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I'm suffering from whiplash. Not sufficient for a claim, but I've just written an article for Asset's forthcoming tenth anniversary edition all about insurance over the last ten years while at the same time completing notes for my talk on insurance for the next ten!

Information-only Sales by AON - some risks are unique to RFAs

AON is following an information-only sales process for KiwiSaver, which has caused something of an uproar if you review the comments on the articles over at goodreturns. Here are samples of some outraged comments, the positions at times appear based on a limited set of facts and assumptions, perhaps just those offered in the article:

"I say shame on you AON"

Not sure that corporate naming and shaming is yet required.

"Have Aon and Chapman Tripp reviewed the FMA's guideline..."

I think Chapman Tripp can be relied upon to have read everything on the subject.

"FMA have made it clear that Class advice is where you are unable to identify the person i.e. you don't have their name, d.o.b, address etc - AON would fail this test. KiwiSaver should be taken out of the RFA space - QFEs should not exist as they are also a vehicle for hiding this sort of bad behaviour."

But class advice isn't the issue here, and what a judgement on QFEs!

This is neither new nor particularly radical. There is an exemption in the law for providing information from certain documents, including the prospectus and advertisements. This is the basis for AON's position.

When you think about it the overwhelming majority of KiwiSavers have entered the product with no advice. Defaulted in without even the fig leaf of an unread prospectus or investment statement, by Inland Revenue, or by an employer default. Or they have picked up a brochure in a bank and applied - helped through the form by a member of the bank's QFE - but receiving no advice.

But there are some risks unique to RFAs. Because they are used to giving advice they may be more likely to fall into the trap of answering questions beyond indicating the right section of the prospectus. Because they give advice on other products their clients may believe that they have received advice. That is the risk that the AON disclaimer document appears intended to mitigate: it is not a legal defence, because that lies elsewhere, it is an operational control. It appears to me that it is intended to remind the RFA not to give advice and to remind the client that they should actually seek it.

If only the Inland Revenue and employers were also required to offer such a warning to clients.


A Traumatic Tale of Loss and Heartache

You lose your keys all the time. Why? You know why - because you aren't disciplined enough to put them in the same place every time. Instead there are three or four places they could be - memories of placing them in each blur. Was that today? or yesterday? You waste time, effort, hunting with increasing frustration - and apparently this is a major cause of domestic strife. Esure, an insurance brokerage, has the facts here.

Kids Want More Money Advice

Apparently kids want more guidance with money. Not as much as the new Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, I suspect, but heh, faced with a researcher and a clip board I guess we all try and look concerned. You Can read more about it all here. In fact there are some interesting stats, many of which relate more to adults financial planning choices than the needs of educating kids.

Sideline - "App thinking" challenge to "Office thinking"

Microsoft Office has often been called 'bloatware'. Whatever the feature, it could be found in Office. That is a great strength - it means it was the sensible choice for everyone. Even though 95% of people would use only 5% of it's functionality. I've realised that mobile apps have changed that. Then I had one of those a-ha moments when I read something that explained really well why Mobile is challenging that:

Hilwa points out that the way iOS apps work has forced Windows developers to think about their current usage models in a different way. The simpler, single-stream, goal-oriented approach - especially compared with the drill-down dialog box-driven style exemplified by Microsoft Management Console - with greater reliance on context and what on-board sensors reveal, makes the "mobile style" of app development a compelling alternative, even for apps that are not, by definition, mobile.

From a piece by Scott M Fulton III, at ReadWriteWeb. If you liked that, check out the whole piece.