Everyone with a KiwiSaver investment should be keeping an eye on their investment; so when that next annual statement arrives, read it.
Compare KiwiSaver funds using expert star ratings. Select from some of the best valued funds for you.
What is KiwiSaver?
KiwiSaver is the retirement savings scheme in New Zealand. It was introduced by government initiative in July 2007. By July 2015, KiwiSaver was so popular that it already had 2.53 million members.
In the KiwiSaver Scheme, members build up their savings through regular contributions from their before-tax pay, from their employer, and from the government. It is voluntary to join.
It does not replace New Zealand Superannuation (NZ Super), so you can receive super payments and have a KiwiSaver fund at the same time. NZ Super is the government’s pension scheme available to most New Zealand residents over 65 years old, regardless of how much they earn or how many investments they have.
KiwiSaver can also come in handy before you retire. You can access these savings when you buy your first home, or if you need the funds because you become seriously ill or suffer financial hardship.
How does KiwiSaver work?
KiwiSaver savings build up over time. Contributions are paid to your KiwiSaver fund by you, your employer, and the government. These contributions are invested by your provider in the scheme you have chosen.
Investment returns go up and down over time. Money comes into and goes out of your fund. Withdrawals, fund account fees, and taxes come out of your fund. What’s left is your savings for retirement.
Who can join or put money into KiwiSaver?
Most New Zealanders under the age of 65 years are eligible to join KiwiSaver – even children! You can still join KiwiSaver if you are currently self-employed or not employed. KiwiSaver membership is voluntary.
Currently, KiwiSaver has 2.53 million members, and that number is continuing to grow.
You can join KiwiSaver if all three of these conditions apply:
- You are a New Zealand citizen, or entitled to live in New Zealand indefinitely.
- You are living or normally living in New Zealand.
- You are below the age of eligibility for NZ Super (currently 65 years old).
Children under 16 years old may be enrolled in KiwiSaver by their parent/guardian. Children aged 16 years or older may enrol in KiwiSaver themselves if they have a parent/guardian co-sign with them. Children are not eligible for government contributions until they turn 18 years old.
The people who can put money into your KiwiSaver fund are:
- Your employer
- The government
How much do you, your employer and the government put into KiwiSaver?
You make contributions to your fund of contributions deducted from your gross before tax pay. You choose what rate to contribute – 3%, 4% or 8% of your before tax pay. You can also make additional contributions if you wish.
If your business is run through a trust or a partnership, special rules apply about whether or not contributions are made out of your pay.
Your employer matches these contributions, with a tax of 30% deducted from the amount of their contribution.
The government makes an annual contribution to your fund as long as you have made a contribution during that financial year. This is called a member tax credit. If you contribute more than $1,043 to your KiwiSaver fund, the government will contribute a full tax credit of $521. If you contribute less than $1,043, the government pays 50 cents for every dollar you contributed. The government only contributes member tax credits to adult KiwiSaver members aged 18 or older.
How can you access your money?
Many providers we researched let you manage and request access to your KiwiSaver savings online or through apps on your phone.
Most people become eligible to access the retirement savings in their KiwiSaver fund when they turn 65 years old, which is the age that you qualify for NZ Super. If you join KiwiSaver after you turn 60, you have to wait a minimum of 5 years before you can access your savings.
Otherwise, you may be able to make an early withdrawal of part or all of your savings when you:
- Buy your first home: Buy your first home or your first investment property (if you have been contributing for 3 years or more). You may also qualify for a KiwiSaver HomeStart grant, where the government gives you up to $5,000 for buying an existing home or up to $10,000 for buying a new home or land to build on.
- Move overseas permanently
- Suffer significant financial hardship
Become seriously ill
Common types of KiwiSaver investments:
There are several main types of KiwiSaver investments, from low risk (low volatility) to the high risk. Some common “mixed” funds include:
- Bonds and Income (low risk): 100% bonds (50% NZ bonds, plus a mix of overseas government and non-government bonds). This profile is suitable for someone saving for the deposit to buy their first home.
- Cash and Bonds / Defensive (low risk): Bank deposits and other fixed-interest investments, with 20% or less invested in growth assets such as shares and property.
- Conservative (low to medium risk): Mostly bank deposits and fixed-interest investments, with 30% shares and property.
- Balanced (medium risk): 50-60% evenly split between high risk investments such as shares and property and lower risk investments such as cash, bank deposits and fixed-interest investments.
- Growth (medium to high risk): 70-85% shares and property, with the remaining balance invested in bank deposits and fixed-interest investments.
- 6. Aggressive (high risk): 90% or more shares.
Investment profiles are often labelled by the percentage of high risk investments included in that option, e.g. SuperLife30, SuperLife60, SuperLife80, and SuperLife100.
Then there are Kiwisaver investments that are specific to a certain asset class. For example:
- NZ Bonds
- Overseas Government Bonds
- Overseas non-Government Bonds
- NZ Shares
- Australian Shares
- Overseas Shares Currency Hedged
- Overseas Shares (Unhedged)
- Emerging Markets
- UK Cash
Determining what type of Kiwisaver investment is right for you will in part be determined by a saver’s risk tolerance, and the number of years until retirement. For example, someone who is about to retire doesn’t want his or her retirement fund suddenly dropping in value just before they need to make a withdrawal. On the other hand, short-term volatility may not worry someone who still has ten or twenty years in the workforce. KiwiSavers should seek professional advice when considering their fund choices.
If choosing specific Kiwisaver investments sounds too complicated, you might consider a life stages fund, which is a KiwiSaver fund where your provider automatically adjusts your investment risk according to your age as you grow older.
Not all scheme providers offer all types of investment mix, so as an investor, you should always check the options with your chosen provider.
How to join KiwiSaver
There are three ways to join KiwiSaver:
- Automatic enrolment: If you’re not already a member, you’ll be automatically signed up for KiwiSaver when you start a new job.
- Opting in through a provider: You can choose a scheme provider and contact them directly to join up.
- Opting in through your employer: You can ask your current employer for an employee information pack and complete a KiwiSaver deduction form.
According to government statistics, over 1 million KiwiSaver members were automatically enrolled when they started a new job, while 275,000 chose to opt in via their current employer.
How do you choose a KiwiSaver provider?
KiwiSaver schemes are run by providers including banks and investment or superannuation companies. The government does not guarantee the success of any savings investment scheme, so you are responsible for the provider and investment options you choose.
Each provider will have several different investment options or funds. Each fund has a different mix of assets that the scheme invests in on your behalf, such as fixed-interest bank deposits, bonds, shares and property.
Which KiwiSaver fund is the right one for you? You should choose an investment option that suits your preferred risk profile and the timeframe within which you want to get a return and access your money. Here are some other things to think about:
- Returns: The whole point of KiwiSaver is to build your savings by giving you some return on your investment. But a provider’s past performance doesn’t guarantee its future performance, because the investment market goes up and down constantly. Look for a consistent, long-term return, with a few ‘riskier’ options added to the mix. When CANSTAR looks at the return from scheme providers, we review their performance over the past 5 years, and consistently under-performing schemes never receive higher than a 3-star rating.
- Fees: Minimising fees will maximise the balance of your fund. You should note that providers can charge fees as a dollar amount, or a percentage of your balance, and usually both.
- Investment options: Your investment expectations will change as you get older. When you’re in your twenties, you can afford to take on more risky investments to try for a higher return if that’s your choice. But when you’re in your fifties and looking forward to retirement, you may not want to risk the savings that you’ve built up. Look for flexibility to switch between funds or build your own personalised fund that suits your goals.
- Financial advice: Professional financial advice takes away the stress of planning for your future and helps you make wiser investment decisions to reach your goals. Some KiwiSaver providers offer free financial planning advice from AFAs, QFEs and RFAs.
- Educational tools: It can be hard to understand exactly how your scheme provider manages your fund. Look for a provider that offers educational information and tools to help you decide what to invest in.
- Online access and mobile apps: Some great providers offer online access and mobile apps that let you access up-to-date information about your investments and make changes to your investment profile.
What might I end up with in KiwiSaver?
You should choose a Kiwisaver fund carefully, because small differences in net return (the return you receive after fees are deducted) can make a big difference to your retirement nest egg over the course of your working life. As an example, assuming that a 30 year old starts a KiwiSaver Balanced Fund and contributes $3,000 per annum, indexed at 3% for 30 years, potential nest eggs could be as follows:
Return – 6%, net of fees
Age Annual Contribution Balance at end of year
30 $3,000.00 $3,180.00
35 $3,477.82 $23,793.48
40 $4.031.75 $54,490.86
45 $4,673.90 $99,178.40
50 $5,418.33 $163,162.52
55 $6,281.33 $253,635.92
59 $7,069.70 $351,520.24
Return – 8%, net of fees
Age Annual Contribution Balance at end of year
30 $3,000.00 $3,240.00
35 $3,477.82 $25,454.87
40 $4.031.75 $61,391.85
45 $4,673.90 $118,016.11
50 $5,418.33 $205,645.34
55 $6,281.33 $339,536.57
59 $7,069.70 $494,773.56
The above figures show the big difference that small changes in annual return can make. Importantly, the calculations above are showing the calculated return net of fees; after fees are taken into account. Obviously your Kiwisaver fund, whichever one you choose, won’t achieve the same return year in, year out and the above figures shouldn’t be taken as a prediction of future returns, but it’s nevertheless a good example of the cumulative difference that changes in net return can have over time.
What if I don’t choose my own KiwiSaver provider?
If you don’t choose your own scheme provider, and your employer doesn’t have a preferred scheme provider, Inland Revenue will choose one for you from the 9 government-appointed default providers. In 2015, the 9 default scheme providers are:
- AMP Services (NZ)
- ANZ New Zealand Investments
- ASB Group Investments
- BNZ Investment Services
- Fisher Funds Management
- Grosvenor Investment Management
- Kiwi Wealth
- Mercer (NZ)
- Westpac New Zealand
Your contributions will be invested in the Conservative investment fund option with the scheme provider that the government has allocated to you. You can check current Kiwisaver default funds here.
+ Types of KiwiSaver fund members
There are several types of KiwiSaver fund members, and each of them has different needs:
- Under 18s: You’ll need permission from your parent/guardian to join Kiwisaver.
- New job: If you’re not already a member, you’ll be automatically signed up for KiwiSaver when you start a new job.
- Going on your OE (Overseas Experience): While you are travelling overseas, you are still a KiwiSaver member, but you can’t access your benefits.
- Saving for your first home: you may be able to withdraw some of your KiwiSaver savings to buy or build your first home.
- Self-employed: You have to make contributions to stay a member, but you can agree to make very small contributions in a lump sum or in monthly or quarterly payments. The government will also pay a member tax credit to your fund.
- Not employed: You have to make contributions to stay a member, but you can agree to make very small contributions in a lump sum or in monthly or quarterly payments. The government will also pay a member tax credit to your fund.
- Already saving: If you’re already saving for retirement with a complying superannuation fund, your employer will only have to make contributions to either the complying fund or KiwiSaver.
Nearing retirement: If you join before you turn 60, you can receive your benefits at 65. If you join after you’ve turned 60, you must wait 5 years before you can receive your benefits.
There is legislation forcing KiwiSaver providers to report to members about the return on their investments, fees, and investment asset allocation, in one simple and standardised form: the periodic disclosure statement.
This statement helps you understand how different investments are performing, and to compare how much you could be earning with different providers.
The statement is published online quarterly and annually, so you can find the statement for any provider fairly easily. They also publish spreadsheets containing this data, so analysts like our bright stars at CANSTAR can save you lots of hard work by making detailed comparisons between providers for you.
The periodic disclosure statement is required to include the following:
- Description of the asset allocation of the fund, e.g. Conservative, Balanced, Growth
- How the fund has performed in the previous year and past years, as well as an average percentage return
- Disclosure of fees charged to members, including annual fees, management fees, performance-based fees, etc.
- What the fund invests your money in
- Key decision-making personnel for the fund
- Contact details for your fund
What are the fees on KiwiSaver funds?
The Periodic Disclosure Statement requires that your fund disclose its fees. The annual cost of a KiwiSaver fund involves five separate fees, which CANSTAR compares when rating funds:
- Annual member fee charged to be a member and have an fund
- Management fee charged to manage the investments
- Administration fee charged to administer your fund
- Trustee fee charged to pay the trustees who oversee the fund and provide associated services
- Expense fee charged to pay third-party costs such as brokerage and stamp duty
There can be a huge difference between the minimum and maximum fees you could be paying, because you hold a fund and pay these fees for so many years. In 2015, our database showed there can be a difference of $77 in the fees you pay each year for a Growth asset allocation fund, $84 per year difference in fees for Balanced funds, $94 difference for Cash funds, and $107 difference for Conservative funds.
Fees charged for different types of KiwiSaver fund:
Based on an example fund balance of $9,000, CANSTAR has calculated the minimum, maximum and average annual fees that could apply on the different KiwiSaver schemes researchedf follows:
Source: Canstar, 2015 Star Ratings Report. Based on fees attached to products assessed for this star ratings report.
Please note that these are a general explanation of the meaning of terms used in relation to KiwiSaver policies. Your KiwiSaver provider may use different wording and you should read the terms and conditions of your policy carefully to understand what benefits you will receive and what fees apply. Refer to the product disclosure statement from your provider.
Administration fee: A fee charged to administer your fund.
Aggressive: A high risk type of KiwiSaver fund with 90% or more of the balance consisting of shares or property, with the aim of achieving high returns over a long timeframe.
Annual member fee: A yearly fee charged to your fund to be a member.
Automatic enrolment: If you’re not already a member, you’ll be automatically signed up for KiwiSaver when you start a new job.
Balanced: A medium risk type of KiwiSaver fund, with the balance evenly split between high risk investments such as shares and property and lower risk investments such as cash, bank deposits and fixed-interest investments.
Benchmark asset allocation: The intended long-term allocation for each type of asset in a KiwiSaver fund, used to categorise funds into different profiles. For example, a cash fund usually has a benchmark asset of 80% or more invested in cash investments such as bank deposit and fixed-interest investments.
Bonds and Income: A low risk type of KiwiSaver fund consisting of 100% bonds, with 50% NZ bonds, plus a mix of overseas government and non-government bonds.
Capital: Your investment in a KiwiSaver scheme.
Cash: Refers to low risk assets such as bank deposits or bank bills.
Cash and Bonds: A low risk type of KiwiSaver fund consisting of bank deposits and other fixed-interest investments, with 20% or less invested in growth assets such as shares and property. Also known as a defensive fund.
Conservative: A low to medium risk type of KiwiSaver fund consisting mostly of bank deposits and fixed-interest investments, with around 30% shares and property.
Contributions: The money paid by you, your employer, or the government into your KiwiSaver fund.
Default scheme: The KiwiSaver scheme you will be enrolled in by the government if you do not choose a particular one for yourself. There are 9 default scheme providers, and all default schemes are conservative funds.
Defensive: A low risk type of KiwiSaver fund consisting of bank deposits and other fixed-interest investments, with 20% or less invested in growth assets such as shares and property. Also known as a cash and bonds fund.
Educational tools: Educational information and tools created by a KiwiSaver provider to help members and prospective members understand how the provider’s funds are managed.
Equities: Shares, usually in a publicly-listed company.
Expense fee: A fee charged to pay third-party costs such as brokerage and stamp duty.
Fixed interest: Fixed-interest investments such as bank deposits or bonds that have a set maturity term of longer than 90 days, and give a return in the form of interest payments over the set period of time.
Growth: A medium to high risk type of KiwiSaver fund consisting of 60-90% shares and property, with the remaining balance invested in bank deposits and fixed-interest investments. These investments have the potential for higher returns to grow your fund balance, hence the name, but they also carry higher risk.
Home Start Grant: A government subsidy administered through Housing NZ, providing up to $10,000 paid over 5 years, available to KiwiSaver members who are buying or building their first home, or purchasing land to build a new home. Also known as the first home deposit subsidy. To get the first home deposit subsidy, your before tax household income must be under the income test threshold of $80,000 for one person or $120,000 for two or more people.
Independent financial advice: Advice from a trusted, professional, financial advisor who is not employed by the KiwiSaver scheme provider you are considering joining. Obtaining independent financial advice is essential before you decide which KiwiSaver scheme to join.
Investment: Money placed in an asset with the aim of getting a return (profit).
KiwiSaver: The voluntary retirement savings scheme in New Zealand. Members build up their savings through regular contributions from their pay and from the government.
Life stages fund: A KiwiSaver fund where your investment risk is automatically adjusted according to your age as you grow older.
Management fee: A fee charged to manage the investments in your fund.
Member tax credit: An annual contribution made by the government to your fund because you have made a contribution during that financial year. It is a type of government rebate.
New Zealand Super (NZ Super): The government’s pension scheme, available to most New Zealand residents over 65 years old, regardless of how much they earn or how many investments they have.
Online access and mobile apps: Online access and mobile applications created by your KiwiSaver provider to let you access information about your investments and make changes to your profile.
Opting in: You can join KiwiSaver by choosing to ‘opt in’ in one of two ways. First, you can opt in through a KiwiSaver provider by choosing a scheme provider and contacting them directly. Secondly, you can opt in through your employer by asking your current employer for an employee information pack and completing a KiwiSaver deduction form.
Periodic disclosure statement: A standardised statement KiwiSaver providers are required by law to provide to members and publish online quarterly and annually. The statement is required to include a description of the asset allocation of the fund, how the fund has performed in the past and average returns, disclosure of fees, what the fund invests in, key decision-making personnel, and contact details for the fund.
PIE: Stands for portfolio investment entity. This means an investment such as a KiwiSaver scheme, as defined in the Income Tax Act 2007.
PIR: Stands for your prescribed investor rate. This is the tax rate that you pay on your KiwiSaver PIE investment.
Portfolio: A collection of investments such as property, shares, fixed-interest term deposits, etc.
Provider: A company approved by the government to provide KiwiSaver schemes.
Qualifying age: The date on which you qualify for NZ Superannuation (currently 65 years old) or, if you were older than 60 when you first joined a KiwiSaver scheme, then the date on which you’ve been a KiwiSaver member for at least 5 years.
Returns: The ‘return on your investment’ is the profit or loss that your fund makes from investing your money. It is usually expressed as a percentage of the amount you invested, e.g. ‘a 7% return’.
Risk: The amount of probability that an investment will fail and you’ll lose part or all of the money (capital) you invested. A higher return usually also brings a higher risk.
Risk profile: Your personal perception of the level of risk in an asset. Different people have different risk profiles and will see different types of assets as being more or less risky.
Scheme: A savings account product offered by a KiwiSaver provider.
Tax rate: Members pay tax on the amounts in their KiwiSaver funds. This can be between 10.5% to 28% of your income, depending on your salary and income from investments.
Trustee fee: A fee charged to pay the trustees who oversee the fund and provide associated services.
How do we rate KiwiSaver providers and products?
The CANSTAR KiwiSaver Star Ratings use a unique and sophisticated rating methodology to compare KiwiSaver funds in New Zealand. CANSTAR provides a transparent analysis of KiwiSaver funds, so that you can narrow your search to products that have been assessed. We include default scheme providers in our ratings so that you can see how they compare to the other scheme providers you might choose.
We award a rating of 1 to 5 stars to each fund offered by a KiwiSaver scheme provider, with 5 stars symbolising that a product offers outstanding value.
To be included in the ratings, KiwiSaver providers must fulfil the following criteria:
- Funds must be open to the public (not restricted), with the exception of the default funds not available for enrolment by the public.
- Funds must fall within the selected benchmark growth asset allocation used to categorise funds into our profiles.
We have rated four broad classes of KiwiSaver funds based on their benchmark growth asset allocation:
- Conservative: 20% – 30% growth assets. Funds predominantly invested in cash and fixed-interest products, with limited investment in growth assets such as shares and property. Suitable for low-risk investors or those nearing retirement and looking for a safe, secure return.
- Balanced: 50% – 65% growth assets. Funds equally invested in cash, fixed-interest investments and growth assets. Funds may invest slightly more in growth assets to increase wealth. Suitable for average-risk investors or middle-aged workers not yet ready to retire, who are willing to accept unpredictable levels of risk over time.
- Growth: 66% – 86% growth assets. Funds predominantly invested in growth assets, with limited investment in cash and fixed-interest investments. Suitable for high-risk investors or young adults willing to accept significant levels of risk over time.
- Cash: 0% growth assets. Funds invested in cash and fixed-interest investments. Suitable for low-risk investors or those nearing retirement and looking for a safe, secure return.
As discussed above, there are other types of funds such as defensive (0-19% growth assets), moderate (31-49% growth assets), and aggressive (87-100% growth assets). CANSTAR does not currently rate these products so you should see the investment statement for the KiwiSaver scheme provider you are interested in, for more investment options.
The features we assess for KiwiSaver funds:
- Annual member fee
- Switch fees, withdrawal fees, and other published fees
- Total number of pre-mix options and strategies
- Ability to mix and match funds
- Growth asset allocation
- No more than 35% invested in illiquid or unlisted assets that signal a potential risk of liquidity (includes direct or unlisted property, infrastructure, private equity or alternative assets)
Fund account access and function:
- Online access to apply for a fund and manage portfolio return
- Phone customer service
- Additional contribution methods
- Additional member benefits
- Availability of personal finance advice at no extra cost
- Availability of class financial advice at no extra cost
- Investment commentary
- Education provided
- Tools and calculators to help customers
- Publications available online
- Availability of fund features online
- How many clicks to access fund features
- Quality of search function on fund website
- Contact details easy to find
CANSTAR does not include a measure for investment returns or make a judgement on the quality or sustainability of investments offered by each provider. Past performance is no guarantee of future performance, and all funds include this disclaimer in their investment statements for a reason. It is a good idea to look for a fund with investments that suit you rather than simply looking for a fund that currently shows a high return.
However, CANSTAR does review the fund performance over the past 5 years for any sign of persistent under-performance. Funds that are in the lowest 20% for fund performance over the last 5 years will not receive more than a 3-star rating from CANSTAR.
Who offers KiwiSaver?
CANSTAR endeavours to research and rate the majority of product providers on the market as per the guidelines above and to compare the product features most relevant to consumers in our ratings. In 2015, we rated 29 KiwiSaver Schemes from 25 providers in our Star Ratings Report. You can view the New Zealand government’s full list of KiwiSaver providers online.
- AMP – The AMP Default Fund received a 5-star rating in the Conservative profile in 2013 and 2014. There is a low fee structure, and AMP has a large range of other investment fund options if you want to switch risks or retirement goals. AMP KiwiSaver is currently trusted by over 250,000 Kiwi members and is one of the default providers in 2015. You can apply online.
- ANZ – ANZ’s Default Conservative fund allows unlimited free switches and free financial advice. Their Default Balanced fund allows online balance access, unlimited free switches, investment commentary, and free financial advice. ANZ has a wealth of financial information online, and you can also visit ANZ FutureWise, an easy-to-use online resource that helps you plan for your future. ANZ is one of the default providers in 2015.
- Aon – Aon is New Zealand’s largest insurance broker and they have been actively involved in the design of superannuation, retirement savings, and KiwiSaver schemes since 1976. Aon’s Russell LifePoints® Target Date 2015 and Conservative funds offer online applications and balance access, unlimited free switches, and investment commentary. Aon has a helpful retirement calculator online.
- ASB – ASB has consistently received 5-star ratings in the Balanced and Growth profiles every year from 2011 to 2015. ASB charges one simple management fee which is lower than the industry average for Balanced and well below average for Growth. They boast impressive features including unlimited free withdrawals and free switches between asset profiles, comprehensive online applications, and a mobile app to check fund balance. They also offer detailed educational material through their website and YouTube videos. ASB are one of the default providers in 2015.
- Bank of New Zealand (BNZ) – BNZ received a 5-star rating in the Cash profile in 2015. They have a low management fee and their member fee is just $1.95 per month (at time of writing). They offer unlimited free switches and withdrawals, online applications, and accessing account information through BNZ internet banking. You can event convert your Flybuys points into contributions! BNZ are one of the default providers in 2015.
- Craigs Investment Partners – Craigs Investment Partners offer two flexible KiwiSaver schemes (kiwiSTART® Select and kiwiSTART® Defined). kiwiSTART Defined is a Conservative fund and offers online applications and balance access, unlimited free switches, investment commentary, and free financial advice. Use the Craigs investment calculator to find out how long it will take to reach your goals, then use their risk profiler to decide what you’re willing to invest in.
- Fidelity – The Fidelity KiwiSaver Scheme was sold by Fidelity Life to Grosvenor Investment Management Ltd in 2013 and at the time of writing, Grosvenor have closed the scheme to new members.
- Fisher Funds – Fisher Funds has a Conservative fund with online applications and balance access and free financial advice, and a ‘Cash Enhanced Fund’ with unlimited free switches and free financial advice. Fisher Funds manage over $5 billion of investments for more than 250,000 Kiwis, and are one of the default providers in 2015.
- Forsyth Barr – Forsyth Barr offer three types of KiwiSaver fund: Balanced, Growth, and Personal Choice. The highly flexible Personal Choice fund option lets you choose your preferred investment sectors and how much you invest in each sector. It’s worth noting that Forsyth Barr’s Balanced fund falls within our definition of a Growth profile. Forsyth Barr offers online balance access, investment commentary, and free financial advice.
- Generate – Generate Conservative fund offers online applications and balance access, unlimited free switches, investment commentary, and free financial advice. Generate funds were rated 1st for services by Sorted.org.nz in 2014. They diversify their investments between 10 – 15 investment managers to provide the maximum portfolio return. You can also keep up-to-date on KiwiSaver with their ‘plain English’ e-newsletters.
- Grosvenor – Grosvenor received a 5-star rating in the Conservative profile in 2014 and 2015. Grosvenor has the cheapest Conservative/Default fund, at $43.02 compared to the average of $95.91 for this profile, primarily because of the low management fee. Grosvenor also stood out for their large range of investment options, complementary financial advice, education resources and online accessibility to annual reports, investment statements and forms. They feature socially responsible investment options and are one of the default providers in 2015.
- IWIinvestor – IWIinvestor have a Tahua Whakatupato fund in the Conservative profile. IWIinvestor is a specialist in providing and promoting KiwiSaver investments that address the needs and values of the Iwi and Maori people. This is important because at the time of writing, the Maori and Pacific Island population have not been signing up for KiwiSaver in equal proportion to the rest of the population in New Zealand.
- Kiwi Wealth – Kiwi Wealth (Kiwibank) received a 5-star rating for Cash, Conservative, Balanced and Growth profiles in 2015. They offer a range of features, including unlimited free switches and withdrawals, full online applications, monthly portfolio return statistics, an easy-to-use mobile app, and free financial advice. The Cash and Default Funds both have a low management fee that covers expense, trustee and administration fees, and a $0 membership fee. The total fees for their Cash fund are just $50.57 per year, well below the researched profile average of $90.48. The Conservative fund fees are $50.47 compared to an average of $95.91. They are one of the default providers in 2015.
- Lifestages – Lifestages has two KiwiSaver fund options: Lifestages Capital Stable, or Lifestages Growth. As the name suggests, they provide a life stages type of KiwiSaver fund. Their Capital Stable Portfolio falls within the Conservative profile offers online balance access, unlimited free switches, and investment commentary. Lifestages is managed by FANZ Private Wealth (Funds Administration New Zealand Ltd).
- Medical Assurance Society – MAS’s Growth and Aggressive funds received a 5-star rating for the Growth profile in 2013 and 2014. Their management fee is just 1% (with a minimum $50 flat fee), as well as a low trustee fee and $0 membership fees. General educational information is provided on the company’s website and financial advisors are available at no extra cost.
- Mercer – Mercer’s KiwiSaver and Super Trust KiwiSaver funds received a 5-star rating in the Cash profile in 2014, due to their low total annual fees and easy-to-use online platform. Mercer has an online retirement planning tool to help New Zealanders understand how much they will need to save for retirement. They have also won many other awards for their clear and simple communications and their investment funds management. Mercer are one of the default providers in 2015.
- Milford Asset Management – Milford’s Conservative fund offers online applications and balance access, unlimited free switches, and investment commentary. Milford offers four funds: Conservative, Balanced, Active Growth, and a personalised Consolidated fund.
- NZ Funds – NZ Funds offer a Default fund and a Growth fund offering online balance access, unlimited free switches, and investment commentary. They use an active life stages investment management approach called LifeCycle portfolio management, customised by your age and investment timeframe.
- OneAnswer – OneAnswer offers three types of fund: single class asset funds, multi-class asset funds, and ‘Lifetimes’ life stages funds. OneAnswer’s Conservative fund offers online balance access, unlimited free switches, and investment commentary. The OneAnswer KiwiSaver Scheme is managed by ANZ Investments, who manage over 600,000 KiwiSaver funds, with more members than any other provider.
- Smartshares – Smartshares received a 5-star rating in the Balanced profile in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Their all-inclusive management fee absorbs trustee and expense fees, and they don’t charge an annual member fee. The website is easy to navigate and helps members find their ideal KiwiSaver plan. Members can also access their account and view their current balance online. Smartshares really impressed on price in 2015, offering the cheapest balanced fund out of those we researched.
- Staples Rodway – Staples Rodway have been known as one of New Zealand’s most trusted independent accountancy firms since 1945, but they also provide a KiwiSaver scheme. Staples Rodway’s Balanced and Growth funds offer online applications and balance access, and investment commentary. Their Conservative fund falls into our Cash profile.
- SuperLife – SuperLife was the first scheme provider to establish socially responsible KiwiSaver investment options. In 2015, SuperLife’s Growth fund had a competitively priced annual fee of just $90.60. Apart from low fees, they have an impressive range of educational resources. They have various Cash funds offering online applications and balance access, unlimited free switches, and investment commentary. They also offer myFutureFund, a flexible KiwiSaver fund designed for saving for your children’s or grandchildren’s education or wedding.
Westpac – Westpac has a Conservative, Balanced and Growth fund, and each offers online applications and balance access through Westpac online banking, and unlimited free switches. They also provide free financial advice and investment commentary. Hotpoints earned on Westpac credit cards can be used to make contributions into your KiwiSaver fund. Westpac currently manage KiwiSaver funds for more than 360,000 Kiwis and they are one of the default providers in 2015.
Our Ratings and Comparisons
Articles and Guides