Giving mortgage advisers a voice

Professionalising the financial advice industry will change public perceptions of mortgage advisers and help them survive the disruptive technology challenges they face.

Hamish Patel

According to the advisers who have been appointed to Financial Advice New Zealand’s lending advisory committee, the new professional association is an opportunity to transform, improve and advance the industry.

Those advisers are Suzanne Isherwood (Mortgage Express), Joel Oliver (SuperCity Mortgages), Hamish Patel (Mortgages Online) and Sandra Spence (Affinity Mortgage Advisers).

Each of them is honoured to have been selected for the committee and is looking forward to representing mortgage advisers in the development of the new association.

Isherwood, who became a mortgage adviser 10 years ago after many years in the banking industry, says the committee’s role is to provide their specialist input into policy issues.

That includes the formulation of competency standards, training, education and supervision or mentoring paths, pinnacle marks, codes, professional practice standards, and guidelines for good practice and rules.

She says financial advisers of all types play a critical role in helping thousands of New Zealanders prepare for life events and secure their financial future – and yet the industry currently lacks the structure required to engender trust and confidence.

“When the industry becomes a profession it will enjoy community, professional and personal credibility that will engender advisers, and the broader profession itself, with both purpose and belonging.

“In simple terms, it will make advisers proud to tell guests at a BBQ that they’re financial advisers. Financial Advice NZ has this as a priority for members.”

Oliver, who has been in the business for five years following 13 years in banking, agrees.

He says Financial Advice NZ offers a chance to shape how advisers are perceived by New Zealanders and the committee will give mortgage advisers a meaningful voice in that process.

“We must come together in order to not only improve, advance and finally breakthrough the long lasting stigma of the dirty ‘broker’ word in New Zealand, and be held in the same professional light as solicitors and accountants.

“But, more importantly, we need to come together in order to survive the constant and rapid disruptive technology approaching in the world of finance.”

Oliver says that, to this end, it is necessary for a new paradigm to be created, and the committee aims to serve mortgage advisers as best as it possibly can to achieve this.

For Patel, who has been an adviser for over 10 years after many years as a consultant at Westpac, the committee must ensure mortgage advisers help shape the new industry body.

That’s so they end up with something that mortgage advisers get value from, as well as an association that is valued by the end consumer, he says.

“It’s important to keep supporting some of the good standards that have been around. But advisers are tight with time and I think that, with technology, we can deliver knowledge better.

“At the same time the new body needs to be engaging and valuable to mortgage advisers. A really approachable platform for sharing ideas and best practices will help.”

Spence, who has an adviser since 2005 following over 10 years in banking, was away and unavailable for comment at this time.

All of Financial Advice NZ’s four advisory committees are due to start work in February.

Isherwood says that licencing, competency and the review of the Disclosure Regulations are likely to be at the forefront of the lending committee’s thinking and attention when they get to work.

Patel adds they will need to get in touch with lots of fellow advisers to make sure they are a real reflection of what the industry wants.

“The new body will only be engaging if it is shaped by most of us.”

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