Inside Money

Business writer David Chaplin blogs on personal finance

Inside Money: Compelling new data - KiwiSavers think banks are choice

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KiwiSaver has done very nicely thank you without the government press-ganging the entire nation into the service of the funds management industry. Photo / Thinkstock
KiwiSaver has done very nicely thank you without the government press-ganging the entire nation into the service of the funds management industry. Photo / Thinkstock

What's this obsession with compulsion?

KiwiSaver has done very nicely thank you without the government press-ganging the entire nation into the service of the funds management industry.

Over 1.7 million New Zealanders have either let the auto-enrol work its magic on the apathetic or have made conscious, rational decisions to sign up to a scheme.

The government's plan to force the KiwiSaver question on the remaining 1 million or so potential members pushes at the boundaries of compulsion without stepping over the line: choice remains (although, the details have not yet been released).

But the majority of New Zealanders allegedly don't want that choice, according to a survey released by the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (Finsia) this week.

"Research released by Finsia today finds that more than half (57%) of surveyed New Zealanders believe that KiwiSaver membership should be compulsory," the Finsia press release began.

However, the actual survey results were a little less conclusive than the headline figures suggest (and a substantial 43 per cent straight-out don't want compulsory KiwiSaver).

"More than half of New Zealanders believe Kiwisaver membership should be compulsory, but they do not agree on who it should be compulsory for," the report notes.
Lord give us compulsion, but not for me.

While the compulsory question hogged the limelight, there were much more interesting findings buried elsewhere in the Finsia survey that show how the KiwiSaver market is operating.

For example, the report reveals that 18 per cent of KiwiSaver members have shifted schemes - that's a lot of transfer forms to process (about 300,000 if you apply the 18 per cent to the current total KiwiSaver membership).

The survey designers gave respondents a few options to explain why they shifted schemes (chasing higher returns, adviser told me to etc) but the majority ticked 'other'.

Here's why: "The main reason to switch provider actually related to a preference for having the Kiwisaver account at the member's bank," the Finsia report says. "As one respondent explained, it is 'more convenient to see it with online banking'."

Compulsion is hardly necessary when KiwiSavers have habits like that.


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