‘I’m Ready to Listen’ – Financial Advice NZ CEO


Nick Hakes, the recently appointed CEO of Financial Advice NZ, is about to start a whistle-stop tour of the regions to find out what matters to advisers.

Hakes is no stranger to the industry, having worked in Australia for the Association of Financial Advisers, before moving to Singapore where he was Director of Market Development Asia at Kaplan Professional. He’s back in familiar territory now.

Hakes’ first job on arriving back in New Zealand was to join his team at the association’s annual conference.

Nick Hakes
Nick Hakes.

Since then, Hakes – who plans to live in Auckland – has been reviewing the organisation to see what’s necessary for a new growth strategy, and build membership from its current 1,700. There’s an estimated 8,000 financial advisers in New Zealand, and Hakes recognises the potential for further growth.

“Financial Advice NZ is a strong platform, and it is a strong voice for the adviser community,” he says.

“If we respect the legacy of our past, then what we need to do is evolve and innovate for our future. It is about growth, being adviser driven, and fostering high engagement.”

…There is no point just having relationships in Wellington if it is not connected to what is happening across the country…

As for the tour, he’s looking forward to hearing what advisers have to say.

“It will be a listening tour,” he says. “I aim to immerse myself, to get into the regions and understand the different dynamics of what’s happening in adviser practices, and then connect that directly to conversations we have in Wellington.

“But at the moment it is about meeting a broad cross-section of people. Our strength in our advocacy is through connecting what is happening across the country to government, regulators, partners, media, and consumers.

“There is no point just having relationships in Wellington if it is not connected to what is happening across the country.”

He says financial advisers are at an inflection point, with the industry having just gone through a long period of being internally focused to meet the obligations of the recently updated regulations

“Now it is a time to look outwards,” he says. “There is always the question of challenges such as AI and technology in advice businesses, but if we lift our heads above the white noise there is a huge opportunity for quality financial advice for many decades to come.”

…Advisers are the best people to solve some of the industry’s challenges…

As for industry professional standards, Hakes says the minimum qualification financial advisers need should be seen as a baseline, and that advisers should look beyond this. Despite there being plenty of industry training firms, Hakes sees a role for Financial Advice NZ in this space.

“Professional standards, pathways, and professional development will play a core part of what we do as an adviser representative body,” he says.

“I think another strong area for innovation for us is to get close to what is happening in the adviser client conversation. Advisers are the best people to solve some of the industry’s challenges because they are closest to the client conversation.

“Then we need to determine how we filter what we learn from advisers into the broader membership base, to shine a light on adviser excellence and grow the untapped demand for quality advice. It is all about being outwardly focused.”

It’s this evolving space for growth and change that attracted Hakes to the role in the first place.

“It’s an opportunity to leverage and build upon my previous experience of working directly with adviser bodies, and the wider advice community,” he says. “And to do that in New Zealand – the country I grew up in – is a really humbling opportunity.”