Deborah Carlyon provides a clear understanding of financial advisors roles, runs through the current legislative changes and lets you know how you can trust the people you deal with during a renovation project.
What makes a professional? I have been a Certified Financial Planner for over twenty years, with the designation CFP Professional. Then four years ago, I had to become an Authorised Financial Advisor under the “Financial Advisers Act 2008”. I’m now an AFA.
AFAs adhere to a Code of Conduct covering ethical behaviour, disclosure statements, client care (including suitability of services and helping clients make informed decisions), standards of competence, knowledge and skills, and continuing professional training. In addition, the ‘Financial Service Providers Act 2008” (FSPA) requires my business to be on a public register and a member of a dispute resolution scheme.
These are positive steps for consumers in what had been an unregulated financial advisory industry, with its emphasis on investment sales and commissions. However, qualifying as CFP Professional has always meant acting in the best interest of the client, with a high level of competency, ethics, integrity, honesty and objectivity.
A professional in any field should be trusted to evaluate their client’s position and goals, determine how they could achieve them or indeed, whether their goals need to be modified if circumstances dictate – in other words, give actual advice.
Regulation change didn’t stop at enforcing financial professionalism. To keep up with international standards, New Zealand has enacted the wonderfully entitled “Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act 2009” known as AML/CFT. Then we signed up to the “Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act” (FATCA), which came into effect on 1 january 2013. This is United States legislation intended to reduce the levels of tax avoidance by U.S citizens.
If you have opened a new bank account for yourself or a family trust you will have been asked for photo identification, proof of address and verification of source of money under AML/CFT and, thanks to FATCA, been quizzed as to the presence of any US citizens among the account holders or the beneficiaries of your trust.
An an AFA, I am an AML/CFT reporting entity so I have to complete the same quizzing of clients when they open a new investment portfolio. Our business has developed new processes, checklists and recording systems but, in the spirit of a healthy financial system, we have embraced the new regulations.
We are however, feeling awash with acronyms and punch drunk with procedures, so it is little wonder that on 1 April 2015 we greeted the most recent law, the “Financial Markets Conducts Act 2013 (FMCA)”, with a somewhat hysterical chorus of YMCA by the Village People (1978).
Joking aside, as tiresome as rule changes are, they are usually for good reason and the financial industry has not been singled out.
New consumer protection measures came into place on 1st January 2015 via the Building Amendment Act 2013. The stated aim is to improve the building and construction sector, ensuring that it delivers good quality, affordable homes and buildings.
Now like me, I’m sure most building sector participants feel they are doing a good job so why the changes? It seems improved communication is one goal. The regulations prescribe specific requirements for builders:
- Mandatory written contracts for all residential building work costing $30,000 or more.
- Requirement for building contractors to provide checklists and disclose information such as key contact person, qualifications, license number, insurance, guarantees.
- Information after the work is completed, including implied warranties for up to 10 years.
But interestingly, the checklist itself reads more like a lesson for the client – with its 7 tick boxes and common sense tips from the legislators:
1. Become informed – find out if you need a building consent
2. Agree on project structure and management – building projects do not run themselves
3. Hire competent building contractors – ensure they have the skills and resources, ask around
4. Agree on price and payments – the lowest price is not always the best price
5. Have a written contract – required if cost is over $30,000
6. Take control – make sure there is a clear line of communication
7. Resolving disputes – raise your concerns in good faith and use the dispute resolution process
They go on to say; the changes encourage a professional, no-surprises relationship between you and your contractor. They should also enable you to make informed decisions about building work.
Legislating professionalism sounds very familiar. And I’m sure that true professionals in the building sector will have all the boxes ticked already.
This article by Deborah Carlyon featured on page 26 of Issue 015 of New Zealand Renovate Magazine. New Zealand's first and only magazine solely dedicated to home renovations.
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*All information is believed to be true at time of publishing and is subject to change.
Deborah is a Certified Financial Planner (CFPCM), a member of the Institute of Financial Advisers (IFA) and an Authorised Financial Adviser (AFA). She is a principal of independent advisory company Stuart + Carlyon. This column does not provide personalised advice. Deborah’s Disclosure Statement is available on request and free of charge by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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