The highlights of the FSC NZ Conference

Richard Klipin CEO of FSC NZ opened the 2-day event by highlighting the FSC-developed Blueprint, a powerful tool aimed at enhancing New Zealanders' financial well-being. Designed with a clear intention to empower individuals with better financial skills, the Blueprint identified four pivotal money-related issues confronting the nation:

  1. Financial Literacy and Capability: A staggering 53% of Kiwis are unable to access $5,000 in times of emergency, underlining a pressing financial literacy and capability concern (Financial Resilience Index, 2023).
  2. Risk Management: Alarming statistics reveal that 70% of Kiwis are underinsured, indicating a need for improved risk management practices (Money and You: Taking Cover, 2022).
  3. Retirement Preparedness: Astonishly 56% of New Zealanders express unease about their financial readiness for retirement, signalling prevalent stress and anxiety in later life (Money and You: KiwiSaver at a Crossroads, 2021).
  4. Healthcare Worries: The financial repercussions of significant health events weigh heavily on Kiwis, with 39% expressing concerns about healthcare accessibility and affordability (Money and You: Taking Cover, 2022).

Richard's presentation emphasised that the FSC has a rich history of engaging constructively in policy matters. This engagement takes various forms, including regulatory submissions, appearances at select committees, participation in key policy platforms via Government and regulators, advocating for policy adjustments to address concerns such as GST on KiwiSaver and managed funds, and the NZIIS.

The FSC also champions significant policy review and change to better serve New Zealanders’ financial well-being. This comprehensive approach underscores the FSC’s commitment to reshaping the financial landscape for the better.

Richard spotlighted the need for inspiration, sustainability, and aspiration in addressing financial literacy concerns, excessive risk-taking, retirement preparedness, and healthcare accessibility.

Building Consumer Confidence Panel Discussion

Naomi Ballantyne, MD of Partners Life, shared her perspective, noting how Kiwis often react to crises by making counterintuitive financial decisions: cutting insurance, withdrawing from KiwiSaver, and using savings for holidays.

The panel discussion, graced by Dr. Pusha Wood, Director of the Financial Education & Research Centre at Massey University, catalysed a compelling exchange. Dr. Wood urged Financial Service Institutions (FSIs) to adopt a consumer-centric perspective by addressing protection needs directly and simplifying documents. She challenged FSIs to ask the question “As a consumer what do you want to protect?” Then to offer the consumer what is the best product for them tailored to their needs.

The Hon. Kris Faafoi, former Minister of Immigration and Commerce and Consumer Affairs, emphasised the need for a mindset shift towards viewing insurance as protection, safeguarding loved ones’ futures, and the necessity of open conversations about money.

Climate-Related Disclosure & Climate Risk

Matt Mimms – Board Member RIAA, Founder & Managing Director, The Investment Store introduced Australia’s detailed ISSB, illustrating its evolution compared to New Zealand’s approach.

The contrasting use of mandatory disclosure involving 20,000 entities in Australia versus 200 entities in NZ reflects as the first country (NZ) to mandate climate-related disclosure, the need to set an example. He emphasised the significance of consistency, clarity, and transparency, particularly guided by XRB (External Reporting Board).

Dr. Andrew Tait, Chief Standard at NIWA (the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research), painted a stark picture of NZ in 2053, shaped by the SSP3 Rivalry Scenario. The landscape featured doubling in floods, escalated repair costs, heightened sea levels, vulnerable roads, red-stickered homes (so damaged, access is prohibited), increased hail and thunderstorms, prolonged droughts, receding glaciers, year-round wildfires, frequent heatwaves, and warming, acidic oceans.

His closing remarks soberly stated, “We're in a continuous state of emergency response and recovery." This left a chill in the air where many were questioning the future of the climate and how it may affect them and generations to come.

Meet the Professionals Session on Disclosure Challenges

In the ever-evolving landscape of professional practices, knowledge sharing and collaboration have become essential components for success. Natasha Gray, an SME in her field, led the Meet the Professionals table discussion with like-minded individuals. Their common ground? Facing challenges responding to frequent regulatory changes under tight timeframes with new (Climate Risk reporting) and existing disclosure requirements. The forum provided a platform for individuals grappling with similar disclosure challenges to convene and exchange ideas on solutions for a more agile and streamlined process.

Optimising Processes and Adding Value

One of the central themes of the session was the pursuit of optimising disclosure processes while simultaneously adding value to the organisation. Participants gained invaluable insights into how to revamp existing systems and protocols to create more efficient, transparent, and accountable workflows.

Mechanisms to verify (review, evidence and approve) disclosure information was a topic of considerable interest during the session. Participants explored ways to strengthen the accuracy and reliability of disclosed information. This involves ensuring that the information or data presented is not only accurate but also verified through robust tools. The emphasis on verification aligns with the global trend of increasing scrutiny on the accuracy of disclosed information, highlighting its critical role in building trust with stakeholders as well as regulators.

In a country as culturally diverse as New Zealand, the topic of multi-language disclosure, particularly in the Māori language, held significant importance. With the recent guidance from the FMA for Climate-Related Disclosure this was an important aspect for recording keeping. The power of Objective Keystone to publish in multiple languages was a key advantage for producing disclosure.

Feedback Loop Management, Centralised Storage, and Proper Record-Keeping

Another topic that was discussed in the roundtable was feedback loop management and centralised storage for all types of disclosure.

Natasha shared her experience and tips for ensuring seamless communication and allowing key stakeholders to review and approve content underpinned by appropriate governance and transparent audit trails. This centralised repository not only streamlines access to information but also ensures consistency, reduces duplication of efforts, and facilitates compliance with data retention regulations. These were all powerful features embedded within Objective Keystone.

Closing Remarks

The FSC NZ Conference brought together industry leaders, experts, and forward-thinkers to confront challenges head-on and shape a more prosperous financial future for all New Zealanders.

As the event concluded, the call for inspiration, sustainability, and aspiration lingers – urging us all to take concrete steps toward reshaping the financial landscape for the betterment of individuals, families, and generations to come.