[Weekly Wrap] Qualification debate
One of the stories that generated a debate among Good Returns readers was about a survey showing support for requiring registered financial advisers (RFAs) to be qualified.
Friday, February 22nd 2013, 10:17AM
by Niko Kloeten
The support for making RFAs qualify was one of a number of interesting results from the industry survey by training body The Skills Organisation, which included different types of advisers as well as some non-advisers. This is clearly an issue some advisers feel strongly about, as the comments demonstrate. There are some who believe that to become a true profession all practitioners must first prove their competence by passing some sort of qualification, while others think qualifications aren't necessary in fields like insurance and mortgage broking.
There's a strong chance all advisers could one day be required to be authorised, but there is little evidence so far that RFAs, many of whom have the qualifications necessary to become AFAs, are causing any problems. Sadly the publicity has been around investment advisers like David Ross and Andrew Robinson, both of whom have lost their AFA status.
A suggestion by a number of commenters has been to create separate qualification and authorisation categories for financial advisers, an idea industry bodies aren't keen on. This idea has some merit because, as commenters pointed out, the title RFA implies that advisers have met some minimum standard to become registered (such as registered teachers or even real estate agents). Being registered on the FSPR is really just a compliance requirement.
Another big story this week was the news AMP is going to merge the Axa KiwiSaver scheme into the AMP scheme, which AMP boss Jack Regan has explained in more detail here. The decision to adopt Axa's multi-manager approach should boost results for AMP, which hasn't always had the greatest KiwiSaver returns, something that hasn't hurt it yet but will become more of an issue as investors take more notice of their growing balances. New Zealanders tend to be suspicious of corporate mergers and industry consolidation but if done well they can not only allow for greater scale and lower cost but also for the best elements of both businesses to be retained.
But while KiwiSaver is going from strength to strength, the life insurance part of the AMP business is being affected by challenges faced by the whole industry around dealing with tax changes. As a general rule, the more something is taxed, the more it will cost and the less of it there will be. Regardless of the technical debates about the tax treatment of life insurance, it's disappointing that New Zealand's already under-insured population will be even less likely to purchase life insurance. The latest FSC data shows lapses outweighed new business in the last quarter.
Active versus passive is a perennial debate in investment circles and new research shows that, in New Zealand at least, active managers outperform the index.
Niko Kloeten can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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