Top 5 Financial Tips

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

  1. Earn more than you spend
  2. Have an emergency fund
  3. Identify your financial goals then make a plan of how and when you will achieve them
  4. Identify your strengths and weaknesses in your financial behaviour, i.e.: spender/saver
  5. If finances are not your thing, find help or education

A key to success in life is having control of your finances. If you achieve this, you are likely to feel financially healthier, reduce stress and be on your way to having a wealthier future.

Earn more than you spend or spend less than you earn. It seems obvious either way! Last year on average, New Zealanders spent $1.05 for every dollar they earned. Thus, many Kiwis are going backwards, so how can we become more financially resilient?
It’s time to get back to basic principles behind wealth: Planning well, living below your means, saving a small part of your income, investing wisely and protecting your wealth.
Planning well starts with a budget – whether you use the envelope system or a phone app, a budget is the most important tool you can use to spend less and save more. Saving a small part of your income for your financial future, even if it is only KiwiSaver. Investing this money wisely is where a wealthier future begins.

Having an Emergency Fund: A reserve of money to fall back on when difficulties arise and, financially, times are tough. A good amount to set aside is what you would currently spend to replace your car if needed.
The benefits to building an emergency fund are limitless. Scott Pape (The Barefoot Investor) calls this your ‘Mojo’ fund, it is a good description, not only are the benefits tangible but mentally your well-being is set to benefit greatly. Anxiety that often brews in time of financial difficulties will be significantly reduced.

For further help or advice on financial planning, please feel free to contact your adviser.

How to Teach Children Good Money Habits

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

As my daughter went through her childhood, I unflinchingly exposed her to the power of spending but kept other important aspects like earning and saving unknowingly hidden away. This created an unrealistic impression that my flashy silver (credit) card magically paid for all her heart desired.

It is now time to teach her some life lessons on money…

There are many approaches a parent can take, some feel that leading a disciplined and frugal life is the right way to teach them the value of money. Other parents reward with cash or treats for good behaviour or teach them the concepts like earning and saving.

Experts say that there is no right or wrong way of teaching the value of money and if parents keep relating everything to money that the message will travel to the child.

Teaching children about money can start as early as six or seven years old, even if it is just a piggy bank and they are encouraged to save for something they want.

This can then move on to opening a bank account and eftpos card at age 13 (or older) and allowing them to handle their own money and track their expenses.

At around 16, as they grow into young adults, encourage them to look for a part-time job. With the money they earn, teach them financial management skills such as budgeting, investing, inflation and the power of compound interest. Talk to them about KiwiSaver and the importance of saving for the future.

Most financial institutions claim that our young adults only believe in spending and are not interested in saving. They say young adults today are influenced by social media and advertising, that focuses on living the good life and instant gratification. It is for this reason that financial literacy needs to start early on in life; the earlier you start the sooner they will have good money habits.

Complaints Procedure

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

If you are dissatisfied in any way with the Ark Financial Group service, we want to know about it. We want to get it right for you. We have a formal internal complaint handling process and will try to reach a satisfactory resolution with you as soon as possible. Please contact 03 360 2001 and you can make your complaint verbally, by email or letter to PO Box 20-335 Bishopdale 8543.

We will acknowledge your complaint within 2 working days and try to resolve your complaint within 10 working days. We may need to ask you for further information or agree on an extension if the issue is complex or there are issues outside our control.

If we cannot agree on a resolution you can contact our office for the contact details of the independent external dispute resolution scheme for your adviser.  They will investigate your complaint and work to facilitate an agreed resolution.  If this is not possible the Scheme may make a formal decision which is binding on Ark Financial Group, but not unless you accept the decision. The process is free to you and the Scheme will assist you to lodge your complaint.

Insurance and Financial Services Ombudsman (IFSO)

Financial Disputes Resolution Service (FDRS)

Contact details for Insurance Providers

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Need to contact your insurance provider urgently. Please see a list below:

Accuro 0800 222 876
AIA 0800 800 242
AMP 0800 808 267
Asteron 0800 737 101
Fidelity Life 0800 882 288
NIB 0800 123 642
Partners Life 0800 145 433
Southern Cross 0800 800 181
Sovereign 0800 500 103
Vero Claims 0800 800 134

Group Insurance Schemes

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Group insurance for employees in New Zealand is much less common than typically found overseas. A leading reason for this is our strong public health system, social benefits and ACC which is near unique to New Zealand.
The most common form of group insurance here, is health insurance. Many leading companies provide this for their staff, with benefits of:

  • enabling treatment to be done in a timely fashion, avoiding waiting lists, thus returning to work sooner
  • saving staff insurance costs through group discounts
    giving a benefit to staff and family members that some couldn’t get themselves due to pre-existing conditions
  • staff retention
  • healthier work places

One employer who started a scheme this year was blown away by the feed-back from staff. In three cases, a family member was then immediately able to go and get the treatment they had been waiting for, after been on the public waiting list for over a year and all medical costs covered. The employees were able to get their quality of life and dignity back. The staff were so grateful for the life changing benefit.

At Ark, we can help you or your employer to investigate the options for your work place with a number of providers; with groups now starting from as low as 5 members, small to medium businesses can benefit also.

Please contact your adviser to discuss further, we are keen to help.

What is Rogaining?

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Rogaine is a sport for the newbie and the gurus, with distances and level of difficulty to suit all players.  It is run all year round with different events around Canterbury and New Zealand.

In Rogaining each team is made up of 2-5 people and you must find as many checkpoints as possible in the time frame available.  Each checkpoint is allocated points (depending on the level of difficulty) and at the end of the time your points are added up and the team with the most points wins.

Teams travel on foot, although bike rogaining is gaining in popularity, navigating by map and compass to find the checkpoints.  You travel at your own pace so is great fun for all the family and on the smaller courses a high level of compass and navigation ability is not required.

Wicked Rogaines offers a 1 or 2-hour option in the evening held on the Port Hills. Also, on the Port Hills is the Spring Rogaine a 3-6 hour and for a real challenge you can venture out into the longer 12-24 hours courses.

If you want to know more on Rogaining please visit the following websites:

Level Premiums – what is this about?

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

There are a number of insurance covers that offer both Level or Stepped (rate for age) options. Life and Trauma are the main ones we think of. When we take out personal cover there are a number of considerations that our advisers will discuss with you. Firstly, the type of cover must suit your current needs, your age and the purpose it has been designed for. Importantly, it must also be affordable and this is where the services of your adviser are invaluable as they can give you quotes against both stepped and levelled options.

While you will always find that quoted ‘Stepped’ premiums are always cheaper than ‘Level’, the key question that you and your advisor must consider is that of affordability over time. Industry statistics are showing that clients with stepped cover are more often cancelling their cover before they are most likely to claim; due to affordability, as year by year, premiums continue to rise.

The question for you as a client to consider is. . . Do you want to have a satisfactory level of cover as you go through your fifties and sixties and how can this be made affordable and sustainable over time? If you are able to achieve this for both your Life and Trauma cover, then you are more likely to find that once you retire and your monthly income is drastically reduced, that you will have a suitable level of insurance cover that can be maintained and affordable well into retirement, at the very age that you are most likely to need the cover.

Fixing or levelling your Life and Trauma premiums will ensure that you can achieve this. The downside of this is that should you wish to maintain your current level of cover, a Level’ premium will cost you more. Conversely, you can maintain the same premium, but you will have to accept a reduced level of cover.

Thus the final question that you need to consider is how do you manage your risks and costs over time? You will find that at a younger age, the cheaper ‘Stepped’ premiums may be the best option, but at some point you may need to consider switching some ‘Stepped’ premiums to ‘Level’, so that by the time you retire you just have Level affordable premiums left.

It needs thinking about and your adviser is there to help you.

So please do make contact with us and ask for a review.

Kidsmart Health Cover

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

What is Kidsmart?

Kidsmart is a health insurance policy designed with children in mind. We wanted to create a policy that caters for young people and their needs. Unlike most health insurance, KidSmart provides insurance cover for children, without the child being attached to an adult’s policy. KidSmart is a special policy that parents, grandparents or guardians can gift to their children, grandchildren or dependents without taking out cover for themselves.

What are the key benefits?

  • Pay for no more than two children on your policy
  • Free for babies up to six months of age- no premiums or underwriting
  • Loyalty benefit of $150 towards exercise-activity
  • Loyalty benefit for release of tongue/lip tie
  • Loyalty benefit to see an audiologist, allergist, paediatrician or respiratory specialist
  • General surgery up to $500,000 per year
  • Major diagnostic procedures up to $500,000 per year
  • Mental health benefit up to $500 per year

Who can be on Kidsmart?
You can add as many children as you like onto KidSmart but they must be added before they turn 16. They can then remain on the KidSmart policy until they turn 25. A legal guardian needs to hold the policy on behalf of dependants but this person won’t be covered by the policy.

How can someone gift a KidSmart policy?
If someone wants to gift the policy, then they just need to set up the payment details accordingly. The legal guardian on the policy will still be ultimately responsible for ensuring payment of premiums.

What is the cost?
The cost for KidSmart hospital and surgical base plan is just $24 a month. The specialist module can be added for just $8 per month.

Win a $100 voucher with Sleep Store
We have partnered with Sleep Store for the launch of KidSmart. Anyone who you sign up can go into the draw to win one of two $100 vouchers for Sleep Store. Just enter the promo code at the time of application. Your promo code is AV0317. Entries need to be in by 31 May 2017.

How are markets affected by President Trump?

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

Donald Trump’s confirmation as the next US president is now sinking in to a bemused world, but what does this mean for investment markets?

At the time of writing, newspaper headlines are still talking about markets “plunging”, although this turned out to be far from the truth. Many markets saw a short, sharp drop (blink and you missed it) before quickly recovering. The United States share market rose 1{07fabe19bcb0a5feb753c282254629c4216624d1bab5b4aa05d46841f923b8d4} on the day.

Heading into the election, investment markets have preferred Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, with Hillary generally seen as more a “business as usual” outcome than Trump’s policies. But while Trump has his share of controversial policies, we need to remember that the United States political machine is not a one-man system. Split responsibilities between the US senate, House of Representatives, and executive mean that there are checks and balances in place, with the more extreme outcomes likely to be revised or watered down. Already, we have also seen signs of a more “presidential” Donald Trump in his acceptance speech, than the days of political campaigning.

The general theme of his policies has some positives for the US economy. It’s likely that we’ve (finally!) seen the end of “austerity” in the US, with promised spending on infrastructure to come – whether or not this is fully implemented. This is supportive for share markets, even at the cost of some upward pressure on interest rates, which will be guiding our decision making on fixed interest investments. We will likely see more clarity on international policies in the months to come, with pre-election promises better seen as a general tone than hard details.

How much does politics matter anyway?

Stepping back, while policymakers do matter, in general it is helpful to remember that economics “trumps” politicians. United States shares have risen over 100{07fabe19bcb0a5feb753c282254629c4216624d1bab5b4aa05d46841f923b8d4} during the past seven years, but largely not because Barack Obama was in office. Larger market forces (a gradual global economic recovery, and lower interest rates) have driven the outcome. At the other end of the spectrum, Australia has gone through five prime ministers during Obama’s two presidential terms – and the Australian economy has still grown steadily.

While investment markets were initially rattled by Trump’s victory, ultimately, most events like this tend to run the risk of distracting from a long term approach to investing. For most investors, what happens over 5-10 years matters a lot more than what matters day to day. Keeping an eye firmly on that goal is the most important thing that most of us can do.

Portfolio Update
Most investment funds pleasingly have positive gains still in place over the past 6-12 months, despite a small decline in October and November, heading into the election.
Our actively managed share portfolios have continued to outperform the NZ, Australian and global share markets over the past three months, while market returns have been weaker.
We have increased the allocation to less expensive “value” stocks in global share markets. This decision is so far off to a positive start and we expect it to help support returns over the next 3-5 years.

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