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Minister open-minded to Adviser bill changes

Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel is signalling an open mind on key aspects of the Financial Advisers Bill introduced to Parliament this week.

Thursday, February 21st 2008, 5:08AM

by Rob Hosking

"Getting the Bill to this point has been a long, thorough and open consultation process, but that doesn't mean that the Bill is perfect…I am open to, and indeed anticipate, there being changes through the select committee process.

"The Bill was drafted with the intention of encouraging people to think about what is meant by the term 'financial adviser' and how the Bill applies to them… However it is not the intention of this Bill to capture every person who discusses a financial matter with a client or offers a product or service that might have a financial implication.

"We do not want to use a sledgehammer to crack a nut." The bill specifically states "the provision of information, whether orally or in writing, is not advice unless it is accompanied by a recommendation, an opinion or guidance", Dalziel says.

The bill requires those who are advisers to "disclose any conflicts of interest and fees" and it also sets minimum competency standards to ensure the financial adviser is equipped to recommend financial products that match a client's investment needs and risk profile, Dalziel says.

" These include requirements for the adviser to act with reasonable care, diligence, skill and integrity. Conduct requirements also apply to handling money received by clients and not acting in a manner that may be misleading or deceptive."

The bill was to be introduced before Christmas but a bureaucratic snafu at the Ministry of Economic Development led to a delay.

The bill has been referred to the finance and expenditure select committee, and may be heard with a related bill already before that committee.

The date for submissions has yet to be set but the time frame is expected to be short as the bill will be reported back to the House in June.

Rob Hosking is a Wellington-based freelance writer specialising in political, economic and IT related issues.

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