Getting to Know: David Whyte
He's chair of Camelot Group, former CEO of Ginger Group and former head of AIA in NZ and AIG Life Australia - but what don't we know about David Whyte?
Friday, April 7th 2017, 6:00AM
Who are you and what do you do?
I'm David Whyte - I use my experience in the financial services industry to Chair the Board of Directors of a number of private companies operating in the NZ and Australian markets.
How did you get into the industry?
I joined the industry after university having spent a year with a company after school. I knew the layout of the industry and the career path offered was attractive. After a few years, I resigned and set up my own insurance and financial services practice before selling up and emigrating to NZ.
If there is one thing you would like to change about the financial advice industry, what would it be?
Politicians and civil servants need to take the regulation of the industry more seriously and develop a strategic framework for creating a more effective regime. The Ministry's response to the review has been disappointing and poorly resourced with an obvious lack of stakeholder input evident in the proposals released so far.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
Best advice? A wise and experienced colleague in New York told me that "Being in the financial services industry is not about success - it's about survival" There are times in a lengthy career that this has been absolutely on target!!
What could financial advisers learn from other industries?
Other industries are learning more quickly than our advisory industry that digital disruption is not about to have a major impact - it already is having that impact and advisers need to adopt and adapt.
What change could the insurance sector make to better serve customers?
Improving the customer insurance experience is a tricky question as most suggestions contain expensive solution elements. So dismantling some ingrained structures and sacred cows becomes essential. Product providers are the primary drivers of behaviour in the market, and their internal management structures function with front-end delivery reward incentives. These are reflected in distribution strategy and the bias toward new business within the product cost structures encourages controversial behaviour and responses.
Are you a KiwiSaver member?
Not a KiwiSaver member but fully supportive of retirement planning and savings. In this context, the Australian approach of transferring responsibility from the State to private industry would be beneficial to the community. More concentrated focus on health and related services can be assisted by removing the increasingly burdensome administration costs from the state superannuation system.
Outside of work what do you do?
Outside of work, I enjoy playing golf (badly) - wining and dining with friends and colleagues (as per photograph), reading and keeping up with friends and family online.
What would you say if one of your kids told you they wanted to be a financial adviser?
My darling daughter did work in the industry for a few years - not as a financial adviser - but has switched careers to online graphic design where she couldn't be happier. Any attempt to persuade or dissuade my son or daughter to or from any course would be treated with consummate disdain.
What’s one thing people may be surprised to know about you?
Surprised to know that. I speak fluent Spanish? Probably a bit rusty these days, but would love to spend a few months in Spain regaining fluency - sponsorships welcome.
If you weren’t in this job what would you be doing?
I was invited to write a doctorate a few years back but circumstances didn't allow, so who knows? Sharing knowledge and seeing people develop their potential beyond their own expectations gives me a huge buzz, so maybe teaching in some capacity. Interesting to speculate, but wouldn't change the journey so far travelled.
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