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KiwiSaver - ready or not?

One person that has reviewed the default provider tender document said this of it: "No provider will be able to do any meaningful analysis on the information nor the infrastructure required to participate based on what they have provided." I guess he was feeling quite frustrated by it. Perhaps a more generous interpretation is that the document still deals with likely interactions at a high level and does not yet envisage a detailed technical solution to the interactions required.

More warnings for depositors

My heart was in my mouth as I spoke to a broker who reviewed a client's portfolio to find every penny of a couple's savings (in fact all of their equity as they were saving for a home) invested with a rickety finance company. S & P sounds again a good warning. It will be interesting to see which finance companies survive our so-called 'soft-landing'. This is the deceptiveness of averages - for 'the average of all of us' it will be 'soft' - but inidividual experience will range from awful to brilliant. Try asking a National Finance creditor how soft the landing is.

Bling for Blogs

The market is marvellously busy - and we are keen on that. One thing can be said for regulation, it keeps us all busy... whether those things are encessarily the most productive remains to be seen.

However, I have had little time for blogging, except to add the daily cartoon for your enjoyment to the sidebar. See you soon!

KiwiSaver at the Finance and Expenditure Committee

On Wednesday Phillip Matthews and I presented to the Finance and Expenditure committee, on the subject of KiwiSaver. Like other presenters we identified some core problems: the delay in the commencement of deductions, the need for a focus on electronic systems (rather than paper), and the difficulty of making the timing also dependent on QCIV tax changes.

However, we were surprised that other submissions did not cover in any detail two otherr key requirements - those of the customer.

The first is for advice:

Advice is needed. Consumers find it hard to work out what they should save, for how long, and where to  invest it for maximum benefit. These areas need to be addressed, and they are necessarily individual decisions. The answers will vary depending on the personal circumstances of the saver.

We are told that employers will have to do nothing but give a pack of information to the employee.

Yet, when we raise the issue of advice we are told - 'won't employers get advice for their worksites...' this, is in fact a great fear for employers: they either become unpaid advisers taking on a dangerous risk in providing amateur financial advice - or, they are required to buy advice and grant time for its provision.

The other issue is the risk of a lack of transparency:

For a variable, yet lengthy, period of time consumers funds will be held by the IRD. They may not know who their default provider is, precisely who has their fund, or precisely what the value of those funds is. This is likely to create a problem for the customer, who likes to know such things. Providing in the legislation protection for fund managers against reconciliation problems with the IRD is a useful last defence against discrepancies - but it will not help deal with calls from upset clients.

Soccer World Cup

Getting people to put their money where their mouths are is a time-honoured approach for creating forecasts of probability from disparate opinions.

What has this to do with the soccer world cup - well, www.tradesports.com has an impressive track record predicing events through tradable options.

According to Tradesports, England has its best chance in years of taking out the world cup. Behind Brazil, and neck and neck with Germany.

Enjoy, link is here.

Gadget Confessions

I just drifted through Half-pie again, which I am always delighted with, to find that I was mentioned in dispatches. But it seems I owe Alan an apology - while I may generally encourage paying down the home loan or investing the funds, I am partial to the odd gadget, and my own I-mate JAMin has been the latest addition. I am pleased with it - I still love the feel of Fran's Palm Tungsten (no dirty innuendo please) better than the MS gadget, but Palm's only offer combined with a phone is the Treo, which has a keypad rather than a stylus based interface.

Great Economists

Great economists have always been great observers, happier plying their trade watching the town square than bashing away at a computer terminal. Now that Gareth Morgan seems to be spending more time looking about the place he's continuing that fine tradition. This time drawing a link between over-regulation and discourtesy. A principles-based system will always be better than a rules-based system. Read here.