NEW FINANCIAL ADVICE REGIME: From 15 March 2021, the AFA category will cease to exist, and you must either be engaged by a licensed financial advice provider or apply for and hold a transitional licence to continue giving financial advice to retail clients.
You may still apply to become an AFA before the start of the new financial advice regime, but we strongly recommend you do so before Monday 14 December 2020 and contact us to ensure we’re aware your application is pending.
To become an AFA you need to meet eligibility requirements, including minimum competence requirements and good character. Once you have completed the steps below, you can apply for authorisation online at the FSPR.
In certain circumstances, it may be possible to obtain an exemption from being registered as a financial adviser or from any of the obligations under the Financial Advisers Act 2008, regulations or the Code of Conduct.
The guide explains the approach of the Financial Markets Authority (the FMA) to granting exemptions under the Financial Advisers Act 2008. It is intended to provide answers to commonly asked questions in relation to exemptions and to provide information to potential applicants on the process for making an application.
The Code establishes the components of the New Zealand Certificate in Financial Services Level 5 (NZ Certificate) as the minimum standard of competence for AFAs. It sets out the educational requirements and alternative paths available to advisers that are relevant to the financial adviser services (FAS scope) to meet this minimum standard. See more information on AFAs competence and assessment.
The Code does not include any foreign qualifications in the list of alternative qualifications or designations. If your qualification or designation is not currently recognised in New Zealand then you should apply to The Skills Organisation to be assessed and examined against individual components (within the NZ Certificate).
You can do this without undertaking any additional training; however, it would be wise to first check with The Skills Organisation whether assessment only options are appropriate for you.
Register with the Financial Service Providers Register
The Financial Service Providers (Registration and Dispute Resolution) Act requires all financial service providers operating in New Zealand, including financial advisers, to be registered. Registration is a prerequisite to authorisation. The FSP Register is public so anyone can search it to check if you are registered and authorised.
Select the FAS scope you will provide
Before you apply for authorisation you need to decide which service(s) you wish to be authorised to provide. Definitions of these financial adviser services can be found in schedule H of the Code of Professional Conduct (PDF, 910KB).
Determine which testimonials you will need to submit
These are the templates for testimonials you must supply to help us assess your character.
Ensure you use the correct template for each testimonial. Please refer to the testimonial guidelines that explain what you and your referees need to do. See AFA testimonial templates and guidelines page for more info.
Good Character and Criminal Convictions guidance note
This guide describes FMA's criteria and requirements for assessment of good character of AFA applicants.
Under the standard conditions of an authorisation, AFAs must maintain a current written adviser business statement (ABS). The ABS describes your adviser business and the compliance arrangements you have in place so that your business operates professionally.
AFA Adviser Business Statement Guide
This guide is for Authorised Financial Advisers (AFAs) and sets out the information to include in an Adviser Business Statement (ABS). The ABS describes your adviser business and the compliance arrangements you have in place so that your business operates professionally. An ABS must be maintained on an ongoing basis to meet your terms and conditions of the authorisation.
The Financial Advisers Act applies to all financial advice received by clients in New Zealand, including advice provided by advisers based overseas. Certain sections of the Act also apply to New Zealand-based advisers giving advice to overseas clients. These include the obligation to act with care, diligence and skill and not to act in a misleading or deceptive manner.
Overseas advisers who provide advice only to wholesale clients in New Zealand may not be required to be registered or authorised if they are "overseas financial advisers" (a type of exempt provider). See sections 5 and 20 of the Act.
Australian Advisers and Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act
Australian advisers who provide financial adviser services to clients in New Zealand will be subject to the New Zealand financial adviser regime. This includes the requirement that only individuals that are permitted under the Financial Advisers Act may provide certain services (see our download our flowchart (PDF, 382KB) to determine if you need to be authorised or registered).
There are 2 exemptions which have been granted by the FMA that Australian advisers may be able to utilise:
1. Financial adviser firms licensed and operating from Australia:
Under the Australian Licensees Exemption Notice 2011 an Australian licensed financial adviser firm which meets certain conditions will be able to provide certain financial adviser services to New Zealand retail clients without its specified representatives being registered or authorised.
Advisers who have certain Australian qualifications and who are applying to be Authorised Financial Advisers (AFA) are exempted from the Code's educational qualification requirements.
The applicants will remain subject to all other authorisation eligibility requirements and as AFAs will be subject to all applicable laws, including other provisions of the Code, the Financial Advisers Act, dispute resolution scheme requirements, terms and conditions of authorisation and monitoring by the FMA.
Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act
There is a further avenue for Australian qualifications recognition under the Trans-Tasman Mutual Recognition Act. This is very limited in its application for financial advisers as it applies only to individuals (ie not firms) who are Australian licence holders when they apply to be authorised/registered under the New Zealand financial adviser regime.
Application for AFA authorisation
Renewal of AFA authorisation
The fees above are payable to the Companies Office when you apply to become an AFA. This is additional to the fee for registration as an FSP.
Variations to terms and conditions
The fee to vary the terms and conditions of an AFA authorisation is $115. This is payable to the FMA when you apply for the variation. We will then invoice you for the time spent assessing the variation application, based on the FMA hourly rate.
On 8 April 2019, the Government passed a new law changing the rules for how financial advice is provided to retail clients. As part of the transition rules, you do not need to renew your AFA authorisation before the start of the new regime.
If your expiry date is approaching, we will contact you with further information.
Your authorisation can be terminated for the following reasons:
the period of your authorisation expires
you ask the FMA to cancel your authorisation
you cease to be registered as an FSP
the FMA cancels or suspends your authorisation if you are no longer eligible to be authorised, or you have breached your obligations under the Financial Advisers Act, regulations, the Code or your terms or conditions.
If we decide to cancel, suspend or amend the terms and conditions of your authorisation, you will be notified first and given the opportunity to make submissions. We will notify your change of status to the registrar. If your authorisation is cancelled or suspended because you are no longer eligible or you have breached your obligations under the Act, we may also make this information public.
How to apply for your transitional financial advice provider licence