Risk Product, Company and Regulatory Updates as at 8 August 2018

Product Updates

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AIA Australia increasing discounts
AIA Australia increased its initial discount for lump sum benefits from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent for eligible customers for those who sign up to the health and wellness program, AIA Vitality, for a limited time.

Eligible AIA Vitality members can also get discounts on income protection policies. The discount is available for new policies and current AIA Priority Protection or Priority Protection for Platform Investors lump sum policy holders who take out an AIA Vitality membership during the campaign period. The discounts are not available to existing and former AIA Vitality members.

AIA's Two for Two fee waiver offer is also running concurrently, with the deal waiving the policy fee for the first two years of new AIA Priority Protection policies or Priority Protection for Platform Investors policies. 

TAL-owned Affinia extends advice offering into licensee services
Affinia, a TAL-owned financial advice group, has expanded its advisory offerings with licensee services for independently-operated financial planning companies. Affinia Access provides packages such as compliance and advice resources, marketing and business development support, and professional development courses. 

Level premium policy replacement at BT
BT Financial Group is allowing those on a level premium policy to alter the funding method and ownership structure of the policy, with entry age premium rates retained under a new replacement policy. The change applies to all level premium products in the BT Protection Plans range, in and outside of superannuation and platforms. The change will save time replacing policies to under a week, with administration reduced for financial advisers. 

Company Updates

Media Super reappoints Hannover Life Re, drops premiums
Media Super has renewed its group insurance arrangements with Hannover Life Re, reducing life insurance premiums by 20 per cent. A remodelling effort made the savings possible. Young people were removed from the default cover pool as per the Federal Budget and Productivity Commission draft report, with arrangements for people aged under 25 now being under opt-in arrangements. 

FSC code of practice to cover super trustees too
The Financial Services Council (FSC) is extending the mandatory Life Insurance Code of Practice to cover superannuation trustees too. Currently it's voluntary. 

Digital advice company and retiree advice platform merge
SuperEd, a digital advice company, and Retirement Essentials, a retiree advice platform, have merged, with Retirement Essentials being 100 per cent owned by SuperEd. 

Regulatory Updates

MLC to refund $65m, NULIS before royal commission
MLC is to stop taking general financial advice fees out of its MasterKey Personal Super products after the company was found to have not communicated clearly that members could opt out. Just over 300,000 members will be refunded $220 each, a total of $67 million, including interest.

MLC has appointed independent investigators into breach reports lodged by NAB wealth entities regarding NULIS, relating to risk management and communication procedures in product transfers and insurance arrangements. NULIS is appearing before the Royal Commission. 

ASIC announces professional standards reform for advisers
ASIC has updated reporting dates for notifications in the transition to new financial adviser professional standards reforms to simplify the process.

Existing providers (those financial advisers who are listed on the Financial Advisers Register (FAR) between 1 January 2016 and  1 January 2019) will be recognised. Without being a recognised existing provider, a financial adviser must pass an exam and complete an approved qualification by 1 January 2019 to continue to work as a financial planner. A year of work and training must also be completed. Existing providers have until 1 January 2021 to pass the exam, and until 1 January 2024 to complete their approved qualification. Existing providers can continue to work as normal. Any adviser who was banned, suspended or disqualified as at 1 January 2019 cannot be an existing provider. 

ASIC has moved the date for licensees to notify of new advisers joining the industry for the first time after 1 January 2019, with new 'provisional relevant providers' only added from 15 November 2019. 

AMP fast-forwards advice remediation
AMP is increasing its remediation of those customers who were charged advice fees with no advice provided, or who were given poor advice. AMP has also reduced fees on its MySuper products and has put greater risk management controls in place. Fees are being reviewed across the business. 

Advisory businesses to be publicly rated
A new system that allows ratings on licensees is being put forward by research group, Adviser  Ratings, so consumers and advisers can assess quality and risk factors with different advisory groups. The proposal has been released for industry comment, with two ratings for each licensee: the first is a publicly available/commercially procured data rating, while the second rating would be provided by the licensee. That is, solicited and unsolicited ratings.

Unsolicited ratings may include information on the directors, past and present licence conditions, Approved Product Lists, adviser bannings or disqualifications from the licensee, and any qualifications and relevant employment history of advisers.

Solicited ratings would be developed with the licensee, with management levels and organisational information that includes compliance records and reported breaches, number of complaints with the Financial Ombudsman Service and the rulings, internal adviser reviews and supervision information, and the hiring and firing protocols in place for advisers. 

NAB slammed at Royal Commission for 'hopelessly conflicted' compensation situation
National Australia Bank (NAB) was delaying compensating members who were charged fees for no service just to maintain profit levels, the Royal Commission heard.

Service fees continued to be taken from member accounts in 2012 to increase profit, despite the no-fee-no-service issue being brought to their attention. Action wasn't taken until 2016 to fully reimburse members, with ASIC then notified about the breaches. Nicole Smith, chair of NULIS Nominees, said she wasn't given enough information to make an informed choice at the time.