Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Kiwisaver: Tangles trip up UK fund transfers

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KiwiSaver ratings can involve more than just fund performance. Service is also important. Photo / Getty Images
KiwiSaver ratings can involve more than just fund performance. Service is also important. Photo / Getty Images

Q: I am looking at switching to another KiwiSaver provider. My contributions during the Global Financial Crisis went towards buying shares when prices were low so what, if any, are the implications of moving to a new provider now?

I want to transfer my UK pension, worth about $1000, to my KiwiSaver fund (Fisher Funds TWO). As this is not an authorised transfer fund for UK pensions, do I need to consider other funds or providers?

A: One of the features of KiwiSaver is that you choose your provider - there are about 25 - and the type of fund you're in.

Switching is relatively easy, too, but as head of distribution and communications at Fisher Funds Michael Raynes says, there's plenty to take into account.

It's not always the obvious areas, such as performance and fees charged, you need to consider, he says.

"You want to know that your KiwiSaver provider is helping you make the most of KiwiSaver.

"As balances grow, this is increasingly important," he says.

You might also want to consider such things as how your KiwiSaver provider communicates with you, what personalised advice is on offer and what options it has for managing your money in retirement.

KiwiSaver is a long-term investment and decisions should be made with your long-term interest in mind and not on a whim.

The report by ratings organisation Canstar could be worth a look. It ranks providers based on service levels as well as investment returns, at:

If you decide to change schemes your account balance will be transferred to your new provider.

"The amount withdrawn will reflect the current market value of the units you own," says Raynes.

"As you point out, by making regular contributions since you joined KiwiSaver, you have been able to take advantage of market volatility and some of those units will have increased significantly since they were bought.

"You'll buy into your new fund at the current unit price and while that will differ from your old provider, you haven't lost the investment gains you made along the way."

UK pension transfers have been a vexed area for KiwiSavers since legislative changes a year ago.

No KiwiSaver provider can accept transfers of UK pensions as they are not able to satisfy criteria around restriction of withdrawals to be a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS).

"Despite lobbying from various New Zealand industry participants, legislation looks set to remain unchanged for now.

"Several non-KiwiSaver QROPS providers can still accept transfers of UK pensions but the choice is more limited," Raynes says.

"As frustrating as it may be, in your situation, the $1000 from the UK is likely to be relatively immaterial long-term compared to your ongoing contributions made from New Zealand."

Debate on this article is now closed.

- Herald on Sunday

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Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Helen Twose is a freelance business journalist who writes regularly about KiwiSaver and entrepreneurial companies. She has written for the Business Herald since 2006, covering the telecommunications sector, but has more recently focused on personal finance and profiling successful businesses.

Read more by Helen Twose

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