The Government has just announced big changes for the better for KiwiSaver members in default funds. Many members will get a lot more out of these funds as a result – paying less in fees, enjoying higher returns and seeing better service.

If you never got around to picking your own KiwiSaver fund and are still in a default one, your money will be automatically transferred to a better fund on 1 December, either with the company you’re with (if the Government reappointed it) or with another. See below for more.

As the changes play out, this is a great opportunity to check in and choose your fund – that way you can make extra sure it works for you!

Why 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.

The new KiwiSaver default providers

As you can imagine, the Government looks after the KiwiSaver system closely, since it directs hundreds of thousands of people into default funds each year. It’s just named the following KiwiSaver companies to be default providers for the next seven years:

  • BNZ
  • Booster
  • Kiwi Wealth
  • Simplicity
  • Superlife (from NZX's Smartshares)
  • Westpac

This means that if you’re now in a default fund with another provider – and you didn’t choose to be there – on 1 December you will automatically be switched to one in the list above.

So there are two entirely new providers, Simplicity and Superlife. If you’re already with one of the other four that have been reappointed – BNZ, Booster, Kiwi Wealth or Westpac – you’ll simply be switched to their new default fund.

The following companies haven’t been reappointed:

  • AMP
  • ANZ
  • ASB
  • Fisher Funds
  • Mercer

So if you’re in one of their default funds, they’ll probably aim to convince you to stay with them before the big switch happens, in one of their other funds. Expect a call in the near future.

What’s special about the new KiwiSaver default funds?

The six newly appointed default providers will create entirely new default funds this year, to be ready by 1 December. These funds will:

  • Exclude fossil fuels and illegal weapons, and include a responsible investment policy
  • Cost significantly less than most KiwiSaver funds, with no flat fees for low balances
  • Have a ‘balanced’ investment mix instead 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 service and communications.

Sounds good, right? If you were shopping around for a balanced fund, these new default funds could be a good option.

It’s time to pick your KiwiSaver fund

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

Glad you asked – our new guide on how to pick your KiwiSaver fund should help. It includes three quick questions to help you understand what type of KiwiSaver fund to be shopping for, narrowing down your options.

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 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 change the settings to slash fees and boost results for KiwiSaver investors.

When are all of these changes happening?

Those in default funds will be automatically transferred to a newly created default fund on 1 December – if they don’t choose another fund first. There are currently about 381,000 KiwiSaver members in a default fund who have not made a choice to be there.

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 when they come online for 1 December. Although they haven’t been created yet, they will be a good option to consider then.

How much less will default members pay in fees?

The average fee for balanced funds sits at 1.26% (it’s easy to see on Smart Investor how high these can get), and 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

0.30% 

Smartshares

0.20% 

Westpac

0.40% 

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

In addition, no default provider will charge a fixed annual or monthly fee for these funds. 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.

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 chose to be with them, you will stay put and still get all the benefits of KiwiSaver.

Comment (1)

Gravatar for mark laurie

mark laurie

4:11pm | 16 May 2021

money goes into my kiwi saver account it starts to increase , and then it all flows away again , i have just lost all my gains ,i am with west pac , there is no reason why or where the money has gone , the only out goings i see on my kiwi saver account is about 1.50 a month fees ,, i know i pay more fees than this but i never see it on my transactions