Weekly News Summary 25/03/2020


RiskInfoNZ Podcast for 25 March 2020

Transitional License Deadline

The 29 June deadline for transitional licenses is under review by MBIE following approaches by both Financial Advice New Zealand and the Financial Services Council.

While MBIE is yet to officially confirm any change, Katrina Shanks of Financial Advice NZ says she has asked for a seven-month delay, which would move the deadline to October.

Essential Services

The Government has confirmed financial services among its list of essential services that need to continue operating when New Zealand moves to Level 4 in its COVID-19 response.

The FMA’s expectation is that most advisers should be able to work from home and to continue supporting clients without compromising the Government’s social distancing objectives.

The regulator is encouraging advisers to contact their clients and be available to help with their inquiries during these challenging times.

Fidelity Life

Fidelity Life, New Zealand’s largest locally-owned life insurer, says its adviser service levels won’t be impacted by Covid-19 due to the business disruption plans it has put in place.
Fidelity Life’s CEO Naomi Tereora says that while there’s lots of unknowns ahead, adviser partners can take comfort from the fact the firm is well capitalised.

Poll Result

Last week’s poll asked if you’ll change the way you communicate with clients as a result of the coronavirus. Five percent weren’t sure, 27% said nothing would change and 68% indicated they would be making changes. The poll is still open at RiskInfoNZ.co.nz

Commission Payment Change

Partners Life has broken new ground in restructuring the way it pays commissions. From 1 July 2020, the insurer will direct all over-ride payments to the registered Financial Advice Provider – through which the adviser has placed the life insurance business – and the amount of over-ride payments will be based on the quality of a range of customer outcomes.

Conference Cancelled

Financial Advice New Zealand has cancelled this year’s its annual conference as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. The event was to be held in Christchurch this October, but will now be held on 18/19 February 2021.

The organisation has also launched a self-help page pulling together the latest information and advice from the Ministry of Health, other government agencies, and Business NZ.

Caution Over New Redundancy Policies

As media coverage of COVID-19 increases amid a country-wide lockdown, insurer Cigna has put a hold on new applications for its redundancy insurance policies.

The company says customers can still apply for, and be underwritten for redundancy cover, but all new applications will be deferred for approximately three months.

As for its current policy holders it says there are no specific exclusions that would prevent valid claims being paid where they relate to the contraction of coronavirus or COVID-19.

Time to Lead

Advisers need to collectively stand up and help guide, educate, and lead their clients through the coronavirus pandemic, says Richard Klipin, CEO of the Financial Services Council.

Klipin says advisers need to get in front of their clients virtually and urges business owners to keep a close on eye on cashflow during turbulent times.