KiwiSaver members are being urged not to panic after share markets around the world tumbled over concerns about China and the Middle East.

New Zealand's benchmark index the S&P/NZX50 was down 1.1 per cent just after lunch and Wall St was described as having the worst start to the year since 2001.

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But Binu Paul, managing director of KiwiSaver comparison tool SavvyKiwi, said a negative start to the year did not predict the rest of 2016.


"That is just a statistic. It really doesn't reflect how the rest of the year will look."

Paul said if KiwiSaver members believed they were in the right fund they should stick with it.

"If you are investing for the longer term...if you believe you are in the right fund stick to it. The proviso is you are in the right fund."

Binu said it was a big mistake to try and time the market by switching funds.

KiwiSaver funds took a hit last year in the three months ending September 30 after turmoil in the Chinese share market.

But are likely to have recovered much of that ground in the last quarter of the year after a strong finish which saw the NZX50 close the year on a record high.

Investors who switched from a growth fund to a conservative fund in the down time would have crystallised their losses and missed out on the recovery.

Binu said those who avoided growth investments such as shares also risked having the value of their investment eaten away by inflation over time.

"The silent killer is inflation."

Rather than seeing a fall in the share market as a negative he said KiwiSaver investors could also benefit from it.

"The one thing to remember with KiwiSaver is it is a regular contribution.

"Markets going down are not the end of the world as you can buy more units for the same money."

Binu said savers should expect volatility in the markets to continue this year on the back of global geopolitical concerns.