Congratulations to the winners of Workplace Savings Awards and Financial Services Council Awards. I was delighted to see Treena Jordan of AIA win the diversity award, and Ben Rose of nib win innovation, and Jenn Dobinson who has done lots of work with the New Zealand Society of Actuaries, along with colleague Peter Kenny of AMP.
Treena Jordan's win in the diversity category is worth explaining. Treena championed the removal of the HIV / AIDS exclusion from AIA's medical insurance. Recognising that the situation with HIV and AIDS has changed and enabled this product decision was important, advocating to recognise that and enable the change for consumers - that's the hard part, and I am very glad it has been done. There is more to be done - especially in trauma policies on the same point, disclosure around gender and sexuality, and supporting access to our products for vulnerable people with changes like in-language resources, and improved access to high quality financial advice.
Nominees that I particularly want to acknowledge are:
Mark Banicevich, Partners Life - who has done some incredible work with the FSC, given a great deal of time and effort, and is very generous with his time and expertise. He has strong values focused on the development of a better market place - and demonstrated those at the FMA and now in his role at Partners Life. Partners Life has allowed him to serve the industry in that way is also worth recognising.
Robyn Bartlett, Asteron Life - has a strong track record in product innovation. This is both hard to achieve in personal risk insurance and requires commitment and dedication in a supportive environment. The development of Workability, the changes made to the wider income protection range is another good example, since the nomination was made the launch of the continuous trauma benefit is more evidence.
Here are some photos of a couple of the winners - please bear in mind they were taken at the gala dinner.
Shelley Cox is Head of Adviser Distribution and Distribution Strategy at AMP. Cox graduated with a Bachelor of Technology in applied mathematics from Auckland University before working with leading consulting companies Cap Gemini and Davanti. With a background in change leadership before switching to operational management roles Cox’s experience was already broad. Adding adviser distribution and distribution strategy to her portfolio of experience enables her to bring very practical insight to our panel.
David Chaplin and Investment News NZ has an article detailing the re-start to the process of considering options for assets AMP 'manages for value' - which includes the New Zealand financial services business. More details at this link. The article also places the number of financial advisers in the AMP networks at 557.
Miriam Robyn at the Australian Financial Review thinks it is a bit rich for AMP's new Chairman, David Murray, to be handing out a lot of advice to others (Link) with this piece, tellingly titled: "AMP's "David Murray and his extraordinary chutzpah"
The most common types of non-underwritten life cover are typically more than double the cost of fully underwritten cover, and come with extensive exclusions. Price indications are available for research subscribers on Quotemonster, but a review we did for clients age 30 buying $200,000 of live cover, showed that non-underwritten cover was typically more than double. On small sums bought fr short periods, that makes little difference: but over any reasonable sum insured, for any reasonable period of time, that's a high price to pay. There are exceptions: AMPs KiwiSaver Essentials is one, and the Partners Life FastApp is another. AMP's cover is slightly pricier than normal, but avoids pre-existing conditions exclusions. Partners Life's FastApp is the same price as normal cover, but does have reasonably extensive exclusions.
Investment News NZ has a good article covering the AMP portfolio review. Link. The results were to be announced at last Thursday's AGM, but the announcement was delayed. The Investment News article is a good round up of the issues, including how the New Zealand business differs from the Australian one.
During work preparing for the FSC conference in September we have been looking into all sorts of interesting stories and ideas for conference sessions and participants. Thanks to Jenn Dobinson at AMP I was alerted to this one: Brent Williams project called "Out Of The Woods". Williams is not able to join us in September, but it is well worth taking a look at the graphic novel he produced to chart the story of how he found a way out of the woods of depression. Link.
ASIC has made this statement on the 'fees for no service' situation in Australia:
ASIC is and has been investigating AMP's conduct in relation to 'fees for no service' (FFNS) as raised in the evidence given at the Royal Commission.
This investigation has involved the FFNS conduct and related false or misleading statements to ASIC. ASIC has, as part of its investigation, received many thousands of documents and undertaken 18 examinations of AMP staff. ASIC is also ensuring that compensation is paid to impacted AMP clients.
ASIC has been cooperating with the Royal Commission on a range of matters that include both current and previous investigations.
More broadly, all financial institutions need to understand the importance of co-operating with the regulator and complying with the law when providing information to ASIC. Making false or misleading statements to ASIC can result in civil and criminal sanctions.
In accordance with our general policy on public comment we will not make further public statements about our investigation of these matters at this time.
It is the second-to-last dot point that should be considered with most pause. The Australian situation is different to the New Zealand one, laws are different, the superannuation environment is different, and the advice companies are different. People do make mistakes, and even make mistaken breaches of the law, and often, in commercial arrangements mistakes can be corrected - fees repaid, for example. I guess what ASIC is underlining here is that co-operation with the regulator is the best policy when such problems are found. I am aware of situations in New Zealand where companies have dobbed themselves in to the regulator, and have had situations dealt with in ways which successfully resolved the problem.
AMP is partnering up with Key to Life Trust and Mike King to raise awareness of youth suicide rates in NZ. 'The I AM HOPE tour is about raising awareness and encouraging communities and individuals to drive the attitudinal and social change that is needed to reverse the incidence of suicide and depression.' Click here to hear more from Mike King on this.