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FANZ versus Financial Advice NZ

A legal stoush is brewing over the use of four little letters, and advisers say those developing the new professional body for the industry may not have thought hard enough about its name.

Tuesday, September 19th 2017, 6:00AM 10 Comments

by Susan Edmunds

There has been much publicity around the new professional association to represent advisers, Financial Advice NZ, but a new issue has arisen as some industry participants have started to refer to it as FANZ in written and spoken communication.

Funds Administration New Zealand has for some time now been operating under the acronym of FANZ.

Executive director of FANZ, Graham Duston, said he was concerned about the potential that the name could cause confusion and FANZ was “monitoring the situation very closely”. 

It is believed that lawyers have already been called for their opinion and the issue has been raised with those developing the new association.

Advisers said it was potentially confusing.

"I think the choice of name was ill-considered given that someone else already 'owns' the initials," said financial adviser Simon Hassan.

Liz Koh said there needed to be a clear message to advisers and the media about what the association wanted to be called. "This is a real branding problem. People are people, they'll take shortcuts."

Asked what the association would do about those who opted to refer to it as FANZ, Michael Dowling, who is part of the establishment board, said it was working to correct publications that did so.

"If the name is abbreviated it would lose its impact and importance."

PAA president and establishment board member, Bruce Cortesi, along with Dowling said they focused on using the full name because of its impact, not because of concerns about FANZ confusion.

“We use Financial Advice New Zealand, the reason is when the brand was developed the developer said - use the whole brand because it makes it clear who you are, what you do and where you do it,” said Dowling. “It just made sense.”

Ben Cain, a senior associate at trademark specialist law firm James & Wells said there was a legal issue for Financial Advice NZ.

“Particularly because if there is confusion among consumers between itself and FANZ. If FANZ has a trademark registration for the acronym FANZ then it could allege infringement of that registration and/or breach of the Fair Trading Act 1986 and passing off by Financial Advice NZ. If it does not have a trademark registration for FANZ, then it could claim unregistered rights in the acronym and allege just breach of the Fair Trading Act 1986 and passing off by Financial Advice NZ.”

“If you have goodwill and confusion then there is the making of a dispute somewhere,” said another solicitor, Thomas Biss.

“If one party has a trademark then they are likely to win, but if two people are innocently using a similar name then there will be confusion, and once there is confusion, possibly conflict.”

The new association is still working towards incorporation and is working on its proposed constitution.

Tags: FANZ Financial Advice New Zealand IFA PAA

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Comments from our readers

On 19 September 2017 at 7:04 am Pragmatic said:
Without being disrespectful to either party involved in this dispute, I question whether this is really the biggest issue that faces the industry, and why it is being laundered in the public domain.

Common sense tells me that the acronym was already being used in the industry, and therefore the new entrant needs to change theirs. Mistakes are often made, it’s how we deal with them that will make the difference.

My thoughts: the industry body may find that it’s most efficient to write off their mistake, change their acronym / name to something that won’t offend, and get on with leaving molehills as they are
On 19 September 2017 at 7:19 am Murray Weatherston said:
How many great brands can you think of that have 4 words? 3 words?
Have to confess most of the ones that come most readily to mind have only 1 or 2 words.
So to avoid ongoing legal stoush with Dusty, why not simply shorten to Financial Advice?
On 19 September 2017 at 8:56 am Barry Read said:
Or why not adopt New Zealand Financial Advisers Association which is a party to the formation of the new association, NZFAA? It states clearly what the association is and avoids the confusion.
On 19 September 2017 at 9:58 am John Milner said:
I could be wrong Barry but I think one point of difference of the new group was to avoid appearing as an adviser group only but also appeal to the general public seeking advice. Thus not appearing to be a closed club. I think referring to the new group as an association could discourage some of the public to approach them.
On 19 September 2017 at 10:43 am Murray Weatherston said:
Dusty holds all the Aces (and the Joker, and all the Kings Queens and Jacks for that matter) in this dispute.
Funds Administration got protection for the wordmark FANZ in 2001 or 2002.
see NZ Intellectual Property Office 646127 at
End of story IMO.
On 19 September 2017 at 10:50 am Barry Read said:
New Zealand Financial Advice?
On 19 September 2017 at 11:07 am Bruce Cortesi said:
For the record of readers. The Working Group of Financial Advice NZ sought proper and good legal advice more than a year ago and discussed this particular issue with those concerned. Why it is even surfacing now in the public forum and in an environment where more important matters for the industry are being tabled is beyond me. More than one organisation uses the acronym referred to. It is not the intention of Financial Advice NZ. And lastly, no one can control how the public shorten or use words or refer to branding. Try AA and see how many you get.
On 19 September 2017 at 11:15 am Murray Weatherston said:
Why not another 100 day plan to find a new name?
On 19 September 2017 at 11:49 am Dirty Harry said:
goodness me. I wonder if the Franchise Association of New Zealand have offered their thoughts on this. No? The Football Association then? The Fertiliser Association (of NZ) will come up (eventually, after regular watering). We have Fire Apparatus of New Zealand (a subsidiary of Fire Test Services Limited) who might like to use FANZ as an acronym. Could it be that Fire Test NZ is too busy locked in a dispute with Forestry Training over the use of FTNZ?

So perhaps we should consider NZFA.
I wonder how the New Zealand Farriers Association, the New Zealand Falconers Association, the New Zealand Food Awards, the New Zealand Field Artillery (NZFA) Brigades, the New Zealand Flag Association, the New Zealand Field Archery Ass. or anyone who has a degree from the New Zealand Film Academy would feel about the new body using New Zealand Financial Advice....

Or is this simply something that is not even an issue. I’m off to think about something more worthwhile. Like donating on Give a Little to the losers from the block.
On 19 September 2017 at 12:26 pm Mr Slater said:
Well said Dirty Harry but you forgot the FANZ Programme at Autism NZ. What is interesting is that FANZ do not use the acronym for their website. It's Is that their new name?

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