New investment app Sugar Wallet could be the answer to New Zealanders' financial struggles

Finances - it's hardly good party talk. According to one recent survey, more Kiwis would rather talk about politics than money.

But with rising inflation and homeownership becoming less attainable, we're being encouraged to start the conversation.

The founders of the new investment app Sugar Wallet say now is as good a time as ever, because that old habit of leaving your money in the bank is no longer cutting it.

When 26-year-old financial consultant Dev Soni discovered his mother had been blindly paying into a default KiwiSaver plan delivering barely a percent in interest a year, he was mortified.

For more than a decade her retirement savings had stagnated while the cost of living had gone up - and she is not alone.

Sugar Wallet co-founder Dev Soni told Newshub that he was astounded people didn't use KiwiSaver as a form of investment.

"It was fascinating to me that people didn't even know that their KiwiSaver was a form of investment. They just thought it was some government contribution thing."

Soni and former Xero software engineer Sophia Ritchie joined forces to create Sugar Wallet, an app aimed at making investing more accessible.

Sugar Wallet is based on KiwiSaver taking a percentage of your pay and investing it in a KiwiSaver-aligned fund. It's set and forget. The difference is that you can access your funds at any time.

"It's not such a big risk to invest and actually, they're already doing it," Ritchie told Newshub.

Other investing apps like Sharesies, Hatch and Stake have already proven popular with Kiwis. Sugar Wallet aims to make things even simpler.

Last month a New Zealand Financial Services report found only 39 percent of Kiwis understood the different approaches and strategies for investing money, and fewer than 30 percent knew of the current market themes or trends.

When asked if it was something a financial advisor would tell you, Soni said yes but not everyone can afford a financial advisor.

"It goes back to this idea that good money habits are only for the elite and only people with rich parents."

After surveying hundreds of Kiwis, Soni and Ritchie realised helping people start an investing habit was the most effective way they could improve their financial situation.

Seventy percent of New Zealanders use banks as their primary source of savings. These entrepreneurs say the problem with that is that means their finances are actually going backwards.

The savings account you have with the bank is actually costing you money. If you had $1000 in your bank account at the start of last year, by the end of the year with 5.9 percent inflation the $1000 was actually worth $941.00.

Ritchie knows they'll still need to change a generational reliance on banks to attract customers.

"I think with any fintech startup what you're trying to do is offer more choice and trying to help customers, giving them the best experience you can without them having to rely on just what their bank is doing."

University worker Elena Tang is saving for her retirement and recently become an investor after realising her bank account wasn't making her money. She says we need to be having more conversations around money.

"They can just try with maybe $100 and see where it takes them and once they see the benefits of it then maybe they will invest more."

With an estimated $17 trillion dollars of passive money sitting in bank accounts around the world and inflation rising globally, it's a conversation likely to be happening in many more homes.