End this ridiculous war on selling
Financial advisers are about to become collateral damage in the latest round of successive governments' war against our right to think for ourselves.
Friday, May 11th 2012, 10:30AM 11 Comments
by Niko Kloeten
In continuing the centuries-old tradition of populist appeal against salespeople, the government has come up with section 71 of the Financial Markets Conduct Bill, which as currently written would make it very difficult for financial advisers to do their job of prospecting for new clients.
However, it makes perfect sense if you, like most New Zealand politicians, believe people are too stupid to make their own decisions and therefore need to have their choices kept to a minimum.
Viewed in this light, the Bill protects people going about their daily lives from financial advisers lurking in nearby bushes, waiting to leap out and beat them around the head with "unsolicited" offers of financial products.
This includes KiwiSaver; if the government made it any more difficult to discuss its own savings scheme it would have to get the orange election guy to tell us about it.
One wonders how the regulators think advisers came across their "current and former clients", who are seemingly impervious to the advisers' mind-control abilites and therefore deemed safe to be "approached".
A more charitable view is that this is an unintended consequence of a part of the legislation that is aimed at door-to-door salesmen and telemarketers.
This brings up two questions. Firstly, when has there ever been a government-imposed bureaucratic regulation that didn't have unintended consequences? Secondly, what's wrong with door-to-door salesmen and telemarketers anyway?
They offer a service and although it's not always a popular one there's obviously a market for it, otherwise companies wouldn't spend all that money doing it. Two words for those who don't like telemarketing: caller ID. Door-to-door salesmen can also be dispatched with two words, albeit usually less polite ones.
If politicians were really serious about protecting us from unwanted door-knockers they would apply the same rules to themselves; I'd much rather talk to a guy selling vacuum cleaners than some slimeball in a suit telling me how he's going to use my own money to bribe me into voting for him.
The upshot of all this is that financial advisers, who have already been told by regulators what products they can advise on, now face the prospect of being told by regulators who they can and can't talk to. Surely this contravenes the right to freedom of association under the Bill of Rights Act?
But as pointed out by IFA president Nigel Tate, the real victims would be the New Zealand public, who are underinsured and financially illiterate and likely to remain so unless "offered" a cold hard dose of financial reality.
Niko Kloeten can be contacted at email@example.com
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