Bank CEO on how Kiwis can prepare financially and mentally for 2022

Heading into 2022, being prepared for change and a bit of uncertainty will put Kiwis in a stronger position, a bank CEO says.

After more than 107 days of level 4 and level 3 restrictions, New Zealand moved to the traffic light system at just before midnight on December 2. On Monday, all of the South Island and parts of the North Island are in the 'orange' setting. Auckland and Northland are in 'red', along with Taupō, Rotorua, Kawerau, Whakatane, Ōpōtiki, Gisborne, Wairoa, Rangitikei, Whanganui and Ruapehu.

Talking to The AM Show on Monday, Westpac NZ CEO Catherine McGrath said after a frantic year, with 87 percent of the population now vaccinated, the economy is in pretty good shape.

But she suggests Kiwis prepare themselves for a few "curve balls" as New Zealand opens up and adapts to living with the virus. Drawing from experience in the UK, it's likely going to require people to embrace uncertainty. 

"Being prepared for change and a bit of uncertainty will be a key thing to do in 2022," McGrath said.

One of the financial lessons arising from COVID-19 is to have an emergency savings fund, (experts suggest a minimum of three months' of income). For those who haven't got a savings buffer in-place, now is a good time to start one.

"Being financially prepared, so if the unexpected happens, you've got a bit more resilience makes a lot of sense," McGrath added.

Those who are finding things a bit tight could front-foot the situation by talking to their bank about solutions, she suggested.

Hand-in-hand with being financially prepared, it's also important to be mentally prepared if things don't go to plan. For example, those planning a holiday could have a "Plan B".

Business owners, particularly those in hospitality and tourism, could start thinking about possible scenarios impacting their business and what alternative strategies they could use to get through them.

"...Thinking through those scenarios where things mightn't go to plan and about what your business could do to adjust would be a really good thing to do [after a summer break]," McGrath added.