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Financial advice skills shortage

An economist’s warning of a skills shortage applies to the finance sector but some parts have managed to get lucky, those in the industry say.

Wednesday, November 27th 2013, 6:32AM

by Niko Kloeten

Speaking at AUT yesterday, BNZ economist Tony Alexander warned that although the headline unemployment figure (6.2%) was higher than average for the past decade, businesses were reporting difficulty finding skilled staff.

Alexander said the shortage would only get worse.

Mint Asset Management chief executive Rebecca Thomas, who has just been through the process of adding several new staff members to Mint’s investment team, said finding investment managers with the right skills had been an “extremely difficult” process.

“Probably in New Zealand, anyone who has the appetite to do it is going to earn more money and get broader experience overseas,” she said.

“Retaining talent has always been a challenge.  We have a very limited and shallow pool, which is why it’s taken us a while to get them together.”

One option was to plug the gap with returning expats, such as new Mint senior investment analyst Greg Fraser. “Greg has been working in Australia for the last ten years but their market has seen significant cutbacks in terms of jobs.  That’s provided an opportunity for some Kiwis to return to New Zealand.” 

Morningstar co-head of fund research Chris Douglas said New Zealand’s fund management industry had significant job growth in recent years as a result of KiwiSaver and the PIE tax regime but had avoided a major skills shortage on the investment side.

He attributed that to the global nature of the market, with job losses in London, New York and other markets opening up hiring opportunities here.

But he said there might be some issues with finding enough skilled staff for back office functions.

Where Douglas saw a definite skills shortage was in financial advice, given the small number of AFAs and truly independent advisers. “Hopefully we will see some Kiwis who have worked overseas can bring back global best practices.”

Diversified director Norman Stacey said the recent wave of regulation had caused a skill shortage in the financial adviser market, which was a concern for consumers.

“A lot of mature and very good financial advisers really took the opportunity just to retire or to retrench to insurance or whatever.  These were some very good advisers. Over time, once we’ve got regulation behind us I think the non-aligned or ‘boutique’ advisers will prosper again."

Niko Kloeten can be contacted at niko@goodreturns.co.nz

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