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Members should understand how Financial Advice NZ makes decisions

Financial Advice New Zealand's chief executive says its organisational structure enables adviser voices to be heard - but some in the industry aren't convinced.

Wednesday, March 27th 2019, 6:00AM

Katrina Shanks

The structure of the new professional body is a change for some advisers.

Its policy is signed off by a board of directors. Only three of them are advice practitioners - John Bolton representing mortgage advisers, Cecilia Farrow for risk and Stephen O'Connor for investment and financial planning.

Debate about whether there should be a fourth, a separate financial planning representative, led to Nigel Tate's departure.

Shanks said policy ideas came from the membership, either directly or via member advisory committees.

The process was "relatively flat", she said, and open to member feedback.

"At the end of the day, it's a membership-based organisation, it's their organisation representing the strategy they want to take."

The Institute of Financial Advisers, whose members have now largely migrated the Financial Advice NZ, used to operate on a council basis, with 11 representatives from around the country meeting regularly to offer the voice of regional branches.

A source said, when an association made what seemed to be a reasonably dramatic change from that structure, replacing it with one where the board had the final say, there should be first high engagement with members. But that did not seem to have happened.

Former IFA chief executive Fred Dodds said members should understand the new structure. He said the existence of MACs was positive for those who wanted the voice of their discipline heard more specifically.

But he said the key was for the association to drive engagement from the top down.

Shanks said Financial Advice NZ needed to be agile and responsive.

It was always going to have to strike a balance as an advice-centric, membership-based association with a mandate to reach the public so that people understood the value of advice.

Murray Weatherston, of SiFA, said the MACs were too small to be driving policy.

"There's a real risk you'd end up representing the particular views of people who end up being on the MAC rather than the organisation."

Tags: Financial Advice New Zealand

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