Warnings of an economic downturn could be a timely reminder for people to assess whether they are in the right KiwiSaver fund, says the head of a research firm.

Last week, former prime minister John Key warned that the global economy is starting to sputter and experts agree New Zealand's economy is coming to the end of the current economic cycle.

Growth is slowing and expected to hit 2 per cent this year, down from around 3 per cent while many have commented that New Zealand's stock exchange is looking expensive with share prices hitting new highs.

Globally, China's economy has been wobbly this year – its stock markets some of the worst performers - and it could slow further if a trade war with the US escalates to tariffs on all its exports.


Canstar New Zealand general manager Jose George says New Zealanders have had a relatively smooth ride since KiwiSaver began 11 years ago.

"Although this is great news on most levels, the one thing it can lead to is the expectation that annual growth is a given. Unfortunately, it's not."

George says like any investment the value of KiwiSaver can go down as well as up.

But that doesn't mean people should panic.

"The overriding message is don't base your decisions on alarming headlines."

Instead, George says now could be the time for people to review their KiwiSaver scheme and make sure they are in the right fund for the level of risk they want to take on.

"If, like many members, you are in a lower risk fund, your investment is less likely to be affected anyway.

"If you are investing in the higher risk, higher returns end of the spectrum, we would suggest a conversation with a financial adviser may be a good way to determine your position and what you may or may not want to do."


George said people should consider how long they have until retirement and ask themselves how much income they need in retirement.

Some people close to retirement may have other money they plan to use first before tapping into KiwiSaver.

"It is really based on your individual circumstances. Talk to your provider and get targeted personal advice."

George also warned people against stopping their contributions.

"Your retirement goals are more attainable if you continue to contribute regularly."

Those who stopped putting in money risked missing out on the employer contribution if they were employed and the Government's annual KiwiSaver subsidy - the annual member tax credit, he warned.