The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) wheeled out its updated financial services armoury last week, promoting a new Mercer-backed KiwiSaver scheme to the troops.
In addition to the KiwiSaver scheme – first flagged on Investment News NZ (IN NZ) this March – the NZDF will offer staff access to third-party financial advice through Milestone Direct.
As reported on IN NZ, the NZDF began a search for “a network of independent financial advisers” to service its members this May. According to an NZDF member booklet, Milestone Direct “and the wider Milestone network” have been appointed to “provide you with financial advice on the Scheme plus all other financial products made available to you by NZDF”.
“They must place your interests first and help you to determine what is the right choice for you,” the NZDF booklet says.
Milestone Direct is a joint venture between various Milestone advice firms and Strategi, the adviser compliance and training organisation headed by David Greenslade. Milestone lists about 15 financial advisers on its website.
While general advice for members is free, the NZDF would also subsidise “more detailed advice on a wider range of financial solutions”.
In a statement, Milestone said the deal included the offer of “comprehensive financial advice to current and future members of NZDF on investments, personal insurances, mortgages, general insurances, health cover, travel insurance, wills and family trusts.”
Brian Cowley, Milestone Direct CEO, said the NZDF deal could be New Zealand’s biggest financial advice contract.
“It’s a game changer for the financial services industry,” Cowley said in the statement.
Following the launch of its KiwiSaver scheme, which took effect on October 1, the approximately $340 million Defence Force Superannuation Scheme (DFSS) closed to new members.
Current DFSS members could continue contributing to the legacy scheme, contribute to the NZDF KiwiSaver or FlexiSaver (a new non-super savings scheme included under the Mercer FlexiSaver product), or any combination of the above.
“If you cease contributing to the DFSS to join the NZDF KiwiSaver Scheme your funds remain in the DFSS Scheme unless you direct them to be transferred,” the NZDF member booklet says.
Members of any of the NZDF new and legacy schemes were also eligible for “monthly rewards of $250 prezzy cards and two larger rewards each year, to a total value of $50,000 per year, provided by the Scheme administrator”.
The NZDF KiwiSaver lodged scheme documents with the government Disclose website last week. The Disclose documents name Trustees Executors as supervisor of the Mercer-managed scheme and BNP Paribas as custodian. Membership of the scheme is restricted to NZDF staff and families.
Howard Duffy, who led the NZDF financial services upgrade program, left his position as chief of personnel in May to take up a role as program change manager at the Department of Internal Affairs.