The state could take a more proactive approach towards helping people invest money to service their future needs, according to a personal finance expert.

Frank Conway, founder of Moneywhizz and the Irish Financial Review, suggested putting protected mechanisms in place to help people save towards future financial costs, such as education.

He referenced the Roth IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) in the US and the ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts) in the UK as examples of structures that could be used.

"Education has become quite expensive. The cost of that is €6,000 to €12,000 per year per child in third level, so perhaps being more creative in having protected mechanisms out there.

"There are many investment options which are lower risk, but give a long term sustainable rate of return which would be beneficial for everyone," he stated. 

Mr Conway was commenting on confirmation by the credit union sector that a number of outlets had introduced restrictions on deposits, in some circumstances as low as €15,000.

This is all down to low interest rates and, in some cases, the negative rates offered on deposits at the European Central Bank level.

"The credit unions are restricted on how they can invest the money from deposits and the rates of return when they can invest are quite low. And it poses a risk in terms of a regulatory requirement where they may have more funds coming in.

"More people are looking to all types of savings institutions to put money aside for a rate of return that simply isn't there," he said.

Collectively, Irish people have in excess of €100 billion on deposit. Why are we so keen on saving money?

"There's a fear factor there. We're still close to what was an awful recession. We also don't have an investing culture. There's a natural bias in the market. We've had a bad experience when it comes to the purchase of individual shares," Frank Conway explained.

He said the best investment return in this country was still to be found in pensions, given its favourable treatment from a taxation point of view.

Equities are still high risk and it is important to understand the cost structure, he added.

Mr Conway also warned about the tax implications of some investments with DIRT being levied on interest from savings and capital gains tax applying to profits from investments.