Inside Money

Business writer David Chaplin blogs on personal finance

Inside Money: Schemes behind the scenes: KiwiSavers act up

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

KiwiSaver's fifth birthday passed by relatively quietly on July 1: no fireworks; no party; no presents.

Behind the scenes, however, there is plenty of action in the sector as impending regulatory changes and corporate machinations come to bear.

Here's just a few items of note gleaned from official documents released in the last couple of months:

* Fisher Funds bumps up its monthly membership fee from $2 to $3 just as the roughly 90,000 former Huljich members officially transferred to the scheme;

* The Brook Asset Management KiwiSaver scheme launches a new Conservative fund option;

* KiwiBank's recently-acquired jewel, the Gareth Morgan KiwiSaver scheme, tacks on a Cash option just weeks after creating a Cash Plus fund;

* ASB Group Investments (which effectively runs the bank's KiwiSaver scheme) Blair Turnbull replaces Catherine McGrath on the board. The change follows the ASB's "disestablishment" of its Customer, Markets and Productions division, transforming it into something called Wealth, which Turnbull now heads;

* The exclusive Brethren KiwiSaver fund (known as the BCF scheme) admits its plan to invest in Brethren-owned assets may face a hurdle. Under the Financial Markets Conduct legislation, due to take effect next year, the BCF may, after a three-year transition period, "require a special-purpose exemption by the Financial Markets Authority to invest in businesses owned by, or mortgages issued to, Brethren Christian Fellowship members (to the extent that those investments together exceed 5 per cent of Scheme assets)".

* AMP, now the proud owner of two default schemes, completes the revamp of its Axa KiwiSaver products. Starting in May, AMP began moving the Axa funds from the existing arrangements "to an alternative range of wholesale unit trusts developed and managed by AMP Capital". As part of the changeover, the various Axa investment portfolios are now ruled under a single trust structure. According to the new prospectus, "in the unlikely event that the assets attributable to a particular Portfolio are insufficient to meet the liabilities attributable to that Portfolio, the assets of any other Portfolio may be called on to meet those liabilities in such equitable manner as the Manager, with approval of the Trustee, sees fit".

With a significant deadline looming on September 30, when all KiwiSaver schemes must comply with new rules requiring the appointment of an independent corporate trustee, further ructions are joyfully anticipated by journalists.

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