OnePath to the bank door

Wednesday, November 17th 2010, 3:12PM 2 Comments

by Philip Macalister

The journey of ING into OnePath and then into the newly-created ANZ Wealth business is, perhaps a salient reminder of how the funds management world is changing. It’s also one which raises interesting questions for independent financial advisers (IFAs). For those who have been around the business as long as I have, you will know this business started off as Armstrong Jones. In those days, AJs as it was known, was Perth-based and spent lots of its early years in Australia with property funds. In New Zealand it was run by the legendary Paul Fyfe (there’s lots of legends about this man). Fyfe has arguably been one of the most influential people in shaping the industry, particularly the financial planning side, in this country. Even when AJ became ING and was owned by the Dutch bank Fyfe managed to maintain his independence and shape the industry. I’ve always argued that one of the strengths of the business is it found some way to deal with most advisers in New Zealand. It built up powerful networks and, although they won’t admit it, was the envy of other managers when it came to distribution. ING was never short of playing on its support for advisers. Often you would hear the message given to advisers: We give you lots of support, now you support us.” ING’s world changed when two things happened. Fyfe was replaced by Marc Lieberman, and the CDO funds imploded. Lieberman was not the right man for the job. He was the opposite to Fyfe. He sat on his hands and did nothing when the CDO crisis hit. While he no doubt has skills and experience running a business successfully, he was the wrong man for the job. Thankfully he was replaced by the very able Helen Troup. If Lieberman was the worst appointment then Troup has to be one of the best. She got the worst hospital pass of all time but handled it marvellously. While she has been a quiet player, publicly, she has been massively influential behind the scenes and has tidied up a mess. With the changes we lose Troup, and I think that’s a great loss for the industry. I’ve no idea where she is going, but guess she will continue her journey to the top and may end up in some other country. Her role is being taken over by John Body, from the institutional side of the bank. While I know little about him, it’s worth noting institutional is very different to retail and intermediated business. The bigger change is that now OnePath is a bank business it gets all the bank red tape and bureaucracy. This is the total opposite to the days when Fyfe ran the show as, essentially, his business. That brings us back to the new business. OnePath now has to build up its relationship with advisers again. I suspect that will be a tough job. Possibly made even tougher by being fully owned by a bank and sitting inside a bank wealth management business. Advisers see banks as their enemy. Also in New Zealand none of the banks really deal with IFAs. They have their own advisory forces and don’t offer their funds for external distribution. Banks see wealth management as their space, their place for growth. How this is reconciled with IFAs in the new business structure is going to be fascinating to watch.
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Comments from our readers

On 19 November 2010 at 11:43 am Dz said:
Adding to their challenge it has to be the worst branding i have seen for years, this will become a great case study in time for the worst branded insurance company. They look like Countdown advertisements for a start. This will not assist advisers to feel connected. Shame
On 19 November 2010 at 8:26 pm Simon said:
So Troup “got the worst hospital pass of all time but handled it marvellously.“? One of the many less touching aspects of the entire frozen funds scandal is the utter refusal of sections of the NZ press to actually try and find out what happened.
But once you do do that, and then examine what Troup said about the funds, having been given the job of salvage, is revealing. It is not “marvellous”.
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