The Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Act 2022 amends the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 to ensure financial institutions treat consumers fairly. It is designed to protect consumers by putting the consumer at the forefront of institutions’ decisions and actions.
Also known as the Conduct of Financial Institutions (CoFI) legislation, it introduces a new regulatory regime to ensure registered banks, licensed insurers and licensed non-bank deposit takers comply with the fair conduct principle when providing relevant services to consumers. It is important that consumers get the financial products and services they need throughout their life, when they need it, and have trust and confidence it will do what it should.
CoFI significantly expands the FMA’s mandate as a conduct regulator to include financial institutions, and confers new responsibilities in terms of licensing, monitoring and enforcement.
The CoFI legislation amends the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 by requiring registered banks, licenced insurers and licenced non-bank deposit takers to:
be licensed by the FMA in respect of their conduct towards consumers; and
comply with a “fair conduct principle” to treat consumers fairly, through the requirement for financial institutions to establish, maintain and implement a “fair conduct programme” (FCP) and take all reasonable steps to comply with the programme; and
comply with regulations that ban target-based sales incentives, and regulate other types of incentives.
The “fair conduct principle” will apply whenever a financial institution:
designs services and products for consumers
offers to provide those services and products
provides those services and products
has any dealings or interactions with a consumer in relation to its services or products, eg responding to a complaint or handling a claim
History of the CoFI Act
The FMA and Reserve Bank of New Zealand undertook joint reviews into the conduct and culture of banks and life insurers in New Zealand, in 2018 and 2019, respectively. More recently, the FMA also reviewed the conduct and culture of fire and general insurers. Those reviews found banks and insurers were not putting in place systems and processes to ensure consumers were treated fairly.
The outcomes sought included:
Consumers getting products and services that suit them and address their financial needs.
Consumers being supported to make sound financial decisions, at the time of purchase and throughout the lifecycle of the product/services.
Consumers having trust and confidence in the NZ financial sector.
Financial institutions having the consumer at the heart of their business operations.
Late-2022/early-2023: we will release a licence application guide, with information about how to make an application and interpret the questions
Late-2022/early-2023: we will release a Fair Conduct Programme information sheet to help applicants prepare for licensing by establishing their FCP
Mid-2023: financial institution licence applications expected to begin, ~18 months prior to regime commencement.
Early-2025: financial institution licences come into effect
Nature of application form
A single online application form for all applicants, aimed at understanding the applicant’s business
Applicants will need to have an established fair conduct programme (FCP) before applying. While we do not expect these to be fully implemented by at the time of applying, we do expect the FCP to have been approved by the applicant’s board of directors.