David Chaplin 's Opinion

A personal finance columnist for the NZ Herald

Inside Money: Default KiwiSaver schemes reveal their instruments

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

The nine KiwiSaver default scheme 'Instruments of appointment' were loaded up last week on the Financial Markets Authority website, supplying further insight in to the charging mechanisms of the respective providers.

While the overall fees don't appear to have varied from those announced earlier, there is a reasonable amount of diversity in how each provider has divvied up charges.

A couple, notably ASB and Fisher Funds, have opted for simplicity, bundling up everything into two items - a funds management fee and membership fee, costed out at 0.4 per cent of funds under management and $2.50 per member per month for ASB compared to 0.56 per cent and $2.75-$2.25 (reducing if overall membership is above 25,000) for Fisher.

Likewise, the scheme formerly known as Gareth Morgan - the KiwiBank-owned Kiwi Wealth KiwiSaver - has only two fee components: a 0.55 per cent funds management fee (with a $40 minimum) plus an unspecified amount of underlying fund manager fees that will be absorbed in its quasi unit price.

Grosvenor, which is the cheapest overall (especially for balances under $10,000, which attract no annual member fee) has split its costs, allocating 0.25 per cent to investment duties and 0.13 to admin.

AMP, ANZ and BNZ have fee structures of varying degrees of complexity but still reasonably succinct. The Westpac scheme (managed by its in-house funds manager BT), however, has a slightly more nuanced approach, including a range of 'other' costs as well as a $500 fee for transfers from overseas superannuation funds.

But the top award for complexity, or perhaps its honesty, goes to Mercer (its lawyers must've been working overtime) with the 'fee exception' explanation rambling on for what seemed to me like a lifetime.

According to the appointment document, Mercer may charge a fee or recover costs in a number of situations, adding a catch-all "any other event or circumstance which, having regard to the nature of the default KiwiSaver scheme, can reasonable be regarded as out of the ordinary."

"A fee for any of the exceptional services referred to in subclause (1) must be charged on a time and attendance basis in accordance with usual charge-out rates for work of this nature," the Mercer document says.

All the new KiwiSaver default schemes need to be operational by July 1 this year: that's nine separate prospectuses to read, work for which I may have to charge out on a time and attendance basis in accordance with my usual rates, if I can find someone to invoice.

- NZ Herald

David Chaplin

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. David has edited magazines and websites for the financial advice, investment and superannuation industries. Today, he contributes to various publications in Australia as well as his bi-weekly blog for the NZ Herald under the 'Inside Money' banner.

Read more by David Chaplin

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