E-FILES: Retirement site aims to get personal

Probably the#most vexed political issue of the past generation # and almost definitely of the next one # is superannuation.

www.retirement.org.nz Probably the most vexed political issue of the past generation ­ and almost definitely of the next one ­ is superannuation. Just quietly, while the debate rages about the new government's proposed dedicated superannuation fund, the Office of the Retirement Commissioner is getting on with the job of encouraging New Zealanders not to rely on the politicians. It's Web presence is a big part of the office's push to encourage New Zealanders to save more for themselves, says communications manager Liz Read. "Until now we've had very much a generic message ­ which was basically pay off your debt and save for your retirement," she says. "However, the Web site enables us to segment that far more." Within the next 18 months to two years the site will have a number of "front doors" on the site for specific audiences such as students, employers, Maori and women. The most used part of the site at present is the calculator, which allows people to nominate how much they want to have saved for their retirement and, by giving their age, how much that translates into monthly savings. Such tools are not uncommon now ­ a number of financial houses have similar devices on their Web sites ­ but the retirement commissioner's site will go a step further, Read says. One of the "front doors" for young people will include a calculator which covers student loans; another option is to have a package enabling young people who are flatting together to work out a flat budget. "What the Web site enables us to do is take the message much wider than saving for your retirement ­ the message is that good financial management skills can help you no matter where you are in life." Another part of that process is linking in with other groups. The office has to downplay the word "retirement" when trying to reach a younger audience, sways Read, as this is usually a turn-off. The office is linking up with schools, universities and employers to make the financial advice it has available to a wider group than just the traditional target audience for such information. However, many of the people the office wants to reach with such financial planning information do not have ready access to the internet. "That is one of the things we see as important ­ a parallel strategy to increase overall access to the internet. Maori rural people as a rule don't have high levels of access, so if we can work with schools, marae and other groups we can reach them with budgeting assistance and help to reach financial goals whether they are modest or ambitious." The message the office takes from the its online experiences over the past two years is that interactivity attracts use, she says. "Visitors to the site are interested in current consumer-oriented information; they respond to interactivity and therefore keeping the site fresh and up dated regularly is very important." The presence online is also linked in with other promotions. As the accompanying graph shows, usage lifts when the office engages in other advertising promotions. However, it was only the latest television campaign which specifically mentioned the Web site ­ the other rises were the result of people seeing a promotion, wondering if the office had a site, and finding it.

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