KiwiSaver at work: do you know your rights?

With tens of billions saved and three million members, KiwiSaver is helping an increasing number of people buy their first home and fund their retirement years.

But how well do you know your rights? Here’s what you need to know about KiwiSaver at work.

You have choices

All employers have a ‘default’ KiwiSaver provider, for those employees who are automatically enrolled to join and don’t nominate a provider. However, even if you have been opted in, you can switch providers: you don’t need to stick with the provider your employer has chosen for you.

Making an active choice of fund is one of the best ways to ensure the fund you’re in matches up with your attitude to risk and your goals.

You can opt out

If you have been automatically enrolled into KiwiSaver, you can choose to opt out, between two weeks and eight weeks of employment, or in some other situations.

But before you do, make sure you know what you’re leaving. For example, your employer won’t be making their 3% contribution, and they are not required to pay this to you instead of KiwiSaver, if you choose to opt out of the scheme.

Employment status

Are you a contractor? Keep in mind that your employer doesn’t have to contribute, even if you are making KiwiSaver payments yourself. Employers are actually only required to make KiwiSaver contributions for employee members.

You can increase your contributions

You don’t have to stick with the minimum, employer-equalled contribution of 3%. You could also increase your regular contribution to 4%, 6%, 8%, 10% or 12% or even make additional lump sum payments.

And remember, if you increase your contribution, your employer is only required to make the current contribution of 3%.

Plus, just like the rest of your KiwiSaver savings, even voluntary contributions above the minimum are still ‘locked away’ until you reach the age of retirement or meet one of the other criteria for early withdrawals. This is something to consider when budgeting for extra contributions; would you be more comfortable putting extra money in a savings account, knowing you can access it at any time?

Total remuneration packages

Generally, employer KiwiSaver contributions need to be paid ‘on top’ of your gross wage or salary. You may be able to agree with your employer to a ‘total remuneration package’ – which means that the package itself may include the KiwiSaver contribution. For example, your total package is $51,500, but your actual gross salary may be $50,000 and $1,500 would be the KiwiSaver contribution.

However, all employees in New Zealand are entitled to a minimum wage; this means that KiwiSaver employer contributions can’t be part of a total remuneration package, if the employee’s hourly rate then becomes less than the minimum wage.


A last word – check your KiwiSaver account regularly, to make sure your deductions and your employer’s contributions are being paid regularly (it can take up to three months for deductions and contributions to show) – and if there is any discrepancy, contact Inland Revenue to make sure you are getting what you are entitled to.


Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek financial advice.

Want to know where your KiwiSaver fund is invested?


Not all KiwiSaver funds are created equal – different fund types invest money in different ways.

Whether you already belong to KiwiSaver and would like to check whether your fund is aligned with your investment profile, or you’re exploring your KiwiSaver options for the first time, this read is for you. Here we look at the asset allocation and approximate time horizon for four common fund types: defensive, capital stable, balanced, and growth funds.


Defensive funds

Defensive funds are mainly invested in bank deposits and other fixed-KiwiSaverinterest investments, with up to 10% invested in growth assets (shares and property).

Generally speaking, if you are planning to use the funds within three years, a defensive fund may be a good option. This type of fund is designed to provide the minimum possible risk, but keep in mind that returns aren’t likely to be much higher than a bank term deposit.

Conservative funds

Compared to defensive funds, the conservative type usually has a higher percentage of growth assets – about 25% of the overall asset allocation will be in growth assets.

If you are relying on returns from the fund to subsidise other income, such as NZ Super, or have a short investment horizon, this type of fund may be suited for you. While protecting the amount invested is more of a priority than getting fast returns, a conservative fund should provide relatively stable returns, with a low probability of a negative return over a year.

Balanced funds

As the name suggests, balanced funds have a relatively even spread of growth assets and fixed-income assets (cash and bonds).

The spread generally ranges being between 40% and 60% invested in growth assets, depending on what the fund managers decide is best for the portfolio.

Generally speaking, this fund is designed for longer-term investors, who want some capital protection but have time to bounce back from any capital losses. Balanced funds aim to achieve a return higher than a bank deposit, so the fund is about growth, rather than income.

Growth funds

Focusing on growth rather than income, growth funds have a wider spread of positive and negative returns but are likely to prove higher returns than the other fund types.

The asset allocation includes more growth (shares) assets than income assets, so growth fund balances are likely to fluctuate a lot more than more conservative funds. For this reason, growth funds are best suited for investors who can take more risk with their investment – either because they have a long investment time frame (for example, more than 10 years), or they have other financial means to help them withstand losses.

About ethical investing

Ever heard of ethical investing? The level of risk may not be the only key component of your investment decision – you might also like to feel good knowing your money is invested ethically.

Ethical investing is about seeking a good financial return while avoiding companies that don’t match your values. For example, you may not want to support companies involved in gambling, tobacco, weapons, or those with poor environmental or human rights records.

The decision comes down to your personal beliefs, and you should be able to find ethically invested funds across all fund types – so you can invest according to your attitude to risk, with the added benefits of social responsibility.


Like to make sure that your KiwiSaver fund is right for you? With so many different options, it’s important to understand your investment profile before making any decisions – and that’s something we can help you with. Always feel free to contact us if you have any questions.


Disclaimer: Please note that the content provided in this article is intended as an overview and as general information only. While care is taken to ensure accuracy and reliability, the information provided is subject to continuous change and may not reflect current development or address your situation. Before making any decisions based on the information provided in this article, please use your discretion and seek advice from an appropriately qualified financial adviser.

Debunking five KiwiSaver myths

Five KiwiSaver myths

There are many myths and misconceptions about KiwiSaver, and the advantages and disadvantages of being a member. Here, we debunk five of the common misperceptions we hear.

I can only join KiwiSaver if I am a PAYE employee

Being a contributing member is probably easier if you are a PAYE employee, as your employer makes the deductions and pays them to IRD. However, even if you are self-employed or on a benefit, you can still join and contribute to KiwiSaver. You will just need to decide how much you want to contribute and then make the payments manually yourself.

And another tip – the Government will contribute an additional fifty cents for every dollar you put in up to a maximum of $521.43. Yes, that’s like free money.

Retirement is ages away: there’s no point having KiwiSaver until I am older

Remember: the earlier you start saving, the more money you will have in retirement – and you will need to save less on a regular basis to achieve your retirement goals.

If you start young, a small amount eventually turns into a big amount with the addition of compounding interest and the longer period of contributions. The later you leave it, the bigger your regular contribution will need to be, to make up for all the years you weren’t putting money aside and weren’t getting the benefit of compound interest.

I have to go with the KiwiSaver provider my employer has selected

While all employers need to select a default provider, you have the freedom to choose the provider you want – you don’t need to be stuck in a default scheme.

I can only access the money when I turn 65

Well, actually, the full access is only when you reach retirement age – which may or may not still be 65 in a few years’ time. However, you can access the funds for a first-home deposit (subject to meeting the criteria) or if you are experiencing hardship (subject to approval).

I don’t earn much, so there’s no point in having KiwiSaver

Even putting away as little as $10 per week can give you a nice little nest egg when you retire. If you started at age 20, and put $10 per week aside, by the time you were 65 you would have $23,400 – without any interest/gains or Government contribution. Factoring in interest and compound interest could see that at over $100,000!


KiwiSaver is designed as a long-term retirement savings plan. By starting contributions early, and choosing the right fund and provider, your retirement can be a lot more comfortable and enjoyable.


**This is intended to provide general information only. It does not take into account your investment needs or personal circumstances. It is not intended to be viewed as investment or financial advice. Should you require financial advice you should always speak to an Authorised Financial Adviser. Please note past performance is not a guarantee of future performance.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request. 

KiwiSaver Myths – What You Need To Know

KiwiSaver has been around now for over a decade.

I have helped people to understand and make their KiwiSaver funds work for them, but I still sit down with many people that still have some common misconceptions.

Some of the common ones are highlighted in this article: KiwiSaver Myths

I would be happy to answer any other questions that you may have regarding KiwiSaver and if you wish help get you on the right track.

Please feel free to contact me or call on 09 551 3500.

Don’t throw it away: five things to check in your KiwiSaver statement

Don't throw your KiwiSaver statement away

Don’t throw your KiwiSaver statement away

If you’re like many people, statements are just one more task that you can’t be bothered with or they stay on the to-do pile until the next statement arrives. But there are some good reasons to check your KiwiSaver statement carefully when it arrives – here, we have outlined five things to look for or check.

Know the fees you have been charged

Fees can quickly eat into the gains you have made – especially if you are only making minimum contributions each year.

Fees vary quite significantly between different fund managers, and also across the different types of funds themselves. For example, investments in growth funds generally will have higher fees than more conservative funds – often because the growth funds require more management – and will also generally provide a better return over time, meaning your balance is growing at a better rate than if it was in a conservative fund.

Regulations require your KiwiSaver provider to clearly set out the fees charged in your statement – and these need to be shown as a dollar figure, rather than just a percentage.

Is your fund growing?

Check your statement each time you receive it, to make sure your balance is going up rather than down.

Having said that, don’t forget that markets do go up and down, so if you want to avoid unnecessary worry, checking your KiwiSaver balance every day may not be a good idea. Markets fluctuate on a daily basis, and while you may see a reduction in your balance one day, it may well increase again the following day.

KiwiSaver is a long-term investment, and you are looking for growth in your investment over a period of years, not day-to-day or even month-to-month.

Check the fund you are in

It is well documented that when you have a long investment timeframe, having your investments in growth funds will generally provide you with the best returns over time. You do, however, need to ensure that the ‘risk’ you are taking with your retirement fund still lets you sleep at night.

Complete a risk profile to understand your own tolerance to risk and volatility, and check that you are in a fund that will give you the best chance of a good return, within your own risk profile.

Check all your deductions or other payments have been credited

While it may be easy to think that, with everything happening electronically these days, all your deposits will just magically go through (and they usually do), it’s still a good idea to check carefully. Make sure all your contributions, or manual payments, have been credited, as well as your employer contributions and the Government contribution are showing.

Are you on the right tax rate?

Lastly, make sure you are not paying too much tax – at least on your KiwiSaver returns. The tax rates are variable, ranging between 10.5% and 28% and your rate is based on your income over the last two years. If you haven’t told your provider what tax rate you should be on, you will automatically pay at the highest rate – eating into your valuable retirement fund.


KiwiSaver is a set-and-forget investment in a lot of ways, especially if your contributions are being deducted directly from your salary or wage. But if you want to have a comfortable, rather than budget retirement, keep an eye on KiwiSaver and make sure you are maximising your retirement fund.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request. 

Should you withdraw your first-home deposit from KiwiSaver?

Have you been a KiwiSaver member for at least three years? Then your very first step on the property ladder may be closer than you think.

Just like KiwiSaver HomeStart Grants, KiwiSaver early withdrawals are a welcome helping hand for many first-home buyers looking to build their deposit. But before you decide to use this tool, it’s also critical not to let the dream of home-ownership get in the way of your long-term goals – your retirement savings.

Are KiwiSaver withdrawals worth it? Have a read of these tips to learn more.

Young Kiwis have property in mind

According to recent data from Westpac, an increasing number of young Kiwis are joining KiwiSaver to save for their first property.

That was the main reason mentioned by 74 percent of young New Zealanders aged 18-24, compared to 59 percent of Kiwis aged 25-29, and 16 percent of people aged 35 to 54.

At the same time, only 24 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds said they had worked out how much they would need in retirement. Plus, just 44 percent of Millennials said they had a proper understanding of their KiwiSaver scheme, with 12 percent of them admitting they did not know where their money was invested.

The cost of withdrawing from KiwiSaver

With house prices on the high side, and old age probably being less of a priority for people in their 20s, the focus on property shouldn’t be a surprise. But, even at this young age, it’s a good idea not to let planning for the long-term slip through the cracks.

Eligible first-home buyers (click here to read the criteria) can withdraw all but $1,000 from their account. There’s no limitation.

However, the bigger the withdrawal, the greater the impact on your long-term retirement savings could be. This is based on a combination of factors, like your age, the fund you’re in, and the amount withdrawn.

The benefit of owning property

Having said all that, there are valid reasons to consider home-ownership.

Owning your own place can be a great step towards wealth creation and financial security. As time passes, your home’s value may increase and you come to have equity in your home. Plus, once you’ve paid off your mortgage, you’ll free up a great deal of monthly income.

As always, when pondering your options, make sure to take every element into account, including your short and long-term goals.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and on request.

How to boost your retirement savings in your 40s

Age isn’t always just a number. On a financial side of things, your 40s may be a time of consolidation, when you can confirm or adjust your decisions, and verify your plans for the future. It can also be a good opportunity to give your pension pot a chance to grow.

Here are some steps you can take to fast-track your savings and make retirement planning a priority.

Make your mortgage work for you

Like to take control of your finances? If you have a mortgage on your family home, now may be the right time to be proactive and give this long-term commitment a health check.

A few things might have changed in your life since you first signed on the dotted line: is your home loan still aligned with your needs? Even small changes can make a big difference over the life of a mortgage – not to mention your financial life as a whole.

If you’d like to explore your options, a mortgage adviser will help you find the best ways to structure your home loan.

Get rid of high-interest debt

Taking on debt is not necessarily a bad thing, unless it’s getting in the way of your savings goals. And if it’s allowed to grow, high-interest debt can quickly accumulate, preventing you from funding other important long-term needs – like retirement.

It’s a good idea to create a budget and funnel as much money as you can into repayments. Once your debt has become a thing of the past, you’ll be in a better position to secure your future.

Investing today for tomorrow

Your ‘time horizon’ is one of the most important components of any investment plans, including KiwiSaver. The longer your investment horizon, the more time you have to ride out the ups and downs and increase your retirement cushion.

At 40-something, time is still on your side. You may even consider investing in higher-risk funds (growth or aggressive) if they’re aligned with your personal attitude to risk.

Not sure about your risk profile? Please feel free to contact us: we’ll be happy to help you identify it and find the right balance in your investment portfolio.

How fit and healthy are your savings?

How much have you saved so far? Are you on track or off track for your desired retirement? Once again, your 40s are an ideal time to assess your progress and take action.

If you’ve already built a little nest egg, you may look at putting it into a high-interest account, so that it works to its full earning potential. And if you’re falling behind, it’s not too late to catch up. What you need is to take a look at the numbers and set up a realistic savings strategy. Need help? Talking with a financial adviser can give you a fresh pair of eyes you need to put your financial life into perspective.


An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

KiwiSaver in your online banking: is it worth it?

Is viewing your KiwiSaver online at the bank worth changing provider for? Sure, getting an eagle-eye view of your finances in one place seems like a no-brainer – but is it really as convenient as it sounds?

Here’s why transferring your KiwiSaver money to the bank may not be the right move for you.

Reading too much into the short-term swings

Markets can fluctuate and change rapidly, with lots of highs and lows. But KiwiSaver is a long-term investment. That’s why it’s important to aim for the horizon: you’re in it for the duration, and so whatever happens in between, if you have a good plan in place, the scales should tip in your favour over time. Then, why check your KiwiSaver balance every week?

What if your balance drops?

Your KiwiSaver balance may change from day to day – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Watching these ups and downs unfold in real-time, day in day out, can create anxiety for many people. It may even lead you to make a rushed decision about your funds. As a rule of thumb, it’s a good idea to review your KiwiSaver performance every six months, if not annually. That way, you’re more likely to see a positive return.

Your KiwiSaver may not grow as fast as you’d like

It takes time (usually, around three months) for your KiwiSaver contributions to reach your account: in fact, after your employer pays them, they go to the IRD first; then, and only then, they’re paid into your fund. Once again, this is another reason why having your KiwiSaver in your online banking may not be the best idea.


Of course, having 24/7 access to your balances and transactions is a great way to keep your finances in check. But keep in mind that growing your KiwiSaver fund takes time and patience.

If you’d like to maximise returns, the most important step is to make sure that you’re in the right fund for your age, long-term goals and attitude to risk. As KiwiSaver advisers, we can help you explore your options in detail – now and over time.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

Know your KiwiSaver fees

Do you know how much you’re paying in KiwiSaver fees?

Fees are just one of the key elements to consider when looking for the right investment fund, of course – performance is also crucial and should be taken into consideration. Having said that, when you’re investing to earn solid returns and save for retirement, it’s important to make every dollar count.

Here are some key things to consider if you want to minimise your KiwiSaver fees and get the best returns possible.


Why fees are so important

All KiwiSaver providers will charge you fees for investment, management and administration costs. The amount can also vary greatly across different providers and fund types.

To give you a practical example, when analysing balanced funds, Canstar found a difference of $123 between the most and the least expensive fees. It might not seem a lot in the short term, but different fees can have an impact on your long-term returns, your saving strategy and – most importantly – your goals.

Types of fees & disclosure rules

Usually, the annual cost of a KiwiSaver fund is a combination of separate fees. These include:

  • Annual member fee
  • Management fee
  • Administration fee
  • Trustee fee
  • Expense fee.

So, how can you know for sure what fees are involved and how much you’re paying for them? All funds are required to fully disclose this information in their periodic disclosure statement, which can be found on your KiwiSaver scheme website. And of course, if you need help understanding the ins and outs of your fund, we’re here to help.

We can help with comparisons

When it comes to planning and working towards your retirement goals, ensuring that you’re getting the right value for your money (and earning a healthy compound interest) is crucial. That’s why taking the time to choose, review and compare KiwiSaver funds makes sense.

Obviously, a fund cannot be judged on fees alone, as the highest-fee fund can also be the one achieving the highest returns. But as you can imagine, that is not always the case. If you’d like to have a thorough understanding of what’s available out there, and how it relates to your needs, always feel free to contact us. We have the tools to help you make an informed decision about your investments.

For more helpful information, don’t miss our recent guide “Will your KiwiSaver meet your retirement needs?“.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.

Making your retirement planning work – at 55 and over

Successful retirement planning is a key part of being prepared for life after work. The comforting news is, it’s never too late to take action. Of course, the later you start in life, the more challenging it is to support the lifestyle that you want.

If you’re over 55, and belong to KiwiSaver or have your own business, there are ways to give your nest egg a helping hand – and get the most out of your savings after retirement.

How close are you to retiring?

Effectively managing your KiwiSaver is always important, regardless of your age. But depending on your risk appetite, and how close you are to your last day of work, your decisions in terms of risks and returns can vary.

Bear in mind that the closer you are, the lesser time you have to weather the ups and downs of the market. If you’re set to access your KiwiSaver money within the next 10 years, then lower-risk funds may be your best option – unless you’re willing to take a higher financial risk (and potentially higher losses) in the hope of a bigger and quicker return.

Regular income or lump sum?

According to a recent global report, New Zealand’s pension system is among the world’s top 10. But there’s room for improvement – for example, by increasing the focus on getting an income from retirement savings rather than a lump sum.

This is certainly a valid point. Managing your nest egg so that it lasts can be challenging, and definitely takes advanced planning. If securing a regular income works best for you and your long-term needs, keep in mind that KiwiSaver can help you. Although funds can be accessed after the age of 65, there’s no obligation to withdraw all of your savings in one go. You can stay in KiwiSaver for as long as you like, and draw your funds gradually over time.

And if you’re a business owner…

Your business is one of your biggest assets, and something you’ve worked hard to build. Have you thought about what will happen to it when you retire? Would you close it, sell it or pass it on to your family? Whatever the future you’re envisioning, it may be time to draft a strategic business plan and discuss it with all parties involved. Once again, you might want to retain some ownership and continue to receive part of the earnings, or you may go the way of selling it entirely and take home a lump sum.

Get some help from the experts

As KiwiSaver experts, we can help you plan for your retirement and work out with you how your savings will fund it. Don’t forget that having an expert in your corner can make all the difference, whatever the life stage you’re at.

And on this note, if you (or anyone you know) are keen to make KiwiSaver work for your needs, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Please note: This article offers generic advice rather than personalised advice and should not be relied upon as personalised advice.

An Adviser Disclosure Statement is available free and upon request.