Trusted Adviser Debate Raises Training Issues


Financial Advice NZ is floating the idea of awarding members who meet certain criteria Trusted Adviser status, and among the proposed requirements is a Level 5 qualification.

However, during a webinar presentation hosted by the organisation’s CEO Katrina Shanks on Wednesday 8 July, one of its long-standing members wondered if their three decades of experience should be counted in lieu of the qualification.

Shanks said it is a question that forms part of the consultation period, which ends on 22 July.

Katrina Shanks, CEO, Financial Advice NZ.
Katrina Shanks, CEO, Financial Advice NZ.

“Where do you put a line in the sand in terms of where the standard sits?” she said. “And what is the expectation of the consumer seeking expert advice with a Trusted Mark on it?”

Shanks says the proposed criteria is higher than the base requirement of being an adviser through regulation and is “…what the next level looks like in the market place”.

“We believe there is a place in the market to say there is a mark above the base minimum expected by the regulator,” she said.

We believe there is a place in the market to say there is a mark above the base minimum expected by the regulator…

“We are putting the mark at a Level 5 qualification. But the question is ‘do we grandparent people into the standard based on their experience?’.

“That’s the consultation we are having now. But there is no doubt in my mind that over time the requirement will be to have a Level 5 qualification because of the FAP structure.

Sue Brown, Chair, Financial Advice New Zealand.
Sue Brown, Chair, Financial Advice New Zealand.

“So do we let evolution happen, and grandparent in now? We want your feedback.”

Meanwhile, the Chair of Financial Advice NZ, Sue Brown, hopes that within a few years a Level 5 qualification will be a requirement to join the organisation.

The proposed criteria for the Trusted Adviser mark currently stands as:

  • Level 5 as the base qualification
  • Minimum of three years’ experience
  • 20 hours’ professional development each year
  • Attend FANZ ethics in financial services three-hour workshop
  • Professional indemnity insurance

During the webinar one financial adviser said a Level 5 qualification is too low and suggested a diploma be the base qualification for a Trusted Adviser.

Shanks says: “There are many financial advisers who hold a higher qualification than the base Level 5. We are looking for feedback on that.”

There are many financial advisers who hold a higher qualification than the base Level 5…

Something else Shanks is keen to hear feedback on is how companies can use the mark in its promotional material. The organisation’s current thinking is that if 80% of advisers in a company hold a Trusted Adviser mark, then the firm could use the mark too.

So far support for the Trusted Adviser mark is strong. A survey carried out by Financial Advice NZ shows 93% of its members support the idea. All of those who support the idea would use the mark in their marketing, and 71% believe they already meet the proposed criteria for the mark.


A clear thread running through the webinar was the issue of ethics.

“Ethics underpins what we do,” said Shanks. “And trust underpins the relationship for advisers. So it is really critical to get that line right to ensure that we are building trust on the right foundations in terms of having a mark out there that says ‘Trusted Adviser’.”

Shanks says the organisation is planning to run courses on ethics, and that training provided by organisations such as the Institute of Directors, Chartered Accountants, and The Law Society, would be recognised.

Ethics underpins what we do…

Shanks says the Trusted Adviser mark is something all members of Financial Advice NZ should be able to achieve.

“It is not so high that it is totally unachievable,” she said. “And as expectations change then the mark will be reviewed on a regular basis so it evolves with the needs and expectations of consumers.”

Brown said: “We have been looking to develop a mark that really separates Financial Advice NZ members apart from their competitors. Sets them head and shoulders above the rest.

“It really touches on our key pillars of standards and going beyond the extra mile, beyond the basic regulatory regime. At its heart, the mark is about trust.”