BNZ: Don’t neglect the financial side or your relationships #ItStartsWithAction

As part of #ItStartsWithAction’s focus on “Navigating Life’s Challenges”, Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) is helping make sure all New Zealanders know how to have a healthy financial relationship and what to look for when things might start to go wrong.

BNZ General Manager Customer Assist, Martin King, says “It Starts with Action is an opportunity for all Kiwis to consider the financial side of their relationship, to know how to build a healthier one, and to know the signs of economic abuse

“There are simple things people can do to help make sure their relationships are healthy financial ones too. If your relationship is starting to get more serious, it’s a great opportunity to sit down and talk about finances. Being clear and open with each other is the key to starting out on the right foot,” says King.

King says that there’s no one ‘right way’, but openness is key: “Every relationship is different, and everyone has a different way of managing money. They key is being open about it with your partner. Both people should always feel like they have a say in how money is managed and that they can ask questions about how joint money is spent.

“Have a conversation with your partner about what your goals are and come up with ones that work for your both equally. Then check in regularly – what are you doing that’s working, are you still on track, what can be done differently?

“Finally, make sure you’re informed. What will you do if something goes wrong? How will your set up impact you if you were to separate or break up? How are you protecting each other, and how are you protecting yourself? These are all key questions to think and talk about, and it might be worth getting some help from a Citizens Advice Bureau, community law centre, or your own lawyer,” King says.

There are plenty of resources available for people to read, such as on the BNZ website and Good Shepherd NZ have a Healthy Financial Relationships Toolkit available here.

BNZ stresses this advice isn’t meant to solve relationships already marred by economic abuse. Any customer who sees the signs of this abuse in their relationship to get in touch with either their bank or a community organisation that focusses on domestic and inter-partner violence.

“We know from first-hand experience that economic abuse happens in relationships, and the impacts can be devastating,” says King.

Economic abuse takes many forms and can be categorised into three areas – control, where a partner uses money to control someone, taking their pay and removing access to bank accounts for example, limiting, where a partner limits how someone uses money, how it’s spent, where, and taking all their assets, and sabotage, where a partner creates an uneven financial picture, for example putting all debts in another partner’s name or ruining employment prospects.

BNZ announced in June 2020 it was the first bank in New Zealand to establish a dedicated economic and domestic violence banking team. In conjunction with Non-Government Organisations in the sector, the expert team works closely with victim survivors to help get back on their feet financially.

In May 2021 the bank also announced it was identifying and dealing with people sending abusive and inappropriate messages in the reference fields of bank transfers.

Running from May until the end of July, It Starts with Action is a collective initiative to grow women’s financial wellbeing led by the Financial Services Council and supporting Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission’s National Strategy, which aims to make impactful change in growing women’s financial confidence and wellbeing.

Where to go for help:

  • Women’s Refuge – 0800 REFUGE (733 843) or
  • Good Shepherd NZ – 0800 466 370 or
  • Are You Ok? – 0800 456 450 or
  • Shine – 0508 744 633 (9am-11pm every day) or
  • Shakti: Providing specialist cultural services for African, Asian and middle eastern women and their children – 0800 742 584 or
  • Aviva (Christchurch) – 0800 28482 669 or
  • If you’re in danger now, dial 111. If you’re unable to speak, press 55 to go through to the Police.