After years of trying, The Spinoff today launches Money – its newest section, one aimed at demystifying and making accessible the world of money.
For decades, the relationship between most New Zealanders and money was broadly stable, baked into a set of milestones it was assumed all aspired to and would achieve if they strived. You would leave school, get an apprenticeship or tertiary education, then a steady job with good prospects. Then marriage, a first home, a mortgage, children, all with regular pay increases and career advancements, ending in the security of a generous superannuation and a comfortable retirement. This was obviously a very Pākehā, hetero-normative worldview, but that’s what the government looked like too.
Then, all of a sudden, chaos reigned. The fourth Labour government, big tech, the GFC, student loans, the RMA and a whole lot more caused that safe ideal to shatter. Now we’re in a society which still acts like that linear progression to wealth and security still exists, while providing far fewer of its citizens the ability to achieve it.
Now that progression is broken, what do we have to replace it? That will be the foundation of The Spinoff’s money section – a way of understanding the world of money as it is today, rather than was in generations prior. That means understanding the importance of KiwiSaver, assessing the perils and promise of other investments, eyeing new products as they rise up, from cryptocurrencies to Afterpay, and generally trying to make the world of money far more accessible. Because regardless of how you feel about business or shares, if you have a KiwiSaver account, you’re almost certainly an investor, and it’s in your interest to look out for your future. Whatever your goals are, from starting a business, travelling, effecting social change to buying an apartment, you’ll be better equipped to achieve them if you’re more financially secure.
Crucially, the whole time we’ll do it without relying on prior knowledge. So much contemporary writing about money assumes that A) the world of mortgages and first homes (even property investment) is accessible to all and B) that everyone understands the jargon of finance. This creates a barrier over which only the most committed can climb. The Spinoff Money won’t do that. This is a ride we’ll go on together, explaining what terms mean and where they apply.
We also know that New Zealanders find conversations about money difficult culturally, which is another reason why we think stories read from the privacy of your screen are a very efficient way of conveying information in a way that doesn’t make anyone feel judged for what they do or don’t know. That’s in part why Jihee Junn will run our money section – a young and talented writer who has covered business for some years, yet still feels somewhat at sea about money.
She’ll go on a money journey along with her audience, much as the likes of Frances Cook and Richard Meadows have done before her. She’ll have experts to call on, and editors to check her work. But we think having someone young and from outside finance at the helm will make the coverage much more relatable.
We’ve been wanting to launch this section for years. It’s had a sense of mission about it – listen to ZB or read the business sections of newspapers and they’re full of advice columns and advertising from wealth management firms and their directors. Some of them are fantastic – I’ve read Brian Gaynor’s columns for years, and interviewed him for The Spinoff – but they all seem targeted at a very specific demographic. Put simply: older New Zealanders who already have money.
This seems like the compounding of an existing inequity – not only did many older New Zealanders have certain structural advantages, it feels like money managers are only interested in talking to, educating and having as customers those who are already comfortable. Which makes sense from a business perspective, but leaves further out in the cold those under 50, a large majority of our audience, who could most benefit from having good, smart, jargon-free writing on money.
We also see a huge business opportunity there for a brand that wants to cement a relationship with a generation through the beginning and middle of their working lives, not waiting at the end.
After years of searching, we finally found that partner in Kiwi Wealth. They’re the KiwiSaver provider and wealth management firm owned by the same people as Kiwibank, who’ve sponsored our business coverage for over two years. From our first meetings they felt different to some of the more established players in the sector, who humoured us when we talked about why younger people were a great audience, but didn’t get anywhere. Kiwi Wealth saw that creating financial literacy amongst younger people was a public good that would also be a business benefit for them. Here’s how Joe Bishop, Kiwi Wealth’s GM customer, product and innovation, puts it.
“For many New Zealanders, talking finance can be really intimidating – or just plain boring. As a result, some people know a lot about managing their money, others very little. We want to help fill the gaps and make the subject of financial wellness accessible, even interesting because being savvy about money is an important part of reaching your goals in life.
“Taking the mystery out of things like investing and saving by sharing our knowledge is important to Kiwi Wealth. We see the Spinoff as an important platform to reach and engage with New Zealanders in a way that’s upfront, open and ongoing.”
They’re with us all the way on this. Once a month we’ll work with them on a story we collaboratively commission, and is subject to our normal editorial processes. The rest of the time we’ll write editorial at our own discretion, covering the breadth of what the word money can mean. We hope you’ll enjoy it. If you have any story ideas or feedback, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re looking forward to following the money, together.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.