A staff member at my ANZ bank has suggested I join their scheme so I can keep track of my balance online. But I don't know if it's the best scheme. Where can I get more information?

The Government is keen to help first time investors like you with these decisions.

The FundFinder tool on the Sorted website is easy to navigate and lets you compare returns, service and fees.

If you type in the name of your current default fund you will see that the fees are lower than average. So far, so good. What about returns?


Not so good - the average for this fund has been 3.89 per cent per annum over the past five years to March 31, 2016.

The fees of default funds are generally lower than average, but returns vary from manager to manager depending on their investment strategies.

The ANZ conservative default scheme has slightly higher fees at 0.79 per cent but the returns are certainly better, averaging 5.32 per cent per annum over the five years to March 31, 2016.

Their default scheme offers a range of higher risk funds as well, so members do not have to switch to a different scheme if they want to take on more risk.

If you enrol through a branch of the ANZ, you are likely to be offered their regular KiwiSaver scheme which comes with somewhat higher fees.

If you are concerned about fees you can ask about joining their default scheme.

According to an ANZ spokesperson, "ANZ KiwiSaver can be applied for in branch and online, [for] ANZ Default KiwiSaver the Investment Statement needs to be signed by the member and provided to us."

Do you need to worry about fees? KiwiSaver fees are required by law to be 'reasonable' so you are not going to be cleaned out by very high fees.

But all KiwiSaver members should find out what fees they are paying, and weigh up whether they are getting value for money. Don't just take your fund manager's word for it that you are getting a good deal.

Use the FundFinder tool or other independent sources of information to learn more.

The returns quoted by FundFinder are after tax at 28 per cent and management fees, so you can see quite easily which managers have performed better than others.

A recent Treasury report has concluded that there is room for fund managers to reduce their fees but there is not enough pressure on them to do so.

Rather sadly, their research indicated that people are more likely to choose a KiwiSaver provider based on reputation, branding, trust and convenience than on performance or fees.

KiwiSaver is now big business with over $32 billion invested.

Bank staff are encouraged to talk to their customers about KiwiSaver, and encourage them to move them if they are with other fund managers.

Understandably, this does not make them popular with those fund managers who do not enjoy the foot traffic of your typical urban bank.

Bank share of KiwiSaver funds has been steadily increasing - nearly half is currently with just two banks, ANZ and ASB.

Do we want KiwiSaver to be dominated by our big mostly Australian-owned banks?

There may be advantages in seeing your balance when you log into internet banking, but all fund managers offer online access.

What should be important to most investors is the return they get after fees, how and where their money is invested, and the quality of the communication.

- Shelley Hanna is an authorised financial adviser FSP12241. Her free disclosure statement is available on request by calling 06 870 3838 or go to www.peak.net.nz. The information in this article is general and is not personalised. Send your KiwiSaver questions to shelley.hanna@peak.net.nz