You should talk with a financial adviser if you are 'stuck' on a money issue, that's a good place to start.
Most financial advisers deal with clients who are already wealthy, but a few do excellent plans to help people with high incomes, but who are in a mess - or stuck - somehow. If you are on a low income and you are struggling the best place to start is with a budget adviser, you can find one by searching online for a member of the New Zealand Federation of Budget Advisers, or visiting a citizens advice bureau.
You have some big goals and you think its worth planning.
It is always worth planning. Anything that takes more effort than checking if you have enough cash in your wallet right now probably deserves a plan. If you are saving for a house, planning on starting your own business, looking at retirement, that big goal up ahead whatever it is, is worth planning for. You will not know how useful the plan is until you sit down and write it. You can get a book and read some self-help stuff online, but a real human asking you hard questions and holding you accountable for a proper answer, that can create real change in your life - and that's what you want really isn't it?
Things just changed in a big way
Sometimes you aren't looking forward to a change, change just barged into your life: someone died, you get married, a child comes into your life earlier than you thought. What do we do now? You can get some advice. Getting good financial advice can help take the breathless panic out of a sudden change, or just expand your range of options if you are locked into thinking about something just one way. Getting someone to think creatively about your situation can help you a great deal.
You unexpectedly receive a large sum of money
An inheritance, a bigger bonus than you thought, a tax refund. A very large sum is one year's salary or more. These can be life-changing: accelerating you towards your goals. But they can so easily be wasted. A few month's salary applied to your home loan could tip the balance enough to help you get debt free years earlier than planned. Or be frittered away on a slightly newer car. Of course, if you need the car more than anything else, fine, but maybe take advice?
You need to think about what happens when you are gone
When our favourite wizard knew he was about to die it was a great relief Albus Dumbledore turned up - even if that incarnation was only in Harry's mind. A plan for when you die - a will, documents organised, an executor, a list of wishes, and so on: these can provide that wise counsel to your loved ones at just the right time.
SOUTHERN CROSS RESULTS SHOW GROWING DEMAND FOR PRIVATE HEALTHCARE
Southern Cross Health Society released its annual financial results today, showing growth in both membership and the number of elective surgical procedures performed.
The 2016 financial year saw the Health Society membership grow to 820,469 – a net increase of just over 9000 members – and the number of elective surgical procedures grow by 10%, reaching 200,000 for the first time.
During the year the Society received $871m in premiums and paid $749m in claims. This included:
206,000 surgical procedures
428,000 specialist consultations
726,000 GP visits
Southern Cross Health Society CEO Peter Tynan says the growth in members is pleasing as the Society’s focus is on organic growth and retention.
“The Health Society continues to attract new members by providing excellent value for money – we pay 86 cents for every dollar received in premiums.”
The growth in new members and accompanying lower levels of claiming has resulted in a surplus of $35 million. This will be used by the Society to mitigate future premium increases, to improve services and to maintain reserves at appropriate levels.
“Because we don’t have to pay dividends to shareholders, here or overseas, any income not used to fund healthcare services is used for the benefit of members – either expanding policy coverage, improving services, strengthening reserves or running the Society,” says Tynan.
“However, our key concern remains the rising cost of medical treatment and how we deliver value to our members in this environment.”
In the past year the business has continued to grow its Affiliated Provider programme – Southern Cross’ vehicle to mitigate medical inflation where specialists and providers provide healthcare services at agreed prices – to the point where it now accounts for over 50% of all claims costs.
The business has also continued to invest in digital transformation projects that make it easier for members to claim for healthcare services such as the My Southern Cross online platform and app where members can manage their policy online, as well as growing the Easy-claim network of providers.
“We want our members to make the best use of their policies– one way of doing this is by making the claiming process as easy as possible. We believe we’re on the right track as 71% of all claims received are now done electronically.”
ANZIFF have announced the finalists for 2016 New Zealand Insurance Industry Awards in a media release yesterday.
The Australian and New Zealand Institute of Insurance and Finance (ANZIIF) is pleased to announce the finalists of the 2016 New Zealand Insurance Industry Awards.
The Awards, which are now in their fifth year, recognise excellence and achievement by the top performing individuals and businesses in the industry.
"The New Zealand Insurance Industry Awards are an opportunity to reflect on and celebrate what is great about New Zealand insurance: the sense of community, the commitment to excellence and the many successes that has enabled it to become a true global leader. This year's Awards recognise the highest achievers in the industry, but they also work to celebrate and highlight the contribution that those in insurance make to the community." said Prue Willsford, CEO, ANZIIF.
You can view the finalists at this link and also register for the event which is being held on Thursday the 10th of November 2016 at the Sky City Convention Centre.
Lemonade is the new name in P2P insurance. It has launched offering homeowners and renters cover for New Yorkers. The way in which it is P2P doesn't seem quite the same as the way, say, Harmoney, is P2P. We shall follow their development with interest, however, as we share their interest in the future. Link.
AMP Australia have recently posted an article titled '6 tips for managing money and memory loss' which can be found here. Although this is a general financial management tip what drew our attention to it was the issue of accessibility for aged people: it needs to take into account issues like declining sight and memory, and eventually, competence.
This recent announcement from the FMA states that in November Auckland will be hosting the first Fraud Film Festival in the country. The festival is timed to coincide with November’s Fraud Awareness Week. Click here to read the press release. Here are what we consider to be the top 10 movies about finance:
The Wolf of Wall Street
Too Big to Fail
The Big Short
Glengarry Glen Ross
The Bonfire of the Vanities
We could do a book festival too: The Coffee Trader by David Liss is a masterpiece. There are many others, of course.
This piece in the New Zealand Herald by David Sweanor, Clive Bates, Murray Laugesen makes a number of good points about the health benefits of widening the availability of e-cigarettes. It is worth a read. If the actual benefits from switching to e-cigarettes are this large, and medical opinion from the Royal College of Physicians in the UK suggests that it is, then there may also be a case for a rating difference for insurance.
Seven life and personal lines insurance companies re-priced a total of 17 insurance products in the quarter to 15 September. That's up from three companies in the previous quarter.
Eight companies revised policy wordings for a total of 14 insurance products in the quarter, up from five companies revising twelve products the quarter before.
That highlights the pace of change - and just how important it is to actually check the wordings and pricing for the products you are either offering, recommending, or buying depending on your role in the value chain. The market is becoming more dynamic almost quarter by quarter at the moment, reinforcing a trend that is at least three years long.
More details will be available to subscribers of the Quarterly Life report, which should be released at the end of the week.
Susan Edmunds has this piece on goodreturns which asks the question about the standard of advice that will be applied to RFAs - with a focus on the future. However, there is, of course, a current question: what is the standard of advice the FMA will use when it looks at cases where RFAs have recommended policy replacement?
RFAs that have higher lapse and new business rates than usual have been identified. Having received request for information letters from the FMA, will be pondering the answer to that question. Although they have only been asked to supply a list and details of remuneration, it should be expected that they may be asked to show evidence that their advice demonstrated reasonable care, diligence, and skill. Although there is no equivalent of the AFA Code there has been some guidance: during the last five years we have looked at the examples of guidance offered to RFAs (such as this page on the FMA website) and recommended that advisers meet at least these standards.
Of course, there is always the AFA Code, too. Advisers that only provide advice relating to category two products have sometimes asked us whether they 'should become AFAs.' Our understanding is that this is not an option - you are either selling category one products or you are not. However, meeting the requirements of the AFA Code has always been available as a guide to required standards of process. Those advisers that have followed the Code will probably feel more comfortable when asked to provide details of advice.
With a brief pause for thanks and a nod to fortune I have to say that we are pretty careful in our office. So when one of the team received an email that has been made to look like it was from me, but asked for details of how much money was at hand, and whether an urgent transfer could be made today, they immediately suspected it was a con. It was brought to my attention and will feature as a good example - we like to catch people doing things right, and celebrate them - in our next team meeting. It is also a reminder that even small businesses need good processes: the way our financial management is set up this kind of attack could not be successful, it did not rely solely on a human identifying the problem - we have systems. Systems can operate even with people being absent-minded, away, or replaced with an inexperienced person.
This fascinating article tells the story of a man who withdrew his entire monthly salary from the bank in $1 bills (he lives in the United States) to help show his kids both what he earned and how it got spent - by stacking up the piles of bills on the dining room table. As an exercise I think you can do it a little more easily, but the article is great. It has some questions kids ask and highlights the sub-text - what they are really asking about, as they learn about both money and how it links to perceptions of social standing, freedom, work, and other issues. Link.
Stuff has this article on deaths and injuries from farm bikes. Headed, provocatively, "A New Zealand Death" written by Charlie Mitchell. It is worth a read. The reason why it caught my attention - apart from a natural interest in the morbid arising from working in life insurance - was that a friend's son has recently suffered terrible injuries in just such an accident. He has a broken arm and badly broken leg. The photos looked a lot like the ones in this article.
I will not jump to the conclusion that these deaths are preventable by a law change, or that quad bikes are inherently unsafe. 33 deaths were recorded from these causes in a period of about 10 years. Although many more injuries are likely to have occurred - the article hazards a guess at 20 times as many. It is worth contemplating how many equivalent injuries and deaths would occur by letting a child use an ordinary motorbike, or ride a horse, for that matter. Risks are real and they are also the stuff of life. I have let my kids do similarly dangerous things - parents cannot keep children's lives entirely risk free without taking something else away from their lives.
But it is also worth wondering how many could be prevented by requiring a roll cage be fitted to the four wheel versions of these vehicles. I hope someone is pondering the questions, because the list at the end of the article is heartbreaking.
You may sometimes have to work with a client or a friend who is dying. Writing a last letter while you are still well and able to remember, to write, and to deal with the inevitable emotional pain may be a valuable experience. The New York Times has this interesting article on the subject. Link.
I think carefully before recommending something to a friend. I hate it if something goes wrong for them after I said it worked well for me. Think of a great restaurant, builder, book, doctor, and so on. I always pay more attention when a recommendation is made to me by a friend. It does vary: I have some friends that have owned, rented, renovated, and sold many houses, so I respect their opinions far more than others on the same subject. But the general point remains - if a friend recommended something, and I respect their opinion, then that's social proof which dramatically increases my trust in whatever it is I am asking about. A lot of social media marketing is about how to capitalise on the existing groups of people that like and use your product to influence those who do not currently do so. There are many dimensions to this and quite a lot of sophistication in the field - experts exist and should be consulted. But there are some basics which count.
A properly though out company name and logo
A decent website and LinkedIn profile
Probably something on at least one of Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, depending on whether you are B2B or B2C
A good business card - still remains valuable, although I expect its days are numbered
Some changing content - some new material that you post, which elevates your site above the level of 'electronic business card'
A commitment to checking and staying up to date - you need a process. Notifications to your smartphone make this easy, as do good office process.
A plan: how you engage, when people want things, when they complain, what to do with trolls, how you manage spam
If you have an idea of how this activity feeds into the actual business of how someone becomes a client of your business - preferably written down in your marketing plan - then you will be well on the way. Making the existing social proof for your business more easily accessible to the other people who might like to get those results for themselves is a service, and good marketing.