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New Zealand to allow robo-advice, at long last

New Zealand has come late to the robo-advice party

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New Zealand will allow robo-advisors to operate, thanks to exemptions from its corporate cop. 

Robo-advisors will be allowed to open shop in New Zealand, following a decision by the Kiwi corporate cop to waive laws requiring financial advice to come from humans.

The decision ends a long-running debate on whether the Financial Markets Authority should use its exemption powers to circumvent the long slow process of changing New Zealand law.

“Firms who want to offer personalised robo-advice services must apply to us to rely on the exemption,” said Liam Mason, FMA Director of Regulation.

“This… provides us with increased visibility over the providers entering this market.”

He added that laws are not scheduled to change until 2019.

Robo-advisors applying for the exemption must prove their “good character” and that their bosses “have the capability and competence” to run a robo-advisor, the FMA said.

In further concessions that mark a victory for robo-advisors and their lobbyists, the FMA said there would be no limits on how much money investors can stash in robo-advisors. The FMA originally planned to cap the amount.

The eligible product list has also been expanded to include mortgages and personal insurance products. These were banned under the original proposals.

A number of requests for exemptions had already been made, the FMA said.

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