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What’s a self-select KiwiSaver scheme?


Some KiwiSaver providers (like Sharesies) offer a self-select (or ‘self-managed’) scheme, giving people the option to have more control over where their KiwiSaver contributions get invested. 

Let’s look at how self-select KiwiSaver schemes work, how they’re different from traditional KiwiSaver schemes, and why people might choose a self-select scheme. 👀

How does a self-select KiwiSaver scheme work?

Instead of selecting one fund for the whole of your KiwiSaver balance and future contributions to go into (like a traditional KiwiSaver scheme), a self-select KiwiSaver scheme allows you to pick some (or all) of the investments that make up your investment plan.

For example, rather than choosing a ‘growth fund’, someone in a self-select KiwiSaver scheme might choose a managed fund as well as some specific companies and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to make up their own version of a growth-oriented KiwiSaver portfolio. 

Some self-select KiwiSaver schemes put limits in place to help manage the risk your KiwiSaver portfolio is exposed to. For example, the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme limits the proportion of your KiwiSaver balance that can be self-managed and limits how much of your balance can be invested in a particular type of investment. 

Self-select vs. a traditional approach

A traditional KiwiSaver scheme (where you select one fund to invest in) might require less monitoring and adjusting on a regular basis since the fund provider usually makes these adjustments for you. But the tradeoff is that you have less control over exactly where your money goes. 

If you’ve chosen a self-select KiwiSaver scheme, you may need to keep an eye on your investments and move things around if necessary. For example, if you’ve invested a portion of your KiwiSaver balance in a company that ends up underperforming or you find that you no longer believe in the future of the company, you may choose to move your money out of that investment and into another. 

Or, if a company does really well, and suddenly becomes a huge portion of your overall balance, you may consider distributing some of those gains across other investments to stay diversified. ⚖️

Why choose a self-select KiwiSaver scheme?

If it’s important to you to have choice and control over where your money is invested, then a self-select KiwiSaver scheme might appeal.

A self-select scheme also allows you to choose specific investments that suit your risk profile and goals—compared to the broad strategies that traditional providers offer. You might prefer this if you want to be more actively involved in investing your KiwiSaver balance, if you have strong views on which investments will perform well over the long term (and those views aren’t reflected in the broad-brush options), or if you have specialised knowledge that you can put to work. 

Self-select schemes also make it easier to build a KiwiSaver portfolio that reflects your values and interests. After all, investing isn’t just about money—it’s about investing in the future you believe in. 

For example, let’s say you care about investing in companies with strong environmental and ethical track records. A traditional KiwiSaver scheme may not always deliver on your expectations—even if it is following an ESG strategy. Whereas a self-select scheme might allow you to invest in and avoid specific companies that fall under the ESG umbrella. 

Things to think about

More control usually comes with more responsibility. If you include companies in your KiwiSaver investment plan, you may need to check in and rebalance your portfolio more regularly. And frequently buying and selling the investments that make up your plan can add up in transaction fees. 💸

In saying that, you have some control over how actively you manage your KiwiSaver portfolio. For example, if you’d prefer to not check in on your investments as regularly, you could stick to lower-risk investments like ETFs for the self-select part of your KiwiSaver scheme. And with the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme, you also have control over how much of your investment plan you allocate to your picks—from 0.10% up to 50%. Or, you can always stick with your base fund at the beginning and add your own picks later.

Ultimately, self-select KiwiSaver schemes are about having more choice and control. It’s about empowering you to tailor your KiwiSaver portfolio to your situation—including your goals and values, the amount of risk you want to take, and how actively you want to manage your KiwiSaver portfolio.

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.

Sharesies Investment Management Limited is the issuer of the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme. The product disclosure statement (PDS) for the Sharesies KiwiSaver Scheme has been lodged, and may be viewed on the Disclose Register or on our documents page.

Join the KiwiSaver scheme that’s more you

Portfolio displayed is a guide, not from a real customer. For informational purposes only.
A young woman looking off to the side holds a lime-green electric guitar. Superimposed next to her is an iPhone showing a screen in the Sharesies app. The screen shows a KiwiSaver investment portfolio, made up of the Pathfinder Ethical Growth Fund, the Smartshares NZ Top 50 Fund, Meridian Energy, and Infratil.