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Understanding the jargon

Page last updated: 20 Feb 2019

The Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill has introduced some technical terms to describe the changes to how we regulate financial advice in New Zealand. The list below explains some of the most common terms. 

These explanations are intended to provide guidance only, not legal definitions, and are specific to the Bill. If we have missed a term you need help understanding, please let us know by emailing questions@fma.govt.nz. The full Bill is available on the New Zealand Legislation website.

Authorised body (in relation to the financial advice service)

An entity named on a financial advice provider’s licence that can provide the licensed service without needing its own licence. Authorised bodies must register on the Financial Service Providers Register as a financial advice provider. Both the licence holder and the authorised body are responsible for the authorised body’s conduct, advice and actions, and for ensuring it meets all market services licensee obligations.

Code of Professional Conduct (Code)

The Code sets out minimum standards of professional conduct in terms of competence, knowledge, skills, ethical behaviour, conduct and client care.  It also sets out any requirements for continued professional development. The existing Code of Professional Conduct took effect on 1 December 2010 and applies to authorised financial advisers.  A new Code of Professional Conduct will replace the existing Code and will apply to all financial advice providers, financial advisers and nominated representatives. After the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs approves the new Code, it will come into force approximately nine months later when the new regime for financial advice begins.

Code working group

An independent group appointed by the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs to prepare the new Code of Conduct. You can find information about the group and its current members on the Financial Advice Code Working Group website.

Competency exemption (also referred to as competency safe harbour)

The competency exemption is the two-year period for existing advisers to meet the competency requirements under the new Code. During this period financial advice providers, financial advisers and nominated representatives can continue to provide the regulated financial advice they could legally provide before the start of the new regime. The competency exemption starts on the first day of the new regime and ends two years from that date.

Competency standards (competency requirements)

These are standards set by the Code that must be met, or qualifications that must be held, in order to provide regulated financial advice under the new regime. See also ‘competency exemption’ for advisers transitioning to the new regime.

Digital advice (also known as robo-advice)

Automated financial advice generated by a computer program using algorithms, based on information provided to a financial advice provider – usually provided through a website or mobile app without any direct human involvement.

Dispute resolution scheme (DRS)

Generally, anyone who provides financial services to retail clients must be a member of a DRS.  A DRS helps New Zealanders resolve disputes with their financial services provider – at no cost to the client.

A DRS will investigate complaints about:

  • any breach of contract between a provider and a consumer
  • providers failing to comply with the industry code of practice  
  • provider conduct that is not fair or reasonable, and
  • breaches of the law.

Current approved DRSs are:

  • Banking Ombudsman
  • Financial Dispute Resolution Service (FDRS)
  • Financial Services Complaints Limited (FSCL)
  • Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman

Financial advice

This is when a provider (either directly or through a financial adviser or nominated representative):

  • makes a recommendation or gives an opinion about buying or selling financial advice products, or
  • designs an investment plan based on a client’s investment goals and analysis of their financial situation, which includes one or more recommendations on how to achieve those goals.

Financial advice provider

A business or individual who provides a financial advice service in the new regime. All financial advice providers with retail clients must have a transitional licence by the start of the new regime. 

Financial advice service

When a financial advice provider engages one or more individuals to give financial advice on their behalf or provides financial advice on their own account.

Financial adviser (in the new regime)

An individual registered on the Financial Service Providers Register to provide a financial advice service, who is not a financial advice provider.

Financial Advisers Disciplinary Committee (FADC)

An independent body that conducts disciplinary proceedings arising from complaints about financial advisers.

Financial service

Any service defined as a financial service in the FSP Act.

Financial Service Provider (FSP)

A person who provides or offers to provide a financial service (as per the FSP Act).

Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR)

A searchable register of people, businesses and organisations that provide financial services in New Zealand. The register contains key information about FSPs including the financial services they provide, any relevant licences they hold and the dispute resolution scheme they belong to.


Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013.


The Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill. FSLAB creates a new framework for giving financial advice by amending the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013. 


Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act 2008. This Act sets out the requirements for financial service providers to be registered on the Financial Service Providers Register and to belong to a dispute resolution scheme.

FSP number

Financial Service Provider number – the registration identifier from a record on the FSPR.

Full licence

The licence that must be held by a financial advice provider when their transitional licence expires, if they want to continue providing advice to retail clients after the two-year transitional period. See FAQs for more information. 

Full licence effective date

The day a full licence comes into effect.

New regime

This will start when the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill, regulations and Code of Conduct come into force. Under the new regime, anyone who provides financial advice must either have a licence (if they are a financial advice provider) or operate under another financial advice provider’s licence.

Nominated representative (in the new regime)

An individual engaged by a licensed financial advice provider to provide regulated financial advice on their behalf. Nominated representatives do not need to register on the Financial Service Providers Register.See ‘Understanding the legislation’ in our FAQs for more information about nominated representatives. 

Prioritising client’s interests (also known as client’s interests first)

A requirement to give priority to the client’s interests when there is a known conflict between the financial advice provider’s interests and the client’s interests when giving financial advice. It applies regardless of whether the client is retail or wholesale.


The process of registering on the Financial Service Providers Register.

Royal Assent

A Bill becomes law after it has passed its third reading in the House of Representatives and is given Royal Assent by the Governor-General.

Select committee

Appointed at the start of each Parliament after a general election.  Members of the select committee work together to consider topics that the House of Representatives needs more information and recommendations about (such as proposed laws and Government spending, petitions and international treaties). Select committees can also initiate inquiries and briefings to investigate important issues and topics. The Economic Development, Science and Innovation select committee considered the Financial Services Legislation Amendment Bill and reported back to the House of Representatives on recommended changes to the Bill.

Transition period

A two-year period starting on the first day of the new regime and ending two years after that date. During this period financial advice providers will be able to operate under a transitional licence and rely on the competency exemption.

Transitional licence

The licence that must be held at the start date of the new regime by financial advice providers providing advice to retail clients. See FAQs for more information. 

Transitional licence effective date

The date a transitional licence comes into effect. All transitional licences approved before the start of the new regime will have the first day of the new regime as the effective date. 

Transitional licence expiry

The date a transitional licence expires. Under current drafting, transitional licences will expire on the earlier of the transitional licence being cancelled (using a regulatory power) or two years after the new regime takes effect.

Transitional licensing application

period The period when financial advice providers can apply for a transitional licence. This period will open approximately six months before the new regime begins so that financial advice providers will be able to have transitional licences in time for the start of the new regime.