What should advice cost?

What should advice cost? That was an excellent question from the audience during the first two of our recent getting in shape series. Perhaps this seemingly simple question surprised our panel. The answer to the question is not easy. It was a kind of sub-plot in the day's event: the question of the cost of advice is part of the disclosure story, part of the story about the future of advice, part of the story about the value of advisers solidly backed up by the research shared on the day. When asked what advice should cost the panel made a good beginning - in both Wellington and Auckland the first answer was "it should not be free". This echoed John Botica's  earlier comment during the first panel in Wellington where, talking about disclosure, he asked that any advisers taking commission should not refer to their advice as free. Of course advice isn't free. Often something that is not paid for is not valued. Advice is paid for (whether by fee or commission) and it is valuable. 

The question came up in the context of a discussion about how to make advice more accessible. For people to value advice they must first know it is available, believe it is worth getting - but these are just pre-conditions. Often we know something would be good for us, but don't do it.

Many people struggle with making the time to meet with an adviser - not just because of the time for the meeting, but they fear the time the work around the meeting will take. A good portion of the population are certain that their finances are a mess, and if not, then the musty file of papers definitely is a mess. So they fear judgment. Many people struggle with making room for the cost of advice. If they believe that it will require payment at the time and their budget is already stretched they will be reluctant to make an appointment. Commission has a valuable financing role to play here - but it is not the only mechanism, of course, that can make access to advice easier. 

So although advice should not be free, we need to make it easy to start the process. Which means the initial steps should be free - and easy to do.

Most advisers offer initial discussions at no charge. More can be done to make brief trials of the value of advice accessible. Social media helps, Zoom and MS Teams helps, but nothing quite beats a meeting - and the ability to slip into a 20 minute session on KiwiSaver at lunch or hear ten top tips on managing your home loan at the local mall are probably under-utilised strategies. Now add some tools in the client's first language (which will not be English in about a third of cases in Auckland) and spoken by someone who at least knows your culture a bit... these are access strategies. They reduce the psychological costs (fear of rejection, fear of shame, fear of being exposed as not having 'enough money to qualify for advice'). 


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

27 Jan 2021 – Privacy Commissioner announced that he will virtually chair an international Computer Privacy and Data Protection conference over 27-29 Jan, commencing NZ time 5 p.m. on Thursday, 28 Jan, with a live stream available. https://www.privacy.org.nz/resources-2/forums-and-seminars/computer-privacy-and-data-protection-conference-cdcp/

28 Jan 2021 - FMA released its review of NZX technology issues finding the stock exchange failed to meet its licensed market operator obligations due to insufficient technology resources. NZX also released a response to the FMA review. Relevant FMA and NZX web links are https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/fma-releases-review-of-nzx-technology-issues/ and https://www.nzx.com/announcements/366811

28 Jan 2021 – RBNZ released the results of a research report showing the Māori economy is increasingly diverse and opportunities remain for it to continue growing and reach its full potential. https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2021/01/e-hauora-ana-e-matahuhua-ana-te-ohanga-maori-e-ai-ki-nga-rangahau


The value the government places on your life - and what it means

Jonathan Milne, writing for Newsroom, has an excellent article that works through the history of the price that government places on a life - It is called VOSL, the Value of Statistical Life. This is the price the government uses for investment decisions, for example, about road funding - anything where lost lives avoided is going to be a major factor in the funding case. The article provides excellent insight into the formulation, and what it means when comparing what we spend on road, PHARMAC, and other programmes. It is currently $4.53 million. Link: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/transport/government-valued-your-life-at-46m-until-covid


FSC Get in Shape Conference

The FSC Get in Shape Conference is just around the corner and we thought it was a good time to highlight what to expect if attending. The conferences will be held in Wellington, Auckland, Christchurch and Dunedin. The FSC has ensured relevant topics are discussed by industry leaders in the sessions and Masterclass. Highlights of the conference include:

  • Meet and engage with the leaders shaping our sector and regulatory landscape. These include Leaders from the MBIE, the FMA, the CFFC and the financial advisory sector.
  • Consumer focus - We will unpack the latest research from across the NZ and the globe  and understand how Financial Advice is helping Kiwis lead better lives.
  • Engage with Leading legal minds at the Masterclass - The masterclass is curated by those that understand what it really means to succeed under the new regulation. Our line up of legal experts and leading advisers will be run in a practical workshop style to have you thinking outside the box and teach you how to best use resources available to you.
  • Connect  and network with your colleagues - After a very tough 2020, join your colleagues for a morning of learning, engaging and getting inspired for the year ahead.
  •  Meet  you in the market place – Once again our marketplace expo is the meeting place to connect with your suppliers and partners.
  • CPD -  Get your CPD & learning program off to a strong start for 2021. All sessions will be assessed and all attendees will receive CPD certificates for sessions attended. 

Those interested in attending can register here and find the dates and location below.

WELLINGTON
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Arrival from 7:15am, welcome at 8:00am, advice summit close 12:45 followed by Masterclass from 1.15pm until 3.15pm

Members Gallery
Sky Stadium
105 Waterloo Quay
Pipitea,
Wellington 6140

AUCKLAND
Thursday, 11 February 2021
Arrival from 7:15am, welcome at 8:00am, advice summit close 12:45 followed by Masterclass from 1.15pm until 3.15pm

North Level 5 Lounge
Eden Park Function Centre
10 Reimers Ave
Kingsland
Auckland 1024

CHRISTCHURCH
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Arrival from 7:15am, welcome at 8:00am, advice summit close 12:45 followed by Masterclass from 1.15pm until 3.15pm

Tait Technology Centre
245 Wooldridge Road
Harewood
Christchurch 8051

DUNEDIN
Thursday, 18 February 2019
Arrival from 10:00am, welcome at 10:30am, close 3.00pm followed by Masterclass from 3.15pm until 5.15pm

Dunedin Centre
1 Harrop Street
Dunedin 9016

Get In Shape 2021 Big Banner v1 - Financial Services Council


FADC rules adviser in breach of code standard, and more daily news

The Financial Advisers Disciplinary Committee (FADC) has concluded that an adviser breached the Code of Professional Conduct for Authorised Financial Advisers. The case was brought forward by the FMA after it begun an investigation on the adviser on 23 August 2019. The adviser, who has name suppression, operated under three different businesses offering financial advice, financial planning, investments, mortgage broking, KiwiSaver, retirement planning, residential property management, and personal and small business tax advice services. Through the FMA investigation, it was found that there were three breaches of Code Standard 15. The breaches were in relation to financial advice, personalised services, and client relationship management provided to three clients. Advisers looking to ensure that their advice processes are up to standard would benefit from our Advice Process Management service.

“The Financial Advisers Disciplinary Committee (FADC) has today published its decision regarding a case brought by the FMA. The case relates to alleged breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct for Authorised Financial Advisers.

It says that "this is a case about breaches of the Code". It is not about the integrity of the financial adviser. "There is no suggestion that she has improperly benefited at the expense of her clients, or that any client has been disadvantaged."

"But, the provisions of the Code are fundamental and adherence to them is always required."

The financial adviser still has interim name suppression, but the decision says she registered as an AFA on the FSPR in 2011. She offers a range of services including financial advice, financial planning, investments, mortgage broking, KiwiSaver, retirement planning, residential property management and personal and small business tax advice (as a tax agent) through her business. She trades under three businesses, one of which is registered on the FSPR from 2011 as an employer or principal of a financial adviser and/or Qualifying Financial Entity.

After an unrelated complaint in January 2018, the FMA took an interest in the AFA, which culminated in a monitoring visit to the premises in May 2019, and a desk based review in July 2019.

As a result of these two visits, the FMA began an investigation on August 23, 2019.

The investigation found that the AFA breached standards 12 and 15 of the Code, which relate to keeping information about personalised services for retail clients, and the requirement to have an adequate knowledge of Code, Act and laws.

The court briefing says that "The breaches are established in respect of three clients, whose identities are permanently suppressed; it consists of the adviser having failed:

  1. to record in writing adequate information about a personalised service provided to a retail client
  2. to demonstrate adequate knowledge of the relevant legislative obligations which result from the term ‘personalised service’."” Click here to read more

In other news

Cigna: Multi-benefit discount offer on Assurance Extra products extended to 28 February 2021

Cigna: Karen Ward appointed as Head of Claims

Cigna: Nicci Johnston appointed as Head of Customer Care

Financial Advice: Ready, Set, Go webinars to begin 27 January 2021

Financial Advice: Trusted Adviser mark to be publicly launched 15 February 2021


Numbers are numbing - it is stories that get us, and our clients, to make good choices

I am not thrilled with checking on COVID-19 numbers. You have probably done this quite a bit over the last year. It is hard to believe that at this date last year was the first point at which human to human transmission was confirmed by a Chinese scientist. There would still be weeks before it became clear that this was going to be a global pandemic, and it was not until the end of March that we realised how bad, and therefore how serious the response would need to be. Things changed rapidly. Throughout that period I have checked various statistics sites, built models, talked with insurers about impacts, reinsurers, and gathered information that is relevant to the sector. I am not exactly sick of it, but the grim reality does weigh one down.

But these are merely numbers. I know, of course, that each number is a precious life lost. Even for many of the survivors there are very long-lasting effects. But the numbers never quite make it real, in some way, they overwhelm. This is a lot like using statistics to try and convince a young couple that they might need insurance. It is simply too hard to see themselves as one of those numbers. It is the emotional pull of real life that brings the issues home to me:

In March last year, my first experience of a friend with Covid-19: they flew back from the United States sitting next to someone on the plane 'who coughed a bit' - a few days after landing here, in isolation, they found they had Covid-19. That was months ago, she still has difficulty walking any significant distance. 

A distant relative, elderly, hospitalised during the first wave in the UK, caught Covid-19, and impressively, at 98, survived. My father does volunteer work collecting food for his church to distribute through their food bank. It is a great job to have in retirement. He's in his late 70s and still collects - even though it isn't safe, really, for him to do so. Three of his friends have had Covid-19 - fortunately they all survived. A friend in the church, her son who worked in Spain was critically ill - fortunately he survived. 

But so many don't live through it. You can see accounts of lots of people. Check out the BBC website. But again, more directly: last night I was on a zoom call which largely hosted people in the UK. There were 88 people on the call. Two who spoke had family members die in the last week. One woman's mother died during the week from Covid-19. One man lost his best friend 'choked to death' he said by Covid-19. Both in the last week. 

 

 


The essentials for overcoming future catastrophes, and more daily news

Diana Clement wrote a NZ Herald article on the need for being prepared in case of unexpected circumstances. Clement highlights that we need to be mentally prepared for the occurrence of personal or societal catastrophes. Clement continues by noting that getting out of debt and having savings is essential to overcome future crises. The need for budgets is highlighted by using the events surrounding COVID-19. Steve Morris, a financial adviser at SW Morris & Associates notes that we would all benefit from using digital tools such as free digital tools for personal cashflow forecasting such as PocketSmith. Insurance is highlighted as being another essential thing for New Zealanders to have in place to ensure protection. Income protection, mortgage protection, trauma/critical illness, permanent disability, business interruption, medical, and life insurance are all mentioned, with Clement saying each offers different types of cover that are useful in different circumstances. Although insurance is deemed as essential, Clement concludes by saying that no insurance policy is completely fool proof.

“My usual New Year articles are all about the positive stuff and how you can turn your year around. But after 2020, let's talk about preparedness. That includes being mentally prepared for curved balls, having savings, and taking out insurance.

Mental preparedness. Do you have a plan for the next time the world turns to custard? Unpredictable (black swan) events such as the Global Financial Crisis and now pandemic, hit us every 10 years or so. We can have personal black swan events such as divorce, or illness. Financial adviser Steve Morris of SW Morris & Associates has seen an upswing in couples separating after lockdown. This can be financially crippling. He recommends getting help from organisations such as The Parenting Place before the relationship ends up on the rocks.

Savings. Getting out of debt and building up some savings is essential if you want to ride out the next financial crisis. If you're constantly a few weeks from financial meltdown then this applies to you. It's hard, but you need to change your thinking and create a budget. People can and do turn their finances around. Use Covid-19 as the financial catalyst to get you started.

In an ideal world you need three to six months living costs (not income) squirrelled away. Providing you are still able to work and willing, most people will find a job within that period.

The best tool for this is a budget. I know it sounds boring, but it's simple to write your first budget and the outcome can be truly life-changing. I follow a number of investing and get out of debt forums and see ordinary Kiwis celebrating cutting up their last credit card or beginning an emergency fund. Don't write it off. It can happen.

Morris also recommends using the free digital tools for personal cashflow forecasting from PocketSmith.

Insurance. The whole point of insurance is to cover yourself financially when unexpected events hit. That's insurance cover for your health, income, and property.

A variety of insurances can cover your income/outgoings. They include income/mortgage protection, trauma/critical illness, permanent disability, business interruption, medical, and life insurance (which often pays out if you're diagnosed with a terminal illness. Each covers different risks and it's a good idea to seek advice from a financial adviser. Everyone is covered by ACC for accidents, but you're more likely to become disabled by illness, and only qualify for Work & Income benefits if you don't have insurance. When insuring yourself, make sure you think about the non-working or lower-earning partner, says Morris. All too often a higher-earning spouse has to reduce hours to pick up parenting duties if the other spouse becomes ill, is disabled, or dies, says Morris. Trauma cover is very good in this situation because it usually pays a lump sum, he says.

Insurance is essential in our modern world, but no insurance policy is 100 per cent foolproof. Because the things you will claim on are unexpected, they could fall outside the policy wording.” Click here to read more

In other news

Partners Life: Expressions of interest for February virtual New Adviser Training Course open

FSCL: FSCL warns investors to beware of cryptocurrency scams


Your insurer would not be happy about this...

Finder.com.au, an Australian money site, has done some research on Kiwi attitudes towards insurance. This was about general insurance, but I did think it amazing: 

A nationally representative survey of 2,001 New Zealanders aged 18 and above found that 88% of Kiwis lock their door, leaving 12% who do not.  That’s equivalent to 218,880 households not taking necessary safety precautions and leaving themselves vulnerable to break-ins. 

The second most commonly used home protection is house and contents insurance with 64% of Kiwi households having an insurance policy. Rounding out the top three is having locks on windows (52%). 

Do you see what I see? I think it amazing that insurance is referred to a home protection method in the midst of a list about locking your house and having locks on windows. We, the industry, may be partly to blame for referring to insurance often as wealth protection, equally frequently abbreviated to 'protection'. But the problem I have is that it may be seen as an alternative to physically securing your home. That is an exemplar of 'moral hazard' - that people may take less care when the financial consequences of their actions are reduced. Do we see this in the way people treat their health? Put another way, is there any evidence that we would not?

Of course I don't think that there are lots of people rationally, consciously, deciding to eat too much, not put on sunscreen, and undertake hazardous activities because they have insurance. It is a more subtle kind of pressure that is relieved. It is more like the way everyone drives a little faster when the road is wide and even than when it is narrow and has many corners.