Departing CEO reflects on five years at Financial Advice NZ

Leaves parting message for mortgage advisers

Departing CEO reflects on five years at Financial Advice NZ

Advisers have encountered significant change over the last five years, and the industry is now in good shape to continue to grow as the need for financial advice increases, the outgoing CEO of Financial Advice NZ says.

Katrina Shanks (pictured above) has been at the helm of the financial advice member organisation for five years.

Appointed as its inaugural CEO in 2018, her role oversaw the amalgamation of three founding bodies (the Professional Advisers Association, the Institute of Financial Advisers and the NZ Financial Advisers Association).

Shanks, whose last day with FANZ is on November 10, told NZ Adviser that raising the bar on education, licensing rules, the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act (CCCFA), and the Conduct of Institutions Amendment Act 2022 (CoFI) were among the challenges and milestones the industry had seen over her tenure.

Completion of Level 5 qualification hailed as “huge success”

Referring to advisers’ completion of the Level 5 qualification as a “huge success”, Shanks said that despite initial concerns that advisers would not want to complete the qualification, they got behind it.

“There wasn’t this exodus that was talked about at the very beginning and I think it’s encouraging that advisers did that,” she said.

Shanks acknowledged that in addition to changes in the way advice was provided, moving to the Financial Advice Provider (FAP) environment represented a structural change, which she said advisers “navigated really well”.

“[Advisers] should be pleased with where they’ve landed and set themselves up for the future as professionals,” she said.

Commenting ahead of the 2023 NZ election that a wind back of the CCCFA was a priority for the industry, Shanks said that the CCCFA and CoFi had brought uncertainty to advisers, particularly the tightening of credit requirements.

Work undertaken by Financial Advice NZ to push through amendments to the CCCFA was significant and facilitated the placement of mortgages, she said.  The organisation was also involved in making changes to the CoFI legislation, which Shanks said ensured advisers had a better environment going forward.

Future for mortgage advisers looks bright

Statistics and trends are showing that the number of Kiwis seeking financial advice through mortgage advisers is increasing, Shanks said.

In Australia, mortgage brokers currently write close to 70% of residential mortgages (67.2% over the June 2023 quarter), while in New Zealand, advisers’ share of the market is estimated to be around 45% to 50% – a significant increase to where it was two years ago, she said.

Shanks’ parting message for mortgage advisers is to keep up the hard work.

“The future for mortgage advisers is ‘very rosy’… I can only see that figure growing in the future,” Shanks said.

Commenting on Shanks’ departure in a media release issued in September, Financial Advice New Zealand board chair Heather Roy thanked Shanks for her work in establishing the organisation as the professional body for financial advisers.

Shanks’ legacy is a “united, member focused, viable, professional organisation,” Roy said.  

Acknowledging the global pandemic, regulatory changes, changing business structures, difficult markets, uncertain financial times and significant natural events, Shanks said it had been a “privilege” to serve its members over the last five years.

“I truly believe quality advice transforms New Zealanders’ financial health, wealth, and wellbeing. This belief has been my point of reference when delivering advocacy, promotion, and ensuring professional standards are maintained,” Shanks said.

“I believe as a professional body we have strived to provide the best environment for financial advisers to succeed.”

Shanks’ new role as CEO of the Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance will see her relocate from New Zealand to Melbourne over the coming months, officially starting her new role on January 8, 2024.  Meanwhile, Financial Advice NZ confirmed it would shortly begin recruiting for a new CEO.

What have been the highlights and challenges for mortgage advisers over the last five years? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.