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Which advisers will win the future?

Russell Hutchinson gives some advice on preparing for the new regulatory regime.

Wednesday, October 28th 2020, 10:15AM

by Russell Hutchinson

In economics there can be many winners – and there don’t have to be losers – but some people won’t be as well adapted to the future as they could be. What do you need to be fit for the future?

This year has served up many challenges. The implementation of the new financial advice law in 2021 is already demanding changes, it will bring economic challenges too. Although rare, for those of us working in the insurance sector, we know that sooner or later, bad things do happen.

Those who are prepared, flexible, and innovative – and crucially, capable of taking advice.

Being prepared is vital because it would be wrong to think in terms of change being a case of unfreeze, make a change, then re-freeze. Some long-run trends – bigger than the sector, bigger than New Zealand – are continuing to develop that ensure further change is coming.

Those big trends are consumerism, technological change, and regulatory change.

Although I heard Rob Everett, chief executive of the Financial Markets Authority, state that proposed conduct law is really the completion of the legal and regulatory framework for New Zealand, at the recent Financial Services Council conference, we can expect continuing change.

Why? The regulator will need time to tweak the implementation of the new regime, and there are always new issues created by consumer experience, and new technology to deal with.

Continuing change means having the resources to monitor and continue to adapt as the environment demands. The specific forms of preparation are probably access to capital, good market information, and additional expertise for your advice business.

Because change cannot be predicted flexibility is crucial. Some provisions for flexibility are simple such as conserving capital and investing in technology to permit home-working and digital engagement with clients. Some aspects of a resilient approach are more difficult – they are attitudinal for example, or they are about ensuring that you are exposed to new information, and not caught in an echo chamber, only hearing what you have heard before.

Angus Dale-Jones, chair of the Code Working Group, said recently that he hoped the new advice regulatory regime would allow innovation to flourish. That is perhaps a surprising thing to hear from the writer of a rule-book.

But ours is a principles-based approach. It is meant to avoid the hard boundaries of prescription and enable advisers to operate in many different ways.

To hear that from the head of the Code Working Group is therefore immensely liberating. You can treat with scepticism those who try to tell you that there is only one best way to run an advice business. Dale-Jones also added “there should be many open doors”.

If the doorway to innovation is truly open, then you can be sure that some advisers are going to take it. Don’t be left behind.

Lastly, I know that in my business I have succeeded most when I have been able to take advice. Advice has helped me to grow, to conquer fears of investing, hiring staff, trying news things. It can do that for you too – so if you are wondering how to manage in the changing environment, always remember that you don’t have to do that alone.


Tags: Opinion Russell Hutchinson

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