OPINION: There are around 3 million Kiwis in KiwiSaver, with investments of about $60 billion in total. But how many know what they’re actually invested in?
Your KiwiSaver is your money. You may not be able to access it until you turn 65 or buy a first home, but it’s part of your financial future. You may want to see where it’s invested.
Many people fail at the first questions – “who is my provider?” and “what type of fund am I in?”
There are more than 30 KiwiSaver providers, with most offering at least conservative, balanced and growth funds. Know your provider and your fund type, then you can find what’s actually in your KiwiSaver.
As a starting point, don’t think of your KiwiSaver as a cash fund. While some providers do offer a KiwiSaver only invested in cash, this is not common.
If you are in a conservative, balanced or growth fund there will be some cash, but also a mix of other assets like shares and bonds. The value of a cash fund is likely to be quite stable. While that sounds great, remember that with incredibly low-interest rates a cash fund won’t go up much either. That doesn’t help a long-term savings plan.
Your KiwiSaver fund likely includes some shares, which fluctuate up and down in value as markets change. Share markets globally were hit hard in March as investors feared the economic fallout from Covid-19. You likely saw your KiwiSaver balance go down, although markets have since recovered.
If you’re in a growth fund you will have more “growth” assets (like shares) and fewer “income” assets (like bank deposits and bonds). If you are in a conservative fund, the reverse is true – more “income” assets, fewer “growth” assets.
A typical growth fund will be 60 per cent to 90 per cent growth assets. A balanced fund 35 per cent to 60 per cent growth assets while a conservative fund will have less than 35 per cent in growth assets. Growth assets generate higher returns over the long-term than income assets, but will likely have a bumpier ride.
If you want to know the growth and income asset split, this is included in the quarterly fund updates on your KiwiSaver provider’s website.
You may want to dig deeper and know exactly what shares and bonds your KiwiSaver holds. You may want to know if they hold tech stocks (Microsoft, Apple and Amazon) or fossil fuel companies (ExxonMobil, Chevron and Shell).
Twice each year fund managers put full holdings on the Disclose Register, a government website. While this is a public website, sadly it’s hard to navigate. Quarterly fund updates on your provider’s website will at least show the top 10 holdings. Some providers put full holdings on their website.
If you want to know what is in your KiwiSaver because you’re concerned about the ethical nature of companies you invest in, that transparency is also possible. You may, for example, want to know if your KiwiSaver invests in tobacco, GMOs, animal testing or weapons. Mindful Money, a charity, provides this by drilling down into the holdings of each KiwiSaver and showing issues that may have ethical concerns. Thankfully, it is an easy site to navigate.
So what is in your KiwiSaver? First, know your provider and fund type (typically conservative, balanced or growth). Then, check out your mix of asset classes, like shares and bonds. Finally, you can drill down online to see the companies in your KiwiSaver from an investment or ethical perspective.
Thankfully there are tools available for you to do this. You’ll just need to find the time, but it’s absolutely time well spent.
John Berry is chief executive at Pathfinder Asset Management, and KiwiSaver provider CareSaver. His views in this article are general only and are not recommendations for any particular person in relation to any share or financial product.