Personal finance and KiwiSaver columnist at the NZ Herald

Helen Twose: Disclosure standard getting higher

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New regulations mean providers must give comprehensive information about fund activity every quarter.

KiwiSaver providers could buy a stake in Mighty River Power. Photo / Sarah Ivey
KiwiSaver providers could buy a stake in Mighty River Power. Photo / Sarah Ivey

All the publicity around the sale of Mighty River Power and the possibility KiwiSaver providers would buy a stake got me thinking about what my provider had invested my money in. Is there a way of checking where the money goes?

Your KiwiSaver provider will have general information about each different fund's investments in the relevant KiwiSaver scheme investment statement and typically also on their website. This information is generally pretty broad and lets investors know what sectors each fund has an exposure to, for example, what percentage of money is invested in New Zealand shares, international shares, New Zealand bonds, etc.

Some KiwiSaver providers also have a greater level of detail on their websites that allow you to see exactly what individual investments each fund holds.

The good news is that there is a new KiwiSaver regulation that means from July this year all KiwiSaver providers are required to regularly disclose some important details about each fund, including its top holdings, fees and changes to any key personnel, policies and conflicts of interest.

The information will be made available every quarter, with an even more comprehensive summary issued on an annual basis.

This high level of disclosure should go a long way to make fees and performance more transparent and comparable.

It should also provide KiwiSaver members with a much clearer view of what's happening with their KiwiSaver funds.

•Sean Butler, Fidelity Life investment specialist.

My partner works full time and is a member of KiwiSaver. He also works on-call casual for another company. He does not claim KiwiSaver for this casual work. His hours for this work vary every week as required.

It could be three hours this week and 10 hours next week. Is he able to claim KiwiSaver from the casual security work that he does as well as his full-time work? Does he need to contact his casual employer about this or IRD?

Contributions can be made for every job that your partner works in. For his secondary job his casual employer should be making compulsory employer contributions unless otherwise agreed, but your partner should also be making contributions from his wages. Your partner will need to fill out a KiwiSaver deduction notice (KS2) which will tell his employer the preferred employee contribution rate and to advise them that they need to make employer contributions.

We recommend your partner contacts Inland Revenue on 0800 549 472.

•Martin Lewington, Head of Mercer, New Zealand

Can you explain the changes to KiwiSaver coming into effect in April, particularly around taxation which I understand is going to be introduced on contributions?

There is no tax change expected in April 2013. Taxation on employer contributions (known as employer superannuation contribution tax) paid to a KiwiSaver scheme was introduced on April 1, 2012.

However, from 1 April 2013 the minimum compulsory contribution will increase from 2 per cent to 3 per cent of your gross income.

The compulsory employer contribution will also increase to 3 per cent. This means that if you are currently contributing the minimum of 2 per cent your rate will automatically change to 3 per cent.

However, you'll still be able to select a higher employee contribution rate of 4 per cent or 8 per cent.

The changes will take effect from your first pay period starting on or after April 1, 2013.

•Donna Nicolof, BNZ head of wealth and private bank.

I'm a small business owner with five staff - a mix of permanent and part-timers. Can I clarify some of the changes with KiwiSaver happening on the 1st of April. If we are currently contributing 2 per cent to our employees' KiwiSaver Accounts do we have to increase it to 3 per cent on April 1 or is that just for new employees? What if my pay period ends in April but starts in March? When do the changes kick in?

The KiwiSaver contribution rate changes will take place from the first pay period starting on or after April 1, 2013.

For example, if you pay your employees monthly then the first monthly pay that your employees receive on or after April 1, 2013 will include a 3 per cent contribution to KiwiSaver.

It is important to note that the changes to contribution rates need to be applied to your (employer) contributions and also an additional 1 per cent needs to be deducted from your employees' salaries or wages where those employees are contributing at the minimum contribution rate.

The changes to the minimum contribution levels will apply to both new and existing employees.

If you have any queries about administering KiwiSaver we recommend you contact Inland Revenue on 0800 377 772.

•Martin Lewington, Mercer New Zealand head.

•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 NZ Herald's panel of industry players email Helen Twose,

- NZ Herald

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