Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

19 April 2022 – Select Committee report completed to Parliament on the Digital Identity Services Trust Framework Bill. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_116015/digital-identity-services-trust-framework-bill

19 April 2022 - APRA and ASIC publish latest data on Australian life insurance claims and disputes. https://www.apra.gov.au/news-and-publications/apra-and-asic-publish-latest-data-on-life-insurance-claims-and-disputes-5

19 April 2022 – NZ Government announced new sanctions against Russia’s largest banks and financial institutions. https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/russian-banks-targeted-under-latest-round-sanctions


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

In Australia the numbers of financial advisers continue to shrink rapidly - we regularly report on this, but here are more news stories on Australian adviser numbers, with three links as follows:

https://www.moneymanagement.com.au/news/financial-planning/how-many-advisers-will-be-there-2022

https://www.moneymanagement.com.au/news/financial-planning/over-2000-advisers-left-industry-year-date

https://www.moneymanagement.com.au/news/financial-planning/adviser-losses-disappointing-not-unexpected

With adviser numbers down by more than 10% in the last year, and many predicting that thousands more will exit over the coming year, there is growing concern in Australia that legal and regulatory settings are wrong and may already be restricting access to financial advice to the wealthy. 


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

7 Dec 2021 – Committee stage of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill completed in Parliament. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74854/births-deaths-marriages-and-relationships-registration

7 Dec 2021 – ASIC in Australia launched a Financial Advice Hub for advice licensees and advisers. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre/articles/asic-launches-financial-advice-webpage/


Australia: ASIC's guidance around Records of Advice

ASIC has released guidance around the use of Records of Advice (ROAs). You can find the guidance at this link, including some examples of ROAs. I draw your attention to the example insurance ROA at this link. These should not be considered a direct guide to meeting regulatory requirements in New Zealand, of course. Working through the detail you can see how much more prescriptive and detailed the ASIC approach is - and consequently how much easier it would be to fail to meet some aspect of the specific guidance while arguably doing a good job of meeting the principles of our Code and licence requirements. They can, however, be considered some useful context and give ideas about how to meet those principles in practice.


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

4 Nov 2021 – Government, via MBIE, issued a consultation seeking feedback on the relative benefits and costs (including financial hardship) of Buy-Now, Pay-Later, with submissions closing on 16 Dec 2021. https://www.mbie.govt.nz/have-your-say/bnpl/

5 Nov 2021 – ASIC released for Australia guidance and examples on records of advice. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre/find-a-media-release/2021-releases/21-294mr-asic-releases-guidance-and-examples-on-records-of-advice/

5 Nov 2021 – Takeovers Panel released a guidance note on “upstream acquisitions.” https://www.takeovers.govt.nz/guidance/guidance-notes/upstream-acquisitions/


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

16 Sept 2021 – ASIC in Australia released additional information for advice licensees and financial advisers who are authorised representatives to help them prepare for the commencement of the design and distribution obligations on 5 October 2021. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre/news-items/what-the-financial-advice-industry-needs-to-know-about-the-design-and-distribution-obligations/

17 Sept 2021 - Parliament's Finance and Expenditure Committee released submissions made to the inquiry into the current and future nature, impact, and risks of cryptocurrencies. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/submissions-and-advice/all?custom=INQ_111968


Legal and regulatory review for the life and health insurance industry

16 Aug 2021 - Financial Sector (Climate-related Disclosures and Other Matters) Amendment Bill reported back from Parliamentary Select Committee. https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_109905/financial-sector-climate-related-disclosures-and-other

13 Aug 2021 - Inland Revenue advised it is seeking public feedback on the proposed scope of the topics outlined for its 2022 long term insights briefing on tax, investment and productivity, with submissions closing on 6 September 2021. https://taxpolicy.ird.govt.nz/news/2021/2021-08-13-consultation-ltib

11 Aug 2021 - The Takeovers Panel issued updated guidance on acceptance forms to recognise the phasing out of the use of cheques. https://www.takeovers.govt.nz/guidance/codeword/issue-52/guidance-on-acceptance-forms/

11 Aug 2021 – The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill completed its second reading in Parliament with the Minister for Internal Affairs inviting the Governance and Administration select committee to consider improvements to the self-identification process and to provide a further opportunity for public submissions. Relevant web links are https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/simple-self-identification-one-step-closer and https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/bills-and-laws/bills-proposed-laws/document/BILL_74854/births-deaths-marriages-and-relationships-registration

12 Aug 2021 – ASIC released information outlining its approach to new laws reforming the Australian financial services sector. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre/find-a-media-release/2021-releases/21-213mr-asic-s-approach-to-new-laws-reforming-financial-services-sector/


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

11 June 2021 – ASIC announced that it is extending for 12 months – to 31 March 2023 – transitional relief for foreign financial services providers (FFSPs) from the requirement to hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence, pending the outcome of the Australian Government’s consultation about the regulation of FFSPs. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre/find-a-media-release/2021-releases/21-131mr-asic-extends-transitional-relief-for-foreign-financial-services-providers-following-federal-budget/

11 June 2021 – NZX announced it is proposing hygiene amendments to the Listing Rules as part of its Hygiene Review, with a consultation paper released and submissions closing on 30 July 2021. https://www.nzx.com/regulation/nzx-rules-guidance/consultation

13 June 2021 – Government announced its intent to progress the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, making it easier for people to formally acknowledge their identified gender, including proposing a range of sex markers to be set in regulations rather than in legislation. https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/progress-towards-simpler-process-changing-sex-birth-certificates - if this one raises questions about pricing and classification for risk I suggest you look back to my post : https://www.chatswood.co.nz/moneyblog/2021/05/stats-nz-update-data-collection-approach-.html 

14 June 2021 – NZ Herald reported on Government moves in Australia and NZ to allow unclaimed Australian superannuation money to go into KiwiSaver, also reported as agreed on 31 May 2021 in the joint release from the Australian and NZ Prime Ministers. Paragraph numbered 22 in the release at https://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/joint-statement-prime-ministers-jacinda-ardern-and-scott-morrison

8 June 2021 –Anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regulatory updates released including:

  • Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Requirements and Compliance) Amendment Regulations 2021

https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2021/0147/latest/LMS499118.html

  • Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Cross-border Transportation of Cash) Amendment Regulations 2021

https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2021/0144/latest/LMS499306.html

  • Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Definitions) Amendment Regulations 2021

https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2021/0145/latest/LMS499212.html

  • Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Exemptions) Amendment Regulations 2021

https://www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2021/0146/latest/LMS499387.html

 


Australian financial adviser numbers dropping fast

News reports show a drop in adviser numbers in Australia close to 15% in just one year, perversely leading to increased ASIC levies for the remaining advisers to cover ASIC costs. https://www.moneymanagement.com.au/news/financial-planning/asic-levy-increase-due-declining-adviser-numbers

These costs must, of course, be passed on to consumers. But the real impacts will not be on the relatively wealthy clients that continue to get financial advice, it will be borne by the many consumers that can no longer receive good advice. They will struggle in an increasingly complex financial world. A divide will widen between the more literate and numerate who will be able to DIY and those who lack the skills or inclination who will tend to lead more financially precarious lives due to lower savings rates and fewer options. Access to advice must always be a consideration.

I have not checked because my concern is mainly New Zealand, not Australia, but perhaps one of my readers who is more across that jurisdiction can pull the relevant impact statement that was inevitably prepared and find what was said at the time. Did they assume a 15% decline and believe the change worth it? Or did they underestimate the impact of change? 


Zombie fee focus by regulators and more daily news

Investment News NZ highlights the issue of 'zombie fees' in its recent piece on ASIC's legal action against five AMP entities in Australia. "Zombie fees" are fees which carry on being charged even if no service is being given, sometimes even if the client has died. Of course, if an investment management service is continuing then some level of fee should continue but it is hard to argue advice is being given if the client is dead. In a sector which usually knows the age of its clients and offers products explicitly focused on end-of-life issues we are being challenged to be more active in identifying when a client dies, which is a matter of public record, rather than simply continuing to take the money. 

In a release, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) says the legal action alleges five AMP entities “were involved in charging life insurance premiums and advice fees to more than 2,000 customers despite being notified of their death”.

Last year AMP paid out about A$9 million in a remediation program established to redress fees charged to close to 20,000 dead insurance and superannuation fund clients.

But the latest ASIC action comes in “respect of 2,069 deceased members affected by the retention of premiums, and 27 members affected by the retention of advice fees”.

Does this affect New Zealand? Not directly, in the Investment News NZ column it is clear that NZ entities are not part of the recent news. However, it is clearly unacceptable to continue to charge premiums and or advice fees long after a person is dead in either jurisdiction. We can expect that when conduct law passes here, a conduct program will need to envisage how to identify if a person has died and how to treat products while and end-of-life process is followed. Advisers, largely exempt from the conduct programs, will inevitably be caught by either their obligations under the Financial Advice Provider license, Code, or commitments to product providers. 

You can read more at this link: https://investmentnews.co.nz/investment-news/zombie-fee-charges-rattle-amp/ 

Other daily news: 

Kōura is calling for advisers that want to offer a 'facilitated' digital advice process. This underlines the trend towards convergence of digital and human in contrast to the binary view of development in the past. 

Pinnacle Life shares details of how a change in income may affect the need for life insurance. 

Adviser business values - those that are low and those that are high - are the subject of my recent piece at goodreturns. 

Seth Godin shares with us how not to miss a deadline - and how to - in two interesting and challenging posts: https://seths.blog/2021/05/how-not-to-miss-a-deadline/