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Accountants lead with free advice offer

The New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants (NZICA) has set an example with its offer of free advice to Blue Chip investors that other industry bodies could follow, according to a spokesperson for the office of Commerce Minister, Lianne Dalziel.

Wednesday, April 16th 2008, 6:00AM

by David Chaplin

"We'd be delighted if other industry bodies do the same thing," the spokesperson said.

In a statement released yesterday Dalziel said the ICA had offered Blue Chip investors one hour of free advice from investment specialist members of the accountancy body.

Over 230 ICA members have volunteered their services since the call went out. The free advice initiative was first floated in March after discussions between the government, the ICA and Blue Chip liquidator Jeffrey Meltzer (who is an ICA member).

In her statement yesterday Dalziel said Blue Chip investors who have already sought independent investment advice would not have to access the ICA hotline.

"Investors' circumstances are different. Some have more urgent needs than others. This initiative enables people to get some initial professional guidance specific to their individual situation," she said.

Judy Knighton, ICA communications manager, said by Tuesday afternoon two Blue Chip investors had already called the free-phone number, managed by the Companies Office, which was officially scheduled to open at 6pm yesterday.

"We're focusing on clear and urgent immediate needs and not long-term investment advice," Knighton said.

She said the ICA advice to Blue Chip investors could include asking the lender for a three-month deferral of payments or a reduction of interest and/or principal payments.

In a statement, Keith Wedlock, ICA chief, said the Institute was "always keen to take the lead when it comes to offering the best advice which will benefit the members of their local communities".

Under the free-advice program each ICA member will offer a maximum one-hour of counseling each to three Blue Chip investors. Approximately 3,000 Blue Chip investors are understood to be out of pocket as a result of the property company's failure.

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