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Financial adviser regulation - what's going to happen?

Monday, May 16th 2005, 8:58AM

by Philip Macalister

I don't know but there are signs that the government may take a harder line to this issue than many are expecting.

The general view is that some tightening of rules around financial advisers isn't a bad thing - after all there are essentially no rules in place. Anyone can hang up their shingle and call himself or herself an adviser.

The consensus view is that although things will get tougher - maybe some sort of registration system, a requirement for some form of education and continuing education and a decent complaints system - New Zealand won't go as far as Australia and the United Kingdom.

However the government maybe thinking about something a little bit stronger. Admittedly this is reading the teleaves a little, but three announcements make me wonder.

The first is a speech that Finance Minister Michael Cullen made a couple of weeks ago. In summary he outlined what the government sees as the problems about financial advisers. (As an aside one could question some of the views he expressed and ask are there any facts to support the comments).

Then on Friday the government announced a review of the non-bank financial sector and the establishment of a code of practice for firms offering home equity release/ reverse annuity mortgages.

My observation is that these sorts of speeches and announcements illustrate that tougher rules around the financial sector are inevitable.

Added to this are this week's budget. Workplace savings is expected to be a centrepiece. If the government is going to go down this track it will want to make sure there are sufficient rules around the sector.

A comment which has been made to me by a couple of high-profile people who have been involved in the process are that the government has already made up its mind on this issue, no matter what the taskforce comes up with.

The task force is expected to issue its options paper next week or the week after. It will be interesting to see the government's reaction.


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