Understanding the finer details of FSLAA, and more daily news

MBIE released more information on FSLAA in mid-December. Penny Sheerin, partner at Chapman Tripp, has said that these changes are finer details but did highlight that there would be changes to the FSP register to ensure the reduction of registry misuse.

“The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment last week released the regulatory requirements that underpin FSLAA.

Penny Sheerin, partner at Chapman Tripp says that any advisers reeling at the updates needn’t worry too much if they are already on board with the changes.

“Really these updates are just the finer details. Tidy-ups to some of the wording of the regulation. Updating terminology to reflect the new regime and a number of other quite administrative points. A lot of it is not ground-breaking new content.”

But Sheerin notes that there is one area which advisers need to pay heed too.

“One thing to note are the changes to the FSP Register, specifically around limitations that have been put in place to limit the misuse of the register. These changes have been talked about for a while but now they are manifesting in the upcoming regulations.””

The Financial Markets Conduct Amendment Regulations 2020 has been updated to change:

  • “Replacing terminology from the Financial Advisers Act 2008 (FAA).
  • Replacing references to financial advisers with references to financial advice providers and including transitional provisions to give affected providers time to update documents.
  • Prescribing eligibility criteria for an entity that wants to be an authorised body under a licence that covers a financial advice service.
  • Carrying over the effect of the Financial Advisers (Custodians of FMCA Financial Products) Regulations 2014 but with some updates and clarifications, and clarifying when assurance reports for assurance engagements must be obtained by custodians.
  • Prescribing limited circumstances in which a provider of a client money or property service is not required to hold client money and property separate from firm money or property including duties to protect the interests of clients.
  • Prescribing when firm money that is held together with client money is to be treated as client money.
  • Prescribing requirements for the record of nominated representatives that must be maintained by providers.
  • Prescribing the statement that lenders can give to make clear to consumers that the limited exclusion from the financial advice regime relating to lender responsibilities applies.
  • Continuing duties imposed under the FAA for former authorised financial advisers and qualifying financial entities to retain records.
  • Carrying over exemptions contained in regulations under the FAA.
  • Updating a cross-reference in the financial advice disclosure regulations so that financial advice providers are able to refer to their website for information about their legal duties.
  • Enabling financial advice providers to provide contingency discretionary investment management services (DIMS) without being subject to DIMS licensing requirements (and providing for transitional arrangements). This carries over and updates an existing licensing exemption for contingency DIMS provided by authorised financial advisers.
  • Dis-applying certain provisions of the Trusts Act 2019 to trusts relating to portfolio investment entity (PIE) call fund units and PIE term fund units.
  • Updating the information that must be disclosed to investors about the tax consequences of investing in managed investment schemes that are PIEs.
  • Amending the Financial Markets Conduct (Asia Region Funds Passport) Regulations 2019, including a new exemption from the licensing requirement for financial advice services.”

The Financial Markets Authority (Levies) Amendment Regulations (No 2) 2020 has been changed so that:

  • “The Regulations set levies for the new financial advice regime as well as for the 2021/22 and 2022/23 years reflecting decisions made earlier this year.”

The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (Definitions) Amendment Regulations 2020 was enhanced to ensure:

  • “The Regulations replace the now redundant terminology from the Financial Advisers Act 2008. No substantive changes to the AML obligations have resulted.”

The Financial Service Providers (Registration) Regulations 2020 has been changed to include:

  • “A requirement for additional information to be displayed on the Register.
  • New measures to address misuse of the Financial Service Providers Register.”

The Financial Service Providers (Exemptions) Amendment Regulations 2020 has been updated so that:

  • “The Regulations exempt certain providers without a place of business in New Zealand from registration on the Financial Service Providers Register if they do not promote services to New Zealand clients.” Click here to read more

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Transitional licence update, and more daily news

In December the FMA revealed that there has been an increase in transitional licence applications. The latest figures indicate that 97% of the industry is now covered, with 1,356 licences approved and 715 authorised bodies. Further insights indicate that 9,157 individual financial advisers are covered by a transitional licence. John Botica, FMA director of market engagement, has expressed that he is pleased with the engagement levels regardless of the different occurrences throughout the year. Botica has reminded the remaining 3% that they will have until 15 March 2021 to apply for their licence.

“Back in September, things were looking shaky for over 2,000 financial advisers who had yet to apply for their transitional licences.

But now, at the end of the year, the data is showing that a big final surge before the holiday break has seen 97% of the industry covered by a transitional licence.

As of December 20, 1,356 licences have been approved alongside 715 authorised bodies, meaning that well over 2,000 advisers have made the decision to engage with the new regime. Of individual financial advisers, 9,157 are covered by a transitional licence, giving some leeway for double-ups on the FSPR, that means that around 97% of the industry is now covered.

FMA director of market engagement, John Botica is pleased with the results.

“I am very pleased to see advisers taking the transition seriously and engaging [with us] in the process. With everything else that has been going on this year, all of the stresses and strains that 2020 has thrown up, advisers have really answered the call to be part of a regime designed to provide even better customer outcomes.

“Up and down the country advisers make life better for their clients. They should rightly be proud. Licensing numbers show that the overwhelming majority are well on the way to being ready for the new regime.”

Last week the numbers showed that only 8,423 advisers had gained their transitional licence, meaning in the past week there has been a last minute surge of 734 advisers getting covered by a transitional licence before the holidays.

Those 3% of advisers who are yet to gain their transitional licence will have until March 15 to do so if they wish to continue to give financial advice.” Click here to read more

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Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

23 Dec 2020 - The Commerce Commission released its updated Authorisation Guidelines that explain its approach to assessing applications to authorise agreements or mergers in the public interest. https://comcom.govt.nz/news-and-media/media-releases/2020/commission-publishes-revised-authorisation-guidelines-and-application-forms

23 Dec 2020 – The Open Government Partnership released Progress reports for Third National Action Plan and Meeting Papers. https://ogp.org.nz/latest-news/progress-reports-for-third-national-action-plan-and-meeting-papers/

22 Dec 2020 – Courtesy of Dentons Kensington Swan, note the release of the following regulations and other information during this month, in addition to those items included in the FMA update or the MBIE release on 17 Dec 2020:

  • Financial Markets Conduct (Fees) Amendment Regulations 2020
  • Financial Markets (Derivatives Margin and Benchmarking) Reform Amendment Act Commencement Order 2020
  • Financial Markets Conduct (Licensing of Administrators of Financial Benchmarks) Amendment Regulations 2020
  • Financial Markets Conduct (Overseas Providers of Custodial Services – Assurance Engagement) Exemption Notice 2020
  • Financial Markets Conduct (Australian Licensees) Exemption Notice 2020

22 Dec 2020 – Courtesy of Dentons Kensington Swan, note the submission opportunities closing at the start of 2021 as follows:

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment:

  • Updating the Responsible Lending Code – submissions close 15 January 2021, 5pm.
  • Regulating to reduce merchant service fees – submissions close 19 February 2021, 10am.

Reserve Bank of New Zealand:

  • Review of the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010 (scope of the Act and treatment of overseas insurers) – submissions close 18 February 2021.
  • Review of the Insurance Solvency Standards – submissions close 18 February 2021.
  • Reinstating Loan-to-Value Ratio restrictions – submissions close 22 January 2021.

Financial Markets Authority:

  • Proposed guidance on advertising offers – submissions close 16 February 2021.

Parliament:

  • Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bill – submissions close 4 February 2021.

Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

21 Dec 2020 – Privacy Commissioner Annual Report released. https://www.privacy.org.nz/publications/corporate-reports/annual-report-of-the-privacy-commissioner-2020/

21 Dec 2020 – Commerce Commission published a Statement of Issues relating to an application from Aon plc seeking clearance to acquire Willis Towers Watson Public Limited Company as part of a global transaction. Submissions close on 26 January 2021, with cross-submissions due no later than close of business 2 February 2021. The Commission is currently scheduled to make a decision on the application by 26 February 2021. https://comcom.govt.nz/case-register/case-register-entries/aon-plc-and-willis-towers-watson-public-limited-company

21 Dec 2020 – FMA released CPA Australia and NZICA accredited body reports, containing the findings of the FMA’s monitoring assessments of CPA Australia and NZICA for the period 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/cpa-australia-nzica-accredited-body-reports/


Southern Cross Travel Insurance appoints new CFO, and more daily news

Southern Cross announced the appointment of Amanda Yap-Choong as the new Chief Financial Officer. Yap-Choong is a Chartered Accountant and was previously the Commercial Finance Manager at Chapman Tripp. She has also worked at Broadspectrum and PwC. In her new role Yap-Choong will be responsible for overlooking the national finance function, business analysis, and improving efficiencies in processes and reporting.

“Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI) has brought Amanda Yap-Choong into the role of Chief Financial Officer, where she will provide business operations and change management leadership to deliver to the business’ strategic priorities.
 
Yap-Choong is a Chartered Accountant and brings extensive experience leading diverse cross-functional teams and stakeholder groups in the infrastructure and professional services industries. She is well versed in providing financial assurance to financial services sectors including insurance, banking and funds management.
 
Most recently, Yap-Choong worked as the Commercial Finance Manager for law firm Chapman Tripp. In this role she was responsible for managing the national finance function, delivering business analysis in an advisory capacity and improving efficiencies in processes and reporting. Prior to that, she held roles at Broadspectrum and PwC in New Zealand and Ireland.”

Jo McCauley, Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO has said that Yap-Choong will strengthened the capability of the executive team and add value to businesses. Yap-Choong has said that she is pleased to join the team as the new CFO.

“Southern Cross Travel Insurance CEO Jo McCauley said, “We were impressed by Amanda’s commercial acumen and track record of delivering strong results.

 

“Amanda’s appointment has strengthened the capability of our executive team and her experience of adding value to businesses amidst times of change will help us deliver to our business priorities amidst COVID-19.”   Yap-Choong said, “I’m pleased to step into the CFO role at SCTI and join a great team which is focused on delivering exceptional service to its customers. I am looking forward to contributing towards SCTI’s strategic direction as the leader in the industry.”

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Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

16 Dec 2020 – The FMA published its Annual Report for the year ended June 2020. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/fma-publishes-2020-annual-report/

17 Dec 2020 – FMA released its latest regular monthly update, which included advice of two consultations expected to commence in the first quarter of 2021, being:

  • Review of the Wholesale Investor $750,000 Minimum Investment Exclusion Exemption Notice 
  • Potential exemption relief for restricted schemes from certain disclosure requirements

The FMA also advised in the update of the publication of two information sheets as follows:

Further FMA guidance identified as published on the FMA website during Dec 2020 includes:

17 Dec 2020 – MBIE advised of the publication of various regulations to support the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act 2019 and other recent legislation changes, including:

• replacing terminology from the Financial Advisers Act 2008, such as references to “category 2” financial products and authorised financial advisers. Note:
The existing treatment under the Financial Markets Conduct Regulations 2014 in relation to category 2 products (for example in relation to whether a PDS needs to be given) is preserved.
Transitional provisions have been included to give affected providers time to update documents that refer to “authorised financial advisers” and “financial advisers”;
• carrying over the effect of the Financial Advisers (Custodians of FMCA Financial Products) Regulations 2014 with some updates and clarifications;
• prescribing limited circumstances in which client money and firm money can be held together, to reflect the effect of existing FMA exemptions for NZX brokers and Non-NZX brokers;
• prescribing when firm money that is held together with client money is to be treated as client money;
• prescribing the statement that lenders can give to make clear to consumers that the limited exclusion from the financial advice regime relating to lender responsibilities applies;
• prescribing requirements for the record of nominated representatives that must be maintained by providers;
• requiring AFAs and QFEs that continue operating in the industry to retain records that were required to be held under the Financial Advisers Act 2008;
• carrying over exemptions contained in regulations under the Financial Advisers Act 2008;
• updating a cross-reference in the financial advice disclosure regulations so that financial advice providers are able to refer to their website when disclosing information about their legal duties;
• enabling financial advice providers to provide contingency DIMS without being subject to DIMS licensing requirements. This carries over and updates an existing licensing exemption for contingency DIMS provided by authorised financial advisers. The regulations also include transitional arrangements where an authorised financial adviser named in a contingency DIMS investment authority is engaged by a financial advice provider;
as well as the following in relation to financial products more generally:
• providing that certain provisions of the Trusts Act 2019 do not apply to PIE call fund unit trusts and PIE term fund unit trusts;
• updating the disclosure information that must be given by managed investment schemes to reflect changes in the Taxation (KiwiSaver, Student Loans, and Remedial Matters) Act 2020 relating to tax refundability.

17 Dec 2020 – Privacy Commissioner released the December version of Privacy News, which included information on the release on 8 Dec 2020 of guidance to Ministers and departments to help them determine when personal information can be disclosed to a Minister by a government department. https://privacy.org.nz/publications/guidance-resources/guidance-to-ministers-and-government-departments/


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

11 Dec 2020 – IRD advised that the US IRS have just issued an FATCA News & Information alert to remind NZ Financial Institutions (NZFIs) registered for FATCA that the Responsible Officer (RO) Certifications are due by 15 December 2020.

11 Dec 2020 – Further to its initial response to the Minister of Finance on 24 Nov, the Reserve Bank published a copy of its updated detailed response to the letter from the Minister on house prices and the role of the Reserve Bank. https://www.rbnz.govt.nz/news/2020/12/reserve-banks-response-to-minister-of-finance

11 Dec 2020 - ASIC releases regulatory guide on product design and distribution obligations in Australia. https://asic.gov.au/about-asic/news-centre/find-a-media-release/2020-releases/20-320mr-asic-releases-regulatory-guide-on-product-design-and-distribution-obligations/

11 Dec 2020 – FMA published “The Auditor Regulation Act (Prescribed Minimum Standards and Conditions for Licensed Auditors and Registered Audit Firms) Notice 2020.” https://www.fma.govt.nz/assets/Reports/Auditor-Regulation-Act-Notice-2020.pdf

13 Dec 2020 – Good Returns reports on a case heard before the Financial Advice Disciplinary Committee on 10 Dec 2020 on “record keeping” charges, with the Committee decision reserved and with details yet to be published on the FADC website. https://www.goodreturns.co.nz/article/976517952/adviser-appears-before-fadc-on-record-keeping-charges.html

14 Dec 2020 – FMA released guidance on financial products that incorporate non-financial factors, such as ‘green’ bonds and ‘socially responsible’ managed funds. https://www.fma.govt.nz/news-and-resources/media-releases/expectations-green-investment-products/


Partners Life study on effects of COVID-19 on perceived value of insurance, and more daily news

A survey conducted by Partners Life and Kantar found that regardless of COVID-19, the majority of participants didn’t see the significance of insurance. The survey results were based on the response of 900 participants aged between 18 and 54. Of those surveyed, 74% stated that their views hadn’t changed regardless of COVID-19. The survey found that the majority of those that didn’t believe they needed insurance shared this view. Participants that said that they were likely to take out insurance were more likely to be of Asian descent (40%), between the age of 24 to 35 (35%), be in the $75,000-$100,000 income bracket (35%), and male (27%). In response to the survey results Unhappily Ever After was launched to challenge the current thinking of New Zealanders.

“Despite the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on daily life, a significant number of consumers reject the concept of insuring their lives, health and income.

This was revealed by a survey conducted by Partners Life and Kantar in October.

The survey polled 900 consumers in New Zealand, aged 18 to 54. It found that 74% said their feelings around insurance have not been impacted by COVID-19. This was especially pronounced among the rejecter group at 84%, while only 54% said so among those who were considering buying life insurance in the next 12 months.

Those who became more open towards insurance as a consequence of the pandemic were more likely to be male (27%); younger people of 24 to 35 (35%); people of Asian ethnicity (40%); and people in the $75,000-$100,000 income bracket (35%) – compared with a figure of 24% for overall respondents who said so.

In response to the results of this survey, Partners Life launched a new advertising campaign known as “Unhappily Ever After”, which features familiar nursery rhymes and appealing to those with young families and middle-aged individuals - the life stages where responsibilities are at their heaviest.” Click here to read more

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Southern Cross awarded gold for COVID-19 response, and more daily news

Southern Cross has been awarded gold in Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards in the health and travel insurance categories for the support offered to members during the pandemic.  This is the fourth consecutive that Southern Cross has be awarded gold in the Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards health insurance category and second consecutive year that it has been awarded gold in the travel insurance category. Southern Cross has credited it’s focus on supporting members during the pandemic as the main reason for being awarded gold.

“Southern Cross has been recognised for the way it has supported customers during an extraordinary year by winning gold in both the health and travel insurance categories in the Reader’s Digest Quality Service Awards.

The awards are facilitated every year to determine which New Zealand organisations have delivered the most outstanding customer service. Consumers rate organisations on personalisation, understanding, simplicity and satisfaction.

This is the fourth consecutive gold for Southern Cross Health Insurance (SCHI) and the second in a row for Southern Cross Travel Insurance (SCTI). Both organisations come under the Southern Cross brand, and are businesses united by a not-for-profit ethos helping Kiwis look after their health and wellbeing.

Southern Cross maintained this award-winning customer service throughout the pandemic by focusing its efforts on supporting customers in ways that would have the most impact.”

Louise Waterson, Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, noted that challenges faced in 2020 reflect the importance of focusing on customer service. Waterson said Southern Cross achieved excellent customer service.

“Louise Waterson, Editor-in-Chief of Reader’s Digest, said the challenges of this year have highlighted the importance of delivering excellent service to customers.

“For another year, Southern Cross has achieved such excellence, and continues to raise the benchmark of what outcomes customers of health and travel insurance can expect. Only the highest standards will do when fulfilling the health and travel needs and concerns of their customers and their families. New Zealanders appreciate the skill, professionalism and compassion shown by Southern Cross – all of which makes for a winning business strategy. Congratulations,” she said.”

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FMA provides glimpse into full licence, and more daily news

The FMA has provided some insight into the requirements of the full license. It has been revealed that advisers can begin the application process from 15 March 2021. Although the process will be similar to the transitional license, the questions advisers will be required to answer have been described as being more rigorous. Unlike transitional licenses, full licenses will not have expiration dates. John Botica, director of market engagement, has noted that classes and conditions are another difference between the two license types.

“Advisers will be able to start applying for a full license on March 15, 2021, and the FMA says the process will be similar to what advisers have done for their transitional license – however, it says its questioning will also be a lot more rigorous.

According to FMA director of market engagement John Botica, the key differences between transitional and full licensing will be the time period they cover, and the different classes and conditions attached to a full license. He says the FMA will also go into more depth around an adviser’s practices and procedures.

“Transitional licenses last for up to two years, from March 15, 2021, to March 15, 2023, whereas a full license has no fixed term,” Botica explained.”

An important aspect of the full license is that it will include three different license classes. It will be important that advisers choose the right class as they will need to go through the full license application process again if they need to amend their class selection. Botica noted that advisers with transitional licenses will have two years to apply for their full license while new advisers must apply for full licenses. It has also been revealed that questions around competency, to conduct, to conflicts of interest will be examined during the application process.

““You have that license for as long as you continue to run your business. The full process also includes three different license classes, and it’s important to choose the right class – if you need to change it, you’ll need to go through the application process again.”

“There were two standard conditions for transitional licensing, and for the full license, we add another five,” he continued.

“That was subject to consultation, and we had an overwhelmingly positive response from everyone around standard conditions.”

Botica confirmed that there will be a two year period in which advisers can apply for a full license, and the competency safe harbour will last for those two years. However, new advisers will need to go straight to a full license – they won’t be able to obtain a transitional.

Botica says the questions asked by the FMA will also be much deeper, and will touch on everything from competency, to conduct, to conflicts of interest.” Click here to read more

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