We all want to avoid an underachieving fund when it comes to investing our money in KiwiSaver, but should it be up to the regulators to shut down the poor performers?

Australia's Productivity Commission seems to think so.

It has just released its final report on a review of the superannuation industry which recommends ways to weed out the worst performers.


It wants all regulated super funds to carry out an annual test which would check the performance of the fund against a pre-set benchmark.

If the fund is more than half a percentage point a year below its benchmark over a rolling eight-year period the fund would get a year to lift its performance or face being withdrawn from the market.

Members of the closed fund would then be transferred elsewhere.

It sounds like a nice idea - an independent body looking out for consumers - especially when for many people KiwiSaver is a complicated product they struggle to understand.

Research has already shown many KiwiSaver members are complacent and aren't motivated to switch funds based on fees or performance.

Of the 2.7 million people in KiwiSaver just 189,736 switches were made in the year to March 31.

There is now more than 10 years' worth of performance data for KiwiSaver funds, which is enough time to see who the consistent poor performers are.

But the challenge would be in ensuring each fund's benchmark is appropriate.


In the past some fund managers chose to set their benchmark as the cash rate, which was not appropriate for funds invested in shares.

Setting an appropriate benchmark would need to be checked by the regulator, as would the performance data.

All of that takes time and money for a regulator which already has a stretched budget and limited resources.

New Zealand's KiwiSaver market is much smaller than Australia's. There are just 31 schemes, although underneath those lie several hundred funds.

Checking and comparing the performance of your fund is not that difficult. Members can either use the quarterly Morningstar figures or the Financial Markets Authority's KiwiSaver tracker tool.

Those who aren't happy with the performance of their fund can switch easily by getting in touch with a different provider.

The reality is if you care about avoiding the dogs of KiwiSaver the power is already in your hands without waiting for the regulator to step in.