The New Zealand Banking System – Strengths and Weaknesses

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New Zealand enjoys a modern and efficient banking system, one that is open and transparent, and easy to use. New Zealand banks, with one exception, are Australian-owned, which effectively makes them branches of their Australian parent banks.

This has turned out for the benefit of the New Zealand banking industry because as the Australian economy has remained very strong during the GFC, the banking system in both New Zealand and Australia has remained very liquid. In other words, New Zealand has to a large extent escaped the effects of the financial melt-down of the banking system that many Northern Hemisphere countries have experience over the last 5 or 6 years.

Employment has remained quite strong in Australia and New Zealand over the last 5 years, despite the recession, with unemployment peaking at around 7 % in New Zealand and 6 % in Australia. As a result, New Zealand banks have continued to lend during this period, enabling businesses access to bank finance, and home buyers to be able to buy housing. As a result, the property market has now returned to where it was 5 years ago, and continues to grow at a steady pace.

The other advantage of a strong banking system is that new immigrants to New Zealand have been able to enter the country under the business visa scheme which has been helped by banks being willing to provide loan finance of up to 50 % of the purchase price of a New Zealand business. This in turn has resulted in these new immigrants bringing money into the country, and this has helped our currency to remain quite high.

The flip-side of a strong New Zealand banking system, is that because interest rates have remained high by world standards (retail rates around 5 % / term deposits around 3 % ), this has contributed to a strong New Zealand currency that has made it harder for exporters to compete on the world stage. In fact the New Zealand dollar has appreciated against most other currencies – for example about 80 % against the US dollar, over the last 30 years. This has made it easier for New Zealand banks to attract funds from the likes of Japanese pension funds where bank deposit rates are much lower (around zero).

Economists remain quite bullish towards the New Zealand economy for the above reasons, but also for the fact that it is a well-governed, progressive and diversified economy, with agriculture as its mainstay. In fact New Zealand’s ability to produce high-quality food products puts it in a strong position to take advantage of the increasing wealth of Asia and their growing demand for food. This is likely to cause the New Zealand banking industry to remain in good heart for the foreseeable future. If you are looking to immigrate to New Zealand and needing to transfer money into New Zealand, we are able to help you with this.

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