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Interviews

Next stop: Innovation

Fidelity Life chief executive Nadine Tereora says a $100 million investment from the NZ Super Fund has arrived at the perfect time.

Thursday, November 16th 2017, 12:48PM

How did it feel to nail that big deal, one year into your role?

I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s a fabulous fit for us. Fidelity Life is a Kiwi business and we’ve focused on looking after Kiwis. The Super Fund has the same ethos. They are all about enabling Kiwis to have a strong investment pathway from a Super perspective. We’re both very aligned in our whole ethos around helping New Zealanders.

How important was it for the company to get that capital injection at this stage of its life?

It’s no secret that we’ve been growing exponentially over the last couple of years. We’re also very future-focused, and we really needed some further capital to fund our strategy going forward. Given that we’ve got regulatory change on the horizon and all of the changing sands of the industry, it absolutely made sense to get capital in at this time.

We’ve seen this year that there is capital out there for the life insurance sector – is that a good sign?

I really, really believe it is. The fact that we have attracted such a quality investor in the Super Fund speaks volumes for the credibility of the business, its executive, and where they believe the future of the life insurance industry is.

Fidelity Life was set up by Gordon Watson all those years ago – what do you think he would think of a deal like this?

I think he’d be ecstatic. Gordon founded our business on the principles of everyday New Zealanders, and to make sure that they had access to quality advice through independent advisers. The fact that NZ Super Fund is such a good fit for us would have made him ecstatic.

What does it mean for advisers?

I think it really is a solid signal to our adviser community that there is absolutely a future in the advice industry. For us, it just reinforces the fact that our strategy is sound, when it comes to supporting independent financial advisers, and making sure that we continue to innovate product in a way that enables them to reach more Kiwis.

Will we see more product innovation come out of this?

Definitely.

What about tools for advisers, such as digital tools?

Absolutely. That’s at the forefront of our strategy going forward. We are very aware that customers are demanding so much more from their advisers. We’re also very aware that customers want to reach face-to-face advice differently, as well. That’s why our digital strategy is so important.

How will the digital strategy work for advisers?

A digital strategy is really all about enabling different ways for customers to interact with both their adviser and their life insurance product provider. It’s really making sure that they have access to the information they need, when they wish to access it, in a way they want to access it. For example, from an adviser’s perspective, it could be a lead generation opportunity. It’s also enabling their clients to access their policy information at the touch of a button, as opposed to needing to phone the adviser consistently. From a capital perspective in an adviser business, we’re hoping to deliver tools and enable technology tools that actually help them future-proof their business. That’s so they’re not having to inject their own capital into their businesses to thrive in the new regulatory environment.

Is it a sign that the company will go down the direct distribution channel?

No. We’ve been very clear about that. We’re very much focused on a customer-centric design. We’re also very focused on being complementary to our adviser business. That is the cornerstone of our business. It’s the business that Gordon Watson founded. It is a significant channel for us going forward. I think we’ve demonstrated that with the calibre of people we’ve been bringing in to bolster that part of our business.

How engaged do you think advisers are with the digital space?

I think we’re seeing many more digitally-enabled adviser businesses. It is absolutely the here-and-now, and it is absolutely the future. That’s why we’re so focused on building a strong digital backbone in the Fidelity business – so that we can continue to enable advisers going forward.

Will this be one of the most major transactions in the company’s life?

Yes, it will be. 12 December 2017 will definitely be a date that will go down in our history books! 12 December is the annual general meeting, which we have every year, but this year it will be slightly different, because we’re asking our shareholders to support the transaction that we’ve entered into.

Tags: Fidelity Life financial advisers GRTV investment Life insurance Nadine Tereora NZ Super Fund regulation technology

« Fiducian offers something a bit different[GRTV] Meet Financial Advice NZ CEO Katrina Shanks »

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