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Spicers and BNZ key to AXA

AXA says it is optimistic for the outlook for its New Zealand business “with significant improvements expected to the structure of the managed funds market” this year and next.

Wednesday, February 22nd 2006, 1:15AM
It details in its annual results analysis that key factors for the New Zealand part of its business include a change in the business model for Spicers, the importance of the BNZ Investment Management acquisition and the level of adviser satisfaction with the company.

It says Spicers is “improving its adviser sales and remuneration structures to address slow sales growth given the difficult market conditions.”

It is also improving product and platform offerings to increase client services and investment flexibility to assist client retention.

The number of Spicers advisers has fallen in a drive to consolidate adviser books and practices ahead of a change in the distribution business model in 2006 It plans to copy ipac and Tynan Mackenzie in Australia and establish a finder/minder model. Under this structure advisers who are hunters and like prospecting and finding new clients would be encouraged to do so, being rewarded under a commission-based structure.

Advisers less comfortable doing this, but happy to look after clients would be engaged under more of a salaried basis.

AXA says its purchase of BNZ Investment Management will add “significant value” to its business as the deal is for a long-term, gives its scale and also gives it 40,000 more customers and access to clients through 180 branches.

It says there are opportunities for further product and platform enhancements, and the BNZ unit trusts and super funds will be moved to its platform.

Existing Bank of New Zealand Investment Management customers will be migrated to AXA products and services over the next 18 months and AXA investment products become available to all new BNZ customers.

AXA has a number of key goals and one of these is to be consistently in the top five in service to advisers.

Currently it is meeting that target and improving, while the opposite is happening in Australia.

The company says it has also made progress in getting its AXA aligned advisers – who mainly sell risk – to sell investment products.

It says the “average wealth management funds under management for (these advisers) was up 25% to $800,000 per adviser.”

AXA says it has had success with its Mortgage Backed Bonds which now have around $100 million and in its branded mini-wrap PAS.

Also it has benefited from the growth in the State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme following the lift in employer contributions with funds under management increasing from $10.6 million to $31.8 million.

AXA says the environment in New Zealand is unfavourable for a number of reasons but things are improving.

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