Financial advisers cluster around wealth, Financial Markets Authority Census shows

Many people, mincluding KiwiSaver investors, are getting no advice at all.
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Many people, mincluding KiwiSaver investors, are getting no advice at all.

Financial advisers go where there is most wealth to earn commission from, a census of Authorised Financial Advisers (AFAs) shows.

The Financial Markets Authority gathers data on AFAs, who are the most highly-skilled financial advisers in the country, able to give personalised advice, and recommend complex financial products.

It revealed there were about 1800 in the country, a rise on the previous year, but also showed they were heavily clustered in the richer parts of the country.

Where there's money, there's plenty of advice.
ALISTAIR HUGHES/FAIRFAX NZ

Where there's money, there's plenty of advice.

But while Aucklanders, Wellingtonians and Cantabrians are well-served for personalised financial advice, there's an advice drought in Northland, Gisborne, and the West Coast.

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The FMA's snapshot of AFAs around the country showed Wellington had a per capita GDP of $65,974, and 5.1 AFAs for every 10,000 people.

Roboadvice, delivered online, offers the promise of more people getting help planning their money lives.
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Roboadvice, delivered online, offers the promise of more people getting help planning their money lives.

The West Coast, with a per capita GDP of $50,491, had just 1.2 AFAs for every 10,000 people.

In Auckland, the ratio was 4.1, in Canterbury it was 4.2, and in Otago it was 4.7.

Michael Dowling from the Institute of Financial Planners wasn't surprised at the distribution of advice.

Authorised financial advisers specialised in advising clients with "more complex" affairs, he said.

"Many specialise in advising clients on investing money," he said. "They would be centred around their client base."

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The FMA has become concerned that the majority of people are not getting the advice they need to build wealth for a happy and prosperous retirement.

"There are 150,000 to 200,000 customers of the authorised financial advisers in New Zealand, but that is just a fraction of the population," said the FMA's Liam Mason.

Personalised financial advice clusters around populations of wolder, wealthy people who need help investing their money.
ALEXANDER RATHS/123RF

Personalised financial advice clusters around populations of wolder, wealthy people who need help investing their money.

"A lot of people are not getting advice from an AFA, and that is probably around the amount of money they have to invest."

Most advisers drew the majority of their income from commission on selling investment products and insurance, the FMA's snapshot showed, rather than from charging fees like lawyers and accountants, the FMA's data shows.

But, Mason said, there was a growing focus on getting advice to everyone who wants it, regardless of their level of wealth, and where they live in the country, particularly KiwiSaver advice.

Earlier this year the FMA issued new guidance to KiwiSaver providers aimed at encouraging them to provide more simple, generic "class" advice to customers to help them make better decisions, such as selecting which type of fund to save into.

In the future many people are expected to get their advice online, delivered by artificial intelligence.

It's known as "roboadvice", and many Kiwis were ready to embrace it, the Rise of the Money Robots report from KiwiSaver provider KiwiWealth found last year.

Mason said New Zealand's advice laws were being reviewed as currently personalised "advice" could only be legally given by a human being.

The FMA found that fewer were profiting from controversial "soft commissions" as free trips overseas to places like Las Vegas provided by life insurers to the advisers who sold the highest volumes of their policies.

 - Stuff

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