KiwiSaver schemes have work to do - FMA

By Ben Chapman-Smith

The FMA's review of 15 KiwiSaver schemes raised a number of concerns, the regulator said.
The FMA's review of 15 KiwiSaver schemes raised a number of concerns, the regulator said.

KiwiSaver providers need to lift their game when it comes to communicating important details to investors such as returns and risks, says the Financial Markets Authority (FMA).

The FMA recently carried out a thorough review of 15 KiwiSaver schemes, which collectively had total funds under management of $5 billion.

As a result of that review, two unnamed KiwiSaver issuers were pulled up for potentially misleading statements in offer documents.

Elaine Campbell, head of compliance monitoring, said the review had raised a number of wider concerns about the way KiwiSaver issuers were providing information to their investors.

Speaking in Auckland this morning, Campbell said schemes had adopted a wide range of methods for reporting investment returns.

"That in itself is fine but what we're concerned about is where there are inconsistencies between the issuers' (internal) offering documents," she said.

For example, the basis of calculation of investment returns in their prospectus was different to that on their website.

"That is a concern to us - we'd expect to see consistency of those disclosures."

The FMA had also found room for improvement in the way providers disclosed risks, Campbell said.

"What we're expecting to see is a focus on the risks that are specific to the scheme, rather than a document containing a 'witch's brew' of generic risk disclosures."

KiwiSaver providers needed to be giving more details about how they were mitigating those risks, Campbell said.

Another area of concern was the lack of information being provided to investors about the background and experience of KiwiSaver scheme managers and directors.

"Investment decisions are made based on the experience of the manager so it's therefore important that investors are provided with sufficient information to assess the expertise of the person managing their money," Campbell said.

Where senior managers and directors were described as 'experts', these claims needed to be backed up, she said.

The FMA had also sets it sights on improving the quality of trustee statements. Campbell said some trustee statements effectively showed the trustee had not carried out an independent check of information in the scheme's prospectus and had assumed the information was all correct.

"Disclaimers of that nature are not consistent with our view of what the trustee's role is as a frontline supervisor in this space."

Campbell said it was important for KiwiSaver schemes to address these concerns in light of a new set of rules which came in at the start of this month.

The Periodic Disclosure Regulations require issuers of most KiwiSaver schemes to prepare quarterly and annual disclosure statements. The aim of this is standardise the reporting of investment returns and fees and make it easier for investors to compare funds.

The regulations come into force on July 1 and the first disclosure statements are due to be published in mid-October.

Under the new rules, KiwiSaver schemes have to:
* Regularly report on fund performance, fees, asset allocation and other matters in a simple and standardised form
* Publish on their websites quarterly and annual disclosure statements for each of their funds
* Publish the information in a standard spreadsheet that can be accessed by analysts, commentators and investor information services

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