Helen Twose 's Opinion

Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Kiwisaver: Plan that retirement spending

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People considering withdrawing their nest egg - or leaving it to grow - have plenty of tools to work with.

It is important for investors to understand their appetite for risk. Photo / Getty Images
It is important for investors to understand their appetite for risk. Photo / Getty Images

This is a KiwiSaver aspect I have never seen discussed regarding the scheme reaching its "fruition".
Probably a subject most readers do not want to know about.
We are a 66-year-old couple, both in KiwiSaver since the start, with some "top-ups".
We have a freehold house and modest "safe" term deposits, so safe they are almost going backwards.
On the other hand, we see KiwiSaver growth funds in Milford, One Path and Fisher Funds (we are in One Path) achieving a strong 20 per cent return per annum.
To us, being over 65, we see this as funds on call at 20 per cent, which it is. We feel these KiwiSaver funds will only, and probably will, start to "lack lustre" over time, rather than crash overnight, giving warning to pull out and redeploy our savings.
Can you and your advisers tell us to stop our idea of us putting all (most of) our eggs in the dreaded one basket on the basis of what I have outlined?

The KiwiSaver nest egg you've built up is available to withdraw once you qualify for NZ Super (currently at the age of 65), just so long as you've been a KiwiSaver member for a minimum of five years.

Martin Lewington, Mercer's New Zealand managing director, took a look at your question and this is his response: "This is a great question and with KiwiSaver being relatively 'young' a lot of the focus has been on ensuring members understand KiwiSaver features and maximise benefits of this savings scheme.

"However we believe discussions will focus more and more, as you say, on KiwiSaver reaching its 'fruition'.

"There are many things you'll need to consider so we always recommend that you talk to an appropriately qualified financial adviser who then can provide advice which takes into account your particular circumstances.

"We are not in a position to comment on the performance of particular funds or the extent to which you should or should not concentrate your investments, however it is important to note that continuation of the sorts of returns you refer to is not guaranteed.

"A year in which strong investment returns are achieved will not necessarily be followed by similar levels of returns in the following year (and returns in a particular year can be negative).

"However, there are a few things you can do yourself and you can start by using some great tools that are available to KiwiSaver members.

"Start with estimating how long you may have in retirement and understanding your appetite for risk.

"Online planning tools such as Mercer's KiwiSaver Retirement Income Simulator can allow you to simulate your financial position in retirement, and work out how long your retirement savings may last.

"The simulator can take into account some of the variables that you mention, such as the impact of investing in different investment options or making additional contributions or withdrawals, as well as possible reinvestment of your NZ Super.

"While it is hard to predict the future, the simulator lets you 'stress-test' your retirement savings by simulating various market conditions for different investment options. This will assist you to make a better-informed investment decision," says Lewington.

Mercer KiwiSaver members can have their personal and account balance details added automatically, but even those who don't belong to a Mercer fund can use the simulator.

Another option is the retirement planner calculator available on the Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income's Sorted website.

It will also give you an insight into how far your current savings will stretch into retirement.

You can in fact keep contributing to KiwiSaver beyond the date you're eligible to withdraw the funds but you won't get the member tax credit and if you're an employee your boss isn't required to chip in a contribution.

Alternatively, if you're happy to keep working beyond your withdrawal date but don't want to keep making contributions to KiwiSaver, fill out a non-deduction notice (KS51) and give it to your employer.

Any withdrawals from your KiwiSaver account are tax-free.

Lewington says it is important to establish your withdrawal options.

"Again it is great to hear that you are not seeing KiwiSaver as a lump sum, but an income stream that supports your desired lifestyle," he says.

Disclaimer: Information provided is stated accurately to the best of the respondent's knowledge at the time of publication. It is general in nature and should not be construed, or relied on, as a recommendation to invest in a particular financial product or class of financial product. Readers should seek independent financial advice specific to their situation before making an investment decision.

To have your KiwiSaver questions answered by the Herald's panel of industry players email Helen Twose, helentwose@gmail com

- NZ Herald

Helen Twose

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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