AMP's New Zealand financial services, the local unit of the Australian financial services firm, reported a higher underlying operating profit after tax although the parent reported a net loss.

New Zealand financial services reported an underlying operating profit after tax of A$145 million for 2016 versus A$141m in the prior year.

Its operating earnings increased 5 per cent to $126m Australian dollars in 2016 from 2015 largely as a result of higher profit margins, partially offset by changes in the taxation of life insurance business in New Zealand that resulted in the loss of transitional tax relief from July 1, 2015. As a result, the operating earnings do not include A$9 million of transitional tax relief that was included in the prior year, it said.

Its profit margins increased 14 per cent to A$112m, largely from improved results in wealth management.

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The company said its controllable costs decreased 4 per cent to A$80m as it remains focused on cost control, including business reorganization.

Its net cash flow fell 16 per cent to A$372m, reflecting lower KiwiSaver flows and a reduction in one-off transfers of clients onto its platforms. New Zealand financial services had 12 per cent of the total KiwiSaver market as at September 30, 2016, and approximately 238,000 customers.

Parent AMP Ltd meanwhile reported a net loss of A$344m for 2016 from a A$972m profit the year before and announced an A$500m on market share buyback beginning in the first quarter.