NZers' confidence in markets remains relatively upbeat on economic stability: FMA survey

About 84 percent of survey respondents had at least one investment in New Zealand's markets. Photo: Getty Images

New Zealanders' confidence in the country's financial markets dipped a touch but stayed relatively upbeat in an increasingly uncertain and volatile environment, with people largely comfortable about the stability of markets and the economy, a Financial Markets Authority survey shows.

Some 62 percent of 1,011 people surveyed by Buzz Channel are either fairly or very confident in New Zealand's financial markets, down from 65 percent a year earlier, but still higher than the previous four years, the survey shows. The FMA commissioned survey again shows a stark divide between investors and non-investors, with 66 percent of investors confident in the local markets and just 41 percent of non-investors upbeat.

The most common reason for being confident was that markets are doing well or are stable, at 16 percent, followed by general positivity or a lack of bad news at 14 percent, and 10 percent pointing to a stable economy. Of those without confidence, some 19 percent said they had a lack of faith generally, with 15 saying they didn't follow markets, and 11 percent were generally uncertain.

"Investor sentiment and market performance have typically driven some of the scores in this survey," chief executive Rob Everett said in a statement. "It is heartening to see that confidence, while dipping slightly, has been broadly stable in the event of significant issues both offshore and in local financial services."

The regulator's survey matches similar stability in ASB Bank's latest investor confidence report, which increased to a net 21 percent optimism in the June quarter from 20 percent in March. Like consumer confidence, ASB's gauge of investor sentiment has remained relatively upbeat in contrast to the growing pessimism among businesses, and Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters has taken to pointing to recent records on the S&P/NZX 50 index as a better gauge of business sentiment.

About 84 percent of survey respondents had at least one investment in New Zealand's markets, with KiwiSaver the most common at 63 percent. Still, KiwiSaver-only investors were less knowledgeable about investment principles such as diversifying a portfolio and understanding that a bigger return typically accompanies a higher risk.

About two-thirds of investors received investment materials, although just 55 percent found them useful in making an informed decision, a level which has been relatively static over the six-year life of the annual survey.

Awareness of the regulator was stable at 41 percent, although confidence that markets were being effectively regulated shrank to 55 percent from 66 percent a year earlier, with a 9 percentage point increase in people saying they didn't know. The FMA survey said that swing was probably down to a change in how the question was asked.