A technology entrepreneur has launched the first online financial advice service to give people personalised advice on which KiwiSaver provider and fund they should be in.
National Capital has been set up by Clive Fernandes - an authorised financial adviser with a technology background.
It is one of only four companies in New Zealand so far to receive a digital financial advice exemption from the Financial Markets Authority which has been issuing the exemptions since February 2018.
The FMA decided to open up the exemptions last year ahead of a law change which will mean financial advice no longer needs to be given by a "natural person" to make it easier for consumers to get access to personalised financial advice.
Fernandes, who originally hails from India and emigrated to New Zealand in 2009, set up the company in July and got the exemption last month.
"I have always been interested in investing myself. When I moved to New Zealand 10 years back I tried to get financial advice and there was a big difference between the advice for the wealthy and for the rest of us.
"Most of it was trying to sell investment properties."
He says until the exemption came in it was not been feasible to set up a financial advice business for the general public as the amount of time required to spend on getting to know a person's individual financial situation meant it was cost profhibitive for those with only small amounts of money to invest.
National Capital will use computer algorithms to decide what type of fund a person should be in based on information they give about assets and liabilties like their mortgage or other loans, tolerance for risk and volatility and select the best provider for them.
Initially all advice will be checked by by an authorised financial adviser but this will reduce over time as it builds up its knowledge of different scenarios as will the time it takes to give the advice which will initially start at two business days.
The service is limited as it only provides advice on six KiwiSaver providers Fisher Funds, ANZ, Aon Saver, Booster, SuperLife and Generate.
There are more than 20 KiwiSaver providers in New Zealand with around 26 schemes open to the investing public.
National Capital gets paid when a person goes ahead with swtiching to the new provider who pays an ongoing annual commission. Indivudals who use the service don't pay themselves.
Fernandes knows this means there is an inherrent conflict of interest but says it discloses this information and the amount of money it is paid by the provider to those who use the service.
He says he initially set out to work with all providers but could only offer those prepared to pay a commission in order for the business model to work.
Asked exactly how much commission he will be paid by the providers Fernandes said he couldn't talk about that publicly because of agreements signed with the individual providers.
"As per our agreements we are not allowed to give that information out."
But he says he is working on the providers to change that non-disclosure term.
It makes it hard for the consumer to know if the provider they are being recommended is the one just paying the highest commission or the best for them.
Fernandes says he also wants to change the annual commission into an advice fee so it only gets paid if the clients are getting something for it.
The service is designed to provide ongoing support and information to those who sign up to it in a manner and frequency which they choose.
So why not charge the consumer a fee for the service to start with?
Fernandes says that would be the ideal solution.
"But what we did see as the biggest challenge is engaging with Kiwis and convincing them to sort their finances out.
"Getting them to spend 15 minutes online - that is so hard. Having to pay for this would have been a fool's errand. We just wouldn't manage to convince enough people to use it."