Did you know that the laws governing financial advice in New Zealand have changed?

The introduction of the New Financial Advice Regime has been designed for SMEs to get more from their specialist advisors, with changes having come into effect earlier this year. The financial advice industry is constantly evolving, and education around this is vital. 

At Apricity Finance, we understand the challenges of running a small business. We welcome the new regime, as we know the role that quality financial advice plays in the lives of small business owners.

Here, we examine the important relationship between business owners and their specialist advisers.

UNDERSTANDING THE NEW FINANCIAL ADVICE REGIME

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) introduced a raft of new changes that commenced 15 March 2021, which apply to all financial advice services and financial advice providers in New Zealand. The New Financial Advice Regime introduces new minimum standards of conduct, client care, competence, knowledge and skill set for specialist advisers.

To give financial advice to retail clients in the new financial advice regime, individuals must either hold a Financial Advice Provider (FAP) licence, or be engaged to operate under a Financial Advice Provider’s licence as a Financial Adviser, or Nominated Representative.

According to FMA, The Financial Services Legislation Amendment Act introduces changes to ensure the conduct and client-care obligations of financial service providers and the regulation of financial markets remain fit for purpose. It also addresses misuse of the financial service providers registered by offshore entities. 

– Remove regulatory boundaries, such as the current adviser classifications (AFA, RFA, and QFE), the distinction between ‘class advice’ and ‘personalised advice’ and category 1 and 2 products

– Allow financial advice to be provided online as well as in person

– Set industry-wide standards for conduct and competence (known as the six step process)

More information on these changes can be found here.

SO, WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR SMES?

The new regulations represent a significant progression for the industry and are expected to lift service standards and improve customer outcomes.

John Botica, Director of Market Engagement for the Financial Markets Authority has said the start of the licensing regime is the result of almost five years’ work aimed at increasing Kiwis’ trust and confidence in the financial sector. “More than 10,200 financial advisers have come into the new licensing system, with more than 1700 transitional licences approved and nearly 1000 authorised bodies”.

SMEs are the winners when it comes to the updated regime. The new regulations allow specialist advisers to identify any missing links between a business owner’s personal finances and the business itself. By now needing to examine the financial situation of a business as a whole, they can tailor the most appropriate advice by understanding the impacts of the business on personal wealth and other finance goals.

Further, the changes mean that as a specialist adviser is obligated to understand a business deeply, they may be able to anticipate problems that are on the horizon and offer solutions to pre-empt trouble in the future. Ongoing help from a business adviser can help a business owner to take advantage of an opportunity that they may not even be aware of.

THE ROLE OF SPECIALIST BUSINESS ADVISERS

For small business owners busy in the day to day management of a business, considering business goals and the overall financial health of the business can be overlooked. A specialist adviser can regularly review the long-term ramifications of your business strategies, and help you find opportunities for growth. Their vast knowledge can help bring a perspective to your business that you couldn’t otherwise have access to. 

Every finance product has both advantages and disadvantages, and it’s important to consider these factors when making any financial commitment. Discussing your business goals with your specialist broker can allow you to make the most informed decision when accessing finance.

At Apricity Finance, we strongly encourage SMEs to build good relationships with their specialist advisers. Speaking to an expert in preparation for financial planning means that time is on your side. Not only are they aware of the specific requirements of your business, but with their extensive knowledge of the products and services available, they will be able to provide you with options best suited to your business needs.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT SPECIALIST ADVISER

The benefits of using a specialist adviser include getting tailored financial advice to help financial decision-making, and recommendations on products best suited to individual needs.

Meet with your specialist adviser on a regular basis, in order to seek advice on topics such as CFO services, performance reporting, cloud accounting and technology, business strategy development, budgeting, cash flow forecasting and business planning.

To help people choose the right adviser, the FMA has provided the following guidelines:

– Did the adviser explain their experience and qualifications and what type of licence they have? 

– Did they indicate the type of products they can advise on? Some advisers specialise in certain areas and are required to tell clients about their scope of service.

– Did they confirm how they’re paid? For example, client fees or commissions paid by companies whose products they sell.

– If making an investment, did the adviser explain where and how money will be held?

– Did they outline the complaints process if there’s a problem?

THE GROWING ALTERNATIVE FINANCE SECTOR

The number of fintechs and non-bank lenders on the market continues to increase, and so does the number of products available. Their strongest point of difference is that fintechs and non-bank lenders have been founded with the customer at the core, putting customers before profits. By understanding the current challenges faced by small businesses, non-bank lenders can provide tailored credit models to SMEs to allow their businesses to prosper. 

SMEs are increasingly looking at non-bank alternatives in sourcing finance that better suits their business needs. Invoice finance is one such option, allowing SMEs to leverage their invoices to access their own funds sooner, without taking on additional debt.

With so many options available for SMEs, it’s important for them to lean on their specialist advisers to ensure they access the right products and services for them.

IS INVOICE FINANCE RIGHT FOR MY BUSINESS?

Cash flow is critical for small businesses. Businesses need cash to operate; pay employees, purchase or hire equipment, distribute their product – as well as cover rent and utility costs. They also need capital to invest and grow. Often businesses experiencing rapid growth will struggle with cash flow because they have exhausted their lines of credit, already mortgaged their house or built up a tax debt. This is where invoice finance can be really useful.

Alternative finance options like invoice finance, allow SMEs to fully finance their operations, while also ensuring the reliability of revenues. It simultaneously insulates them from the impacts of sudden changes and market forces (ie. a global pandemic).

The way that invoice finance works, is that businesses supply their goods or services to their customers, and issue their invoice. The invoice finance facility pays the business a percentage of that invoice, allowing the business to alleviate cash flow issues and enjoy financial freedom. Usually, the only security required is the invoice itself.

A selective invoice finance facility provides working capital as and when it’s needed, closes the gap between the time they need to make purchases, hire equipment, take on subcontractors, and when they’re paid.

WHAT SETS APRICITY FINANCE APART FROM THE REST?

Apricity Finance is ideal for businesses providing goods or services to big business, government and other large organisations. Once approved, you can finance as little or as much of your approved invoices (up to 95%) as your business needs, meaning you can scale up or back to meet your obligations. This means businesses get the flexibility to choose which invoices to fund, when, and at what percentage without being charged when not in use.

With offices across Australia and New Zealand, the team at Apricity Finance pride themselves on the personal service they provide their clients. There are no lock-in contracts and we do not ask for personal assets as collateral. This is your journey, and we believe invoice finance is the tool you need to help your business stay in control and reach its full potential.

GETTING ADVICE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER BEFORE

Working capital is, after all, essential to keep your business going. In unforeseen situations, such as the current COVID-19 pandemic, an extra focus is required on the effective management of the financial situation of a business.

Financial education and advice can help Kiwis build all-important financial resilience, to weather life’s changes and look to the future with confidence. In a nutshell, we understand that financial decisions are complex, and at times challenging to make. 

Specialist advisers play a key role in guiding their clients through the evolving business environment, and cash flow management is more important than ever in steering SMEs in order to flourish.

TALK TO AN EXPERT

If you need advice for your business amid the myriad of changes, speak to a trusted adviser such as an accountant, financial adviser or lawyer. Seeking trusted advice early can help you to better understand your options.

SMEs are facing a growing number of pressures and something almost all have in common is the challenge of managing their cashflow. Is your business one of them? Get in touch with one of our team here to tell us more.

For information about invoice finance and more on Apricity Finance, visit here.

TALK TO AN INVOICE FINANCE SPECIALIST

Take control of your cashflow and manage your growth. Our invoice finance specialists will listen to your challenges and check your eligibility so you can access the funds you need to reach your business potential.
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