A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

Inside Money: KiwiBank dumps Morgan brand

Kiwibank is dropping the Gareth Morgan name for the KiwiSaver scheme the bank bought off the Wellington Phoenix owner for $50 million. Photo / ODT
Kiwibank is dropping the Gareth Morgan name for the KiwiSaver scheme the bank bought off the Wellington Phoenix owner for $50 million. Photo / ODT

The Gareth Morgan brand has finally been expunged from the KiwiSaver market with the KiwiBank-owned entity due to drop the iconic moustache-linked name in favour of a less personal, corporate identity.

As of April 1 this year, the Gareth Morgan KiwiSaver scheme will be labeled solely as Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver, which debuted as a 'co-brand' in October 2012.

Gareth Morgan, the human being, cut ties with the KiwiSaver scheme made in his own image in April 2012, just over a year after selling the business to KiwiBank for a tad over $50 million.

Perhaps, after two years without him in the business, KiwiBank judged the Morgan brand had lost its cachet - or maybe the bank was worried it would lose support from the cat-loving demographic.

KiwiBank has assured members in the scheme formerly known as Gareth Morgan these "are name changes only" - and the bank will retain the Gareth Morgan Investments (GMI) label for its overarching investment business.

"... there will be no change to the team who look after your money and answer your emails and phone calls," KiwiBank says in its note to members.

However, the bank does hint at "some other changes to the scheme" that should be made public by the end of March.

According to Tracey Berry, acting CEO says the "other changes" include an upgrade from monthly to weekly pricing. Berry says while the Kiwi Wealth scheme won't be "unitised in the sense the industry understands it", the switch to weekly pricing offers more flexibility for members.

The change in pricing methodology may also ease the proposed transfer of members from KiwiBank's other, AMP-managed KiwiSaver scheme.

Berry says discussions with the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) on effecting a bulk transfer of members of the KiwiBank AMP scheme - which has been on hold for a couple of years - are "progressing well".

Meanwhile, KiwiBank and a number of other KiwiSaver providers, are awaiting the government's default scheme decision, which is due at the end of March.

According to industry insiders, the FMA has been focused on screwing down default contenders on fees - forcing some providers to question whether it's worthwhile.

But, as one source put it, what bank would be likely to turn down a default appointment on the grounds it couldn't charge enough?

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A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

David is a freelance journalist who has covered the financial services business on both sides of the Tasman for over 15 years. He is the editor of industry website Investment News. David has edited magazines and websites for the financial advice, investment and superannuation industries.

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