Broking and investment bank firm, FNZC, is looking to expand its offer under a scoping project to be headed by new hire, Fiona Mackenzie.
James Lee, FNZC chief, said former New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZS) head of investments, Mackenzie had been charged with developing a strategy to broaden the group’s range of solutions.
“We’re acutely aware that FNZC is a very bespoke business that targets client solutions to individual needs,” Lee said. “But we don’t provide solutions at the simplified product level.”
Mackenzie, officially taking up the head of direct wealth role in January 2018, would take an entity-wide view on how to leverage existing and potential new partnerships to build out the FNZC offer.
“Fiona will bring a fresh set of eyes,” Lee said. “And we have a reasonably open mind on what may come out of this.”
For example, he said FNZC might consider how to offer KiwiSaver to its client base, perhaps through a “white labeled” model. FNZC (previously known as First NZ Capital) sold its fledgling KiwiSaver scheme to Fisher Funds in 2010.
Lee said the nascent robo-advice sector – about to get a kickstart in NZ with the Financial Markets Authority exemption – was also “fascinating”.
“At the end of the day most robo-advice systems are selling cheap products not solutions,” he said. “You can buy robo-advice now off-the-shelf – they’re dime-a-dozen.”
However, Lee said robo-advice systems that simply translate a brief risk profile questionnaire into an asset allocation filled out by exchange-traded funds (ETFs) don’t offer much “inherent value”.
“The question is how do you use robo-advice to educate and inform,” he said. “If it’s just selling a NZX50 then it should be cheap… but whether you should own the NZX or the ASX or the tech sector are harder questions.”
Mackenzie’s experience at NZS and her earlier stint as NZX head of markets and strategy would be invaluable in leading the FNZC project, Lee said.
“She will take a few months after starting in January to come back with a plan,” he said. “We’re not going to pre-judge anything.”
Last month FNZC also lured former Bank of China NZ head of family office, Eric Wei, to a new position as director wealth management Asia.
Wei, who was instrumental in launching a Bank of China fund targeting wealthy Chinese NZ immigrants last year, would be treading a similar patch for FNZC, Lee said.
“Eric will be developing tailored solutions for Asian family offices,” he said.
FNZC currently has about 230 employees.