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Radical change for Stone and Associates

For Immediate Release

Radical change for Stone and Associates

Independent insurance group Stone & Associates is undergoing total reconstruction.

The innovative reconstruction plan, devised by Darrin Franks of Conetworkz Management Solutions, will deliver a series of exciting outcomes including an operating model that provides improved customer engagement, enhanced remuneration terms for advisers to achieve a greater degree of Stone brand alignment & reward and a significantly improved financial performance overall.

Stone & Associates was purchased by Asteron in late 2004.

Sean Carroll, Executive General Manager of Suncorp Wealth Management New Zealand, says with consolidation driving rapid structural change in the industry, Stone can play an important and valuable role, but radical change was needed.

In depth analysis of the group’s books revealed how an innovative reconstruction will develop Stone into one of New Zealand’s leading independent distribution businesses.

As an initial step, a central corporate structure will replace the former regional model.
Adviser agreements and remuneration arrangements have been simplified and focused on driving the right outcomes for clients, advisers and shareholders alike. The business is also operating leaner, with surplus expenses trimmed. Back office functions, are also being remodelled, with Stone’s call centre being brought under the control of Asteron.

Asteron will benefit from a vertically integrated relationship with the independent company. But, as with other parts of the plan, there is an innovative twist for the insurance industry. Unlike other examples in the market, this will be a truly independent distribution business: Stone’s advisers and those leveraging the “back office” will not be required to contract a percentage of their business to Asteron.

Sean Carroll says Stone is in the throes of recruiting a General Manager and a Distribution Support Manager and he expects to have them in place soon.

“Further parts of the plan are under wraps until those appointments are in place, but promise to have more significant impact on the sector,” he says.

Carroll is part of a new four person board for Stone, which also includes Suncorp Group NZ Chief Financial Officer Terry Tidbury, Asteron General Manager Risk Antony Vriens and long serving Stone adviser Malcolm Powell as the first adviser representative to the board. The new General Manager will report on and be responsible for the financial performance directly to the board.


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