Start ask­ing

The old say­ing goes: if you don’t ask, you’ll never know. The same goes for your fi­nances.

Element - - BUSINESS - By Andy Ken­wor­thy

In days gone by there were only two ques­tions for bankers; “can I save my money with you?” or, “can I bor­row some money?” But West­pac, the 2011 NZI Sus­tain­able Busi­ness of the Year, and win­ner of the Trail­blazer, Large and Cor­po­rate Busi­ness Award and the Peo­ple’s Choice Award, is all ears for some­thing a bit more chal­leng­ing. The bank, which runs on an ethos of “help is what we do”, wants us to ask all the big ques­tions about money we can think of and might have been too shy to ask any­body else.

Re­search has shown that Ki­wis are quite re­luc­tant to ask those big ques­tions, and with­out talk­ing to peo­ple about our fi­nances we are un­likely to be able to make in­formed de­ci­sions about them and get the best out of life’s op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Cal­lum Wil­son, West­pac’s GM Strat­egy and Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence ex­plains: “In a re­cent sur­vey* we asked 750 New Zealan­ders a bunch of ques­tions about money and found we’re really quite re­luc­tant to talk about the im­por­tant money topics, like bud­get­ing, sav­ing, debt and re­tire­ment sav­ings. We would pre­fer to stick to safer topics like food, sport…and the weather. We also found that 44% of peo­ple strug­gling with money feel too em­bar­rassed to ask for as­sis­tance. Yet, the sooner we all start ask­ing the im­por­tant ques­tions about money, the sooner we can help with the an­swers, and we think we’ve got a big role to play in en­cour­ag­ing that.”

So whether you walk into one of West­pac’s 200 plus branches na­tion­wide or pick up the phone, you will get top qual­ity in­for­ma­tion built on West­pac’s 151 years in New Zealand bank­ing and the ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise needed to serve around 1.3 mil­lion cus­tomers.

Wil­son adds: “When it comes to some­thing as im­por­tant as money, there is no such thing as a silly ques­tion; the worst thing is to not be ask­ing any ques­tions at all.”

Learn all you need to know about get­ting the most from your money – for free!

If you want to learn more, the bank has been of­fer­ing its free Man­ag­ing Your Money fi­nan­cial ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme since 2006, and it’s now run by more than 131 West­pac fa­cil­i­ta­tors across the coun­try. There’s also an easy to use on­line tu­to­rial to teach you the fi­nan­cial fun­da­men­tals, as well as in­for­mal work­shops held ei­ther in-branch out­side of busi­ness hours or with lo­cal com­mu­nity groups, work­places or schools to help de­velop ef­fec­tive money man­age­ment skills. So far more than 63,000 peo­ple have taken part.

Wil­son said: “The success of the pro­gramme has led to us broad­en­ing its fo­cus be­yond just bud­get­ing and re­duc­ing debt. Now it in­cludes in­for­ma­tion on re­tire­ment sav­ing, in­clud­ing Ki­wiSaver, which can so of­ten seem daunt­ing and com­plex to the unini­ti­ated. You can really ask any­thing, and we will en­sure we try to help you with the an­swers or re­fer you to some­one who can as­sist.”

Hamish Kerr, se­nior busi­ness man­ager, Hast­ings, fa­cil­i­tat­ing a

Man­ag­ing your Money Work­shop for small busi­ness own­ers.

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