NZ insurance has a “too big to ignore” issue

Company dedicating significant effort and resource to address it

NZ insurance has a “too big to ignore” issue

Diversity & Inclusion

By Terry Gangcuangco

Kiwi insurer Fidelity Life is keen to pump new blood into the financial advice industry in New Zealand amid the double whammy of underinsurance and the fact that the sector is shrinking.

“New Zealand has an insurance gap, which means that many families’ livelihoods are under-protected should their income be disrupted,” Fidelity Life solutions and services head Trecia Brown (pictured) told Insurance Business. “A Massey University study showed that around 54% of Kiwis have inadequate levels of life insurance, and at least half would suffer a 40% income drop due to underinsurance if the primary earner was to pass away.

“Providing financial advice is a professional career in an industry that is being strengthened by customer-first legislation and is increasingly trusted by customers, and so we want to help champion the sector. ‘Career connect’ allows people who might have had an interest in the financial services sector or those looking for a career change to take that leap, as they can study part-time while maintaining a full-time job.”

Brown was referring to Fidelity Life’s newly launched education and skills programme that is aimed at nurturing the next breed of financial advisers in the country. The move comes as a number of advisers are retiring or choosing not to adopt updated licensing requirements as part of the ongoing insurance market reforms.

“We think it’s important to invest in the future of financial advisers so we can help more New Zealanders protect their way of life,” said Brown, whose camp will assist potential candidates understand what it takes to work and succeed as a financial adviser. 

The goal is to bring newcomers to the industry in the hopes of leading them into fulfilling and sustainable careers while at the same time narrowing the gap in coverage by ensuring a robust Kiwi adviser sector.

The Career connect programme will feature two intakes annually and will span not only the formal New Zealand Certificate in Financial Services Level 5 and Financial Advice New Zealand ethics course, but also eight supplementary modules. For the first intake next February, Fidelity Life is hosting online career evenings on October 18 and November 3.

“We’re dedicating significant effort and resource into getting Career connect established, because we know it’s an issue too big to ignore – and one we can’t wait for someone else to solve,” asserted Brown, who is looking to welcome fresh talent.

She added: “Above and beyond our investment to deliver Career connect, we’ll be offering five scholarships per intake. Each scholarship will cover the fees for the formal qualifications and provide some financial support to help them through the six-month programme.

“Career connect is a demonstration of our commitment to help attract and develop the next generation of financial advisers, to ensure New Zealanders can have access to individualised financial advice, and meet their financial goals, for years to come.”

Given the current labour shortage, Brown conceded that it is “quite difficult” to find talent, let alone in a field that not everyone fully understands.

“I think as an industry, we need to do a better job of highlighting how meaningful and purpose-led a career in insurance or as a risk adviser really is,” she told Insurance Business.

“Being a risk adviser would suit anyone who’s motivated by helping others and enjoys a challenging and dynamic environment. Helping New Zealanders prepare for life when things don’t always go the way they expect is the essence of being a financial adviser, and this can be highly rewarding.”

Brown – who pointed out that geography won’t be an issue, as the six-month course will be accessible online – said: “We see the ‘great resignation’ as an opportunity, as people who are wanting to switch careers or have thought about potentially working for themselves may not have considered being an adviser before but are interested in exploring it as a viable career option.”

The education and skills programme is open to those with a graduate diploma or people over the age of 21. Twenty (20) applicants will be selected per intake and then matched to adviser businesses.

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