Inside Money

Business writer David Chaplin blogs on personal finance

Inside Money: NZ Super reports for duty

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Adrian Orr.
Adrian Orr.

With a 204-page annual report lodged and ready-to-read no one could accuse the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZS) of being disclosure-lite.

If anything the blockbuster 2013 NZS annual report could induce information-overload syndrome in susceptible readers.

As an experienced browser of corporate materials, however, I clicked on the PDF link in full knowledge of the consequences.

And, to be honest, I skipped a few bits.

The report includes an incredible amount of detail about how the NZS fund - now at about $23 billion - operates across a number of areas including its principles, performance, political guidelines and people.

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While the headline stuff - performance, fund growth etc - is interesting enough, there's plenty of fascinating material buried deeper in the document.

For example, staff remuneration is always a popular topic, and the NZS report does not disappoint, providing a breakdown of how many employees earned over $100,000 - which in the 2013 year numbered 75 individuals (or 84 per cent of the total 89-strong workforce).

Total staff costs for the year hit $21.2 million for the year ($19.6 million in the 2012 period), including $4.5 million of bonus payments dished out to 43 employees.

"As a proportion of funds under management, however, [staff remuneration] costs remained stable at 0.10 per cent," the NZS report says.

That might represent good value, but just in case the NZS says it has "implemented a personal efficiency training programme" for its staff this year.

The NZS report also provides staff data including a breakdown by age, gender (females represent 36 per cent of employees and 43 per cent of the board), disability status (1 per cent of workforce compared to 0 in previous years), staff turnover (13 per cent), educational qualifications and heath and safety statistics.

Overall the NZS reported expenses of $112.9 million (or 0.53 per cent of funds under management) in the 2013 annual period, which reduced to just over $85 million (or 0.41 per cent of funds under management) excluding external manager performance fees.

In fact, external fund manager performance fees and base fees were just about equal this year, coming in at $26.6 million and $30.8 million respectively compared to $38.3 million and - $11.5 million (yes, that's a negative sign) in the previous year.

Even better, this year for the first time the NZS discloses how much money it has allocated to each of the 50-odd managers in its portfolio. With about $4.5 billion of to look after in a "bespoke global listed passive equities" mandate, State Street Global Investors has the largest single chunk of NZS money (which should be matched by new similar mandates awarded to BlackRock and Northern Trust).

On the New Zealand equities side, AMP Capital, Devon Funds Management and Milford Asset Management have racked up total funds under management for NZS of $228 million, $260 million and $304 million respectively.

There is more, much more, to glean from the report but don't be alarmed by the obvious expense such a mammoth publication effort would've incurred as the NZS upped its tax bill this year to almost $1 billion versus $183.3 million in 2012.

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