KiwiSaver may not be reaching the people who most need help with saving for their retirement, claims a report by provider ANZ bank.
ANZ, the country's largest KiwiSaver provider, has undertaken in-depth research on KiwiSaver and released a raft of recommendations as part of an assessment of the scheme which turned 10 years old on July 1.
The research found that while 80 per cent of those surveyed who earn more than $100,000 were members of the scheme, that was just 53 per cent for those who earned less than $50,000.
Craig Mulholland, ANZ managing director of wealth, said: "The research does raise questions about whether KiwiSaver is reaching the people who most need it."
KiwiSaver was initially set up to encourage a long-term savings habit and asset accumulation by individuals who are not in a position to enjoy standards of living in retirement similar to those in pre-retirement.
More than 2.7 million people are in KiwiSaver with savings of more than $30 billion.
"ANZ believes KiwiSaver should be compulsory," Mulholland said. "While more than 2.7 million people have joined KiwiSaver since its launch in 2007, there are 375,000 working age New Zealanders who are not members."
Many of those who have joined KiwiSaver are not contributing to the scheme regularly.
Despite high membership, more than 1.1 million KiwiSaver members put in either nothing or less than $1043 dollars last year.
ANZ's research found 60 per cent of those surveyed would like to see membership of the scheme made compulsory, although 33 per cent opposed the idea.
Of those who want it to be compulsory 88 per cent said those who were working should also have to contribute.
ANZ said if KiwiSaver was not made compulsory then all adult non-members should be automatically enrolled with an option to opt out, or the Government should look at reintroducing an incentive to encourage all working-age New Zealanders to sign up.
The Government dropped the $1000 kick-start incentive for those joining the saving scheme in its 2015 Budget.
The survey also found support for employers continuing to make KiwiSaver contributions during parental leave and more than half (55 per cent) supported free financial health checks.
ANZ's proposals included requiring providers to offer free savings advice, and assistance for people budgeting for how to withdraw their funds after turning 65 years of age.
The need for more advice was reflected by the survey, which found a majority of people had not worked out how much they are likely to have saved by the age of 65, ANZ said. The biggest single factor was that there was too much uncertainty (37 per cent), while 22 per cent of people said it was too hard.
• 60% support making KiwiSaver compulsory
• 56% say employers should make contributions for staff on parental leave
• 35% say they have calculated how much they will have saved by age 65
• 55% support free financial health checks to ensure they are on track for retirement