AMP's Jack Regan reflects on 10 years at the helm

AMP’s former managing director in New Zealand says he is leaving the financial services sector in a much healthier position than that in which he found it.

Thursday, January 19th 2017, 7:13AM

Jack Regan handed over the reins to Blair Vernon at the start of the month, and has returned to Australia, where he will lead the company’s advice and New Zealand businesses.

He spent 10 years at the helm of the business in New Zealand, including overseeing the merger with AXA, and growing AMP’s “product relationships” from 380,000 to 840,000.

Regan said it had been “a massive period of change” for financial services. “But it has come out at the end a much more viable and vibrant industry, with a lot more contemporary investors and products,” he said.

He pointed to the advent of financial adviser regulation, prudential regulation, anti-money laundering rules and the Financial Markets Conduct Act, as well as the arrival of the PIE regime and KiwiSaver.

The changes had prompted a new level of maturity in the sector and had completely reshaped New Zealand’s savings environment, he said. “We’ve now got positive flows into the industry, albeit on a very different basis to the historical product structure. At least it’s a place where advisers can look forward in the future to having clients that will have substantial investment-style assets that will require their support and advice, that’s a positive outcome.”

Advisers were now more professional, he said, and New Zealanders were maturing as investors. “We’re in the early stages of what is a great journey, so long as the commitment remains to the settings that support that growth. It’s now a very different industry but an industry of high quality, capability and transparency and the consequence of that is much better levels of confidence and literacy emerging.”

The advice industry had also had to contend with an increasing digitisation of delivery, which had meant significant investment in technology for AMP, he said, and changed the way many market participants would work.

Regan said the financial advice sector and financial services more generally “still had a way to go” but were on a much more sustainable footing than they were 10 years ago.

Regan was broadly supportive of the looming rewrite of the Financial Advisers Act. He said the different categories of advisers and products, as implemented by the current version of the Act, had been unsuccessful.

“You could have people with historical books acting as RFAs but collecting payments from customers on wealth management products that they can’t provide service on. Ultimately that is unaccetable.

In Australia, that’s unlawful. These are the sorts of things that will become issues over time and you’ve got to address them. You can see what happens when we have two tiers of advisers with different standards of education, disclosure and accreditation attached – we’ve had the majority of people go to the softer environment and that’s set up tensions between the two cohorts of advisers and confusion in the minds of consumers. What they are proposing is a step in the right direction, for sure.”

He said New Zealand advisers had been subject to much less regulatory upheaval than their Australian counterparts.

Regan said he would commute regularly to New Zealand. “It’s never done but now is as good a time as any to hand the baton over to fresh legs,” he said.

Regan said he was pleased to pass the job to an internal successor. “There is every reason to be very optimistic about the future state of this business.”

Tags: AMP Jack Regan

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