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[The Wrap] The redemption of Moses

1 Jul, 10:01pm by Philip Macalister

The passing of one of our first financial advisers, Roger Moses, has made me reflect on how much financial planning has changed over the past couple of decades.

Roger was undoubtedly a pioneer in this area 20-30 years ago, but the difference between then and now is stark.

Pioneer is a word a number of people have used and it is appropriate as he was at the forefront of a nascent industry.

Another word is entrepreneurial. Twenty to 30 years ago financial planning did not really exist. It was embryonic. There are a number of people who helped establish the industry.

Whether it was true financial advice, as we know it today, or a business opportunity with profit potential is something people can debate.

Moses, like others, tried what we now call vertical integration. Creating a “product” taking a fee then selling it and clipping the ticket again.

In today’s world this model is as close to banned as you can get.

Moses and his various firms were involved in contributory mortgages, property and had a role in establishing reverse mortgages in New Zealand.

Kapiti-based financial planner Chris Lee penned an interesting passive aggressive piece in his weekly newsletter which acknowledged Moses but then went on to suggest it is people like Moses that are the reason we now have so much more regulation around financial advice.

I think this is unfair and Lee continues to vent his dislike for various individuals, companies and so-called "insurance salesmen" decades after things happened. (I don't think Moses ever sold insurance and on his LinkedIn profile he was a buyer at Maple Furnishing Co Ltd and a stock controller at Union Furniture Co before establishing Reeves Moses in 1972).

Continuing to be judgemental on things which happened decades ago is not particularly fair or helpful. We all have made mistakes and some have paid higher prices than others.

Lee's argument is based around a number of things, including, as you would expect, Moses’s involvement with a failed finance company Nathans Finance.

Investors in Nathans Finance, of which Moses was the chairman, got screwed. As did investors in many other finance companies. Moses ended up doing a couple of years in the big house, namely Rangipo Prison.

That should not be the defining element of his legacy.

I got to know Roger well over the years and it was an interesting relationship. A defining part was if he felt something we published was dissing financial advice then he would let me know.

While it was an interesting relationship, I have no doubt Moses was passionate about financial advice. He did, as others have pointed out, play a key role in forming an advisers association and establishing standards.

Moses is a reminder to us all of how far financial advice has evolved in the past 20-30 years. The industry he helped establish is very different today.


PS: This headline is one we used in ASSET Magazine. After Moses left prison he did an interview which was published in the magazine with that headline.

Financial Planning