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Legal and regulatory update: quarterly regulation metrics released

30 July 2020 – NZX released its Quarterly Regulation Metrics for Q2 2020, containing information on NZX Rules and policy consultations as follows:

·        Consulting on proposals to amend the disclosure setting for direct listings, with submissions closing on 31 July

·        The proposed “Hygiene Review” of Listing Rules has been deferred to later in 2020

·        Considering submissions on the consultation on the introduction of a Mid-Point Order Book, an anonymous unit order book, intended to be made available in 2021.


AIA set to host online health and wellness event, and more daily news

It was announced that AIA will host an online health and wellness event, AIA Live, on August 2 2020 from 2 pm to 10pm. The event will be focused on mental wellbeing, exercise, activity and rest, nutrition and personal growth while also incorporating music and comedy into the sessions. AIA Life is set to solidify AIA’s commitment to encouraging healthy living. 30 sessions will be running during the event to appeal to people of all ages and in different regions.

“AIA, the largest independent publicly listed pan-Asian life insurance group, today announced plans to host its first ever regional online health and wellness event, spanning 13 markets and headlined by AIA’s Global Ambassador David Beckham.

AIA Live will be broadcast on Sunday 2nd August and will include more than 30 unique sessions, delivering health and wellness content to inspire, motivate and educate people across the region as part of AIA’s commitment to helping them live Healthier, Longer, Better Lives. Key themes will include mental wellbeing, exercise, activity and rest, nutrition, personal growth, as well as light-hearted moments of music and comedy.

AIA Live has been designed to appeal across all age groups and multiple markets, celebrating the cultural diversity of the region while at the same time bringing people closer together to deepen their knowledge of health and wellness in a fun and engaging way.”

Although registration is required, AIA Live will be hosted on AIA’s Healthy Living YouTube channel. This event allows AIA Vitality members to earn points. As part of the event AIA New Zealand ambassadors Ian Jones and Jess Quinn will be hosting activities. Jess Quinn will be running a body image workshop while Ian Jones will be holding a HIIT workout session.

“AIA Live will be hosted on AIA’s Healthy Living YouTube channel and AIA Vitality members will be able to earn AIA Vitality Points for taking part. By registering for the event, participants will also earn the chance to win significant prizes including trips to London to watch Spurs play and meet their first team players, as well as signed footballs from David Beckham, virtual cooking lessons with Jeremy Pang, and merchandise from our other ambassadors. AIA also plans to host similar days in China and India in early September, with tailored content for those markets.

AIA Live will be broadcast in New Zealand on Sunday 2nd August from 2PM-10PM. As part of the event, AIA New Zealand ambassadors Jess Quinn and Ian Jones will be taking part with Jess running a body image workshop and Ian demonstrating an at-home High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Kiwibank: Thousands of Kiwibank customers caught up in privacy breach

Southern Cross: Health screenings 101

AMP: KiwiSaver Still Attractive In ‘retirement’


Legal and regulatory update: introduction of RBNZ bill and details on FMA levy amounts

28 July 2020 – The government, RBNZ and Treasury announced the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bill was introduced to Parliament. This is the first of two bills resulting from the Phase 2 review of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand Act 1989. As part of the broad-ranging review, the Government has decided that the current Act will be replaced with two new pieces of legislation – the ‘Reserve Bank Act’ and a ‘Deposit Takers Act’.

 

29 July 2020 – FMA and MBIE advised of the release of details of FMA levy amounts for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 financial years, and the outyears. It also covers the levy amounts for the new Financial Advice regime, which commences on 15 March 2021. Further details are available on the MBIE website at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/about/news/changes-to-fma-levies/ and at https://www.mbie.govt.nz/business-and-employment/business/financial-markets-regulation/crown-entities-we-monitor/financial-markets-authority-funding/


Australia: dramatic reduction in accessibility of advice on life insurance

Research in Australia shows underinsurance increasing and predicts that in the near future only the very wealthy will be able to access personalised advice from an adviser, due to recent regulatory changes. This is the consumer version of those stories we have been sharing about the number of Australian advisers leaving the sector. 

“On the current trajectory, within three years, only the wealthiest 15 per cent of Australians will be able to access life insurance with personal advice,” the group said.

Read more here, by Sarah Kendell, at Independent Financial Adviser. 

 


nib partner with Ronald McDonald House, and more daily news

nib announced that they will maintain their partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities to support families at this time. During lockdown nib worked to provide 28 rooms in both Auckland and Wellington with necessary appliances to ensure social distancing requirements were met by all. The $20,000 investment ensured each room was equipped with a fridge, kettle, toaster and microwave.

“Deemed an essential service by the Ministry of Social Development during Alert Level Four, RMHC New Zealand, like many other services, had to adapt to ensure they could continue to provide free accommodation to families when their child is in a hospital away from home.

In order to meet isolation requirements, 28 rooms across the Auckland and Wellington houses were converted into self-contained units, to enable long stay families to remain in their ‘home-away-from-home’ during lockdown.

With the communal kitchens closed, nib bolstered its existing RMHC New Zealand national partnership with a further investment of $20,000 to enable each room to be kitted out with a fridge, kettle, toaster and microwave to ensure families could function safely in their bubbles. A further 12 rooms were also supplied with kettles for short stay families, so social distancing could be maintained.”

Amy Tribe nib foundation Executive Officer has said that nib is proud to continue supporting Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“nib foundation Executive Officer, Amy Tribe, says nib is proud to continue supporting an organisation that helps so many Kiwi families, especially during a time of such difficulty.” Click here to read more

Nib partners with Ronald McDonald House  July 27 2020

In other news:

FMA: FMA released an update of its Immediate Priorities during Covid-19 response and recovery over the next 3-6 months together with a related FAQs webpage

FMA: FMA upset at KiwiSaver report leak

BNZ: BNZ economists expect “straightforward” OCR hold

Financial Advice: Non-Bank Lenders discussing different market requirements and products which are available


What is your advice business like?

Seth Godin, in one of his pieces describing the shift to online absolutely nails the definition of which businesses can most effectively compete with big tech, and which cannot: 

What if the work you do is:
compliance-based
standardized
repetitive
not based on innovative or flexible customer interaction…
If it is, it’s pretty likely that you’ll be replaced by a combination of robots, AI and outsourcing.
If they can find someone or something cheaper than you, they’re going to work overtime to do so.
The alternative is to be local, creative, energetic, optimistic, trusted, innovative and hard to replace.

If your compliance process makes your business compliance-based, standardised, and repetitive... then it is turning you into robot food. On the other hand, if it is helping you deliver that business described in the last line, you are future-proofing your business. 

 


Westpac change decision on claim, and more daily news

Rob Stock, reporting at stuff.co.nz tells us: After Joe Lobban’s death his partner Sam Robertson was informed by Westpac Life that they wouldn’t pay out the $480,000 life insurance claim as the insurer believed that Joe had failed to disclose medical information when applying. After seeking legal help Sam was able to ensure the claim was paid out.

“A year after her partner died of a heart attack, a New Plymouth woman and her two school-age daughters have finally been told by Westpac Life it will pay out on his life insurance.

Westpac Life told Sam Robertson in May this year that it would not pay the $480,000 claim, alleging Joe Lobban had failed to disclose medical information when he applied for the policy in 2014.

It was a blow for Robertson and her daughters who were scraping by on benefits, living in a rented house.

But Robertson, aided by lawyer Tim Gunn, got Westpac Life to reverse its decision, though he said was “unfortunate that this has taken the intervention of an insurance lawyer to have Westpac honour their policy"”

Sam made the claim in May 2019 after Joe died of a heart attack but was informed of Westpac’s decision to decline the claim in May 2020. After Sam’s lawyer Tim Gunn challenged Westpac’s decision, the insurer informed Sam of its decision to pay out the life insurance in July 2020.

“Lobban died in May last year of a massive heart attack, aged just 30.

The fit and active share milker had an un-diagnosed congenital heart condition.

Robertson made the claim to Westpac Life two weeks after Lobban’s death, but it took the insurer until May this year to indicate its intention to decline the claim.

After Gunn challenged the legality of Westpac Life’s decision, it reversed its decision in a letter dated July 14.” Click here to read more

We would like to highlight that we do not know the entire story. Overwhelmingly the industry has a great record on claims, but of course, a few claims can be either paid when they should not, or denied when they should not. 

In other news:

Asteron Life: TalkBack feedback programme introduced

sigma 4/2020: World insurance: riding out the 2020 pandemic storm

Financial Advice: Adviser Peer Support registration


Consumer NZ seeking to end the sale of funeral cover, and more daily news

Consumer NZ has again criticised funeral insurance policies citing high premiums. Jon Duffy, Consumer NZ CEO used an example of an 85-year-old policyholder who has paid $18,900 in premiums after taking out a $10,000 funeral insurance for herself and her son in 2003. Fidelity Life denied requests to refund the additional amount paid in premiums as the policy had worked as it was designed. Jon Duffy has said that charging customers excessive amounts to cover a guaranteed event isn’t acceptable.

“Consumer NZ has taken aim at the poor value of some funeral insurance policies, highlighting a complaint it received from a customer who paid $18,900 in premiums for a policy worth only $10,000.

 

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy says the customer, an 85-year old woman, took the insurance out in 2003 to cover herself and her adult son, and was given cover of $5,000 for each life insured. Over the next 17 years, she paid out almost $9,000 more in premiums than the policy would ever have paid out.

 

The insurance was provided by Fidelity Life, which has refused to refund the additional premium and says the policy had worked “as designed.” Duffy says that since funeral insurance covers an event which is guaranteed to happen, selling funeral policies that result in customers paying thousands more than they would ever get back “doesn’t wash.””

This is a curious position - to define the value of an insurance policy solely by the payment that would come from it. For example, over the years, I have definitely paid in many thousands more in premium for car insurance than they have paid me out. It enables me to drive on the roads without fear of ruining someone else's life, or my finances, by an expensive crash. I will never receive back in claims what I have paid in premiums, but I still got - and continue to get - good value from the contract. 

When asked to comment the FMA stated that funeral insurance had been identified as a product that offers customers poor value in their joint life insurer conduct and culture 2019 review.

The FMA appears to have a more nuanced view, simply citing poor value:

“In response to an enquiry by Insurance Business, the FMA noted that it had already identified funeral insurance as a product that “often provides poor value” in its 2019 review into life insurer conduct and culture, conducted alongside the Reserve Bank. 

 

“The review considered funeral insurance to be a ‘poor value product’ and consequently had poor outcomes for customers,” it stated. “[The review] also provides an example of poor conduct involving funeral insurance.””

In part, poor value is a function of the small sums insured in these products: the administrative costs of insurance companies, especially using manual processes common for this market as many of these consumers struggle with the internet, make each policy subject to a relatively high component of administrative costs. 

Consumer NZ is looking to end the sale of funeral insurance and other products that offer customers poor value.

 “Consumer NZ says it will push for a law change that will prevent companies from selling funeral insurance, along with other products which offer poor value.” Click here to read more

I think that Consumer are referring to their support for new draft conduct law, which is also supported by the industry in concept. The advantage of a principles-based approach is that blunt instruments, like banning all funeral cover, can be avoided. After all, if you are 67, have several serious conditions, and no financial assets, but you wish to avoid burdening children with your final expenses, then a $75 a month will cover that financial risk, right now. There are simply not many other solutions, except save, and the cost will be borne by others should you die. Of course, if you keep paying it until you die, you may pay more than the sum insured. Life insurance is something best replaced by financial assets at some point in your life. 

FSC Connect Webinar : Media, Journalism and Opinion through COVID-19

FSC: Get In Shape Session 6: An opportunity to redesign your advice process

Financial Advice: Trusted Adviser mark achievable for all members over time: Shanks


Incentives for the right behaviour, and more daily news

Victoria University’s Economics of Disasters and Climate Change Chair Ilan Noy made a few suggestions when addressing Insurance Council members. To begin Noy pointed out that insurers could incentivize more clients to take out policies by introducing products that offer a greater scope of cover.

“Victoria University of Wellington’s Economics of Disasters and Climate Change Chair Ilan Noy said that, at the moment, insurance doesn’t realistically incentivise risk reduction as much as it needs to. He says part of this needs to happen through lobbying the government to make certain changes, but also potentially providing new products with an increased scope of cover.”

A common issue faced by clients during the lockdown was confusion over their cover limits. To minimize confusion, Noy encouraged insurers to either introduce new products or adjust current risk limits.

“Noy says insurance can also incentivise customers to directly reduce their own risk, and its other crucial role is improving and speeding up recovery from an event. He says a major problem during the COVID-19 pandemic has been confusion over limits of cover, and this may need to be remedied with new products or adjusted risk limits.” Click here to read more

The question of directly incentivising behaviour that reduces risk is always vexed. There are two main levers for providing feedback on risks that are controversial: the first is the willingness to offer cover or not, the second is the price for cover. These are strong, market-based, mechanisms which are employed all the time. A I know of a couple who first took proper control of their adult onset diabetes when they were deferred for cover by an insurer - it suddenly became real for them. I also know that insurers are routinely criticised for not offering cover to people they deem uninsurable as this is seen as 'unfair'. I also know that when insurers charge more for certain risks - for example, housing in coastal districts and earthquake zones - they are again criticsed heavily for a lack of 'fairness'. In a country where we have made desperately slow progress on climate change this price signal should be celebrated. 

The link between product design and incentives also reminded us to link to the question of IP pricing and product design - see below. 

Price is an incentive. In many activities, it is time to pay attention to it.

In other news:

Fidelity Life: two roles in the design team are being advertised  

FMA: Head of Banking/Insurance role being advertised

FMA: FMA publishes derivatives issuer Sector Risk Assessment

Should we be warning consumers about IP prices?


FMA survey findings, and more daily news 

Part two of the results of the FMA’s investor confidence survey have been revealed.  Although the focus is on investment, it is interesting to see the current thinking of New Zealanders in terms of accessing financial advice. The survey found that males are more likely to seek out an adviser. Although only 17% of respondents were Asian, they made up 30% of the total respondents that would seek help from an adviser. Gillian Boyes, FMA investor capability manager has said that more people are looking for financial information. 

“Those looking for an adviser were significantly more likely to be male – at 63% compared to 49% across all investors, with investments outside KiwiSaver, working full-time and more confident in New Zealand financial markets. Nearly 30% of those looking for an adviser were Asian – Asian people were just 17% of the survey respondents.

 

FMA investor capability manager Gillian Boyes said advisers would need to try to tap into other markets and find people who were not necessarily even thinking about investment advice now.

 

She said people were generally much more engaged and looking for information about investment and finances. “It’s an ideal time for advisers to reach out.””

During Money Week, Financial Advice will run a joint event with the FMA at The Base in Hamilton to address questions the public may have around money.

“The FMA and Financial Advice NZ will run an event during money week at which people will be encouraged to bring their money questions to advisers at The Base shopping mall in Hamilton.” Click here to read more

In other news:

Financial Advice: Financial Advice set to hold hour-long webinar every day of Money Week for consumers

Financial advice: Money week webinars are as follows:

·       Monday 10th: Financial Planning – Hannah McQueen

·       Tuesday 11th: Mortgage Discussion – John Bolton

·       Wednesday 12th: Insurance Discussion – Peter Leitch

·       Thursday 13th: Retirement Planning – Liz Koh

·       Friday 14th: Investment Discussion – Paul Sewell

Revealed: New Zealand's Top Advisers 2020

Partners Life: Expressions of interest now open for our 3 day New Adviser Training Course - August 2020

FMA: Proposed standard conditions consultation submissions close 5pm on Friday 7 August 2020