Suicide rates in England and Wales during COVID-19, and more daily news

We hear a lot about how hard covid-19 control measures - especially those that restrict people to just home, or 'lockdowns' - are on mental health. Clearly, for some people, they are catastrophic: someone in a deteriorating relationship with a violent partner would clearly be devastated by a  stay-at-home order. While we have had some interim announcements on the subject here, which were reassuring, we haven't had much data to go on, until now. A recent study on suicide rates in England and Wales during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic helps to fill that gap.

The study was based on official death registrations from April to July 2020. It was found that there were fewer suicides than the previous year with 1,603 suicides on record, compared to 1,955 suicides in 2019. The study found the 2020 suicide rates were lower than the 5-year average (2015 to 2019 April to July period)  of 1,835 suicides. The study also revealed that men made up 73.9% of the recorded 1,603 suicide deaths between April and July 2020. The study has credited the lower suicide rate between April and July 2020 to a reduction in suicide during April 2020. That is encouraging news, it means we cannot automatically assume that stay-at-home orders will result in more suicides. On the other hand the UK plainly has a much better track record in dealing with mental health challenges that we have (compare suicide rates per 100,000 of population for evidence). Click here to read more

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In other news

Lifetime: Lifetime Group set to acquire One50 Group

Southern Cross: Talking about dad's health on Father's Day

FSC Connect: Customers, complaints, code and claims - What have we learnt from COVID-19?


mySolutions full FAP application sessions, and more daily news

mySolutions are set to run full FAP application sessions in the coming months in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, and Christchurch. Those living in other cities have the opportunity to attend a session in their city as long as there are a minimum of eight attendees. Those wishing to attend sessions should email their interest to shelly@mysolutions.nz

Prices

mySolution members: $2,500 per FAP

Non-members: $2,850 per FAP

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In other news

Financial Advice: Financial Advice is looking for someone to join as a Business Development Manager 

Cigna: Cigna scholarship boost for aspiring actuary

RBNZ: Monetary Stimulus Reduced

Partners Life: Client Education Resources Published by Partners Life

AIA:  AIA to Research Mental Health Issues Among Financial Advisers


Wealthpoint introduces general insurance service, and more daily news

Wealthpoint has introduced the launch of the standalone General Insurance brokerage. Wealthpoint CEO Simon Manning has said that Wealthpoint General Insurance was formed to support advisers expand general insurance services as well as expanding supplier members with a focus on growing commercial, property and liability business lines. Wealthpoint General Insurance is based on the longstanding relationship with Vero and AMP General as well as new arrangements with Delta and Star Insurance. Manning has said that the dealer group has been considering this for a while as general insurance has always been a significant part of business for members. Creating a standalone brokerage means that Wealthpoint can form a working relationship with larger insurers under the IAG brand. Wealthpoint has partnered with Steadfast to form the new brokerage.

“The dealer group, formed from the former AMP advisers association, launched Wealthpoint General Insurance, a standalone brokerage for its 50 member businesses to transact through.

Wealthpoint chief executive, Simon Manning, said Wealthpoint General Insurance had been formed primarily to support member businesses to expand their general insurance offering to clients.

He said Wealthpoint was keen to expand the range of suppliers members could deal with, particularly for commercial, property and liability business lines.

Successful long-term relationships with AMP General and Vero Insurance were still in place and new supplier arrangements with specialist insurers such as Delta and Star Insurance were introduced for Wealthpoint members in the past year.

But, Manning said Wealthpoint was conscious that access to some of the larger insurers, including those operating under IAG brands, was only possible if structured through a standalone brokerage.

"General insurance has always been a pretty big part of our members' businesses and it's been something we have been thinking about for a long time," Manning said.

"There are a few unknowns about how much it will be used as it is only an option for our businesses who want to expand their GI operations or look to bring in more expertise."

Manning said uptake had been encouraging since they began offering its expanded services at the start of this month and "if we overshoot on our expectations then we will have to look for some more people pretty quickly".

"At the moment we are a small staff and are monitoring things closely but the phones have been ringing, so it's pretty encouraging."

He said while some Wealthpoint member businesses had explored the option of setting up their own brokerages, there were significant barriers such as high setup costs, lack of scale at member level and potential regulatory risks.

He said with that in mind Wealthpoint had joined forces with Auckland-based brokers Steadfast.

"They have been extremely helpful, they are very professional and have arrangements with virtually all of the market so that's helped us form alliances with all of the providers we want to.

"They have given us a really good tech platform as well.

"Now it's up to us working through the list of insurers and working with them to bring them onstream. Getting agreements in place will take time and we are being quite methodical working through that." Click here to read more

In other news

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nib: nib and ACC held a webinar

RBNZ: Reserve Bank responds to call for Climate Change consultation


Partners Life announces increase to medical pricing, and more daily news

Partners Life has announced a 10% price increase to the Private Medical Cover and the Specialists and Tests option. The new rate will come into effect from 12 April 2021. From 29 March, advisers will be able to quote using the current or new rates on the Quote System. New rates will apply to new customers while the new rates will apply to existing customers on their next policy anniversaries on or after 12 April 2021. Exact changes in price will vary depending on age related premium changes, inflation adjustments, underlying premium rate and policy fee increases, benefit expiry premium reductions, and loyalty discount changes.

“In order to continue to offer top ranked products to you and your clients we have to regularly review our premium pricing structures. Product innovation is something we take extremely seriously and as such we spend considerable time in balancing a first-class product offering with a competitive pricing structure. The time has now come to apply a premium increase to Private Medical Cover and the Specialists and Tests option.

Having completed a routine review of emerging claims experience and considering medical inflation, we have determined that an underlying premium rate increase of 10% will take effect from 12 April 2021.

From 29 March the Quote System will allow you the option to either quote using the existing rates or the new rates (it will default to the new rates).

From 5 April the Quote System will automatically use the new rates.

These premium increases will take effect on next policy anniversaries on or after 12 April 2021. Clients will receive their anniversary letter which will advise them of the new premiums payable from their anniversary date.

The total change in premium payable from the previous year is calculated based on age related premium changes, inflation adjustments to benefits and therefore premiums, underlying premium rate and policy fee increases, benefit expiry premium reductions, and loyalty discount changes.”

In other news

Partners Life: February webinar about disclosure converted into a Partners Life Academy course with five short videos with knowledge assessments

Actuaries Institute Australia: Under the Spotlight – Ricky Au

FMA: Unlicensed advisers need a contingency plan: FMA

Fidelity Life: Fidelity Life - My Story - David & Cheri Flight with intro from Carl Drummond


Quality Product Research appoints new General Manager

We are pleased to announce that Treena Jordan has been appointed General Manager of the team at Quality Product Research Limited. Treena has an extensive background in product development and is extremely adviser focused. Over the last 20+ years Treena has worked for AIA, Sovereign, and Cigna as well as life insurers in both Australia and New Zealand.

Due to the increasing scrutiny with the new regime ahead we believe it is essential to grow our resources. Having Treena on board now means that we will have two full time product experts in the team. Treena has substantial experience working with advisers and is a very industry-focused person. Her involvement working with advisers around business insurance will be extremely valuable. Those of you that have worked with Treena in the design of business insurance products will be aware of her passion for good insurance cover.

As part of the change in team you can expect to hear more from Doreen and Treena  as they are keen to hear from you about your experiences with our product providers and how you use Quotemonster, Research Reports, and Advicemonster.

Treena


Lead generation website for sale

An adviser business has put up for sale a lead generation website. A lead generation website is offered for sale as the adviser running the site wishes to focus on their own region, not on serving clients nationally or running a referral business. This is a great opportunity for a national business with the skills to serve the self-employed market. Twenty leads a week are typical from the site. Handover support is offered so you can continue to get the best out of the opportunity. Contact me or my team for further information. 


Clear fee disclosure prevents this problem:

Susan Edmunds, reporting at Stuff.co.nz, tells us of a client that was surprised by the extent of the fee a mortgage broker charged when they refinanced their loan early. They complained about it to FSCL, here is the essence of their decision: 

FSCL said the adviser was entitled to a fee but the terms of engagement were too vague to be enforceable. “The clause did not set out how much the clawback fee could be, or how the fee would be calculated. It simply said that, if the client fully repaid their loan within 24 months, the adviser would be entitled to charge an early repayment fee. For all [the client] knew, it could be a $25 fee, as opposed to $2500.” 

Faced with that, the adviser agreed to waive the fee. That's the problem with a vague disclosure - a few examples could have made this really clear. Glen McLeod makes a robust defence of the right to charge such a fee - which I broadly agree with - I just think it should be really clear to a client what the fee will amount to. In the absence of good disclosure, the dispute resolution bodies will rule in the client's favour. I quite like the approach outlined by Bruce Patten, of LoanMarket, in the article. I believe that would stand up to a test such as this complaint. 

 


NZFSG and Kepa merge, and more daily news

It was announced that Kepa’s mortgage business will merge with NZFSG. The takeover will see Kepa members being integrated into the NZFSG-Loan Market dealer network. Members offering general insurance advice will remain in Kepa. Kepa advisers will have the option of moving to NZFSG's MyCRM system and Kepa employees will be transferring.

“The nation's biggest broker group, NZFSG has effectively completed a takeover deal. Kepa's mortgage business will become part of its larger rival, marking the latest phase in industry consolidation.

The two groups have been in talks for several months, TMM Online understands.

Kepa’s members will be integrated within the NZFSG-Loan Market dealer network. Kepa advisers will be given the option to move onto NZFSG's MyCRM system, while Kepa’s staff will transfer to the merged business.

Both Kepa and NZFSG have said the merge will assist in better navigating the new regime and would create a national dealer group with over 1,600 members.

“Both parties believe the additional scale will help under the new financial advisers' regulatory regime, which will place greater demands on groups acting as Financial Advice Providers for their members. 

In a statement, the two groups said the deal would create a national dealer business with more than 1,600 members, settling more than $17 billion of mortgages and issuing $30 million of life insurance premiums each year.”

Congratulations to NZFSG-Loan Market and Kepa, on the successful conclusion of this deal. These take an enormous amount of work sustained over a considerable period of time. We wish them all the best in working through the coming year - which is shaping up to be a very busy one for everyone involved in the provision of financial advice due to the implementation of the new regime. 

Click here to read more

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TikTok controversy ushers in new age of cyber threats


Industry reacts to disclosure regulation draft, and more daily news

The submissions on disclosure regulations have been released by MBIE. Although the response was largely positive, some concerns were raised about the disclosure requirements set to come into place on 15 March 2021.
 
AMP highlighted the risk of repetition without addressing issues currently being undervalued by consumers. To ensure value is added AMP suggested that disclosures need to be simple and brief, something AMP doesn’t believe has been achieved by the current draft.

“AMP said there was a risk that the disclosure would end up being repetitive and not address the issue of long, impenetrable disclosures not currently being valued by consumers.

 

“For benefits to be delivered to New Zealand consumers it is essential for disclosures to be simple, meaningful, very brief and unobtrusive. We do not consider that these aims would be met with the regulations as drafted.”

 

Under the new rules, advisers are required to disclose any commissions or incentives they receive that a reasonable client might think might materially influence their advice.”

While Financial Advice said that a reasonable person wouldn’t have a good grasp of identifying conflicts of interest within the industry and that the regulation could be strengthened by having higher standards in place. Financial Advice highlighted that there are many references to ‘incentives’ so including a definition and reference to ‘disincentives’ would be valuable. 

“But Financial Advice NZ said a reasonable client would not expect to have a good grasp of identifying conflicts of interest in the sector.

 

“The regulation could be strengthened by having a higher standard, such as – ‘any interest of A, P, or any other person connected with the giving of the advice that has the potential to influence the advice given by A’.

 

“There are various references to ‘incentives’. We recommend including in the regulation a definition and reference to ‘disincentives’ as well. For example, a reduction of commission rates for low volumes could escape the disclosure regime. Disincentives is an area that is often overlooked and should be drawn attention to, so FAPs and advisers cannot avoid their disclosure obligations by saying ‘this disincentive is not technically an incentive’.”” 

AIA stated that there should be further clarification on was is “practicable” for advisers to include and highlighted that this would cause significant issues for financial advice providers. Although AIA doesn’t see this as an issue as they are prepared to invest in the appropriate systems to aid advisers. 

“AIA said there should be more detail on when it was considered “practicable” for advisers to include in their disclosure the amount of fees payable by a client connected to the advice recommendation.

 

“This is a significant issue for financial advice providers. For AIA NZ, significant system investments will be required to provide estimates. While AIA NZ anticipates making this investment, we are concerned that other providers may choose not to do so, and instead elect not to provide estimates on the basis that it is not practicable to do so. This is an undesirable outcome for consumers which we consider could be avoided by better articulating the circumstances when providers may elect not to provide estimates.” Click here to read more

In other news

FSC: Generations Conference will no longer take place

Kepa: Kepa Compliance Officer’s Course was held in partnership with Rosewill Consulting  

Fidelity Life: Fidelity Life were announced as finalists in Best ICT Team Culture category in the 2020 CIO Awards

Fidelity Life: new applications are encouraged to be done through e-App

Fidelity Life: options for alteration requests are:

·       emailing signed alteration requests to admin.services@fidelitylife.co.nz

·       email from the individual policy owner’s email address

·       Mailing to Customer Care, Fidelity Life, PO Box 37-275, Parnell, Auckland 1151


Financial adviser network raises capital and more trends in digital for advisers

The XY Adviser network (https://www.xyadviser.com/) is a popular place for financial advisers to trade news, talk about events, and get help and support. I know several New Zealand-based advisers that love the forum and have learned many useful new ideas from their peers through it. Other groupings, collegiate groups ranging from informal breakfast clubs, through service networks, to LinkedIn groups abound. But the shift to digital broadens the reach of networks considerably. Network effects mean that the bigger the network, the more valuable it is. Hence, the profound impact digital is having on adviser businesses. Two trends are moving in parallel - from installed software to web-based systems, alongside formal knowledge sharing in person to digital knowledge sharing in an informal context. Those changes in digital are having real-world effects: adviser businesses are able to access software solutions from around the world with more confidence due to the reference expertise that these social networks provide. One kind of growth creates another: XY is in the process of raising capital, such are the demands on their services. 

If the world of adviser technology interests you, do join me, with David Greenslade of Strategi on the FSC Get In Shape series hosted by Mark Banicevich. We're talking about all things adviser technology tomorrow at 10am. Here is a link to the events page on the FSC website: https://www.fsc.org.nz/Events.html if you would like to register for the webinar.