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Accountancy body shrugs off IFA critique

The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) plans to develop its own educational pathways for its members who give financial advice, according to the professional body's acting chair, Keith Wedlock.

Tuesday, March 11th 2008, 6:00AM

by David Chaplin

Wedlock said the NZICA is "looking in the direction of Australia" where the comparable organisation created a financial planning designation for chartered accountants.

Earlier this month David Hutton, head of the Institute of Financial Advisers (IFA), criticised the NZICA's proposals to create a new financial planning professional standard saying they "did not go far enough".

In a letter to IFA members Hutton said: "The educational requirements for a chartered accountant do not include personal financial advice subjects, such as investment diversification and personal risk insurance."

"The IFA view is that chartered accountants who give personal financial advice should be required to be members of an approved professional body and demonstrate competency in the areas they provide advice."

Wedlock said the NZICA was also likely to create an Approved Professional Body (APB) for its members once the Financial Adviser legislation, currently before Parliament, comes into force.

"It's quite likely we would [form an APB] as we have a number of members who give financial advice," he said.

Wedlock said the NZICA was unsure of exactly how many of the organisation's 30,000 members would fall into the financial advisory category but should know more after the current submission process.

He said members have until April 21 to provide submissions on the proposed new financial planning standard with a full draft expected to take some months to complete.

While Hutton referred to a "draft standard" in his IFA letter, Wedlock said there is "no draft standard yet" for NZICA members who provide financial advice.

In a statement, Bruce Bennett, NZICA head of standards and quality assurance said: "The proposed standard, will spell out specific principles in the context of financial advice, and how these should be applied to such matters as independence, commission-based remuneration, and performance standards."

According to Hutton, the draft NZICA principles "will be quite familiar to IFA members as much is similar to our own Code of Ethics".

Wedlock, however, said the NZICA, which celebrates its centenary this year, has a "well-developed code of ethics".

"We're governed by an Act of Parliament," he said. "As a true professional body our over-riding duty is to act in the public interest. Our code of ethics might have been the model for others."

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