Money and Wellbeing

Friday, February 12th, 2021

Wellbeing: a broad spectrum of human experiences normally associated with health, happiness and contentment.  But too often the financial aspect of wellness is forgotten. Yet, financial stress can make us think and act in a variety of ways effecting happiness, relationships, health, and other poor choices.   So, what can New Zealanders do to improve their financial wellbeing?

A study organised by the Financial Services Council, in 2020, highlighted how getting professional financial advice helped improved New Zealander’s confidence, knowledge and overall wellbeing.  New Zealanders who did seek professional advice were able to weather difficult and unanticipated events and that these New Zealanders travelled more, saved more and overall had more.  The study found that the average Kiwisaver balance was 52% higher when receiving advice and, also more likely to have more personal risk protection such as life, critical illness and income protection compared to those who do not seek advice.

There are key areas that professional financial advice has contributed, which include helping to invest money, manage and grow wealth and plan for retirement.  In addition, respondents also mentioned how getting professional financial advice helped with managing personal risk, budgeting advice and how to manage cashflow.

Many key findings illustrated that more than twice as many New Zealanders that take professional financial advice rated their financial wellbeing as high or very high compared to with those who do not take professional financial advice.

The research also found that those who do not receive professional financial advice do so because they do not think they have enough assets/wealth to need professional advice or that professional financial advice is too expensive, or they cannot afford it.  Even though 75% of the people surveyed said that financial wellbeing has some or more influence over their overall wellbeing they will still not seek help or see the benefit of getting it.

How will using the services at Ark Financial Group improve your financial wellbeing?

  • For us, at Ark, it starts with communication. It is our responsibility to have in depth and trusted discussions with our clients around their financial and life goals
  • Thoughtful planning – a road map to your financial success. A personal Financial plan that will guide you on your path to Financial wellbeing
  • Empowering our clients with purpose, practical financial knowledge and confidence with their financial health
  • Ongoing support – your financial check-up.   Your financial plan should be a well-reviewed document that becomes a reality check: Does your plan still match your financial goals?  Are there other circumstances that should be considered?
  • We offer coaching programs working on multiple facets of clients’ financial lives; preparing them to be money-wise, educated and financially resilient. A program that helps our clients beyond their individual financial wellbeing.

If you would like to take that important step and discuss your financial wellness with one of our advisers or know someone that could benefit from our service or one of our coaching programs, then please contact us now.

To learn more about the Financial Services Council click here

To read more on the study: Money and You – Financial Services Council

 This article is for general information only and should not be taken as advise.  Please see our experts page to contact your adviser.
A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.

Non-pharmac drugs – what is the risk to you?

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Lately, there has been a lot of media coverage about New Zealanders facing life threating illnesses and not being able to afford the medication they need because their medications are not on Pharmac’s funding list.  In New Zealand, there are many more medications on the Medsafe approved list than there are on the Pharmac list. Pharmac cannot fund all ‘wonder’ drugs as and when they become available – so how does Pharmac decide which medications to fund?

After Medsafe approve a new medication but before Pharmac include it in their funding there are four factors for consideration:

  1. Need
  2. Health benefits
  3. Cost and savings and
  4. Suitability

Pharmac must also agree on a deal with a medical supplier and have the budget to pay for it now and in future years.

If you are someone needing treatment from a non-pharmac drug – then it could be too late.  Acting early, by taking out a medical policy that covers you for non-pharmac medicines – that is guaranteed – may save you from significant medical costs in the future.

For some people the risk is real, so what can you do about it?

Today, there are health insurance policies available in New Zealand that you can include in your personal risk management plan that will provide medical cover for Medsafe-approved medication that is not currently funded by Pharmac. This means you can have access to the treatment you need, when you need it, whether it is funded by Pharmac or not.

Is the guarantee worth the extra cost?  By having the guarantee, you remove the insurer’s ability to do away with bits of your policy without your consent.

It can seem all a bit too complicated and overwhelming, so we recommend that you talk to your adviser, as not all health insurance policies include non-pharmac drugs and those that do, offer different levels of cover.  There are also other options such as Critical care/Trauma insurance and Cancer care, which provide a lump sum that can be used to help fund non-pharmac drugs.

Contact us today for more information or a quote or go to our specialist page for your adviser.

Click here for more information on Pharmac’s processes.

This article is for general information only and should not be taken as advise.  Please see our experts page to contact your adviser.
A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.

Is your KiwiSaver fund on course to help you meet your retirement goals or does it need some TLC?

Thursday, November 5th, 2020

KiwiSaver has been with us for over 13 years.  In this time, have you ever wondered how your KiwiSaver has stacked up against the other KiwiSaver funds available?  Having your hard-earned savings in a poor performing fund instead of a high performing one may have cost you thousands of dollars.

There is a lot to think about when sorting out your KiwiSaver fund and getting it wrong can be costly.  There are a few common mistakes you can avoid that can improve the return on your fund:

  1. Choosing the right KiwiSaver Fund Manager: Whilst past performance is no indicator of future performance, some fund managers are just not up to it and haven’t been for years.   It’s hard!  Being able to pick a consistently high performing fund manager without access to research and performance tools makes it hard for the everyday investor.
  2. Choosing the wrong fund: The key objective when determining the appropriate fund is to maximise your return for any given level of risk. Kiwisaver funds are grouped according to their varying levels of risk, these can range from low, medium and high.   Understanding your risk profile, your time horizon then investing your money appropriately will be the biggest determinate of returns for your Kiwisaver account.
  3. Fees: Are you paying too much in fees?  Knowing what you are paying in fees in relation to your returns can impact on your fund’s performance – the higher the fees the lower the returns.
  4. Are you contributing enough? Firstly, are you investing at least $1,042.86 per year to receive the maximum Government contribution.  Secondly, are you investing enough to meet your retirement goals.
  5. Tax: Knowing you are on the correct tax rate – if it is too high you will not get this refunded, however if you are not paying enough you may incur a tax bill.  So, it is worthwhile getting this right.


At Ark, we review many of the Kiwisaver fund managers on offer, researching their performance, fee structure and their risk return processes to determine which fund is best suited for you.  We have chosen the best performers in the Kiwisaver space to provide our valuable clients with great options from fund managers that have delivered outstanding performances consistently.  We will work with you to ensure you are contributing the right amount of money according to your retirement goals and that you are investing in the correct fund that is in line with your tolerance to risk.

Now, you have access to these award-winning performers and can turbo-charge your investment into fulfilling your retirement dreams. Act now and begin the journey to financial freedom with us.

Contact us

See our experts

Now is a good time to give yourself a financial check up!

Tuesday, October 6th, 2020

Policy Anniversary.  

Your policy, which forms part of your Risk Protection Plan will complete an anniversary very soon. Policy Anniversary entails changes in the sum insured, premium inflation adjustments and other relevant issues. More importantly, if you have had any changes in your circumstances, this needs to be reflected in your Risk Protection Plan.

Contact us

Retirement and Investment Planning
If you would like to review your investments or discuss your retirement options please contact me.

Optimiser Programme

For personalised financial coaching.  The Optimiser Programme will provide a supportive course to help you take control of your finances, so you can achieve your financial goals.

More on the programme

Would you like more insurance cover without the paperwork?

If you have life insurance, you may also be entitled to an additional CPI increase at your anniversary date.  This allows you to increase your benefit amount without health underwriting requirements.

Each year at your renewal is an opportunity for those clients who have experienced health issues and may find it difficult to get extra cover.

Read more…

Your Specialist

A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.


Say ‘Farewell’ to Bonus Bonds

Tuesday, September 1st, 2020

ANZ recently announced that it is winding up its Bonus Bond scheme, blaming low interest rates as the cause.  Ben Kelleher, ANZ’s Managing Director for Retail and Business Banking explains “Low interest rates have reduced the investment returns of the scheme which affects the size of the prize pool. It has now become apparent those trends are likely to continue in the medium term. The Official Cash Rate, currently at a historically low 0.25%, may fall further in early 2021 as the global economy grapples with the impacts of Covid-19.”

The scheme will continue to operate, with two more prize draws expected in September and October.  The ANZIS Board is likely to start winding up the scheme no later than the end of October.

What to do?

Investors have two choices:

  1. They can redeem their Bonus Bonds before the scheme starts to wind up, or
  2. Stay in the scheme and be entitled to a share of the remaining reserves, after expenses, when the scheme is wound up. During the wind up the remaining investments will be locked in, which may take up to 12 months.

In light of low interest rates, it is going to be a challenge for many Bonus bond investors to decide where to invest their savings now.  Looking for alternatives that will offer a higher-returns than bank term deposit rates can carry risk.  The FMA has taken the initiative and produced a handy booklet on Managed Funds and Exchange traded funds (also known as ETFs) called ‘Funds for Everyone’, which helps explain how they work and the kinds of returns you could expect.

Managed Funds offer a mix of shares, property, fixed interest and cash, which can then be allocated according to the level of risk you are willing to take – very similar to KiwiSaver.

Our team is happy to talk to clients who are investing for their retirement but are unsure where to put their Bonus Bond savings.  If you would like to grow your money in a diversified investment portfolio give us a call today or email your adviser.

For more on negative interest rates and investment diversification please read our article on Living with Negative Interest rates

This article is for general information only and should not be taken as advise.  Please see our experts page to contact your adviser.
A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.

Responsible Investing – The New Norm

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

Alarmed at the impact of companies damaging the environment, a new generation of investors are looking to support companies that fund future sustainability and social responsibility, citing an increased awareness of climate change as one of their reasons. With more availability and choice in New Zealand, people now have the power to choose, bringing about an increasing shift towards ethical and responsible investing by incorporating Environmental, Social and Governance issues into their investment decisions.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria are a group of standards used by social conscious investors to screen investments.  Investors may consider a number of different ESG factors, metrics and data when looking to adopt an ESG investing strategy as part of their investment portfolio. These factors typically include industry-specific key issues such as climate change, human capital and labour management, corporate governance, gender diversity, privacy, and data security, among others. Remy Briand, Managing Director of MSCI ESG explains ‘ESG investing is the consideration of environmental, social and governance factors alongside financial factors in the investment decision–making process.”

However, it takes time for a company to establish a strong ESG team culture that is capable of long-term initiatives, research, and development that results in strong ESG business fundamentals and that can also make a profit.  But as many large shareholder’s lobby companies for improvements in their ethical practices they are able to apply pressure for real change.

As more people realise that companies with a sustainable approach can also produce great profits and make your investments more resilient long-term – Responsible Investing is becoming the new norm.

If you would like to go one step further and talk to your adviser about Responsible Investing, please call our office or visit our contact us page.

This article is for general information only and should not be taken as advise.  Please see our experts page to contact your adviser.
A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.

A Changing Landscape

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

One of the big changes that we have seen as advisers over the past 5 years or so, is the regular merger/takeover activity of insurers in New Zealand. Not that long ago there where 9 Life insurers that we could place business with. Now with Resolution Life taking over AMP but not wanting new business, we are down to 5, and banks are also pulling back from life insurance.

What does this mean for you?

Other than making it a hard job just to keep up with the name of your insurer – it can mean that having a review is beneficial. For example with Insurers now trying to merge the products of two companies together, they basically need to take the best of both and price it fairly. What this can mean is that a new benefit with the same insurer has better features and pricing than your older one. Some insurers then allow you to move to the new product on request.

We welcome you to get in contact with us for a review of your covers, so you can be confident that your policy fits your circumstances and is delivering you the best.

This article is for general information only and should not be taken as advise.  Please see our experts page to contact your adviser.
A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.

Negative interest rate, and what would it mean for you?

Friday, August 14th, 2020

As New Zealand prepares for a second wave of Covid-19, the prospect that the Official Cash Rate (OCR) will fall below zero is now an increasing possibility.  A Negative OCR would be part of the RBNZ’s monetary package intended to help stimulate the economy in the wake of uncertainty, but such a decision will turn New Zealand’s financial world upside down.  ANZ chief economist Sharon Zollner describes it as turning “money into a hot potato”.  Although it is unlikely that the banks will charge a fee for having your money in a savings account, it would mean very little return if any.

Bank term deposits have always been considered low risk, but when your bank term deposits are offering zero returns what are the options to make your savings grow but minimise your risk?

Diversification – why it matters more than ever: a diversified investment portfolio of various assets that earns the highest return for the least risk. A typical diversified portfolio has a mixture of shares, fixed income, property and cash. It works because these assets react differently to the same economic event.

The goal of diversification is not to substantially increase performance or guarantee against losses. Diversification does, however, have the potential to improve returns for whatever level of risk you choose to target.

Achieving your long-term goals requires balancing risk and reward. Choosing the right mix of investments and then periodically rebalancing and monitoring your choices can make a big difference in your financial outcome.

To learn more about investing during volatile times, contact us today on 03 360 2001, email direct to one of our specialists or fill in our contact form.

This article is for general information only and should not be taken as advise.  Please see our experts page to contact your adviser.
A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.

Save $1,000’s on your life insurance

Thursday, August 13th, 2020

If you are on Stepped premiums, you may have noticed how your premiums keep increasing more and more each year.  They increase for two reasons:

  1. CPI, an increase that keeps your sum insured in line with inflation, which can be cancelled
  2. Age, premiums rise annually as your get older, known as ‘rate for age’.

The older you get the higher those premiums rise, until they become unaffordable and you feel forced to reduce your cover or cancel altogether.

But there are other options, such as Level premiums, which have the potential to save you $1,000’s.

Level term insurance structures your premiums, so they stay the same until the expiry age.  While this does increase the premiums in the early years, it has the potential to save you thousands over the term of the policy, making it a good option for a long-term strategy.

To get a basic understanding, here is a simple graph, showing how stepped premiums compare to level premiums.

To keep the costs down in the early years, there is also the option of having combinations of the two.

Deciding on which option to choose does come down to how long you will want to keep the policy and how much you can afford in those early years.

If you would like to know more, get a quote, or discuss the potential savings then please contact us today on 03 360 2001, email direct to one of our specialists or fill in our contact form.

This article is for general information only and should not be taken as advise.  Please see our experts page to contact your adviser.
A disclosure statement is available on request and is free of charge.
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