The comments follow the announcement that three non-executive directors have stepped down from the AMP Limited Board in Australia, the latest blow in a series of resignations following revelations of misconduct. Now AMP managing director Blair Vernon says the firm is willing to work with New Zealand regulators, and will happily comply with all demands in the event of a full-scale enquiry.
“The Royal Commission hasn’t altered anything we’re doing in New Zealand,” said Vernon. “But it has put into sharper relief the importance of demonstrating our focus on customers. The action we took six weeks ago to end offshore incentives was just one example of where we believe that the appearance of conflicted remuneration - regardless of whether it really is or not - simply doesn’t wash with the public. That was reasonably unique in the New Zealand market, but we’ve never been afraid of facing those kinds of issues.”
Vernon stated that AMP had received an enquiry from the FMA and RBNZ and expects that the broader industry will also be responding to similar requests for information. AMP is currently in discussions with regulators with regards to the details of its New Zealand-based operations.
“We’re more than comfortable with this, and we think it’s an appropriate response for the regulators to have taken,” Vernon continued. “We continue to partner closely with our QFE advisers to maintain the highest standards of advice quality, disclosure and transparency. We are further committed to promoting and supporting appropriate practices across our industry, and as part of this we recognise that it is vital for providers to continue to review and evolve their business practices.”
As for whether or not there is a need for a full-scale enquiry similar to Australia’s Royal Commission, Vernon said that’s a decision for regulators and politicians to make once they have received and assessed responses from industry participants.
“That is ultimately their decision, and it’s not the role of market participants to stake a claim on that,” continued Vernon. “Until the regulators have received the appropriate information from the industry, it’s premature to second-guess what they might want to do. They are ultimately there to act as guardians on behalf of clients, investors and the overall community and if they feel an enquiry is the right thing to undertake, then market participants would need to respond to that. Whether or not they need to do so would depend on the quality of the information, actions and conduct that they observe.”