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 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.
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.
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.
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.