I'm not claiming any prescient powers but my blog last week postulating the need for a benchmark retirement cost survey was ahead of its time.

Taking my cue, this week Finance Minister Bill English launched a research project that will fill that very niche.

A three-way initiative between Workplace Savings NZ (once known as ASFONZ) and a Massey University offshoot, the New Zealand Centre for Personal Financial Education and Westpac the research will mirror the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) project I referred to last week.

Until last year ASFA, an organisation sort of like Workplace Savings, also used to work with Westpac for its retirement costs survey.


David Ireland, Workplace Savings chairman, acknowledges the ASFA inspiration but an NZ version is probably justified - I suppose NZ couldn't just borrow the Australian data and knock 20 per cent off. Could it? Think of the cost savings.

English used the launch occasion to offer KiwiSaver faint praise, saying while the scheme has been successful it probably hadn't really increased the national savings by much, if any.

"If funds are moving from other managed vehicles to this one, we may or may not be better off," he said. Well, you never know until it happens.

The new retirement cost survey results will be released at the Workplace Savings conference in Auckland this August, giving crystal ball-gazers a new point of focus.

"Our research will benchmark current retirement expenses in New Zealand," Ireland says in a press release. "People in the workforce planning for their own retirement can use that benchmark to assess the adequacy of their own wealth accumulation plans."

This may help people peer into the future; many of us won't like what we see.