I have seen KiwiSaver contributions going out on my payslip, but for over two years I didn't know where my money was going - until someone told me to find out using my IRD login. I saw that I am with BNZ - that was news to me as I don't bank with them. How did I end up in the BNZ scheme and why haven't I had any information from them about my savings?
You were probably signed up to KiwiSaver when you started a new job. Unless new members choose their provider, Inland Revenue allocates them randomly to one of the nine default providers. BNZ is one of these default providers.
Anyone who is allocated to a default scheme by IRD goes into a conservative fund - no matter what your age or investment timeframe - and it is up to you to then decide what type of fund you should be in.
Some providers communicate better with new members than others - letting them know what funds there are for them to choose from, and helping them with that decision.
But first of all, your provider needs to be able to get in touch with you, and in your case this did not happen.
Did you move house around this time? Employers fill out and send a KS1 form for each new KiwiSaver member to IRD, including your current postal and email addresses.
This information is passed on to your KiwiSaver provider so that they can communicate with you. BNZ will have written to you welcoming you to their scheme and enclosing an investment statement, telling you about their scheme.
If you moved house, or if your employer did not have your correct postal address then this information will not have reached you.
For many people KiwiSaver is their first investment, and they may not know how the scheme works and where their money is invested.
They do not realise that investment returns will play a big part in their KiwiSaver, and often do not know what returns they are getting.
KiwiSaver providers must send out an annual statement to all their members in the three months following the end of the financial tax year.
How many members actually read these statements?
The statement is a mandatory disclosure document, along with the product disclosure statement and the fund fact sheet. Members can also look up information on their savings on the fund manager's website.
Earlier this year Rob Everett, the chief executive of the Financial Markets Authority (FMA), observed that KiwiSaver providers were not reaching members "in a way we would like".
He added, "There is a serious lacking in engagement and confidence." The FMA would like to see KiwiSaver providers more proactive in engaging with their members.
The FMA has created a 'KiwiSaver Health Check' on their website. This asks questions such as "Do you know what type of fund you are in?" and "Is your KiwiSaver account on the right tax rate?" This is a good place to start finding out more about your KiwiSaver.
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org