28 February 17
Sometimes you just need to stand up for yourself. You know, fight for your rights and all that.
Of course, there aren’t typically human rights issues involved when we deal with finance professionals. You know, people like bank staff, insurers, advisers, fund managers, share brokers and many others who make and sell things like KiwiSaver, insurance or investments.
But there is certainly an imbalance between us and the experts. In this game, they hold the cards – at first.
But we hold the cash! And before we fork it over, there are a few key things that we’re entitled to and can demand from licensed providers. Here are the top five:
We can expect competence, skill and experience for them to offer us the right service or product we need. But they’re not all-powerful, so we should also expect them to let us know the limits of what they can do for us.
We can expect to be treated honestly and fairly, and they need to put our interests first.
They also need to tell us about any conflicts of interest they have. Many providers only get paid if you buy, sell or change something, since they’re paid for transactions or on commission. Are we being told? Or sold?
We can expect them to inform us and let us know all our options. This is about making more informed decisions with our money, so they should be encouraging us to weigh up the pros and cons before we act.
We can expect them to explain clearly what we’re paying for and how much – both now and down the line.
Financial services and products are somewhat different from typical things we buy. Often the more they cost, the worse they become! Pay more for an investment, for example, and your results go down by just as much. Pay more for a loan, and it makes the terms worse for us.
So knowing the true cost of what we’re getting into can’t be too much to ask.
We can expect them to deal with our problems and complaints properly. And after they respond constructively and try to handle it, if it’s still not resolved they must point us towards the dispute resolution scheme they belong to.
Licensed providers that we deal with these days shouldn’t be surprised by any of these great expectations. To be fair, the good finance pros out there are already doing all five.
And thanks to new protections we now enjoy since December, the Financial Markets Authority (the “guard dog” and “guide dog” over the country’s financial markets) has been going out to all financial service providers and letting them know what’s expected of them.
Turns out we’re not just fighting for our rights all by our ourselves – we’ve got some backup.