Resolution Life acquires superannuation business

In Australia, Resolution Life has acquired a substantial superannuation client base from AIA. From a New Zealand perspective this underlines AIA's Australasian commitment to focus on the life and health business. From the media release:

'Resolution Life Australasia has agreed to acquire AIA’s Superannuation & Investments business for an undisclosed amount, describing the move as one that will “strengthen” its market presence...

S&P Global ratings says the proposed acquisition will improve Resolution Life’s scale in the Australian market and drive operational efficiencies.

“The purchase supports our assessment of the insurer as a closed-fund consolidator – a stronger business model than that of a pure run-off,” the rating agency said.

AIA says the assets it has agreed to sell were purchased as part of its acquisition of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s life insurance and investments business known as CommInsure Life. Australia CEO and MD Damien Mu says the sale reflects AIA’s intention to focus on its core business of life and health insurance and wellbeing services. “Post the integration of CommInsure Life, we commenced the next step of our transformation journey, through which we will create a simpler, faster and more connected AIA,” Mr Mu said.'


In other daily news:

  • Only 14 of 26 insurers working with advisers in Australia accept digital signatures
  • Can you produce a statement of advice in under two hours? That's what's required according to some Australian advisers in order to be profitable in that market
  • Would you like to participate in a benchmarking project to understand how your business compares to others (anonymously) in terms of key financial metrics? if so, contact us.


AIA CEO makes Insurance Business Global 100 list, and more daily news

AIA NZ CEO Nick Stanhope has been selected for the annual Insurance Business Global 100 list. The Insurance Business Global 100 list acknowledges those making a difference in the insurance industry. Stanhope has acknowledged the work of the AIA team over the past year and has said that he will be focused on reconnecting with the AIA team and AIA’s business partners.

“It was announced today that Nick Stanhope, CEO of AIA New Zealand, was selected for the annual Insurance Business Global 100 list which recognises industry leaders around the world making a positive difference and helping to drive change across the insurance sector. This is the third consecutive year Stanhope has been selected for the list.

“I’m pleased to once again be recognised,” says Stanhope, “and I want to acknowledge the enormous effort that the AIA NZ team put in over the last 12 months to continue to make a difference for our customers and partners. 2021 was an outstanding year for us in term of business performance in light of the challenging environment we were operating in.”

While there is no doubt the global pandemic brought with it challenges, Stanhope says there has been one silver lining for the insurance industry. “Covid-19 really highlighted the importance of life insurance for many New Zealanders, and making sure their financial wellbeing is protected.”

Stanhope took some well-deserved extended leave at the end of 2021, with Chief Customer and Digital Officer Sharron Botica taking up the reins as Acting CEO for the three month period. During that time Stanhope enjoyed some quality family time with his wife and daughters, and moved their family home north of Auckland to idyllic Matakana, leading from the top with embracing the company’s flexible working approach.

Now back at the AIA helm he is looking forward to the challenges and opportunities 2022 presents for his business.

“This year brings further conduct regulation with the Financial Markets (Conduct of Financial Institutions) Amendment Bill (CoFi) later this year, and AIA is focused on making sure we have the right tools in place to support our people, partners and the wider industry in complying with these new requirements.”

Stanhope says his attention this year will be centred on reconnecting – with his people and AIA’s business partners. “The past two years have been challenging with very few employees in any of our AIA NZ offices. We did this purposely with our people’s health, safety and wellbeing at the forefront, and to minimise the risk of Covid-19 spreading throughout our workforce. I feel we need to start getting back to more of a ‘business as usual’ mindset, while embracing these new ways of working.

“It really felt like we were all in survival mode for a large part of last year, and I look forward to having more in-person interactions, reconnecting at events, and getting out there to see our advisers and business partners in 2022.”

Stanhope also indicated AIA’s intention to bring new innovations to the NZ market. “We’re exploring how to extend the current insurance pool to help protect more Kiwis. The traditional new business risk market is in decline, and we want to help close the protection gap by addressing unmet customer through focussing on seamless digital and affordable solutions.

“I’m excited about what AIA could create by leveraging our global support network, and how it will deliver on AIA’s dream of championing New Zealand to be one of the healthiest and best protected nations in the world.”

In other news

From Good returns: Financial advice industry gets hard word on cyber security

Resolution Life: Resolution Life CEO moves on

AM Best: AM Best the latest to distance itself from Russia

Australia: AIA Group considers Australian legacy products, and more daily news

It is being reported that AIA group is considering selling legacy life insurance products in Australia.  Resolution Life is reported to be the possible purchaser. AIA Group and Resolution Life have not commented. Manuel Baigorri and Harry Brumpton of Bloomberg report:

“Asian insurance giant AIA Group Ltd. is considering selling some life insurance legacy assets in Australia as part of its strategy to streamline its portfolio, according to people familiar with the matter.

Closely-held Resolution Life has emerged as the likeliest buyer for certain policies related to AIA’s acquisition of Commonwealth Bank of Australia’s life insurance business, the people said, asking not to be identified because the matter is private. A transaction could help Hong Kong-based AIA raise a few hundred million dollars, they said.

AIA has been working with a financial adviser on the disposal, which had also drawn interest from other bidders including private equity firms, the people said. Considerations are still ongoing and no final decision has been made, they said.

Representatives for AIA and Resolution Life declined to comment.

AIA bought CBA’s life insurance business in a A$3.8 billion ($2.7 billion) deal announced in 2017, marking the most ambitious foray beyond the company’s core markets in Asia at the time.

Resolution Life focuses on the acquisition and management of portfolios of life insurance policies, according to its website. Since 2003, it has invested more than $17 billion of equity in the purchase, reinsurance, consolidation and management of life insurance firms. It has operations in Bermuda, the U.K., the U.S., Australia and New Zealand.” Click here to read more

In other news

nib: clients that sign up for either an Ultimate or Easy Health policy using nibAPPLY before 28 February 2022 will be given two months free, after they’ve paid for their first month

AdviceFirst: Brent Hunt promoted to Head of Wealth Management Advice

From Good returns: Did your client understand your advice?

AMP sale finalised, and more daily news

The sale of AMP Life to Resolution Life has been finalised. The sale amounted to A$3 billion (NZ$3.19 billion), with A$2.5 billion being paid in cash and the remaining A$500 million being paid in equity interest in Resolution Life Australia. 

“The total sale proceeds are A$3 billion, comprising A$2.5 billion cash and A$500 million equity interest in Resolution Life Australia, a new Australian-domiciled, Resolution Life-controlled holding company that is now the owner of AMP Life.”

As a result of the sale, AMP will transfer an estimated A$55 billion in client funds as part of the company’s internal separation process. And although AMP will sell AMP Life, the company will be providing technology and administrative services to AMP Life for the next two years as part of a transitional services agreement.

“The separation of AMP Life will significantly simplify AMP’s group structure. The internal separation process included the transfer of approximately A$55 billion of client funds via several successor fund transfers.


Collectively these transfers represented one of the largest fund transfers of this kind and enables AMP to focus on its strategic simplification of its wealth management platforms and products.


In addition to its residual 20% holding in Resolution Life Australia, AMP will continue to provide technology and administrative services to AMP Life for a two-year period under a transitional services agreement. All customers’ terms and conditions will remain unchanged through the separation.” Click here to read more

Therese Singleton has been appointed CEO of the Resolution Life New Zealand Limited which has an A- financial stability rating from Standard and Poor's. 


In other news:

Kepa: Kepa are planning to hold two-day workshops for compliance support people in mid-sized to large adviser businesses in August, September and October

Fidelity Life: Fidelity Life launched Live in the Green, their July Sharecare challenge

nib: nibAPPLY offer extended until end of September

RBNZ: Monetary Policy dates for 2021


AMP makes new agreement with Resolution Life

William McInness writing at the Australian Financial Review, is reporting that AMP has just announced a new agreement with Resolution Life, as expected. Link. Key statement from the article: 

The firm also announced a revised agreement to sell AMP Life to Resolution Life. The purchase price of $3 billion includes $2.5 billion cash and a $500 million equity interest in Resolution Life Australia.

AMP will further localise its New Zealand wealth management and explore options to divest.

AMP will also do an equity raise. More details in the article


Criticism of RBNZ decision on AMP by the AFR

Goodreturns piece on criticism of the RBNZ's decision not to extend AMP's exemption to Resolution Life contain some interesting quotes, some of which are hard to swallow. 

The Australian Financial Review had accused RBNZ of making “a change in a 150-year-old regulatory practice for life insurance companies in New Zealand through an out-of-the-blue ASX announcement.”

The RBNZ contends that no law or regulation has changed, rather, what has changed is the nature of the business, which will be in run off. Again quoting from the story: 

The bank [meaning the RBNZ] says exemptions like AMP’s “are granted on the basis that standards applicable to Australian incorporated insurers are broadly equivalent to New Zealand standards. In some circumstances, standards for Australian incorporated insurers favour Australian policyholders over New Zealand policyholders, including during ‘run-off,’” it says.

If you want to read the original AFR article (probably limited to subscribers, but I can't tell, as I am a subscriber) the link is here



AMP Life sale hits issues - updated

Release from AMP, 15 July 2019:

AMP Limited today advises that the transaction for the sale of AMP Life to Resolution Life is highly unlikely to proceed on the current terms.

This is due to the challenges in meeting the condition precedent for Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) approval.

The failure to meet this condition precedent is exceptionally disappointing as the sale of AMP Life is a foundational element of AMP’s strategy.

Capital position and interim dividend expectations

While the 1H 19 accounts are yet to be finalised, AMP expects to report a Level 3 eligible capital surplus above minimum regulatory requirements and in line with Board limits for target capital surplus.

Given the uncertainty around the AMP Life transaction, the AMP Board expects to continue its prudent approach to capital management and anticipates that an interim dividend will not be paid for 1H 19.

Click here to read the full press release: Download 15 July - AMP Life sale and interim dividend update

The release is comprehensive and well worth a read. Probably AMP and Resolution made what was a reasonable assumption at the time that the exemptions AMP enjoyed would be extended to Resolution. The tougher line being held by RB is also logical, given the increased scrutiny being placed on the sector and recent events. I expect that some sort of accommodation, perhaps to share the costs of the requirements of the RB, can be struck with Resolution Life. The whole situation speaks loudly of regulators and being more prepared to exercise their supervisory powers. 

Susan Edmunds story on this, at 

Tamsyn Parker has a story on this too, at 

AMP - what it all means

AMP's decision to sell their life insurance businesses, and run an IPO for the New Zealand wealth business, has generated a great deal of news. Here is a quick round-up plus some of my commentary at the bottom of this post.

  • Goodreturns post focuses on the impact on AMP advisers - a valuable perspective, link.
  • has a post by Jenée Tibshraeny that focuses more on Resolution Life and the IPO of the wealth business, a good read: link.
  • The AFR's piece focuses on the benefits for an Australian business free from the distractions of running a life business and NZ. Link.
  • Stuff talks about the brand disappearing from New Zealand. Link.

How big a deal you think this is depends on your point of view. On the one hand, this is a huge deal: AMP has been a major force in insurance for more than 150 years, so the fact that they will leave that market is very significant. On the other hand, recently, AMP has been much more of a wealth management business, and has not written much new business in recent years, as shown in the release by Blair Vernon at the time of the FMA review of QFEs.

This is different to the trend of Australian Banks selling their life insurance operations. With an IPO of all that remains, AMP may effectively leave New Zealand - it will be interesting to see. AMP’s ability to extract value from the transaction depends somewhat on the performance of the business sold to Resolution Life, so some issues such as pricing of the business, and rules governing replacement business, will continue to be important issues, with the impacts varying depending on product line (whole of life versus term insurance).

I am not sure how much this was driven by compliance concerns. AMP’s situation is not the same as, say, Australian Banks divesting themselves of advice businesses. I think this is more about AMP’s business performance. AMP’s process of considering the best way forward for these businesses commenced well before the recent Australian Royal Commission.

I am not expert in wealth management businesses, so may not be best placed to comment on the prospects for an IPO. There is much to interest a wide range of participants in the IPO, the recent growth in wealth business, the KiwiSaver default status, and more. I shall follow the progress with interest.

I note that AMP's share price is down about 10% today.