A survey of results from a range of KiwiSaver funds shows wildly varying performances among them.

FundSource's latest managed funds statistics show that, as expected, growth KiwiSaver products, which have a greater investment in shares, have performed the worst during the past year.

In the growth category, AMP KiwiSaver Aggressive was down 27.15 per cent in the year to February 28.

Only three funds in this category were up, including the NZF SuperKiwi Growth Diversified Fund which grew 4.16 per cent.

In FundSource's balanced category Smartkiwi Balanced Fund came last out of 26, down 19.4 per cent.

This compares with one of the top performing funds in the category, the Huljich Balanced Diversified Kiwisaver Fund which was up 2.55 per cent.

Of the conservative funds measured, Tower KiwiPlan Conservative came in at 19 out of 19, down 5.2 per cent. The Mike Pero Saver Conservative Diversified Fund, however, grew 14.94 per cent.

Huljich Wealth Management manages the Huljich, Mike Pero and NZF funds and managing director Peter Huljich said their success was due to the fund manager's cautious investment strategy.

Amid the current volatility, it was going overweight on cash and fixed interest, even in its growth funds.

As a smaller manager, it was able to be more flexible, unlike its larger rivals which stuck to fixed indicative weightings of asset classes. "Where[as] we have indicative weightings and these can change at the manager's discretion."

The theory that it was a good time to buy shares because they were so cheap would come true if people stuck to it for long enough, he said.

"But right now I'd rather be having an argument with one of our clients with regards to not getting them the right return than basically investing in equities and getting them no return."

Having said that, Huljich was currently overweight in New Zealand equities.

Sean Newman, investment strategist for Tower, said shares had been a value trap but were now providing a premium. He said it was the time to drip feed some funds into equities.

Interestingly it was the low risk part of their portfolios that people tended to get really wrong. "You'll never see an equity fund frozen, but you will see an income fund frozen."

Newman said it was not entirely fair to say larger institutions stuck with fixed investment strategies.

"We just try to have lots of small things add up to a return rather than one big king hit."

He said a survey of US mutual funds showed an average return of 11.6 per cent between 1988 and 2007, but the average investor only earned 4.5 per cent. This was because they had chased from one asset class to another.

Martin Lewington, managing director of KiwiSaver provider Mercer New Zealand, said cash and fixed interest had been a great place to be during the past year. But with talk of an official cash rate as low as 2 per cent "your cash returns are going to tank".

He said equities remained one of the few asset classes that could protect investors against inflation long term.

What $100 invested in these KiwiSaver funds would be worth now
Smartkiwi Balanced Fund: $80.60

Huljich Balanced Diversified Fund: $102.55

Tower KiwiPlan Conservative: $94.80

Mike Pero Saver Conservative: $114.94

AMP KiwiSaver Aggressive: $72.85

NZF SuperKiwi Growth: $104.16