20 February 2012

Residential red zone property owners offered free financial advice

Help is at hand for Canterbury’s residential red zone property owners who need to make important financial decisions, with a new free individual financial advice consultation service now available.

The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust has funded the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income (formerly the Retirement Commission) to set up a financial advice service which provides residential red zone property owners with access to qualified professional financial advisers for free one-on-one financial advice consultations.

The free financial advice consultations will be held at the CERA earthquake hubs at Kaiapoi and Avondale with the first appointments available from late February.

Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan says the service was developed because professional financial advice was identified as a significant gap in the free support and services available to residential red zone property owners.  The free consultations are designed to help people understand their financial position and options.

“Everybody’s situation is different, along with their goals and ideas about where and how they want to live. The financial decisions red zone residents will be making will be some of the biggest decisions of their lives.  The opportunity to talk their individual financial issues and concerns through with a professional adviser one-on-one could help them make the best financial decisions for their situation. 

“The free advice is being provided by a group of experienced, local professional financial advisers.  The advisers don’t represent the Commission, they are from a number of well-known and reputable organisations. We are delighted to have secured their support.  They are donating their time and expertise because they’re keen to do their bit to help those who want to talk through their financial situation and options.  They are not there to sell people products and they are not charging for their advice – so there is no cost to residents who seek advice,” Ms Crossan says.

Ms Crossan says to ensure the integrity of the advice and service, the advisers are all Authorised Financial Advisers (AFAs).

“AFAs are authorised by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and have to meet minimum qualification requirements and must also follow a code of professional conduct. They can provide advice on a range of things from simple term deposits, insurances and mortgages, to other investments and financial planning services.” 

The financial advice consultation service follows the Commission’s Red Zone Financial Decision Guide booklet, which provided information about what residential red zone property owners needed to consider, who they should talk to and where they could get help.  The Decision Guide was designed to help residents with their financial decisions about the Government’s offer to purchase their property and what to do with the payment they will receive.

The Commission is facilitating the financial advice service on behalf of the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust, who have provided the funding to establish the service. 

Trustee Dr Rod Carr says the one-on-one consultations are an important service to help residents make financial decisions and get on with their lives.

“The Commission is well-known for providing free, independent and impartial information and has well established relationships within the financial services industry.  The Red Zone Financial Decision Guide booklet they produced was well received and a free consultation with professional financial advisers is a valuable addition to the information already provided.

“I would strongly encourage all residential red zone property owners to use the free financial advice consultation service to work through their financial issues and options and make choices that suit their own situation,” Dr Carr says.

Residents can make an appointment to see a financial adviser by contacting the CERA Avondale Earthquake Assistance Centre on 0800 7464 2372 or Kaiapoi Earthquake Hub: 0800 639 000.

Visit www.sorted.org.nz/redzone for further information.