So they’ve arrived – those balanced KiwiSaver default funds that were announced back in May. Many of us will get a lot out of these new funds. We’ll pay less, see better service and get better returns in a fund that is ethically invested. 

Those in the old default funds – who didn’t make a choice for themselves – are being moved to a new one. Their new default fund will be either with the same provider (if reappointed), or with an entirely new company.

As the new funds roll out, this is a great opportunity for everyone to check in and choose your fund – that way you can make extra sure it works best for you. And if you find yourself in a default fund, you may decide to stay – but at least it’s your choice.

KiwiSaver default funds are now ‘balanced’

One of the big changes to these default funds – which thousands of new KiwiSaver members will join automatically each month (unless they choose another) – is that they are ‘balanced’ instead of ‘conservative’. This means they hold more of the riskier investments like shares and commercial property.

Over the long run, members should get better results from the new settings and grow their money more with a balanced fund than they would in a conservative one. Sounds good, right? If you're shopping around for a balanced fund, these new default funds are an option.

But many of us who have more than ten years to go before we’ll be using our KiwiSaver money will want to take advantage of the potential returns from a growth or even aggressive fund.

You can see how much difference this could make for you with our KiwiSaver calculator.

More good things about KiwiSaver default funds

The six newly appointed default providers – BNZ, Booster, Kiwi Wealth, Simplicity, Superlife (from NZX’s Smartshares) and Westpac – have created entirely new funds that:

  • Exclude fossil fuels and illegal weapons, and include a responsible investment policy
  • Cost significantly lessthan most KiwiSaver funds, with no flat fees for low balances
  • Have a ‘balanced’ investment mixinstead of the current conservative setting – which means the upper limit of shares and property they hold will rise from 25% to as much as 63%.
  • Offer a high level of serviceand communications.

Have a look at the new KiwiSaver default funds

Here are the newly created default funds and links to all the information about them available so far:

So there are two entirely new providers who now offer default funds: Simplicity and Superlife, and theirs are the cheapest. (At the time of writing, information about Booster and Westpac was not available.)

How much less will KiwiSaver default members pay in fees?

The average fee for KiwiSaver balanced funds sits at 1.27% (it’s easy to see on Smart Investor how high these can get), but the fees for the new default funds will be heaps lower:

KiwiSaver provider

Single fee percentage

BNZ

0.35%

Booster

0.35% 

Kiwi Wealth

0.37% 

Simplicity

0.31% 

Smartshares

0.20% 

Westpac

0.40% 


To give an idea, by investing in a default fund, we estimate a member earning $50,000 per year would pay $2,400 less in fees over their entire KiwiSaver experience (ages 18–65) than they would in an average balanced fund.

No default provider will charge a fixed annual or monthly fee for these funds, either. That’s a good thing, since these fixed fees tend to affect members with low balances more, while percentage-based fees affect those with higher balances. Fees are some of the surprising KiwiSaver figures worth keeping an eye on.

It’s time to pick your KiwiSaver fund

But how do you know if a balanced fund is right for you? What type would suit you best?

Glad you asked – our guide on how to pick your KiwiSaver fund should help. Instead of just looking at a fund or two that your provider offers, ideally you should be selecting from all the funds of your type available out there.

Although the KiwiSaver system has default settings to get people started, it’s good to make your own choices to make sure you get the most out of it.

KiwiSaver default changes FAQs

Why do KiwiSaver defaults matter?

Remember how you got started in KiwiSaver?  For many of you, the system did it all at first: you were enrolled automatically, started contributing the minimum 3%, and the government chose a KiwiSaver provider and fund for you.

It’s one of the brilliant things about KiwiSaver – you start saving and investing straight away. To make this happen, the government appoints default providers. The default settings have to be spot on for everyone who rolls into KiwiSaver automatically.

Why has the government made these changes?

Every seven years, the government reviews the settings for default funds ahead of appointing a new set of default providers through a competitive tender process. In doing so, they are able to tweak the settings to slash fees and boost results for KiwiSaver investors.

What if I was already in a default fund?

If you were in a default fund with one of the four providers that have been reappointed – BNZ, Booster, Kiwi Wealth or Westpac – you are simply being switched to their new default fund.

If you were in a default fund with another provider that wasn’t reappointed – AMP, ANZ, ASB, Fisher Funds or Mercer, and you didn’t choose to stay there – you are automatically being switched to one of the funds in the list above.

When are all of these changes happening?

Those in default funds are automatically being transferred to one of the newly created default fund after 1 December – if they didn’t choose another fund first. If that's you, expect to hear directly from your new provider.

How do I find out what KiwiSaver provider I’m with?

If you know you’re in KiwiSaver, but are not sure which company you’re with, you can log in to myIR to find out.

How do I find out what kind of fund I’m in?

You can check in with your current KiwiSaver provider to find out where your money is flowing. 

I’ve already chosen my KiwiSaver fund. What do these changes mean for me?

These changes won’t affect you directly. But if a balanced KiwiSaver fund is right for you, you could consider switching to one of the new default funds, since they are a low-cost, ethical option.

What happens to the providers who were not reappointed?

The companies that were not reappointed – AMP, ANZ, ASB, Fisher Funds and Mercer ­– are still KiwiSaver providers, licensed and monitored by the Financial Markets Authority.

The difference is that those providers will no longer be automatically allocated KiwiSaver members by the government.

But if you choose to stay with them, you will still get all the benefits of KiwiSaver.

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