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[The Wrap] Slow change coming

The year started with so much promise, but where did it end? Philip Macalister has a review of what's happened and some of the biggest stories of the year.

Friday, December 20th 2019, 5:29PM

One of the biggest stories of the year has been the demise of AMP. Once a giant of financial services the business will end up in the scrap yard and be broken up unless a buyer is found.

Already the life business, which AMP was built on has closed and, assuming Resolution Capital can do the deal, it will be put into a gradual wind down mode.

Word on the street is that a number of businesses have shown interest in the remaining bits of AMP. One of those is Kiwibank. It's shareholders have deep pockets and there is sense in growing the business so it can better compete with its big-Australian owned peers.

Booster too, has shown interest. But AMP maybe too big of a fish to swallow. 

Of course, Fisher Funds can't be ruled out as a bidder either.

Then again if the business is split up there are undoubtedly buyer for the various bits; advice, KiwiSaver and superannuation.

For instance Advice First is a natural fit for Lifetime which both operate a similar model using salaried advisers. KiwiSaver would no doubt be attractive to an existing player as this business is all about scale.  

No doubt a sale will be good for AMP Capital and it can get on and grow its already successful funds management operations.

Sticking with life insurance that has also been an area of massive change - with lots more to come. 

Change has been on two fronts - ownership such as the future of AMP, AIA taking over Sovereign and Cigna acquiring OnePath. While AMP has suffered from massive turbulence, AIA and Cigna have got on with getting their acquisitions sorted. While advisers voice concerns around the shrinking number of life companies in the market there does seem to be a growing amount of product diversification. The best example being AIA's Vitality programme.

But the big story has been how life companies deal with the conduct and culture review from the regulators. I had some pretty bad report cards at secondary school but with Adrian Orr at the Reserve Bank and FMA chief executive Rob Everett dished out to life companies was whole new league.

Life companies now have much large teams on compliance issues and that is only going to grow. The feedback is they are making progress towards the goals set by regulators, but it's a hard path as there aren't a lot of "how-to" guides.

Then there is the whole relationship between advisers, client and life companies. To get a feel of this I highly recommend you watch this Good Returns TV interview with Naomi Ballantyne at Partners Life. [WATCH HERE]

Financial advisers started the year expecting lots of change thanks to regulation. The reality is not too much changed at all. Sure changes are coming down the line, but during the year it has been pretty much business as usual.

Next year is bound to be different as advisers, especially in the life insurance and mortgage sectors, work out how the new laws operate. 

It seems there is also plenty more coming down the line. In recent weeks the government introduced its new Conduct laws into Parliament and they sat at number two on the Order Paper on the last day of Parliament. Assuming the order doesn't change they are next up as item number one was passed.

No one has completely got their mind around what impact these proposed changes will have on financial services. And being rushed legislation around a difficult to define area, it is unlikely to be perfect. 

 

Tags: Naomi Ballantyne Opinion

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