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NZ regulator lists priority COVID risks

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New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA) has outlined six priorities for the next three to six months as it continues to respond to COVID-19 issues.

The information sheet replaces the FMA’s Annual Corporate Plan which is normally published at this time of year.

“That’s on hold until there’s greater certainty”, CEO Rob Everett said in an online article.

“Instead, our immediate focus is ensuring the financial sector can respond to the challenges related to the pandemic.”

Mr Everett says outlining short-term priorities will help the industry, customers and investors understand where the FMA is focusing its efforts. It will be “watching for issues such as the mis-selling of high-risk products and poor treatment of customers – especially those who are vulnerable to financial difficulty”.

Events in other countries and the uncertain economic future locally “tell us that difficult times are likely to come” and there is “no doubt” the pandemic will continue to impact the global economy and financial markets well into 2021 and possibly beyond.

“Please imagine me knocking on wood, simply because the best laid plans will no doubt be revisited as we go,” Mr Everett says. “It has been a tumultuous last few months for all of us.”

The six key regulatory risks are:

  1. Investor and customer behaviour and decision-making
  2. Fair, efficient and transparent capital markets
  3. Financial sector resilience
  4. Reintroduction of regulatory activities
  5. Treatment of customers and investors
  6. Scams and fraud: Taking quick action on scams that seek to exploit the pandemic.

The FMA is also monitoring regulatory risks and determining swift regulatory responses through an internal cross- organisational COVID-19 Committee.

“We recognise the very real possibility of further lockdowns associated with community transmission, as well as the potential for major events affecting financial markets, and have developed response processes for these scenarios,” it says.