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Top 5 Financial Tips

 

Top 5 Financial tips 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

  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

                              teaching them young 4

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

disputes resolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 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

Seasons Greetings to all


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

Accuro

0800 222 876

http://www.accuro.co.nz

AIA

0800 800 242

http://www.aia.co.nz

AMP

0800 808 267

http://www.amp.co.nz

Asteron

0800 737 101

http://www.asteronlife.co.nz

Fidelity Life

0800 882 288

http://www.fidelitylife.co.nz

NIB

0800 123 642

http://www.nib.co.nz

Partners Life

0800 145 433 

 http://www.partnerslife.co.nz

Southern Cross

0800 800 181

http://www.southerncross.co.nz

Sovereign

0800 500 103

http://www.sovereign.co.nz

Vero Claims

0800 800 134

https://www.vero.co.nz/claims

Group Insurance Schemes

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.

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What is Rogaining?

 

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.Rogaine

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

https://wickedrogaines.nz/

http://www.rogaine.org.nz/main/HomepageBody.htm

 

 

 

Level Premiums - what is this about?

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.

level verse stepped

 

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

Accuro for kids 1                                         

 

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?

 

logo booster

 

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% 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% 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.

The Benefits of Mortgage Protection

 

house mortgage protection

 

Your home is your castle. But what would happen if you lost your job or became disabled due to injury or illness? How long could you continue to pay your mortgage? Life insurance isn’t enough. Anyone who has a mortgage should consider mortgage protection insurance. The primary difference between mortgage protection insurance is that it covers your mortgage repayments and Income protection insurance covers your annual wages.

 

 

 

No offsets


Unlike normal Income Protection, there will be NO income offsets on the mortgage repayment amount insured. This means you could receive both ACC and your mortgage repayments while you are off work – potentially seeing you receive more money whilst off work than when you were at work!

Optional redundancy cover

Most Mortgage Protection policies offer an option to insure yourself against redundancy. Income protection rarely pays for loss of income if the reason for the lost income is unemployment due to redundancy

Recent changes

You don’t need a mortgage to use this benefit anymore – this is an option for people renting. They will cover up to 40% of your income, recognizing people may still have to be paying rent.

We welcome you to contact your adviser, to ask if this would be a suitable option for your situation and we will be happy to assist.

Children's Trauma

IMG 2662

 

Children‘s trauma insurance cover is designed to ease the financial pressure on families.

Benefits are often spent on medical treatment, rehabilitation, replacing income if a parent takes time off work, or to take the family on holiday, during what is often a very stressful time for them.

Unfortunately, we can't prevent childhood sicknesses. However, additional money may minimise the financial stress you and your family may suffer, especially if you have to cease work to be with your child.  

If you have children don’t miss out on this opportunity.

40+ Learn how you could save on your premiums

Generally premiums start off low and increase over time. As you get into your mid to late 40's the premiums start to take off and continue to increase as you are more likely to suffer from cancer, stroke, heart attack or even premature death. This is called stepped premiums.

Stepped Premiums are good when you need a high level of cover for the short term i.e. you have a large mortgage, have children that are still dependent on you financially and need affordable premiums. As you get older it is important to review these options and look at levelling some or all of your cover.

Level Premiums are fixed for specified period of time. Premiums start off higher than stepped premiums but quickly become less expensive as they are guaranteed never to increase due to age. Over the long term Level Premiums will save you thousands of dollars on your insurance premiums. It does require long term thinking and a commitment upfront ie you are paying more than you have to now (opportunity cost) but you will see the benefit in the long term. As shown in the graph:

stepped v level

 

In the example the insured would have paid a staggering $414,000 less in premiums by choosing level over stepped by age 79.
Level premiums are a good fit for those that would like to keep some level of life insurance after age 60 that is affordable. Reasons for this could include debt repayment, retirement savings boost, legacy/inheritance, tax liabilities, estate liquidity, funeral expenses etc.

Please contact us if you are interested in discussing this further.

Your Financial Check up!

 

 Preparing for Big Life Changes

A financial health check-up can help establish your current financial situation along with identifying any strengths and weaknesses in your current financial protection plans. To help you be prepared for your insurance review, take the next few minutes to think about the following:

• Increased your mortgage(s) and or changed homes?
• Separated from your Partner or Spouse? Entered into a new relationship?
• Had more children? Had children turn 21?
• Are your children under 18? You may be entitled to FREE children's trauma.
• Changed occupation including becoming self-employed?
• Had a pay increase or decrease?
• Stopped smoking?
• Further discussion on fixed/level premium options for those over 45?
• Had a change in health that may trigger a removal of an exclusion or loading on your insurances?
• Would like further discussion on KiwiSaver?
• Discuss a CPI (inflation) increase of $5,000 without having to complete any paperwork?
• Would like further discussion on Retirement planning?

If you have answered YES to any of these questions it maybe time for a financial review.  Contact your adviser or phone the office on 03 3602001

UK Pension Transfers

UK to NZ 1

 

Over the years, there have been many changes to what can be done with Pension Transfers and these changes are to continue in the future.

Numerous funds closed to new business as they could not fit within the guidelines set by HMRC, such as the AMP Retail Superannuation. This is now a locked scheme with funds available from either age 55 or age 65.

Then Kiwisaver was no longer available to transfer into as this did not meet the requirements of HMRC due to first home withdrawals and hardship withdrawals being available. These funds are available at age 65.

Investment platforms currently available have to use 70% of the transferred value to provide a lifetime annuity, same as available in the original pension schemes. The additional funds and interest earned can be withdrawn from age 55.

This is to change on December 1st with current investments becoming unavailable to new clients, but new clients will be under new rules.

The new rules are under the regulations of New Zealand Authorities rather than UK authorities. This also means a reduction in the amount that can be withdrawn at age 55.

If you have friends, family or colleagues that have private pensions still in the UK, it would be a good time for them to contact me to discuss the benefits for transferring to New Zealand and also the possibility of still being under the current options.

This will mean contacting me in the next few weeks to get discussions and transfer requests in place to initiate the process before December. This means more funds may be available at age 55 than with the new scheme after December.

How much will retirement cost?

Will you be able to afford a loaf of bread or a pint of milk in your retirement?
This year’s Money Week theme was based on how much you will spend on groceries in retirement.  Over the week people were asked to estimate how much they would need for groceries over the 30 years they might spend in retirement.

Bread and Butter of Retirement

kiwisaver

This year’s Money Week theme was based on how much you will spend on groceries in retirement. Over the week people were asked to estimate how much they would need for groceries over the 30 years they might spend in retirement. The commission's David Boyle said: "Only 11 per cent guessed correctly at between $250,000 and $300,000. More than two thirds underestimated, and nearly a third of those thought it would be less than $100,000."

Because we are living longer our money also has to last longer. Having KiwiSaver makes it easier for us to save for our futures, the trick is to make sure our income last as long as we do once we stop working.

Your adviser can assist you with your retirement plan and will give you an idea of how much you will need to save so you can still afford your groceries in retirement.

Blog

The Changing Face of Technology

 

The other day one of our advisers asked me to text a client to remind them of several requirements which were still outstanding in terms of insurance underwriting.

“TEXT” a client!!!!

Look how far we have come. Technology has had a definite impact on the way we conduct everything in life. In the ‘good old days’ which in truth really weren’t that long along. people did all their business locally. Trips were regularly made to banks, lawyers, accountants even financial advisers. Ledger books and cheques were used and that mysterious thing call cash was actually carried.

Let me ask you a few simple questions when was the last time you entered an actual bank???? Do you have any cash in your wallet???

Nowadays those who do not have a cell phone/laptop/ipad or the latest technology gadget are considered dinosaurs, old fashioned and backwards. Business has changed. You can sit at home wearing sweat pants and runners whilst emailing your financial adviser, manage investments at a click of a button, talk to people on the other side of the world but just sound so clear that you would think they were in the next room or conduct business at 3am when overseas markets are just waking up.

Does this technological approach to life carry with it the personal touch? Or is it impersonal ?

Here at Ark Financial Group we have embraced technology. In our office alone there are 6 cell phones all with internet capability, but nevertheless we still have a wireless network. So what’s next for Ark? An app to download for smart phones? The added ability to work out quotes on the run. What about 3D imaging on your adviser? So at review time they pop up and go through your current covers??

As long as there is imagination – technology will keep changing.


Covered and not just with a blanket

 

Within days of bringing home from the hospital my new-born daughter I got her added to our health insurance. Is this something that everyone thinks about or only me because I have a background in insurance? I didn’t want to get into a situation when we would have to wait for to have surgery or get medical treatment.

 

Health care in New Zealand isn’t what it once was. Somehow in the last few years the words such as ‘waiting lists’ and ‘ACC’ have creaped into our vocabulary’s. Those who are not willing to go on the ‘waiting lists’ have been known to take loans, re-mortgage properties to get the medial care they need. Then they spend years trying to pay off these loans. Otherwise you sit on the waiting list and wait and wait …

 

My question to you is – is it worth all this stress? When all it took me was 5 minutes on the phone and bam my daughter was covered under our policy.

 

My gift to my daughter is knowing she is covered and not just with a blanket.