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                                    Trends & Challenges…
Greetings dear reader & welcome to my world again this week. I received an email from Tony Alexander this week, was previously the Chief economist @ BNZ. He is now out doing his own thing & asked his readers the following questions:

We economists need information on how the economy is performing right now in order to better guide us to where things are going. So, if you have a couple of spare minutes, please reply to this email letting me know three things. The type of business you are in, its location if you want, and most importantly, how you are seeing things in your sector at the moment - trends, challenges, opportunities, client desires, whatever. I will categorise the replies and release the results to all readers within a couple of weeks. 

I thought, given these are such an interesting time we have currently, I would put to paper a couple of the issues I have been finding frustrating in recent weeks / months. So, here we are, I thought you may also appreciate my thoughts on where “things are going” from my perspective in our industry.
Dear Tony,
I am an insurance broker with my own small niche practice in Nelson.
With regards your enquiry regarding how I am seeing things in our sector at the moment - trends, challenges, opportunities, client desires, in short I see the position deteriorating.
Primarily, two reasons

  • Government intervention through the FMA as a result of the blatant disregard to any honesty & integrity of the four main Australian Banks & AMP
You will know all these details, & I respect there are often area which become problematic in any industry, regretfully Minister Faafoi & his merry band of academics & bureaucrats are taking the knives out to all & sundry, including F&G brokers dispensing with all qualifications, & in my case 47 years, & having to re-qualify with papers designed primarily other industry participants.

Personally, I have never been involved with these 80% of products & in my short time left, will also not be doing so…
It is a total nonsense, & when I approached him @ a recent Chamber luncheon he indicated, & I Quote: “Do not worry, we have everything under control for long standing industry people with intellectual capital given the country skill shortages”…

Two weeks later he signed off the legislation…!!!!!
Fortunately, I am about ready to retire anyway, however, my deadline if now June 2022 following which I will apparently lose my new licence to practice.
  • Augmented & Artificial Intelligence
Companies in our industry, like the rest of business, continue to drive the concept of both yet to be proven & even untried technology which is failing regularly.

One of my suppliers following another restructure, after 12 months are so far behind with processing, it is a disaster, & lack of productivity, mainly for ourselves & others they deal with, is becoming really problematic.

Increasingly doubt is being cast on the idea we can put any real faith in either the math or the technology, both of which are cornerstones of the kinds of transformation business & government are so eager to embrace.

Both promise massive gains in efficiency, improved services, accurate forecasting, & much more ~ often with more data than is even remotely necessary… The only problem is, from my experience, it simply cannot be trusted.

The danger is & this is becoming a regular experience, these people think AI is smarter than it is, & put too much trust in its decisions. Algorithms can, of course just be plain wrong. Worse however, they can be biased, because the data they use can also be inherently incorrect.

In New Zealand, officialdom is already on the case of these algorithms, with several efforts underway to vet their use in government & with unintended outcomes. Examples abound as I am sure are aware. Unfortunately most decision makers have very little understanding how these algorithms work or what the results actually mean.  1
  • Finally, for today, do I really need to make comment on the Cyber Crime issues emanating because of, in my view, this unprecedented growth in technology which is effecting us. I suspect you will be aware of the recent data on people, primarily elderly, who are being ripped off by scammers.
  • Also, I feel a comment is worthy of the exponential growth in the biggest new industry in the country we cannot control… mental health services. At the most recent IoD AGM here in Nelson last week, guest speaker Susan Peterson advised the growth in EAP appointments has & continues to grow exponentially. And we keep driving the commoditization of product & regretfully, people.
Enough from me, thankQ for asking for my thoughts. I hope it is helpful?
I hope my comments are not too depressing dear readers, rather again, provide just an opinion, from my world. Thank you for taking the time to be with me on another beautiful week from Nelson. I hope my journey may encourage you also. This is Kenn Butler in Paradise, Nelson. With my best wishes for another week… I look forward to being with you all again soon.

1  Inspiration from Rob O'Neill & NBR  November 15th 

Kenn Butler
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