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New Financial Watchdog to Be Up and Running in Three Weeks

Hon Simon Power, Minister of Commerce
7 April 2011

Commerce Minister Simon Power has confirmed that the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) will be up and running on 1 May, after the bill to establish it was passed by a unanimous vote in Parliament today.

The Financial Markets (Regulators and KiwiSaver) Bill establishes the new single market conduct regulator, which will take over the functions of the Securities Commission and Government Actuary which are being disestablished, and consolidates other regulatory functions fragmented across the Ministry of Economic Development.

It gives the FMA powers, functions, and duties that are new to the regulator.

"I'm proud that the FMA will be up and running almost a year to the day after the Government announced it would be picking up the recommendation from the Capital Market Development Taskforce," Mr Power said.

"I'm confident it will have the tools it needs to help restore mum and dad investor confidence in our financial markets, after issues were raised following the global financial crisis, and the failure of a number of finance companies.

"If we are to develop the kind of vibrant capital markets needed to lift New Zealand's economic performance, and benefit companies looking to raise capital, our financial sector must be subject to clear rules, and visible, and proactive enforcement."

The FMA will have:

  • The power to exercise an investor's right to take civil action against a financial market participant when it's considered to be in the public interest to do so. The bill ensures individuals can opt out of proceedings if they choose.
  • The ability to use regulations to prevent products from being structured to avoid being supervised by the FMA.
  • Enhanced warning powers to deal with low-ball unsolicited offers. Anyone with a history of making unsolicited offers will be made to display a prominent warning to that effect when they send documents to investors. There is also a regulation-making power that will enable greater regulation of unsolicited offers, such as minimum-offer periods, disclosure of market price, and disclosure of other relevant information.
  • A new oversight regime for registered exchanges, including the ability to undertake real-time surveillance of market activity.

Earlier this week, Mr Power announced the makeup of the FMA board, which will be chaired by Simon Allen.

Board members are Shelley Cave, Colin Giffney, Mary Holm, Murray Jack, James Miller, Justine Smyth, Michael Webb, and Mark Verbiest. Three associate board members are Bruce Sheppard, Rebecca Eele, and Arthur Grimes. Sean Hughes will be the chief executive.

"These people bring exactly the right mix of expertise of governance experience that the FMA needs to get its job done.

"I would like to thank the members of the establishment board who have done an outstanding job in putting the FMA into place. Their work ensures that from 1 May the FMA will provide a seamless delivery of services."

The Financial Markets (Regulators and KiwiSaver) Bill also addressed concerns around KiwiSaver governance arrangements and disclosure of fund performance by:

  • Strengthening the management of KiwiSaver schemes by making fund managers, rather than trustees, primarily responsible for the accuracy of their prospectus, investment statement, and advertisements.
  • Requiring trustees to be responsible for supervising managers.
  • Allowing regulations to be drafted to require retail funds to regularly report their fees and returns calculated on a consistent and transparent basis.

All Simon Power's media statements and speeches are at www.beehive.govt.nz/minister/simon+power