New Zealand enjoys a modern and efficient banking system, one that is open and transparent, and easy to use. New Zealand banks, with one exception, are Australian-owned, which effectively makes them branches of their Australian parent banks.
This has turned out for the benefit of the New Zealand banking industry because as the Australian economy has remained very strong during the GFC, the banking system in both New Zealand and Australia has remained very liquid. In other words, New Zealand has to a large extent escaped the effects of the financial melt-down of the banking system that many Northern Hemisphere countries have experience over the last 5 or 6 years.
Employment has remained quite strong in Australia and New Zealand over the last 5 years, despite the recession, with unemployment peaking at around 7 % in New Zealand and 6 % in Australia. As a result, New Zealand banks have continued to lend during this period, enabling businesses access to bank finance, and home buyers to be able to buy housing. As a result, the property market has now returned to where it was 5 years ago, and continues to grow at a steady pace.
The other advantage of a strong banking system is that new immigrants to New Zealand have been able to enter the country under the business visa scheme which has been helped by banks being willing to provide loan finance of up to 50 % of the purchase price of a New Zealand business. This in turn has resulted in these new immigrants bringing money into the country, and this has helped our currency to remain quite high.
The flip-side of a strong New Zealand banking system, is that because interest rates have remained high by world standards (retail rates around 5 % / term deposits around 3 % ),