New Zealand FMA outlines plan for 2022/23, including new legislative regimes

“With the introduction of FMA licensing for banks, insurers and non-bank deposit takers, conduct obligations will be firmly at the heart of a fair financial system.”

The Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has released its Annual Corporate Plan 2022/23 (ACP) that sets out the regulator’s key priorities and intended work programme for the current financial year.

Signaling a period of change for both the financial services industry and the regulator itself, the FMA plans to deliver on three key areas:

  • Maintaining a steady and consistent focus on building conduct maturity in the sectors the FMA already licenses and oversees;
  • Delivery of core functions related to licensing, monitoring, and responding to egregious misconduct – particularly in relation to consumer harm; and
  • Building capability to implement new legislation and taking on increased responsibilities under its expanding mandate as a conduct regulator.

In addition to the three key areas, the FMA reminds the financial industry that three new legislative regimes are coming into effect between 2023 and 2025:

  • Financial advice regime (FSLAA) – full licensing in effect from March 2023
  • Climate-related Disclosures (CRD) – developing standards and consultation through 2023, and the first climate-related statements due in 2024
  • Conduct of Financial Institutions (CoFI) – conduct licensing opening in 2023, with fair conduct programmes and obligations in effect from 2025.

Samantha Barrass, Chief Executive at FMA, said: “We have built a solid track record for implementing new legislative requirements for financial services in Aotearoa – conduct regulation is no longer a novel or foreign concept for firms. With the introduction of FMA licensing for banks, insurers and non-bank deposit takers, conduct obligations will be firmly at the heart of a fair financial system.

“As our remit grows, the FMA will have a greater focus on fair outcomes for consumers and investors. The financial sector is an enabler in people’s lives and it’s important it works well for all. In turn, this will shape how the FMA operates and organises itself as we step up and deepen our understanding of consumers and how they interact with financial markets and services.”

Samantha Barrass was appointed CEO of FMA in January 2022 and is a professional with both a strong New Zealand connection and deep international regulatory experience and leadership skills.

She has worked in a range of regulatory and executive roles in the UK and Europe. Between 2014 and 2019, Ms. Barrass was the Chief Executive Officer of the financial regulator in Gibraltar. The role encompassed conduct and prudential regulatory oversight. Earlier in her career, she worked for nine years in a number of roles at the Financial Services Authority in the UK (now the Financial Conduct Authority).

Most recently, Ms. Barrass led the establishment of the UK’s Business Banking Resolution Service, an innovative service designed to resolve disputes between banks and their business customers. She has also held senior roles at the UK Solicitors Regulatory Authority and the London Investment Banking Association.

Last month, the FMA appointed its new Head of Enforcement, Margot Gatland, who first joined the financial watchdog in December 2017 as a senior solicitor. She already led a number of successful FMA prosecutions and was most recently Acting Head of Enforcement at the FMA.

The litigation lawyer’s past work experience includes jobs in New Zealand and the United Kingom, having worked at the Serious Fraud Office, Meredith Connell, commercial firms, and in government.