Reforms for financial services under the new coalition government

  • Legal update

    24 November 2023

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Today, the three-party coalition government of National, ACT and New Zealand First was announced. 

Two coalition agreements between National and ACT, and National and NZ First (Coalition Agreements) and the ministerial appointments have also been released, providing more clarity on how the three parties will govern New Zealand. 

This article sets out the updated position from our previous article on what a National-led government might mean for financial services (available here), having had regard to the Coalition Agreements today.

A link to National’s press release, which contains links to the Coalition Agreements and the Final Ministerial List, can be found here.

Key takeaways

The three parties under the Coalition Agreements agree to progress the policies set out in National’s Fiscal Plan, Tax Plan, 100 day plan, and 100 point economic plan – except to the extent expressly contradicted in the Coalition Agreements.

Relevantly for the financial services industry, National’s 100 point economic plan (available here) includes proposals relating to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 (CCCFA), the Financial Markets (Conduct of Institutions) Amendment Act 2022 (CoFI Act), KiwiSaver and AML/CFT laws. 


The National-ACT Coalition Agreement commits to a rewrite of the CCCFA as a priority which the parties will progress “to protect vulnerable consumers without unnecessarily limiting access to credit”. 

This also aligns with clause 48 of National’s 100 point plan that proposes to “cut financial red tape that is stifling investment, including significantly reducing the scope of the CCCFA which has restricted access to credit”.

National announced in the election campaign an intention to roll-back the “unworkable” changes that were introduced to the CCCFA and associated regulations in December 2021. 

While the National- NZ First Coalition Agreement does not specifically refer to the CCCFA rewrite, it does say in clause 13 “the New Zealand First Party agrees to support the ACT Party initiatives as outlined in the Coalition Agreement between National and ACT” of which this is one.

How (and to what extent) the CCCFA will be revised is yet to be determined, but it does seem at the very least that the affordability regime will be in the spotlight.

CoFI reforms

CoFI, which provides a conduct licensing regime for retail banking and insurance, became law on 29 June 2022, as part of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 and the regime will come into full force by 31 March 2025, unless that is amended by Parliament. 

CoFI is not expressly referenced in the Coalition Agreements. However, National’s 100 point economic plan proposed to “Repeal the Conduct of Financial Institutions Act, which makes credit more expensive and harder to obtain even for basic services such as overdrafts and mortgages”. The National-NZ First Coalition Agreement “agrees to progress in this term the policies set out in National’s Fiscal Plan, Tax Plan, 100 day plan and 100 point economic plan, except for the specific exemptions which have been agreed between the Parties and set out in this Coalition Agreement.” By contrast, the National and ACT Coalition Agreement simply states that “The National Party priorities agreed to be progressed in this term are set out in its eight point commitment card, Fiscal Plan, Tax Plan, 100 day plan, and 100 point economic plan, with the exemptions as set out below.” It is unclear to us whether the difference in wording means that while NZ First supports National’s proposal to repeal CoFI, ACT is preserving more wriggle-room. 

Given the spectrum of views across the financial services sector as to whether a repeal is appropriate, only time will tell whether that progresses. 

As a compromise, it may be possible that some elements of CoFI may be retained, such as the fair conduct principle, and other elements revised or repealed. But where (and how) that might feature in financial services legislation will only be clear if and when legislation is introduced into Parliament. 

Where there is wide agreement across the financial services sector, is that clarity is required as a matter of urgency as to what the new government will do, as many are in the middle of their implementation processes and some say the FMA has already received its first CoFI licence application. If the regime is still to come into force in any form by 31 March 2025, there is many months of work required to be ready to comply. 


Likewise, the Coalition Agreements do not refer to KiwiSaver changes, but point 47 of National’s the 100 point economic plan proposes to “allow KiwiSavers to invest in more than one provider, driving innovation, boosting competition and putting downward pressure on fees.” Again, the slight difference in wording between the Coalition Agreements leaves open a question as to whether they are both as fully committed to implementing this campaign promise and if so when it might occur. 

We explain in detail the different positioning towards KiwiSaver issues in our previous article. Given the differences between the three parties, it is still unclear what the future looks like for KiwiSaver users and providers.

Our own view is that it may be timely to consider the fundamental question some commentators have been asking to be addressed: “do we want KiwiSaver to act as an alternative to NZ Superannuation over the longer term, or are we happy with our current retirement settings?” And if we do, are the current arrangements with voluntary membership and various provisions for early withdrawal going to get us there? 

AML/CFT laws

Again, the Coalition Agreements do not refer to AML/CFT reforms, but National’s 100 point economic plan at point 50 says it will “develop protocols to allow simplified verification to comply with anti-money laundering requirements.” 

Both National and ACT expressed concern before the election, around existing AML/CFT laws and want to see simplified requirements to reduce compliance costs, particularly for smaller businesses. 

Ministerial appointments

The Minister likely to be primarily responsible for most of the above initiatives will be the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Andrew Bayly, who is outside cabinet. The Minister for Justice, Paul Goldsmith, (who is inside cabinet) will have the lead role over the future positioning of the AML/CFT laws. The new Minister for Regulation (David Seymour) may well also have a role any proposals to roll back existing requirements. 


In the National-ACT Coalition Agreement, the parties commit to “narrow the Reserve Bank’s remit, to focus on price stability, and take advice on replacing “medium term” with specific time targets” and “[i]n consultation with the relevant Minister, carry out regulation sector reviews, which could include… the finance sector…, in each case producing an omnibus bill for regulatory reform of laws affecting the sector.”

In the National-NZ First Coalition Agreement, the parties have agreed to establish a select committee inquiry into banking competition to focus on competitiveness, customer services, and profitability. That reflects NZ First’s policy, referred to in our previous article, for expanding the current Commerce Commission market study into personal banking services, into a full pricing and competition enquiry into foreign owned banks.

NZ First’s proposal in its election policies to prohibit “de-banking” referred to in our previous article, appears not to have been carried forward. 

We also note that there is no mention of the mandatory climate-related disclosures regime in Part 7A of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 in the Coalition Documents or the 100 point economic plan. The clarity that that regime is not going to be tinkered with is to be welcomed, as most large financial institutions and NZX listed entities are part way through their first reporting period.

While arguably not in the realm of financial services, we do note that the National-NZ First Coalition Agreement includes a commitment to “stop the current review of the ETS system to restore confidence and certainty to the carbon trading market”.  

What next?

The priority of the CCCFA reforms over CoFI, KiwiSaver or AML/CFT reforms is clear given its explicit inclusion in the National-ACT Coalition Agreement. 

The CoFI, KiwiSaver and AML/CFT reforms are on the agenda by virtue of their inclusion in National’s 100 point economic plan. However, the timing and exact nature of what is intended is unknown.

If you have any questions about anything discussed in this article or how the new government may affect your business, please contact one of our experts.