Commission for Financial Capability


Our role

The Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC) is an independent government-funded organisation helping people to get ahead financially. We work to ensure the retirees of today and tomorrow are equipped with the financial knowledge, skills and confidence to make good financial decisions at every stage of their lives and reach retirement in good financial health.

We use the term financial capability to mean New Zealanders are better managing debt, accumulating savings, owning homes, and able to weather emergencies. 

Diane Maxwell is the current Retirement Commissioner and head of CFFC. 

We have three core responsibilities:

Financial capability

Helping all New Zealanders build money skills so they can make better financial decisions, live the life they want, and arrive at retirement in good shape;

Retirement income

Three yearly review of retirement income policy, publicly flagging issues and seeking feedback, and providing robust policy advice;

Retirement villages

Monitoring the Retirement Villages Act (2003) and administering its dispute provisions, plus informing and educating Kiwis about the sector.

Our focus is on the retirees of today and tomorrow

New Zealand is experiencing unprecedented demographic change. Migration, fertility and mortality rates are shifting our population’s age structure, ethnic mix and dependency ratios. An ageing population and increasing demands on the public purse mean that New Zealanders need the ability to provide for themselves more than ever before. Financial capability has become an essential life skill.

Social norms around how much we buy and consume are changing the way we view debt, while technology and easy access to high-interest credit has made debt easier to acquire.

CFFC is starting young, with our new Sorted in Schools programme beginning a four-year roll out
to secondary students. The programme will equip young people with the knowledge and skills to avoid the traps of loans and high-interest credit to which they’re particularly vulnerable, and help set them on a path to a financially healthy future.

Among families, we’re focusing on the ‘missing middle’ – those who earn too much to qualify for state help, but too little to see a way through daily financial demands. They are ‘In the Ward’ in our triage categories – we aim to keep them out of ‘Intensive Care’ and help them progress to needing only ‘GP Visits’.

Changing people's behaviour and money habits is a complex task. When today's demands drown out thoughts of tomorrow, CFFC cuts through the noise to inspire New Zealanders to focus on their financial wellbeing, and provides the tools to help them carve out a new financial future. We need to meet people where they spend most time – sometimes that means face-to-face, but often online.

What we do

Building wealthy lives

CFFC is shifting the way people think about and manage their money. Together with a range of partners, we are building wealth and wellbeing for the retirees of today and tomorrow.

Three functions at the heart of CFFC’s work in financial capability:


Lead the national conversation on the importance of financial capability in building a wealthier future.

Provide robust policy advice on retirement income issues.

Resources and education

Provide high quality, impartial tools and information to support Kiwis to become financially capable.

Inform current and future retirement village residents of their choices and rights.

Monitoring and evaluation

Track how our work impacts on the financial capability of New Zealanders.

Monitor the effects of the Retirement Villages Act (2003) and administer the disputes process.

Our partners

CFFC leads the National Strategy for Financial Capability, which is a practical framework for raising the financial capability of New Zealanders. It relies on government, community and the private sector working together to have the biggest impact.

Our framework

AR 2 Segmentation today Commission for Financial Capability CFFC

CFFC uses a financial health framework to segment New Zealand’s 3.9m adults, and a triage approach to determine who needs what, and how best to deploy our finite resources for the 14% of New Zealanders in Financial ‘Intensive Care’, the 36% ‘In the Ward’ and the 50% who we call ‘GP Visits’.

With over 17,000 respondents since February 2017, our Financial Capability Barometer* is a nationwide survey which informs our segmentation approach and helps us to better understand the financial capability of New Zealanders. This is in addition to the thousands of people we hear from through our roaming video tent, street activations and website surveys. [Click image to enlarge]