[The Wrap] Reflections of Rob Everett's reign

Financial Markets Authority chief executive Rob Everett walked out the door on Friday after seven years at the helm of the regulator. How did he do?

Saturday, October 30th 2021, 9:52AM

by Philip Macalister

It's always a tough gig to try an assess the performance of someone like a regulator, but we are lucky because Rob Everett did an extensive video interview last week. Good Returns will run it as a series, with the first one on financial advice here.

In others we cover KiwiSaver, the Big End of Town and Conduct.

One thing I have found about Everett is that he has always been straight up, and doesn't get caught up in some of the corporate bs we often see from chief executives and managing directors.

In many ways he had a tough gig.

At a big picture he came into an organisation which was still in its infancy. The FMA has just celebrated its first 10 years and Everett has been at the helm for nearly eight of them.

During his reign the regulator's remit has been ever expanding, and by the looks of it that will continue for the foreseeable future. 

The first group which came up for licensing was financial advisers and, as he explains, they are the most difficult group as it is made up thousands of people with many different business models. 

Advisers have been openly hostile, maybe that is partly to do with his predecessor who antagonised the sector with a series of 'cowboy' ads.

In this interview Everett concedes it may have been better to licence financial advisers later, but that was not his call.

It was a tough gig too as the Big End of Town (BEOT) displayed, frankly, an arrogant approach to regulations and the regulator. In one of our next pieces I talk to him about this. You can tell from his comments that he was frustrated by this arrogance. Surprisingly, it still continues to linger to some degree. 

The Australian Royal Commission was quite fortunate for regulators in New Zealand as it gave them a circuit breaker to get on and do things that otherwise they may not have been able to do. This includes dives into the life insurance and banking sectors.

Financial services was fortunate to have a leader like Everett. His approach has been to engage and bring the sector along on what is a complex and difficult journey.

However, he has has not been afraid to use the stick when necessary.  

Looking back over the years the FMA has much better relationships with the advice sector, than when Everett started. It has put considerable resources into working with the sector.

These comments in his speech to the FSC arguably sum up the philosophy Everett embraced during his term as CEO:

This industry in NZ will flourish if it remembers who it serves. 

That is every man, woman and child in New Zealand.  If you work in financial services, you provide vital products and services to New Zealanders.  Advice, insurance, banking, managed funds, investment products and platforms. 

Our economy cannot thrive without confidence that financial products and investments are offered and sold honestly and fairly.


Tags: FMA Rob Everett

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