1. Compliance
  2. Regulatory reporting
  3. FAQs


Page last updated: 25 September 2019

Click on any of the topics below to find answers about completing your information return. If you can't find the answers you're are looking for please contact us.

General information
When it needs to be completed by
How to complete it and where to get help
Using the online system (eService portal)
Extra guidance for questions 0, 4, 5, 6, 10, 13, 14, 19, 24, 25
Summary definitions

General information

What is the regulatory reporting guide and what is the information return?

The regulatory reporting guide (RRG) sets out the periodic and other reporting, accounting and notification requirements for Authorised Financial Advisers (AFAs) as required under their standard conditions. The RRG also contains explanatory notes to assist AFAs in understanding and complying with the reporting requirements. 

The information return is an online tool that each AFA must complete and submit annually. It consists of a series of questions about AFAs, their business, their compliance approach and their approach to continuing professional development. 

Do I have to complete all the questions?

The information return is divided into sections, represented by tabs along the top of the screen. You only need to complete the sections that relate to the financial adviser services you provide. Depending on the categories you select, the information return will automatically select the appropriate questions. Refer to the questions to see which ones you will need to provide information for.

When answering the questions, it's important to ensure the information is accurate, complete and the answers true and correct. This is because we may ask you about the information you have provided.  

I'm an AFA but don't provide financial adviser services - do I still need to complete an information return?

Yes.  You will only need to answer questions 1, 4, 5 and 40.

I'm an employee or nominated representative of a qualifying financial entity (QFE) - are there any questions that do not apply to me?

Depending on the categories you select, some questions will not be relevant. As a guide, questions 19, 33-35 and 39 will not be relevant.

What will the FMA do with the information?

The purpose of the information return is so we can collect information from AFAs to help us better understand their profiles, businesses and characteristics and the market as a whole. It also helps us to prioritise our future monitoring activities to focus our resources effectively. Read our regulatory impact statement to find out more.

Do all financial advisers have to do it?

Only AFAs have to complete it. AFAs can receive assistance in collating the information, however, each AFA must ensure they have personally read and checked the information before submitting it. We strongly recommend that you do not share your RealMe® login details. If you need help collecting the information we suggest printing the questions and giving them to the appropriate person(s) to help you complete it manually. After you have checked the answers in the manual copy you can complete the information return online yourself.

Am I required to submit an annual adviser business statement (ABS) confirmation email to the FMA if I confirmed my ABS is current in the information return?

No. If you confirm your written ABS is up-to-date and current in the information return, you are not required to submit a separate annual ABS confirmation. All you need to do is simply tick a box (question 40) and it’s done.

If I have completed my annual confirmation on the Financial Service Providers Register (FSPR) do I still need to complete an information return?

Yes. It is a separate requirement.

You must provide your annual confirmation on the FSPR as the FSPR annual confirmation is managed by the FSPR Registrar and filed on the Companies Office website. Your information return is managed by the FMA and is filed on the FMA website.

By completing your annual confirmation on the FSPR, you are confirming your intention to remain registered on the FSPR and continue providing a financial adviser service. When completing your registration formalities you will be required to update your FSPR details and pay the required fee. You can contact the FSPR directly for more information about completing your annual FSPR confirmation.

When it needs to be completed by 

When do AFAs have to complete the information return for 2019?

The information return opens on Monday 12 August and must be completed by 5 pm Sunday 30 September 2019.  

How often will AFA's have to complete it?

Each AFA must complete their information return that relates to their business as at 30 June annually.  

What if I changed employers during the 12 month period?

If you have worked for or provided financial adviser services through more than one business during this period, please complete your information return with information that relates to your current employer.

We realise that for some questions you may be unable to provide answers that reflect the past 12 months. Your answers can instead reflect a lesser period that relates to your current employer(s) or business (es).

However, a change of employer during the past 12 months would not affect your answers to the following questions:

  • 1 - 6
  • 9
  • 15
  • 36
  • 39
  • 40

What if I changed my sole adviser practice during the 12 month period that this information return relates to?

You will still need to complete your information return with information that relates to all those sole adviser practices.

What happens if I cannot submit my return during the six week period (12 August - 30 September 2019)?

It is essential that all AFAs complete their information returns’ within the six-week window.  This is clearly set out in your standard conditions, that failing to submit your information return can lead to cancellation or suspension of your authorisation or a fine of up to $5000.  If you cannot submit your return within this timeframe please contact us as soon as possible at questions@fma.govt.nz or call us on 0800 434 567.

How to complete it and where to get help

Can I submit my own information return, based on the online user guide or another template?

No. We cannot accept information returns based on individually designed templates. AFAs must complete and submit their information returns using our online system.

What if I don't understand one of the questions?

The online system has guidance for many questions. You can find this by clicking on the blue question mark icon located at the end of each question. Note, you only need to include services that you actually provide yourself. Don't include services if you refer the client to another person to provide that service. Please check the guidance first or refer to these FAQs. If you still cannot find an answer to your question please contact us either by email questions@fma.govt.nz or call us on 0800 434 567.

What 12 month period does the information I need to provide relate to?

Where a question states, 'In the last 12 months' it refers to the dates between 1 July of the previous year to 30 June of the current.

Can I attach files?

No. If you wanted to provide extra information please email us at questions@fma.govt.nz.

What if I make a mistake? Can I resubmit it?

Yes. However, please take the time to ensure your responses are correct prior to clicking on the submit button. If you have any queries please see the online user guide, these FAQs or contact us at questions@fma.govt.nz.

After I've submitted it, will I get a confirmation email?

No. You will be automatically taken to a page saying 'Thank you for submitting your return.  Please click here to download a copy for your records'.  This confirms we have received your information return. However, if you click 'Submit' and nothing happens,it means your return has not been fully completed.

If that happens, go back and check your return to see if any red boxes, (indicating an error or non-completion) appear. If you don't find any and you still cannot submit your return please contact us.

Using the online system (eService portal)

How do I login?

To login please follow the steps below:

  1. Click on www2.e-services.fma.govt.nz/. If clicking on the link does not take you to the website please copy or type the link on your browser and open it.
  2. Click 'Login' at the top right corner of the screen.
  3. On the next screen in the white box, type in your RealMe® login details. As this will be the first time you have logged into our new online system, you will be asked to create a new profile which includes your name, email address, and phone number.
  4. On the next screen click on ‘All Forms’, then ‘AFA Information Return’. This will take you through to the start of the questions.

We use the All-Of-Government shared login service, known as ‘RealMe®’. This is provided by the Department of Internal Affairs, formerly igovt. If you had an igovt login, your username and password will work here. This is a personal and individual login, not a shared one. You’ll have used or created a RealMe login at the time you originally applied for registration as an AFA on the Financial Services Provider Register (FSPR).

I don't know my RealMe Login - where do I get it?

You'll have used or created a RealMe login at the time you originally applied for registration as an AFA on the FSPR. If you don't have a RealMe login, go to Create your RealMe® login now and follow the instructions. Keep a note of your login details as you'll need to re-use this each time you login.

If you've forgotten your login or password, you can request for it to be emailed to you.

Can I save my information return and go back to it later?

Yes. You can do this at any time, meaning you can log in and out if you need to - as long as you click the 'Save' button before you exit.

We recommend you regularly save your responses as it times out after 30 minutes of inactivity. To amend an earlier response you can navigate back during the answering process. Use the 'Save' button - at the bottom of each screen. After saving the form you can safely log out and resume later where you left off.

Saved returns will be listed under the 'My Forms' tab on your dashboard. To resume your work you simply click on that link.

To save and print your information return at any time follow these steps:

  1. Click on the green button at the bottom of the information return, 'Draft pdf'.
  2. A PDF of your information return will appear.
  3. Click 'File, Save as' then proceed to save on your computer.

Is the system secure?

Yes. The system is built on a high-integrity software solution which complies with security and privacy risk assessment and recommendations reports carried out by the Department of Internal Affairs and is regularly subjected to rigorous independent security tests.

I'm having trouble logging in/data not saving. What should I do?

If the system is not working or you cannot access it, please contact us on 0800 434 567. Please note, the questions are still available to look at so you can continue collating information ready for input. If you have put an incorrect password in three times you will be locked out of the system for 30 minutes, so please try again later.

Please note for question 5, if your FSP individual or entity number does not appear after typing it into the FSP Number box, please continue on with the questionnaire and submit as we will still receive it.

Extra guidance for specific questions

Question 0: ”Please select the category below that applies to you”.

Please tick this option “I do not provide financial adviser services to clients” if you are in a non-client facing role, for example, an investment analyst or a paraplanner.

Question 4: “What situation best describes your AFA employment status? (Select all that apply)"

If you are not currently employed as an AFA or you are currently on long-term leave, please select 'Other' and explain.

If you have worked part of a year to 30 June you will still need to complete the information return. 

Question 5: “What is your legal and trading names of the entity you work for or provide financial adviser services through?”

For 'QFE Name' please type the FSP number or FSP name and select one that’s applicable to you. To return to the beginning of the list, you can click on the 'Change' button. If the FSP number or FSP name does not appear after typing it into the 'QFE Name' box, please continue with the questionnaire and submit it. We will still receive it. 

Question 6: “Are you a member of a producer or aggregator group or network? Do you share a common brand with other individuals providing financial adviser services? (Select all that apply).

Do I select the 'common brand' option where that same employer’s name has been provided in responding to question 5?

The intent of this question is to capture information not already provided in question 5. Where employees of a firm operate under a brand of their employer, they don't need to select the 'common brand' option if it has been provided in question 5.

Question 10: “What payment types apply to your financial adviser services?

I receive revenue that is generated based on a percentage of assets under advice. Is the intent of this question to capture that scenario?


Question 13: “In the past 12 months, in respect of category 1 products, how many new clients did you personally provide financial adviser services to?

New clients are anyone who has not previously been your client for a category 1 product. You should include clients that previously received advice from you on category 2 products and have received advice on category 1 products in this reporting period.   

For example; if you provide services for a couple, then their jointly held portfolio equals two people.  If they also have a trust where they are both trustees, again this equals two people. Therefore this is classed as four clients for the purposes of this information return.

Do not include existing clients who already hold category 1 products and enter into new category 1 products.

Question 14: "What is the total value of all client portfolios or client money invested, under advice and under discretionary investment management services (DIMS), for which you have provided financial adviser services? (Please select all categories that apply)."

Does the total value include financial adviser services relating to assets held in the client's own name?

No. We are not seeking values that include situations where you've provided financial adviser services relating to assets that are held in the client's own name.

Question 19: "How do your clients receive or have access to client portfolio reporting? (Select all that apply)."

How do you define 'third party'?

'Third party' means a business or individual that is separate from the advisory business, legally and operationally. A related party (eg a related company) in that case could be a 'third party' but only where it is operationally separate from the advisory business. A related third party is not operationally separate where, for example, there are shared systems and personnel.

Question 24: “How many distributions or agency agreements do you or your producer/aggregator group or network have with insurance product providers/manufacturers?

How should we answer this question where, as a company, we have agencies with a number of companies for those advisers that do insurance work?

Please record your answer and note in the explanation box that it is the business that you work for that has the distribution or agency agreements.

Question 25: ”During the past 12 months, what is the largest insurance commission debt outstanding to any one provider for more than 60 days, that you or your business was responsible for?

How do we interpret 'your business'? It is intended that the employee include their own stats as well as those of the employer?

The reference to 'your business' should be interpreted as relating to self-employed AFAs. Employee advisers need only include their own information and not information relating to their employer.

Summary definitions

For ease of reference, we set out below summaries of the definitions of different types of clients, services and client money and property, to help you understand the legal terms used in the information return. These summaries are intended as a guide only, the actual definitions are set out in the relevant sections of the Financial Advisers Act 2008.


Clients (section 5A)

A client means a person who receives a service (whether or not on payment of a charge).

Retail clients (section 5B)

A retail client is a client of a financial adviser who is not a wholesale client.

Wholesale clients (section 5C)

The following clients of a financial adviser are wholesale clients for a financial adviser service:

(a) any other financial adviser who receives the service in the course of business as a financial adviser

(b) a person in the business of providing any other financial service and receives the financial adviser service in the course of that business

(c) a person whose principal business is the investment of money or, in the course of and for the purposes of the person's business, habitually invests money

(d) an entity to which at least one of the following applied at the end of each of the last two accounting periods

(i) at the balance date, the net assets of the entity exceeded $1 million or

(ii) the turnover of the entity (or a related body corporate) for the accounting period exceeded $1 million

(e) a local authority, a Crown entity, a State enterprise, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the National Provident Fund

(f) a person who falls within 1 or more of the categories listed in section 3(2), 5(2CBA) or 5(2CBA) of the Securities Act 1978 if the services relate to securities offered to that person or subscribed for by that person in a private offer of securities (as defined in section 5(C)(3))

(g) an eligible investor (see below).

A person may opt-out of being a wholesale client by giving the financial adviser a signed notification (in accordance with section 5G).

Eligible investor (section 5D and section 5E)

An eligible investor is a client who has sufficient knowledge, skills or experience in financial matters to assess the value and risks of financial products and the merits of those services. A client must certify in writing (stating reasons for the certification) that they:

(a) meet those knowledge, skill and experience requirements and

(b) understand the consequences of giving the certificate (including that competency standards and the Code will not apply and a dispute resolution scheme may not be available).

A financial adviser must also sign a written acceptance of the certification, but only if he or she is satisfied, after considering the client’s reasons for giving the certificate, that:

(a) the client has received sufficient advice about the consequences of giving the certificate and

(b) there is no reason to believe the certificate is incorrect (or that further information or investigation is needed to determine this).


Financial adviser service (section 9)

Financial adviser services are defined as:

(a) giving financial advice

(b) providing an investment planning service or

(c) providing a discretionary investment management service.

Financial advice (section 10)

A person gives financial advice if that person makes a recommendation or gives an opinion in relation to acquiring or disposing of (including refraining from acquiring or disposing of) a financial product.

Section 10(3) lists certain activities that are not considered to be giving financial advice.

Investment planning service (section 11)

A person provides an investment planning service if they design or offer to design a plan for an individual that:

(a) is based on an analysis of an individual's current and future overall financial situation and identifies their investment goals, and

(b) includes recommendations or opinions to realise those goals (or 1 or more of them)

A service may be an investment planning service regardless of whether the analysis and identification is of the individual’s particular financial situation and goals, or of the financial situation and goals attributed to the class of persons that the individual falls within.

Discretionary investment management service (section 12)

A person provides discretionary investment management services if they decide which financial products to acquire or dispose of on behalf of (and acting on the authority of) a client.

Explanatory note: So a DIMS is an investment arrangement under which an adviser makes buy-sell decisions in respect of a portfolio of investments, without referring to the client for each transaction. You provide a DIMS even if you only do this temporarily, for example, whilst a client is on holiday.

Personalised service (section 15)

A personalised service is a financial adviser service that is given to a named client who is readily identifiable by the adviser and, either the financial adviser has taken the client's particular financial situation or goals into account, or the client would reasonably expect their particular financial situation or goals to be taken into account.

Class service (section 15)

A financial adviser service is a class service if it is not a personalised service.

Client money and property

Client money (section 5)

Client money means money received from, or on account of, a client in relation to acquiring, holding, or disposing of a financial product.

Client property (section 5)

Client property means property received from, or on account of, a client in relation to acquiring, holding, or disposing of a financial product.