New Zealander’s health concerns, and more daily news

A Swiss Re study has revealed that because of COVID-19 one in three New Zealanders have increased health concerns. The study found that one in two participants felt that their financial future was positive while 14% were anxious about their financial future. The number of participants that had increased health concerns and participants that were anxious about their financial future were the lowest among other developed countries within the Asia-Pacific region. Leigh Watson, head of life and health in Australia and New Zealand noted that although the New Zealand findings weren’t as concerning as respondents from other countries in the region, mental wellness and price certainty were identified as issues. The study found that New Zealanders felt that policy features were the most important aspect of insurance and claims payout was the least important aspect. Watson highlighted that the insurance industry has a role in promoting wellbeing.  Watson has said that Swiss Re is looking to work  alongside insurers to help customers through difficult situations.

“A Swiss Re study has shown that one in three New Zealanders have an increase in health concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic - however, this is the lowest reported level of concern among developed markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

The study showed that half of all surveyed New Zealanders were keen to resume domestic and international travel and social activities, and one in two respondents felt that their financial future was positive. Fourteen per cent (14%) felt overwhelmed or anxious about their financial future - the lowest percentage in the surveyed region.

When it comes to insurance, respondents felt the ability to set a fixed premium was the most important policy feature (31%), while monetary payout was the lowest priority (19%).

Leigh Watson, head of life and health in Australia and New Zealand, said that while New Zealanders appear to have less money troubles compared to other APAC countries, issues like mental wellness and price certainty remained a concern.

“While New Zealanders aren’t so worried about the financial impacts of the pandemic, they are worried about the mental wellness impacts, which have been exacerbated by COVID-19,” he said.

“We can see that New Zealanders would also like to see more price certainty in their insurances, and the industry is definitely trying to tackle this through a greater focus on more sustainable products and pricing.”

“Claimants are also looking for faster and easier claims processes,” he continued.

“Our claims team recognises that an innovative and agile response is required to support our insurer clients, and ultimately customers, to help them navigate unforeseen challenges in their time of need.”

Watson said that the insurance sector needs to “draw lessons” from the pandemic and how customers are responding to pressure, and it particularly needs to increase its focus on resilience and mental wellness.

“The insurance industry has a role to play to promote wellbeing, and to support a more proactive management of everyone’s physical and mental health,” Watson said

“The impacts of COVID-19 on mental health remain a concern, and we are assisting insurers in helping their customers through difficult situations and towards long-term recovery.” Click here to read more

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FSPR deregistration insights, and more daily news

As of 24 June there are 9,926 financial advisers registered on the FSPR. It is being reported that the number of advisers currently on the FSPR is likely to decrease. Since 15 June, 72 FSPs have been deregistered, with just 51% being voluntary. MBIE business registries national manager Rob Rendle has said that there hasn't been any deregistration because financial advisers failed to link with a FAP, although 550 linking failure notices were issued in June. Those that received the notice will have 20 days to update their registration. Rendle has noted that MBIE will only be able to update the registration figures after the 20 day period.

“Almost 10,000 financial service providers are now registered to provide financial advice in New Zealand according to the Companies Office, up by 748 from March 15 this year.

However, that number is expected to drop with about 550 financial service providers (FSPs) being sent letters from the Companies Office warning them of imminent deregistration.

Statistics (see below) provided to Good Returns by the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment state that as of June 24, 9926 FSPs were registered on the Financial Service Provider Register (FSPR), up from 9168 as of March 15.

Since June 15, 72 FSPs have been deregistered - 37 of those were voluntary deregistrations, 34 failed to provide annual confirmation and one was deregistered for failing to provide approved dispute resolution scheme details.

Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment business registries national manager Rob Rendle says the Registrar has not deregistered any financial advisers for failure to link themselves to a financial advice provider (FAP) " he first has an obligation to give notice of intention to deregister".

"On 17 and 18 June we gave notice to those FPSs who had not engaged with a FAP by 15 June 2021. About 550 notices had been issued.

"Those FSPs have a 20 working day objection period within which to update their registration.

"Deregistration numbers won’t be known until the 20 working days has passed, and the Registrar has completed deregistration. FSPs will be sent a notice confirming deregistration once it’s completed," Rendle says.

FSPs on the FSPR:

- FSPs registered as financial advisers on the FSPR as at 15/03/20: 9316

- FSPs registered as financial advisers on the FSPR as at 15/03/21: 9178

- FSPs registered as financial advisers on the FSPR as at 24/06/21: 9926

Financial Adviser FSP removals since June 15, 2021:

- Failure to provide annual confirmation: 34

- Statutory Notification (failure to provide approved Dispute Resolution Scheme details): 1

- Voluntary deregistration: 37” click here to read more

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RBNZ: Tide Going Out On Pacific Banking Services

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New Asteron Life Chief Financial Officer, and more daily news

Suncorp New Zealand has announced that Andrew MacFarlane will join as the new Chief Financial Officer in August. MacFarlane will be responsible for providing strategic oversight and monitoring of financial, actuarial, investment, capital and reinsurance for all of Suncorp’s businesses, which include Vero, Asteron Life, AA Insurance and AA Money. Jimmy Higgins, Suncorp New Zealand CEO, has said that MacFarlane’s experience will be invaluable for Suncorp.

“Suncorp New Zealand has appointed Andrew MacFarlane (pictured) as chief financial officer, effective August 02.

MacFarlane will join Suncorp from ANZ, where he spent 25 years holding several senior finance roles in areas such as its institutional division, retail bank and tax, and product management and strategy. Most recently, he was chief financial officer, group functions for ANZ New Zealand.

In his new role, MacFarlane will provide strategic oversight and monitoring of financial, actuarial, investment, capital and reinsurance aspects of Suncorp’s businesses in New Zealand. These businesses include the Vero and Asteron Life brands, as well as AA Insurance and AA Money, which are joint venture partnerships with the New Zealand Automobile Association.

Suncorp New Zealand CEO Jimmy Higgins said MacFarlane’s extensive industry experience will be invaluable to Suncorp’s business.

“I’m delighted to welcome Andrew to the Suncorp New Zealand leadership team,” said Higgins. “His experience of the financial services markets in New Zealand and Australia, coupled with his leadership within high performing businesses will be invaluable for Suncorp New Zealand as it continues to transform its business, while delivering great customer outcomes.”  Click here to read more

Andrew MacFarlane

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Partners Life ten year review, and more daily news

Chief financial officer Sean Kam said that the secret to Partners Life’s success is its efficiency. Kam has said that Partners is 58% more efficient than competitors. This has been credited to the use of best technology, cloud-based solutions and not having legacy systems in place. Managing Director Naomi Ballantyne noted that Partners has a better lapse rate than competitors and that it is currently getting the largest share of all adviser new business. Ballantyne also provided insights into what Partners Life has achieved in the past decade by noting:

  • Partners has paid $692 million in claims since inception
  • It now insures 215,000 lives
  • 2208 advisers support the company
  • It has trained 1250 advisers
  • Annual premium income sits at $389 million
  • Partners has implemented 232 individual product upgrades
  • Partners is ranked second in the market for in-force business
  • The company has raised $450 million of capital in 10 years
  • Its current appraisal value is $1.3 billion

“Managing director Naomi Ballantyne says people should think of Partners as a “technology company in the business of insurance.”

She says Partners will “never allow legacy to impact our business.”

Chief financial officer Sean Kam says the "secret sauce" to Partners' success is its efficiency. Based on publicly available data he says Partners is 58% more efficient than its competitors because it uses the best technology, cloud-based solutions and has not legacy systems.

"We have an absolute laser focus on not allowing legacy into our business."

Its technology means the company "can do more with less people".

He believes Partners has an "unbeatable competitive new advantage."

The firm celebrated its 10th birthday with an event for advisers recently.

Ballantyne says in its first decade the company has:

·       Paid $692 million in claims since inception

·       It now insures 215,000 lives

·       2208 advisers support the company

·       It has trained 1250 advisers

·       Annual premium income sits at $389 million

·       Partners has implemented 232 individual product upgrades

·       Partners is ranked second in the market for in-force business

·       The company has raised $450 million of capital in 10 years

·       Its current appraisal value is $1.3 billion

Ballantyne says Partners has a better lapse rate than its competitors. According to Financial Services Council numbers the average lapse rate across the industry is 11.6%, while Partners sites at 10.2%.

The company is currently getting the largest share of all adviser new business. Ballantyne says 34% of new business is written by Partners and the next biggest is sitting on 20%.” Click here to read more 

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FSC's Consumer Engagement Committee project:


AIA to join Relief Run, and more daily news

AIA NZ has announced that employees will be joining the Relief Run, a global initiative for those in India affected by COVID-19. AIA NZ alongside AIA Australia will contribute $30,000 to World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal. Employees will also complete 5km near the AIA House on 9 June 2021. AIA NZ CEO Nick Stanhope has said that it is important AIA joins this movement.

“AIA NZ are joining their Australian colleagues in the global initiative Relief Run, as the trans-Tasman business contributes $30,000 for the people of India devastated by COVID-19.

On Wednesday 9 June, the AIA NZ team will be running or walking 5km around the Smales Farm precinct in Takapuna, Auckland, and encourage participation from anywhere in the world.

“This is a global virtual event so anyone can take part from wherever they are,” says Nick Stanhope, AIA NZ CEO. “The scale of the tragedy in India is devastating, and we have family members, friends and colleagues directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. I feel it’s important we join this movement, and take this small step to make a difference.”

Australian AIA Vitality Ambassador and endurance athlete Samantha Gash is the co-creator of Relief Run, which last year raised more than AU$1 million in support of Australian bushfire relief efforts. Locally the Relief Run will be supported by AIA NZ Vitality Ambassadors Dame Valerie Adams and Ian Jones.

“It’s great to be able to get involved in supporting my fellow AIA Vitality Ambassador Sam Gash, and the Relief Run,” says Ian Jones. “I know the funds raised will have a big impact on the relief effort in India, and will undoubtedly save lives.”

All funds raised by Relief Run will go towards the World Vision’s COVID-19 India crisis appeal, which is sourcing equipment and supplies including beds, oxygen concentrators, food vouchers and tents for temporary COVID-19 care centres.” Click here to read more

Image 4

In other news

AIA: $597m in claims was paid in 2020. This includes COVID – redundancy, income protection and death claims

MAS: MAS is sponsoring the ILANZ: In-house Lawyers Young In-House Lawyer of the Year award

Asteron Life: Jacques Van Heerden joins Asteron Life as BDM

From Good returns: Keeping up - but not with the Kardashians


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: 

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:


Legal and regulatory update for the life and health insurance sector

19 May 2021 - Overseas Investment Amendment Bill (No 3) completed third reading in Parliament.

20 May 2021 – FMA announced the appointment of Liam Mason as General Counsel.

20 May 2021 – Good Returns reported that the Financial Service Providers Register has already issued notices advising of the intention to de-list advisers who have not linked their registration to a financial advice provider or authorised body under the new regime, with Financial Services Complaints Ltd issuing an alert advising of the steps to take to complete the required linking. Relevant weblinks are and

20 May 2021 – Treasury released the Government Budget 2021 documents.

FSC announce conference early bird tickets, and more daily news

The FSC has announced that early bird tickets for September’s ReGenerations Conference are now available. The FSC has highlighted that the conference will include three different workstreams and six pathways to allow attendees to hear key up-to-date information relevant to their specialities. It has been announced that the conference will also include political, industry and keynote speakers. 


“EarlyBird ticket sales for the FSC's flagship conference are now on sale. Great content drives great conferences and we have a stellar line-up of political, industry and keynote speakers which we will be releasing over the coming weeks.


The conference is structured to include three different workstreams and six pathways across the two day event, giving everyone an opportunity to hear key up-to-date information relevant to their speciality and challenge how we deliver insurance, investments and KiwiSaver to consumers.” Click here to register



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AIA introduce AIAHub Learning, and more daily news

AIA has announced that AIAHub Learning is set to be introduced.  AIAHub Learning is intended to provide resources and help advisers keep their knowledge and skills up to date. AIA noted that AIAHub Learning has been designed to enable advisers to develop competency, knowledge and skills as well as providing a place to record all professional development activities and understand all learning requirements.

“AIA is committed to providing you with the best tools and resources to provide an outstanding financial advice service.

To help you deliver this service to your clients, and keep competence, knowledge and skill up-to-date, we are excited to introduce AIAHub Learning.

AIAHub Learning is designed to:

  • Assist you to develop and maintain your competence, knowledge and skill for the financial advice you give.
  • Provide you with a system to record your learning activities.
  • Communicate with you around your AIA learning requirements so that you can continue to focus on delivering good client outcomes.”

Click here to register

Introduction to AIAHub Learning

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