The Financial Services Council (FSC) will see a record turn-out of more than 500 delegates at its annual conference set down for next week, according to chief executive, Richard Klipin.
Klipin said the ‘Towards Wellbeing’ conference would bring together the financial services sector along with “regulators, lawmakers, stakeholders and consumers… in a showcase event”.
“There’s going to be a big focus on the future,” he said, with two new FSC research papers – covering the industry body’s core KiwiSaver and insurance constituents – due for release during the conference.
The 2019 shindig will also be the last co-branded with Workplace Savings NZ (WSNZ), which formally merged with the FSC in July after a long-standing de facto relationship.
Originally formed as the Association of Superannuation Funds of NZ (ASFONZ) in 1969, WSNZ is currently in liquidation following the merger approval in May.
Deloitte, which is managing the WSNZ wind-up, said the “liquidation is expected to be completed within the next six months”. But with no creditors and $232,000 in cash to redistribute, the WSNZ closure shouldn’t be too much of a stretch for global accountancy giant Deloitte.
WSNZ and the FSC moved inexorably closer since the introduction of the Financial Markets Conduct Act (FMC) in 2013, which hastened the decline of the already-shrinking traditional employer superannuation sector.
FMC imposed tougher, and more expensive, compliance obligations on employer super schemes, which were losing out, anyway, as KiwiSaver rapidly took over as the NZ retirement savings vehicle of choice following the regime’s launch in 2007.
Klipin said embedding WSNZ within the insurer-heavy FSC has led to a “richer investment conversation” within the merged organisation and at the annual conference.
The investment stream at next week’s conference is skewed to KiwiSaver topics but will also delve into the restricted scheme space, occupied by the licensed independent trustees (LITs) who were typically WSNZ members.
In a special breakfast session, delegates will also be able to hear an update on the status of the Asia Region Funds Passport system, which NZ officially joined in July.
But as well as the usual blend of investment and insurance issues, the FSC conference will attack the broader ‘culture and conduct’ issues highlighted in this year’s regulatory review of the banking and insurance – headlined in a keynote speech by Financial Markets Authority (FMA) chief, Rob Everett.
With the impending arrival of the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act (FSLAA) regime (transitional licensing starts this November), advice industry and business structure issues also feature in the FSC agenda.
Start-up fintech providers once again get a foot in the FSC conference door via the ‘Tech Alley’ route pioneered at last year’s conference.
“Fintech is a very fast-changing sector,” Klipin said. “And Tech Alley is a great way for these firms to showcase the latest innovations.”
As per the 2018 Tech Alley model – produced in conjunction with FinTech NZ – delegates will vote on the offerings with the three most popular invited to pitch on the big stage.
This year’s Tech Alley tenants include: freshly-launched NZ index fund provider, Kernel; Hong Kong-headquartered robo-advice firm, Quantifeed; new NZ-built financial ‘diagnostic’ tool, Planolitix; and FSLAA compliance system for advisory firms, Dacreed.
Klipin said while the Auckland Pullman Hotel venue has room to accommodate more delegates, registrations for the FSC conference, to be held over September 11-12, close this week.
Post the merger, the FSC has grown from its core membership of 35 to about 60 but he said that should expand further as other WSNZ members migrate.
According to the FSC website, ex WSNZ members include the BOC NZ Retirement Plan, NZ Post Superannuation Plan and the just-rebranded Anglican Financial Care.