Switching KiwiSaver providers? Read this first
Switching your KiwiSaver account from one provider to another can be an easy process but there are a few things you might want to think about before you make the switch.
Why people switch
Everyone switches KiwiSaver providers for different reasons—let’s look at some of them.
Fees and performance
Is your current scheme performing as well as you’d like, once you account for fees? Could you pay less in fees or get better performance elsewhere over the long term, or both? Keep in mind that past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns!
Communication and customer service
Different KiwiSaver providers offer different amounts of information, depending on how they’re structured. If a provider isn’t transparent enough, or the level of service isn’t meeting expectations, some people may choose to switch.
Some providers might give you more choice and control over where your money gets invested. Some people might prefer a more actively-managed KiwiSaver scheme, and others a more passively-managed scheme. Some people might look for schemes that align with their values.
Understand your situation
Before you make a decision, you’ll want to get a clear view of your current situation, including:
What are your goals?
Are you planning to use your KiwiSaver balance for buying your first home or for retirement? What’s your KiwiSaver investment horizon (i.e. how long do you have until you plan to use the money)? And what do you want your KiwiSaver balance to be by the time you use it?
What type of KiwiSaver fund are you in?
Conservative, balanced, growth, or something else? What’s your KiwiSaver fund investing in? Does it match your goals, investment horizon, and risk appetite?
Does your current KiwiSaver fund match your risk profile?
Your investment horizon and tolerance for experiencing a loss from time to time may impact your risk profile—plus, this may have changed since you last looked at your KiwiSaver account.
What are the fees?
Are you comfortable with the value for money you’re getting? How will these fees impact your goals? Fees can add up over time, so while they may look like a small percentage now, they can make a difference to how much money you have when you retire.
Do your values align?
Investing isn’t just about numbers on a spreadsheet or an account balance. It’s also about investing in the kind of world we want to live in. If this is important to you, it might be useful to look at what your current KiwiSaver scheme invests in and compare these to other schemes. Not all schemes are the same! Some pick and choose investments based on ethical standards, while others invest in a wide, generic group of investments.
Does timing matter?
You might feel pressured to switch your KiwiSaver provider when market conditions change—like in a recession or market boom.
If you’re switching providers in response to volatility in financial markets, remember that your new KiwiSaver scheme will likely experience similar volatility if it’s a similar type of fund (growth, balanced, etc). This means you don’t need to wait for certain market conditions if you’re switching between funds with the same strategy (like going from one growth fund to another growth fund). Just be sure the new fund you choose better suits your goals, values, and investment horizon.
If you switch providers and opt for a more conservative fund (like going from a growth fund to a balanced fund), you’ll likely be “locking in” any gains or losses you’ve experienced due to volatility—and you may miss out on any future recovery of those growth investments over the long term (although, of course, returns are never guaranteed).
Know that not all KiwiSaver funds are identical. For example, one KiwiSaver provider’s ‘growth fund’ may invest in different things to another provider’s growth fund. This means that you can increase or decrease your risk by switching providers, even if you haven’t changed your fund type.
What’s the cost of switching?
Other than potentially locking in a loss, there are some other costs worth considering:
Some KiwiSaver providers charge additional fees when you transfer. Make sure you understand what fees you’ll be paying if you decide to switch.
If you switch providers during the tax year, you’ll pay tax on any income earned up until that point. The amount you pay probably won’t be different, it’s just that the payment is brought forward as it’s deducted from the funds at the time you transfer between providers, instead of at the end of the tax year.
Also, it can take time (up to two weeks) for your balance to transfer from your current KiwiSaver provider to your new provider. Your money won’t be invested while it’s being transferred, so you won’t experience any gains or losses during this time.
Making the switch
If you’ve decided that switching KiwiSaver providers is the choice for you, all you need to do is sign up to a new KiwiSaver provider and let them know you want to switch. You don’t have to let your old provider know!
Your new KiwiSaver provider will take care of things from there—including getting in touch with your old provider, arranging the transfer of your KiwiSaver balance, and letting Inland Revenue know where to send your future contributions.
And that’s it! KiwiSaver is another way to save for the future, and taking control of it helps you control what that future looks like. So have a good think about what you care about and what sort of scheme you’d like to be in, and if that means switching, don’t hesitate to make it happen.
Ok, now for the legal bit
Investing involves risk. You aren’t guaranteed to make money, and you might lose the money you start with. We don’t provide personalised advice or recommendations. Any information we provide is general only and current at the time written. You should consider seeking independent legal, financial, taxation or other advice when considering whether an investment is appropriate for your objectives, financial situation or needs.
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