27 Jun 2011

Effectiveness of new adviser rules questioned

7:21 am on 27 June 2011

An investment adviser says the new financial adviser regime won't bolster confidence or substantially lessen the risks for investors.

The Financial Advisers Act, which comes into effect on Friday, requires all advisers to be listed on a public register and belong to an approved dispute resolution scheme.

Those who want to provide investment advice have to receive special authorisation from the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) by proving they meet minimum standards.

The authority says about 1300 advisers have been authorised so far and it expects that number to rise to about 1600 by Friday.

However Brent Sheather of Private Asset Management says just because an investor is authorised doesn't mean he or she will be reliable.

Mr Sheather says as long as investments can be commission-based, advisers will recommend riskier options.

The FMA says applicants have to complete exams on industry knowledge, professional conduct and investment knowledge but most did not complete all the exams because they were able to provide evidence that they already met the criteria.

Brent Sheather says that means they're effectively getting in through the back door.

However Institute of Financial Advisers chief executive Peter Lee says advisers must also satisfy other requirements, such as police and justice checks, and have testimonials, he says.

He says the new regime will improve the standards of those offering advice.