Some need to know, with a bit of WealthDesign nice to know thrown in.

Fun with words

If you watch the Big Bang Theory, my favourite programme ever (apart from Dukes of Hazzard –  nothing is better than that!), you’ll know about Sheldon’s cable show ‘fun with flags’.

Well recently some people have been having ‘fun with words’.  People have been talking about ‘putting clients’ interests first’.  That this was even a discussion was a bit of a revelation for the team at WealthDesign, because we never realised it was a new thing.

The basic idea is that where the outcome for the adviser and the client are in conflict, the right thing to do is ensure the outcome favours the client.  Do the right thing and so on.  Rob Everett from the FMA recently said that ‘clients’ interests first’ “can mean different things to different people, in different situations”.

No, it doesn’t.

I prefer a higher standard – ‘clients’ best interests first’.  This one can be much harder to meet if you can only sell one or two product lines, rather than compare and choose from a wide range of providers and products.

For example, if you go into a bank that sells its own KiwiSaver, and the teller suggests you change to that KiwiSaver, they are considered to be putting your interests first, because they don’t receive a commission for making that sale.  The bank product is not being chosen by the teller over another product, because they can’t sell any other product, so there is no conflict.

What if that bank’s KiwiSaver has much higher fees than the one it replaced?  It might have much poorer returns (we know which KiwiSaver schemes have consistently underperformed) than the one it replaced.  The bank teller doesn’t compare the old scheme to their one.  They won’t give a written statement of advice outlining the pros and cons of switching.  They won’t tell you that their salary-not-commission job is tied to targets, bonuses and KPIs that require them to sell things. They are having ‘fun with words’, at your expense.  That sale would not meet the standard of ‘clients’ best interests’. 

And this is the problem.

If you go to a doctor or a lawyer, and they said to you “just so we’re clear – my duty is to put your interests first, but I won’t necessarily be acting in your best interests”, would you take their advice?

At WealthDesign when we say we put our clients’ best interests first, we think it means what you think it means.


Regan Thomas
WealthDesign – a life well planned

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They grow up so fast!  I visited a few clients recently who have been with me for a decade or so.  Some, when I first met them, had kids that were school age.  Now we are giving the kids their first policies as they head off to their first jobs, university, or overseas.   Several clients started with me as young fellas a similar age to me, single, renting, and working.  Now we’re all married house owners with kids.  Some have moved to their second or third houses, and at our age, the mortgages seem to be getting bigger, rather than smaller.  And it got me to thinking.  Some businesses are highly transactional, such as real estate or car sales.  At WealthDesign we are a relationship business – we actually care about being a helpful and valuable part of our clients’ lives.  

Change is one constant in all of our lives.  There is a valuable feature hidden in your policy which is all about helping at times of change – the ‘special events increase’.  Having a baby, buying a house, getting married and several other changes count as a ‘special event’ which means you can increase your life insurance with no medical questions.  For some this is a convenient and efficient way of changing their policy, but for others this is a great way of getting more cover without telling the insurer about that operation you had recently, or your current height/weight, or the little pills you’re now taking every day!   Some terms and conditions apply, but it’s worth looking into.

Insurance is not a set-and-forget product – it needs to change as your needs change.  And they will keep changing until you die.   If we haven’t seen each other for a while, or you’ve had a change in your life circumstances, please call us.  We’d love to catch up –  we’re here to help.


Regan Thomas
WealthDesign – a life well planned

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DIY Wills – not such a good idea

There are many things in life that you can DIY – and many that you cannot, or at least, really shouldn’t.  Wills fall into the second category.

You can easily go and buy a DIY Will Kit from the post office or a news agent, but unless you are an expert in Wills yourself, that’s where the ease stops. 

  1. At best, a DIY Will Kit is only good for a “simple Will”. What that really means is a simple family situation, where you are a couple or single person with only a few beneficiaries and you all live in absolute harmony. Or you only have a limited number of possessions such as some household goods and a few bank accounts. So if you were able to time-warp yourself back to the 1950’s, you might be okay. But the moment you have more than this, such as superannuation – and these days that’s everybody, then the Will Kit won’t cut it!
  2. Families will have no way of really knowing if the DIY Will is suitable, because there is no advice. Sure, there may be lots of information provided with the kit, but how do you apply it? And how do you even know if it is correct?
  3. Also how good is the kit in the first place? You can be guaranteed that it has not been prepared by an “expert” (even if it says so on the packaging) – because a real expert would never let anyone do their own Will!
  4. Even if you managed to put a “proper” Will together, there is the big issue of getting it signed correctly without legal assistance. The Courts are littered with cases of DIY Wills that were not signed correctly and the resulting problems of beneficiaries fighting for control of the estate.
  5. Finally, at the end of the day you have to acknowledge that “you don’t know what you don’t know”. Without the help of a properly qualified and experienced lawyer, you may not realise the issues that you are missing in your “simple” family situation. For example, how do you deal with non-estate assets such as superannuation or assets held jointly (especially your own home) or a family trust? Or children/other beneficiaries with special needs, or who are still young when you die? Or families with second spouses and children of previous relationships – there are so many unique situations we live in.

Get an expert to help you. Don’t be tempted to save a few dollars now with a DIY Will Kit, because you may end up risking your entire estate later – and at a time when your family can least afford it! If you want to be referred to a lawyer, just give us a call and we can point you in the right direction.

John Barber

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Home truths – what ‘housing crisis?’

The media has invented the phrase ‘housing crisis’ and repeated it so many times that many now believe we have one. Yes, people are buying houses off each other in some parts of the country for ridiculous prices; even an uninhabitable villa can go for $1,000,000 in Auckland. But that doesn’t mean we have a crisis.

Auckland has a supply issue, particularly with land – which makes up 60% of the cost of a new house in that city. In Christchurch, where over $3,000,000 a day is pouring in from insurance funded repairs and new builds, there is a mega-boom going on. That also doesn’t mean we have a crisis.

Veda have said that people aged under 28 are borrowing more often for personal loans and credit cards and less for mortgages. With four consecutive Official Cash Rate (OCR) hikes this year, the well-publicised 20% deposit requirements and constant reporting of this so called ‘crisis,’ who could blame them?

Since the previous boom peaked in 2007 house prices in 16 areas across New Zealand have increased, but have fallen in 37 and remained stable in 19 – including Palmerston North. Around Manawatu there are plenty of houses under $200,000 that would be suitable for first home buyers, and if you look just outside Palmerston North, there are several small towns that offer houses for even less.

With KiwiSaver’s first home withdrawal, Housing NZ’s first home grant and the Welcome Home Loan Scheme, many people are still buying houses. There are many more who may not even be aware of just how close they already are – banks are still able to lend to 90% (just not all the time), and the LVR restrictions do not apply to new builds (so a 5% deposit may do it).

Some in the media have been saying that first home buyers need to reduce their expectations around how much they can spend on a home, where that home should be and the size and type of property they can buy first up. There is merit to that, but there is far too much misinformation out there too.

Rather than giving up, people just need good advice. They need to speak to someone who knows what is really going on, and who has a sensible and realistic approach. Give us a call – we help make the complicated simple.

Regan Thomas

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Who said New Zealanders don’t save?

The total KiwiSaver balance for all investors is now $ 19.94 billion of savings. Who said New Zealanders don’t save?

With rising investment balances, investors need to consider the fees they are paying and which asset allocation they are invested into. In some cases they are paying top fees for the lowest return.


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We have access to independent research that can compare fund with fund and manager with manager. Fees and performance really matter, and you need to be an informed investor. This is especially important as most of the marketing around KiwiSaver focuses on things like access to your KiwiSaver balance; not the real issues of fees and performance.

Our door is always open and we are happy to help you become an empowered investor.

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