The Reserve Bank continues to broaden its engagement with a diverse range of stakeholders to provide accountability, and to promote understanding and dialogue, Head of Communications, Mike Hannah, said in a speech released today.
Speaking to the Canterbury branch of the Institute of Directors in Christchurch yesterday evening, Mr Hannah said that the Bank’s relationships were crucial to achieving the Bank’s policy objectives.
“We rely heavily on the behaviours of households and businesses being consistent with our policy objectives, ranging from their expectations of price stability and bank resilience, or credit growth, to confidence in banknotes and the payments systems,” he said.
“The Bank places a high priority on communicating with a wide spectrum of audiences, through a multitude of channels, and we are adapting to changing audience needs.”
Mr Hannah said the Bank is planning to undertake its second External Stakeholder Engagement Survey in the first half of 2018. A survey in 2014 showed that the Bank’s audiences had different perspectives and expectations, meaning that the Bank needs to communicate in the context and language appropriate to each group.
“We particularly noticed that the public and businesses had lower familiarity with the Bank, compared with specialist financial market or media groups.”
To better connect with its general public audience, the Bank has developed a range of web content – explanatory videos and animations, author interviews and audio podcasts – and ventured into social media channels such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and SoundCloud.
“But we have been cautious about using these media in a two-way fashion, such as ‘following’ other users, publicly responding to comments, or sharing other people’s content. This because of the risk of having informal social media statements being read as formal signals, as well as reputational risks that a central bank has to be conscious of.”
The Bank has an extensive programme of off-the-record presentations for business audiences around New Zealand and has expanded this to around 120 a year, as well as outreach into schools, universities and other research institutions.
“Most of these events are off-the-record as they provide a unique opportunity for dialogue, with the Bank listening and responding to questions and candid comments from a broad range of New Zealanders, whose understanding is so important to our price and financial stability objectives.”
The Bank’s on-the-record speeches, their content and timing, will always be driven by policy needs, and our interactions with markets and media are conducted within the disciplines enforced by financial market sensitivities.
“We recognise that real-time and near-real-time media reach far into an investment world beyond New Zealand and can influence our interest and exchange rates. Care has to be taken by a central bank in communicating into this world.
“We will continue to engage with the news media, through briefings, interviews, press conferences, and responses to inquiries. Equally, we will continue to provide access for technical discussions with financial market analysts.”
The Bank will continue to foster improvements in its regulatory relationships, which have benefitted from longer consultation periods on proposed regulations, and greater liaison with industry through workshops.
“Our contact with Parliamentary and Government stakeholders will remain frequent, extensive, and open, to promote understanding, and also to deliver accountability for the policies and tools that we are charged with to promote New Zealand’s economic growth.”