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Advisers hit by friendly fire

Auckland-based investment adviser Duncan Balmer has fired off a volley of criticism at the financial planning community, saying it "is rotten at its core" and consists of people who are ripping off their clients.

Wednesday, September 9th 1998, 12:00AM

by Philip Macalister

Auckland-based investment adviser Duncan Balmer has fired off a volley of criticism at the financial planning community, saying it "is rotten at its core" and consists of people who are ripping off their clients.
His allegations coincide with the launch of his book The Investment Jungle which looks at the quality of investment advice in New Zealand.
Balmer, who works for Farmers Mutual Group, is mooting the idea of establishing a new advisory association, The Association of Ethical Investment Advisers (AEIA).

The primary purpose of this association would be the protection of the investing public, rather than the promotion and protection of the interests of any particular sort of investment adviser.
Balmer says none of the organisations, including the Association of Investment Advisers and Financial Planners (IAFP) and the Insurance and Investment Advisers Association (IIAA), are protecting the public from baised or unscrupulous financial planners or insurance agents.
Balmer, who was a provisional member of the IAFP, recently resigned from that association. He acknowledges he "jumped before he was pushed".
"The IAFP has become a faction-ridden waste of many people's time, and is in any case not achieving what it claims it wishes to achieve, in terms of protection of the public from unscrupulous advisers," he says.
People joining the AEIA would have to subscribe to a strict set of rules, which would include;
  • that conflicts of interest be minimised (implying that commission remuneration would not be allowed)
  • that no member would be allowed to be under any overt or covert pressure to recommend any particular types of products, or the products of any particular organisations (implying that master trusts could not be indiscriminately pushed, at the expense of other investments)
  • that tax-inefficient managed funds would not normally be employed (most unit trusts, insurance and superannuation schemes)
  • that fees would have to be fair and reasonable and so on.
A review of The Investment Jungle will be published on Good Returns soon. Readers are invited to have their say on the quality of investment advice in New Zealand. Letters can be sent to the editor, and they will be published in the editorial page. Alternatively you can use the online letter form contained on the editorial page.
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