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[Weekly Wrap] Some questions for the regulators

All the current talk about the review of the Financial Advisers Act has thrown up many questions, but there are two on my mind at the moment. Also there is an interesting observation.

Saturday, November 15th 2014, 8:55AM 1 Comment

by Philip Macalister

My observation is that when I looked at the credentials of the new Commerce Minister, Paul Goldsmith, and his low ranking in Cabinet, it was easy to paint a picture that wasn't particularly bright. I've never met the guy, yet, but his background can be characterised as being history-orientated and writing books. Politically he is well on the right. While he hasn't got a background in commerce or financial services, the fact that he appears to support the less-government approach to politics suggests he maybe an ally in reducing some of the regulatory burden being placed on advisers.

However, it isn't often governments take that approach to things.

One of the first places he could start is DIMS. It is now acknowledged by regulators and the like that the new DIMS rules are an over-reaction to the David Ross case. It's also a case that knee-jerk regulation which is rushed into place is usually bad legislation.

From all reports the FMA will next week produce a guide to applying for a personalised DIMS licence. Maybe with a new minister, a pending FAA review, and acknowledgement the new DIMS rules are nearly unworkable the powers that be should start again on this issue. 

It would be a good bet to say whatever is introduced will get changed in the FAA review. 

In recent speeches from the FMA it has become clear that the regulator is not yet ready to encourage the public, who it acknowledges needs financial help, to use financial advisers.

That's their prerogative, but considering all the effort, energy and money advisers have spent doing everything that has been asked of them, isn't it time they started to get some sort of payback?

If not then the FMA should be far more clear and specific what it's issues are. Maybe if it takes this stance and tells the public what to look out for then people could be encouraged to start talking to advisers.

FMA chief executive Rob Everett made the comment that advisers need to be better at expressing their value proposition, and that is something it should do.

The other comment which has started resurfacing is the need to harmonise adviser regulations between Australia and New Zealand. This seems like more bureaucratic claptrap which has next to zero benefit for advisers and the public.  

Anyone who has taken an interest in Australia and things like the FOFA "reforms" will be able to tell you that Australia isn't a great role model here.

It's like telling the All Blacks to copy the Wallabies.

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Comments from our readers

On 15 November 2014 at 11:42 am Murray Weatherston said:
Food for thought Phil. Great comment about the Wallabies.

A couple of things strike a special chord with me.

The first is that this is the second time you have reported that although noises have been made in FMA speeches about the importance of financial advisers, the FMA does not yet appear to be willing to stand up in public and actively promote to consumers the use of advisers. This "we will...but not yet" stance begs the question of what more must advisers do before the words are carried into action. The tone of the FMA monitoring reports is consistently "not up to scratch, must try harder!" Is there anyway you can get the FMA on record on specifics?

The second is your comments on Trans-Tasman Mutual recognition. It must be on the bureaucrats KPI to have everyone mutually recognised. I would love to know who the AFAs are who are arguing that they need mutual recognition, and that the lack of mutual recognition is holding them back. I've got $100 for charity if someone can show me evidence that even 10% of AFAs (that's about 180 individual AFAs) are publicly advocating for mutual recognition.

As an aside I had a light-bulb moment this week when it finally dawned on me that the way comparison with Australia works is this - if Australia is ahead of us on something, we have to change to catch up. But if we are ahead of Australia, its Australia who has to change to catch up. What exactly is the event we are competing in?

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