Bill to boost public confidence in financial advisers

Wednesday 20 February 2008, 11:00AM
By Lianne Dalziel

Financial advisers will be held to higher standards of competency, accountability and disclosure and will operate under a co-regulatory arrangement involving Approved Professional Bodies and the Securities Commission under a government Bill sent to the Finance and Expenditure select committee today, Commerce Minister Lianne Dalziel says.

The Financial Advisers Bill is part of the Labour-led government's ongoing reform of the non-bank finance sector.

“Financial advisers provide an important service by giving savings and investment advice which meets the needs of the individual and, in turn, supports New Zealand’s savings aspirations and financial markets generally. It is crucial that consumers are able to have confidence that their financial adviser meets acceptable standards of competency and accountability and can trust that their adviser has disclosed any potential conflicts of interest. This Bill will help give people that confidence.”

The purposes of the Bill are to:
• require disclosure of financial advisers’ conflicts of interests, fees, and competency to ensure that members of the public can make informed decisions about whether to use a financial adviser and whether to follow a financial adviser’s financial advice; and
• require competency of financial advisers to ensure that financial advisers have the experience, expertise, and integrity to match effectively a member of the public to a financial product that best meets that person’s need and risk profile; and
• ensure that financial advisers are held accountable for their actions.

The Bill proposes that financial advisers belong to an Approved Professional Body (APB) which will act as frontline supervisor of their activities, with oversight by the Securities Commission. The Bill establishes a regime for the approval of APBs by the Commerce Minister and provides enforcement powers for the Securities Commission and the Courts, based on the existing provisions of the Securities Markets Act.

The Bill makes a clear distinction between those who advise and those who provide information only and is not intended to capture the latter group, Lianne Dalziel said.