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COVID-19 fails to knock Kiwi investor confidence, but more disclosure wanted - ANZ

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Three months of COVID-19 lockdown and investment turmoil has done little to knock confidence in New Zealand capital markets and listed companies with overall investor sentiment very similar to 2019, an investor survey held in mid June shows.

However, in the wake of the pandemic there is a strong call for additional information in audited financial statements, in particular regarding impacts on operations and results, including long term.

Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand’s (CA ANZ’s) latest Investor Confidence Survey reveals around three quarters of New Zealand investors have some or quite a bit of confidence in capital markets and in investing in listed companies, almost unchanged from last year’s survey.

Current confidence is based on a belief that the New Zealand economy will recover well from COVID-19, faith in the NZX’s history of bouncing back and confidence in the government.

The CA ANZ survey comes after an FMA survey held in May also found investors relatively unfazed by the pandemic’s impact on financial markets. In April, the NZX reported a significant increase in trading volumes - up around four-fold since early 2020.

The faith in New Zealand markets is in contrast to investing internationally, with over one third of respondents saying they have very little or no confidence in offshore capital markets.

"This level of investor confidence and buying activity is more than surprising in the face of what the OECD has described as the most severe economic recession in nearly a century," said Amir Ghandar, CA ANZ’s Reporting and Assurance Leader. "A sense of optimism has clearly been growing as the nation weathered the pandemic, but uncertainty remains as to the speed and depth of an economic recovery."

Australian investors are similarly confident.

However, Ghandar said investors were not ignoring risk. More than half (53%) are expecting ‘a great deal’ or ‘quite a bit’ of additional disclosure in financial statements in the COVID-19 environment, focusing on operations and results.

"Investors are also interested in the impact on liquidity and business outlook, changes in demand for products and services, the impact of travel restrictions and the impact to employees.

"A reality check may be due later in 2020, with around half of investors saying companies and auditors flagging ‘material uncertainty’ will have a possibly significant impact on their confidence. Auditors and the XRB have both recently pointed to a likely increase in the prevalence of such disclosures in upcoming reports.

Ghandar said he anticipated shareholders will focus on financial reports more than ever this year, giving them a new prominence. "They will still be looking at explanations from Chairs and CEOs, but also probing whether what they’re hearing aligns with the financials in terms of going concern uncertainties, asset carrying values and other assumptions."

Independent auditors who audit publicly listed companies remain top of the confidence and effectiveness ratings among players with roles helping to advance investor protection.

The full Investor Confidence Survey report will be published later this month.

Detailed survey results

At the current time, how much confidence would you say you have in New Zealand capital markets (i.e. the NZX)?

Great deal of confidence 8%

Quite a bit of confidence 28%

Some confidence 47%

Very little confidence 14%

No confidence at all 3%

For what reasons do you have confidence in New Zealand capital markets?

Belief that the New Zealand economy will recover well post COVID-19 55%

Confidence in the economic and political system of capitalism 22%

Confidence in the government 35%

Confidence in New Zealand's productivity 37%

Confidence arising from the upcoming election 13%

The NZX historically bounces back 48%

Personal financial situation 24%

The unemployment rate is low 7%

Government regulation 18%

Positive news heard 18%

Other 1%

Don't know/no opinion 6%

For what reasons do you have little or no confidence in New Zealand capital markets?

Lack of leadership in the government 17%

Fear of New Zealand's position internationally 34%

Concern about New Zealand's productivity 19%

Fears about the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown measures 58%

Volatility and instability in the NZX 38%

Belief that the economy is not doing well 43%

Uncertainty arising from the upcoming election 16%

The government's budget position 33%

Personal financial situation 16%

Government regulation 13%

Negative news heard 14%

Other (write in) 2%

Don't know/no opinion 7%

How much confidence would you say you have today investing in New Zealand companies that are publicly listed (e.g. on the NZX)?

Great deal of confidence 4%

Quite a bit of confidence31%

Some confidence 45%

Very little confidence 16%

No confidence at all 3%

For what reasons do you have this confidence?

Belief that the New Zealand economy will recover well post COVID-19 56%

Confidence about corporate governance in New Zealand 29%

The NZX historically bounces back 50%

Personal experience 16%

Positive news heard about New Zealand companies 22%

Less regulation/red tape than previously 11%

Confidence in the New Zealand government 33%

Other (write in) 1%

Don't know/no opinion 5%

For what reasons do you have little or no confidence investing in New Zealand companies that are publicly listed?

Only certain people benefit from New Zealand companies doing well 17%

Unethical practices 5%

Concerns about corporate governance in New Zealand 18%

Corporations are too short-term/profit driven 16%

Impact of COVID-19 67%

Economy is not doing well 43%

Negative news heard 20%

Personal experience 6%

Other (write in) 4%

Don't know/no opinion 8%

What impact does it have on your level of confidence investing in a publicly listed company where the financial report and auditors' report indicates "material uncertainty" in relation to the company's ability to continue as a "going concern"?

Significant decrease in confidence 16%

Some decrease in confidence 31%

No impact on confidence 24%

Depends on the nature of the disclosure 20%

Not sure what these terms mean 8%

Details of the survey

Online survey of 503 NZ respondents using the Dynata panel. Survey conducted 12-23 June 2020. A majority of respondents had investments in Kiwisaver (82%), Savings account in a bank or financial institution (74%), term deposits (51%) and Shares purchased on the stock market (41%).

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