MPs laud roboadvice, client-first push in FSLAB

The Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill may have passed its third reading without opposition – but the members of parliament who spoke in support of it showed some confusion about what the bill actually contains.

The bill, which amends legislation governing all financial advisers, was passed on Thursday night.

Ten speeches were given in support of the bill, after two were offered on Tuesday.

Labour MP Jo Luxton said the bill would make changes to the way advisers operated.

“It away the incentive for the advisers to sell or promote—I guess sell might not be the right word—a particular product because they may get commission from that and have their own interests at heart," she said.

"But what this piece of legislation does is ensures that financial advisers have to put the clients' interests first, and that is really important because we do need to prioritise their interests, and they only can give advice where they are confident to do so."

Former Commerce Minister Jacqui Dean congratulated her successor, Kris Faafoi, for being the one who got the bill across the line.

“It happens all the time, you know—one minister initiates the work, maybe another one takes it the way through, and then some lucky guy gets to bring it to the House and bask in the glory. I'm not hurt… It is good," she said.

"It's a good piece of work, and when we do talk to members of the financial advice industries—I did just last evening—there is a good understanding of the regime, and there is a good understanding and acceptance and enthusiasm for the new compliance requirements, new standards of financial advice, and also for putting the needs of the client right at the very forefront of financial advice provision in New Zealand."

She said she was particularly interested in the fact the formally bill clears the way for personalised roboadvice.

“Having said that, actually, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) did authorise—or was it the Commerce Commission? No, it was the FMA—the provision of robo-advice ahead of this legislation. I can't remember. Maybe the Minister can remind me—FMA? I think it was."

Green MP Jan Logie also highlighted roboadvice.

“The intent of that—for some of us who may just associate anything that says robo, with robocalling, and the desire to disconnect from landlines altogether—is about setting out that not all financial advice should come in the same medium, and that we need it also to be appropriate for the decisions that people are making, and not everyone needs a full prospectus, that actually sometimes robo or digital advice will be the best way to get information across to people, and we should be ensuring that our legislation enables that.”

Labour MP Kieran McAnulty said financial advice was increasingly important for an ageing population.

"Not everyone is born with a great array of skills. I can only speak for myself; I was born with very little. But one of those skills that not many people hold is financial people reach a certain age they start to want to ensure that the money that they've saved away for their retirement is in good hands. I think that just makes absolute sense, so when you're looking to ensure and give people the confidence that the financial advisers that are assisting them to make decisions about their money are doing so under a regime that instils them with confidence."

The new regime for financial advice is expected to come into effect in the first half of 2020, with applications for transitional licences opening later this year.


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