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Hughes' advice to new FMA CEO Rob Everett

Friday, April 4th 2014, 3:06PM 1 Comment

by Philip Macalister

This week the new FMA chief executive Rob Everett made his first public appearance in his new role. The event was the FMA's quarterly briefing which in the past had been well-attended by the media - this week though the turn was pretty low as evidenced by the dearth of stories in the media.

On Monday Good Returns will provide a story on some of the key points for advisers, and it would be fair to say the comments coming from the new leadership are refreshing. For the Weekly Wrap today here are some, personal, first impressions of the new chief executive.

Firstly Everett, while having a legal background like his predecessor, Sean Hughes come across quite differently. Hughes started off as the tough talking sheriff who was categorised, fairly or not, as wanting to put his foot down and get a few scalps or trophies. Over time Hughes mellowed in his approach, but he still made it clear that enforcement and capturing the bad guys was a high priority.
Everett, in his speech, appears much more inclusive and willing to build confidence amongst market participants. Indeed his catch cry of the morning was about having a "healthy and confident" market place.

What could be a telling insight to one of the differences between the two came in an answer to a question about enforcement. Everett, quite rightly, acknowledged that the FMA has to be vigorous and rigorous around enforcement - like Hughes. However he also said that there was a line somewhere about how strongly victories are promoted. Part of his thinking was around the difficulty in building confidence. If too much is made of the bad guys then people get the impression that markets are filled with these sorts of people, when we in the industry know there are very few rogues.

As he said noise can destroy confidence.

Hughes seemed to enjoy the limelight, while Everett is less keen on being the centre of attention. But he does acknowledges part of his role is in fronting for the organisation.

It was also interesting that the two men used quite different language in their presentations. Hughes often used jargons and management speak, while Hughes talked about things like black eye moments. Their choice of venue also had me wondering. Previously the quarterly briefing was held down on Auckland's waterfront in hippish-type place with a barista and nice food, while Everett’s first function was that the Langholm Hotel which is far more the standard corporate venue.

The point of these comments is not to say one is better than the other. Rather the point of these comments is to try and illustrate that we are likely to see quite a different FMA from the one we have seen in its early years.

All organisations evolve and different skills and leaders are required.

So what advice did Hughes give Everett? Don't read the Blogs! However, Everett does read Good Returns and the comments section.

You can read Philip's blog here: http://www.goodreturns.co.nz/blog/

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Comments from our readers

On 16 April 2014 at 4:21 pm Sean Hughes said:
From what I hear from afar Philip, Rob has made a great start. Given the legacy I and my team inherited (over 30 incomplete or not started investigations, criticisms of both past regulators & sentences, public & political baying for blood) and the fact we were in set-up mode, it's unsurprising the language has changed over time. I'm sure Rob will build on our good foundations and move FMA with the times. Rebuilding investors' confidence had to start with some sanitation, otherwise we'd be back where we started in 2010.

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