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Adviser wants 'gold standard' for industry

A financial adviser with trans-Tasman experience says New Zealand advisers are subject to insufficient regulation, compared to their Australian counterparts.

Friday, August 25th 2017, 6:00AM 6 Comments

Dylan Mann worked as an adviser in Australia from 1999 until he returned to New Zealand two years ago. He founded an advice group, iPraxis Financial Services.

In New Zealand, he is an AFA running The Advice Hub.

But he said New Zealand advisers seemed to be getting away too lightly when it came to regulation.

“I nearly fell over when I got back to New Zealand, did the qualifications conversions tests and realised that I could get someone set up as an adviser in a short period of time without the level of training and certification that would be expected in Australia.”

He said that prompted him to set up The Advice Hub, to offer more education for the industry and its clients. He has developed a “gold standard of practice” for his business and advisers he works with, which he wants to share with others in the industry.

The criteria for the standard include charging only appropriate commission for the service, advisers considering whether the products being recommended were right for the client, making sure the adviser provided a financial plan, and all advisers having PI cover.

Advisers should also have a review policy for all clients, he said, and deal with them from a goals-based perspective.

“It’s not rocket science. But it is amazing how much is not done or not required to be done. Advisers should be there for their clients, not for what they are getting paid. The problems are a problem with the industry not advisers per se. Better regulation could fix that and these things should be monitored. The Gold Standard could help with that.”

He said there was a lack of regulation in the industry and too little understanding in the community about what to expect from advisers.

“There some big problems ... Our industry needs to pull its socks up and up its game.”

He says the new laws will be a small step in the right direction. But if the industry could make changes proactively, without being forced, it would be more effective.

“It’s not about having years of practice under your belt, it is about ensuring your advice conforms to best practice standards and that you are doing the sort of things that should be done for your clients.”

The situation in New Zealand stands in stark contrast to that in Australia, he says. “There are strict rules there on what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to advice.”

“When I go to meetings here, it seems that all that is being talked about is how to increase commission. That is what it was like in Australia before the GFC. I am horrified and embarrassed by this.

“The thing is, as an adviser, you will make money, you don’t need to worry about that – the money will come. But you need to make your client the focus. The Gold Standard is all about making sure that your client comes first. There are easy ways of ensuring that you go about doing this – but it comes down to an adviser’s number one concern should always be to put the client first.”

PAA chief executive Rod Severn said advisers were already required to act with care, skill and diligence.

"A lot of the points raised here look towards a raising of the bar across the board for competence which we agree with. I would suggest a look at CFP qualification would assist here, however that will not be appropriate for all advisers, but we do agree with raising the standards as they are today."

Fred Dodds at the IFA said measures such as the level five qualification were also a mark of quality.

He said the key was for the industry to be seen as a profession. "So when you say you're a financial adviser, it means something."

Financial Advice NZ's establishment board is believed to be considering a quality mark standard for its members.

Tags: AFA CFP Financial Advice New Zealand financial advisers Fred Dodds IFA PAA PI regulation Rod Severn

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Comments from our readers

On 25 August 2017 at 8:19 am Murray Weatherston said:
Who says Australia is the model for sensible regulation? Certainly not all Australian advisers if you read their press.
And if NZ advisers are so poor, how come there have been so few referrals of AFAs to FADC, and how few EDRS cases have come to light?

PS Is FinAdvNZ (can't say FANZ apparently) considering a stamp other than CFP and CLU?
On 25 August 2017 at 10:58 am Barry Read said:
Dylan - Maybe you should make sure your website meets the basic NZ Regulations for financial advisers before throwing stones at others. I hope the FMA dont check it out before you get it fixed.
On 25 August 2017 at 11:21 am smitty said:
Interesting read, I was more interested in the piece at the bottom, that Fred Dodds thought the level 5 was a mark of quality. It takes the PAA Chief Exec to talk about the CFP qualification. What is going on here? It has long been my complaint that CFP is not marketed in NZ as the pinnacle in Advice. Fred, if you're not going to hold up CFP as where Advisers that are serious need to strive towards, then relinquish it to another professional body. Maybe you've been misquoted, either way its not a good look to not be supporting it or marketing it.
On 25 August 2017 at 2:49 pm MrDylanMann said:
@Murray I agree with you, Australia is not the model of successful introduction of positive regulation change. But having anyone register as a financial adviser, start moving people's life savings accounts (KiwiSavers) without any industry experience, qualifications, or consideration to the client's current Kiwisaver situation cannot be in the best interest of any client?

Our Australian friends introduced their core retirement functions in 1993, 2000 & 2001 after the tech fail there were many client complaints. Then again after the 2008 fail there were even more client complaints.

NZ introduced our core retirement functions much later in 2008, after the recent major financial market fails. As a result a large section of the NZ community holing growth assets have never seen their money go into negative territory leading to complaints that they "did (or Did Not) not know the investment risks".

I am only saying while NZ still has a very low rate of claims against financial advisers, currently around 2% (source http://ifso.nz/complaints/complaint-data/). We as an industry must look at smart ways to give clients the help they need understanding the investment risks of increasing balances in their savings accounts. This will lead to much lower Professional Indemnity Insurance premiums in the long term.

@Barry Thank you for pointing out that our website update was missing the disclosure link from our footer:) I do tell hundreds of people through my public talks that this disclosure is the first thing a consumer should give before they even make an appointment with any financial advice service.

I do recognise that some of the things that have been introduced in NZ are much smarter than our Aussie friends;

1. Kiwisaver funds collected by the IRD
2. Kiwisaver account in linked to the persons IRD number
3. Taxed investment savings regardless of age

Let's just lift our own socks as an industry because we can, not because we are forced to at the next market downturn leading to a wave of complaints.

Respect,
Dylan Mann
On 25 August 2017 at 4:34 pm Murray Weatherston said:
@Dylan
Thanks for providing the source of your stats for " while NZ still has a very low rate of claims against financial advisers, currently around 2% '.
My eyebrows rose (in disbelief) when I saw that stat which I interpreted to mean 1 in 50 advisers....
But on the website, it says that 5 out of 250 odd total complaints in one year and 5 out of 300 in the other had been against financial advisers.
That stat means 2% of the complaints had been against financial advisers, a low absolute number in a relatively low total number of complaints.
I think what you said could be interpreted as saying 2% of advisers have had EDRS complaints against them.
Not the same, I'm afraid.
And to get on my favourite hobby horse, while Australia might have a "best interests" duty, that is not the case in NZ.
On 25 August 2017 at 9:41 pm AFA Muggins said:
Dylan,
You may also want to have Barry Read go over your Primary and Secondary Disclosure documents which are on the internet, to get his view on them.

Also you need to be careful with statements on the internet such as "..is fully accredited at the highest level as an AFA Financial Advisor with the Financial Markets Authority (www.fma.govt.nz)." as that could be perceived to be an endorsement of you by the FMA.

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