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Warning association numbers could fall

Financial Advice New Zealand numbers have lifted during the lockdown – but there’s a warning that there might be a slump ahead.

Monday, May 25th 2020, 5:43AM 5 Comments

Katrina Shanks, Financial Advice New Zealand

Chief executive Katrina Shanks said there had been 20 new applications for membership in the past month.

Normally, a typical month would include both new applicants and advisers retiring, the numbers of which would even each other out. But there had not been those retirements in recent weeks.

There is now a total of 1,655 Financial Advice NZ members.

In April last year, it had 1,680.

At the time of the creation of the new association, the IFA, PAA and NZFAA had a combined total of about 1,800 members.

Shanks said numbers fluctuated between 1,650 and 1,700.

Former IFA chief executive Fred Dodds said Financial Advice NZ’s membership was static.

But he said numbers would dip when the renewal notices were sent out in June. "If they're not getting new people in that's a bit of a problem."

At the IFA, numbers dropped by between 3% and 5% when people were asked to pay their subscriptions, he said. It could be hard for advisers to stomach association fees on top of PI cover, the cost of a CRM, FMA levies, the cost of licensing and AML audits.

"This is a bit of a tricky environment, advisers are trying to find their feet and decide which path they are going to walk down."

He said the association had about 20% of active advisers in its membership. But it needed to attract younger membership because its average age would be higher than the industry as a whole.

Shanks said the goal was still to grow the association. For some advisers, it would take time for the association to prove itself and show that it did have a voice for the sector, she said.

The work done during the lockdown to provide webinars and health and safety training had helped to show the association’s value, she said.

There had been 4,000 attendees at Financial Advice New Zealand’s Covid-19 webinar series, she said.

"We’ve had good outcomes for advocacy in the past three to four months."

Shanks said while the association had discussed taking a financial advice provider licence under the new regime, it had not been seriously considered as an option.

"When we talk about the changing environment as an organisation we talk about where we fit into the ecosystem."

Bruce Patten, who is head of growth at NZFSG, said it was possible that mortgage brokers could break off to form their own association if their numbers were high enough.

"However even within the industry there are other associations and I'm not sure the New Zealand market is ever going to be big enough to warrant it. There is strength in numbers when it comes to financial services, and you are better to have a single voice than several voices.

"The problem with the industry as a whole is that there are so many strong personalities that you can never please everyone all of the time. That is why you have splintering groups that set up their own associations with their own agenda and don't take into account the benefits of having a single approach. It's no different to the reason National vs Labour? Politics."

It had been suggested that the association could attain scale by merging with other groups, such as IBANZ.

Shanks said that could potentially give them a strong collective voice – and offer those groups access to its tools, standards and conferences.

Mel Gorham, chief executive at IBANZ, said that was not something that was being considered at this stage. She said it was felt that Financial Advice NZ was working in a different industry segment.

Tags: Financial Advice New Zealand

« Winners and losers of FMA levy hikeFSC: Advisers more important than ever »

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Comments from our readers

On 25 May 2020 at 8:56 am Pragmatic said:
I'd genuinely be interested in the IFA expanding on their benefits to members. Aside from holding the CFP licencing in NZ, I'm unsure whether the annual fee of $862.50 justifies the following:

1. Evidence of a commitment to professionalism: Does the consumer care, with the ultimate over-see'er being the FMA

2. Driving awareness of the value of advice. Aside from Money Week (does that really work???) I haven't seen huge evidence of this

3. A mechanism through which to differentiate your business. The net result being 1 of 1,655. Effective differentiation would be achieved by not being a member of the IFA

4. Professional development programs. These are available via a number of avenues (paid & free)

5. Keeping up-to-date with regulation and compliance. I thought that the FSC & FMA had done a pretty good job with awareness over the years

6. A desire to influence the direction of the profession. Not sure how that works in practice

7. Professional credentials. Refer point 1

8. Professional networking opportunities. Refer point 4

My intention is to be provocative, as many industry participants will be (rightfully so) questioning the relative value of all aspects of the industry, with offshore evidence suggesting that industry bodies are struggling to retain members. It's time for the industry body(s) to get their elevator pitch sorted and to remain relevant
On 25 May 2020 at 10:35 am LNF said:
IBANZ and FANZ have absolutely nothing in common
On 26 May 2020 at 8:54 am John Milner said:
Pragmatic, there appeared to be a number of RFA's attending Financial Advice NZ (not IFA) presentations on the new FAP regulations that were clearly lost. The association filled that gap where others hadn't.

I have been enjoying the weekly webinars made available through my association and saw some good exposure through Facebook last year.

Government, whether they are red or blue have said they are not interested in speaking with small splinter groups and welcomed our new association.

There is no doubt associations/groups are struggling to maintain numbers. It seems it's the nature of our times as connecting and sharing of information is now being satisfied through the internet. Groups like the Lions would be an example outside of our industry that struggle with numbers from what I can see.

After 30 odd years in the industry, I have found Financial Advice NZ to be a breath of fresh air with great communications. In contrast, I have observed a fair amount of apathy within advisers. All striving to meet a minimum entry level qualification, while our colleagues in Australia are lifting the bar to degree and master's levels.

If we want to be recognised as professional, get qualified (beyond entry level) and support your association. If you feel it's lacking, put up your hand and contribute to make it better.

On 26 May 2020 at 10:46 am Another AFA said:
Well said John. The old saying comes to mind - "You get out what you put in".
On 27 May 2020 at 8:42 am Pragmatic said:
Thanks @John Milner - great stuff (and apologies for my Freudian slip on the name). Whilst you are obviously appreciating the benefits of FANZ, there is a real apathy within the industry that FANZ will need to be prepared for... that was kinda my point. Retention & membership growth will be difficult going forward

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