and 70 percent of Kiwis feel more confident about the economy, up 9 percent on last year. Additionally, the number of people who struggle to make ends meet has halved since February 2020 and is now 4 percent of the population.
Kiwi Wealth's report analyses New Zealanders' perceptions of wealth and approaches to wealth creation, and also measures investment goals, portfolio design, and confidence in financial and property markets.
Kiwi Wealth acting CEO Rhiannon McKinnon says while the report is good for those with assets, it also shows a disparity in how New Zealanders are experiencing the second year of COVID-19.
"There is plenty of opportunity but inequitable access means there is a lot of work to be done to bridge the wealth gap, both in creation and education, and with a particular focus on women," she says.
The wealth outlook is largely positive, especially in some demographics:
Wealth perceptions have improved among mid-income ($70,000 to $100,000) Kiwis aged 35-55 years old
New Zealanders feel more confident in the economy and global and domestic financial markets compared to June 2020 Confidence is particularly high among households with incomes over $70,000 (76 percent), men (74 percent), and those with children at home (74 percent)
About 53 percent of Kiwis feel confident about global financial markets, up 12 percent compared to June 2020.
While many New Zealanders report feeling wealthier, those with few or no assets are feeling the pinch. Thirty-two percent of non-investors and 32 percent of renters say they feel less wealthy, compared to 24 percent of investors and 23 percent of homeowners who say the same.
But the overall proportion of survey respondents who say they're just managing to get by (23 percent) or are struggling to make ends meet (4 percent) has dropped from June 2020, when the numbers were 26 and 7 percent respectively.
Many New Zealanders also reported barriers preventing them from investing in shares in companies, EFTs, and managed funds, with 38 percent saying they don't have enough knowledge of it. Across three different asset classes, women skew higher with feeling they don't know enough about how to invest and don't believe they have enough money to start.
"To some degree the gender-based access issues are being addressed and it would be inaccurate to draw the conclusion from this study that women are far behind in practical terms - but certainly in terms of perception and confidence and bringing everyone to the investment table, we are still working towards true equality, and our mission is very clear," McKinnon says.
Despite this, 30 percent of all Kiwis now have money invested in shares, up from 20 percent in April 2019.
"The report is a useful yardstick for us and informs our work with government, the community and fellow businesses on collaborative programmes to help address the wealth gap," says Kiwi Wealth general manager of retail and product Melissa Vasta.
"KiwiSaver is part of the solution along with managed funds and Hatch, which has a low barrier to entry and is a well-designed education tool as well as an investor platform."