Commission for Financial Capability's sees half of staff leave in a year

Last updated 05:00 08/10/2017

Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell says higher-paying private companies keep poaching her staff leading to high levels of staff turnover.

Not another farewell party for staff at the Commission for Financial Capability. These are some of the images used to deliver retirement income policy recommendations to the government last year.
Bronwyn Groot, the newly-hired manager of fraud education at the Commission for Financial Capability.

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Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell has defended her Commission for Financial Capability after a year in which half the staff have left for other roles, or announced their resignation.

Twelve of the 23 people who worked at the commission at the start of September last year are no longer there.

But Maxwell says the high levels of staff turnover at the commission, which is government-funded to provide education to lift financial capability and retirement savings, has not been caused by unhappiness with life in the trendy "distressed warehouse" style office on Auckland's waterfront.

It was caused by talent poaching from the booming finance sector.

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"We hire outstanding people, we do innovative and very visible work and we invest in understanding what works," Maxwell said.

"The downside of that is my guys get very attractive offers from larger government agencies and the private sector. It's challenging as a small team. We are inevitably a training ground and place for growth rather an end destination."

"As an employer I'm incredibly proud of what many CFFC people have left to do as they take on bigger roles. If someone is offered an excellent career move, I'm very supportive of them taking it."

The latest to announce she will leave is external relations manager Jane Luscombe, who is leaving to take up a senior role at high-profile corporate communications company Porter Novelli.

Others who have gone include digital marketing project manager Matt Fontein, national strategy programme manager Melanie Turner, group manager for marketing and communications Glenn Martin, and manager for the review of retirement income policies Scott McMurray.

"We are not a big enough organisation to offer the sort of marked career progression that someone might get in a bigger place, and we simply can't compete on salaries," Maxwell said.

"We've also had some team members who have gone on to start their own businesses which is great. We hire people who are not afraid of change."

There had also been a restructure at the commission, which saw some roles disestablished, and others created, such as manager fraud education filled recently by former BNZ anti-fraud expert Bronwyn Groot.

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"We have undergone further restructure and redundancies as we grow what we do and our understanding of what works, and also the size of the team. So where we previously had a 'jack of all trades' approach where people managed several areas, we reached a point where we needed specialists."

"That's just all part of growth as an organisation.

The commission had also let some staff go after specific projects were completed, such as the three-yearly review of retirement policy, which was delivered to the government last year.

That caused a stir because instead of handing the government a printed report, the commission delivered an interactive online report including superhero puppet animation in a bid to get both MPs, and the public to take notice.

Maxwell said: "We are in much better shape than we were a year ago, we know more, we can do more and we are more efficient."

She did not expect the finance industry to leave off poaching her staff, and expected turnover of staff to continue.

- Stuff

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