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KiwiSaver schemes and funds

Deciding to join KiwiSaver is a great start, but you also need to think about where your savings will be invested. There are many different KiwiSaver schemes available, and most schemes offer a range of investment funds. Find out how to choose the right scheme and fund for you.

Choosing a KiwiSaver scheme

One of the best things about KiwiSaver is that you can choose your KiwiSaver provider (the organisation your savings are invested with).

If you would rather not choose, your employer may have a preferred provider they’ll invest the money with. Otherwise the government will automatically allocate you to one of six ‘default’ providers.

You can find a full list of KiwiSaver providers and their contact details on the Inland Revenue KiwiSaver website.

Things to look for in a KiwiSaver provider or scheme include:

  • Choice - Do they provide an investment fund that matches your risk profile?
  • Service and communication – What level of service do they provide and what information do they offer about your savings? Do you understand the information provided?

You can find more things to look out for in our KiwiSaver investment funds checklist below.

Choosing an investment fund

Most KiwiSaver schemes offer a range of investment funds so you can also select the type of investment fund your savings go into. There are two key things to consider when choosing a fund – the associated risk and return of the fund, and the fees it charges.

Risk and return

The risk level of a fund is determined by the percentage invested in growth assets. These are types of investments like shares and property that have the potential for higher returns over the long-term, but also have the potential for changes in value.

KiwiSaver providers generally describe their funds as being:

Type of fund Risk profile
Defensive Low risk
Conservative Low to medium risk
Balanced Medium risk
Growth Medium to high risk
Aggressive High risk

At Sorted, we break the funds down further into the following categories:

Investment in growth assets  Type of fund 
20% invested in growth assets Defensive 
30% invested in growth assets Conservative 
50% invested in growth assets Balanced
70% invested in growth assets Growth
90% invested in growth assets Aggressive

Note that a higher proportion of growth assets typically means greater volatility, with the investments more likely to produce a negative return in any year.

Fees

Fees are charged to pay for the investment, management and administration costs of running the scheme.

You can use our KiwiSaver fees calculator to find out what fees you are likely to be charged over the life of your investment.

Compare funds

To compare fund performance, fees and the services offered by providers so you can choose the one that suits you best, use our KiwiSaver fund finder

Changing schemes or funds

Once you are a KiwiSaver member you can change funds at any time within your KiwiSaver scheme. But you can also change to a different scheme or provider.

Find out more about managing your KiwiSaver account.

To compare performance, fees and the services offered by provders, use our KiwiSaver fund finder.

Transferring your overseas savings

You can transfer your overseas superannuation savings (such as from Australia) to your KiwiSaver account. However, there are a number of important things you should consider beforehand. See the FMA’s website for more details. 

Getting help

For more help finding the right KiwiSaver scheme and fund for you, get advice from an independent, authorised financial adviser.

Find out more about getting investment advice.

KiwiSaver investment funds checklist

Whether you are already in KiwiSaver and thinking about changing funds, or not yet joined and unsure of where to go, follow this checklist.

Then compare performance, fees and the services offered by providers using our KiwiSaver fund finder.

Returns

Past performance can be a guide to what long-term average returns are likely to be for funds at different risk levels, e.g. for a low-risk fund versus a high-risk fund.

But the past performance of an individual fund is not a reliable guide to its future performance. What did well in the past may do badly in the future, and what did badly in the past may do well in the future.

Different funds may also present their information in a different way, e.g. one fund gives you before-tax returns while another gives you after-tax returns.

Fees and charges

Tip: Choosing a fund at the right risk level can make a big difference to how much you can withdraw for a first home or how much you end up with in retirement.

The amount of fees you pay can make a big difference to the growth of your savings.  But it’s important to compare the fees charged with the level of returns generated.

  • Over the life of your investment, how do the fees on your fund compare with fees on similar funds in other KiwiSaver schemes?
  • Check our KiwiSaver fees calculator.

Risk level

  • Is the fund at the right risk level for you?
  • Check our KiwiSaver fund finder. The scheme’s investment statement may also have a questionnaire to help you work out your risk profile.

Communication

  • How often will you receive reports about your savings balance (e.g. annually or six-monthly)?
  • If you need to, can you work out the value of your savings through your provider’s website?
  • Does the provider offer helpful advice and information, directly or through their website?
  • Do you understand the information you’re receiving? If not, consider moving to a provider that can explain things in a way that suits you. To find out how well another provider communicates, check their website, and request a brochure and a sample of the regular statement they send to investors.
  • Do you understand the manager’s investing approach? Does it make sense and give you a good idea of where your money is invested and why?

Fund features

  • If it’s important to you, are ethical/socially responsible investment options available through your provider? Or does the provider take an ethical approach in their investment choices?
  • Can you make additional lump sum or regular contributions to your fund and if so, is there a minimum amount?
  • Does your provider offer other features that might interest you, such as a fund in which risk is adjusted with age, or a fund that invests widely around the world?  

Fund managers

Some providers use separate companies to manage their investment funds.

  • Do you know of the organisation(s) named as managers and/or investment managers and have confidence in them?
  • Ask your provider to give you information about the fund managers and see if you’re comfortable with their description. 
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