Q: I have returned to New Zealand from Australia and have been told by my Super fund in Australia, Cbus, that I can only get my Super here by transferring it to KiwiSaver. Is this true?
Your Australian Super provider is correct. The only way to get your Australian superannuation savings transferred before retirement is to shift it to a KiwiSaver provider. Your Australian fund needs to be approved by APRA, the Government body that oversees the Australian superannuation industry: superfundlookup.gov.au.
Any funds transferred from Australia won't count towards your member tax credit, can't be used to buy a first home and can't be transferred to a third country if you move on from New Zealand.
Although you can't buy a house with the Australian money, any investment earnings from those funds can be used.
Access to the Australian-sourced portion of your KiwiSaver funds will be governed by Australian rules, which may mean the money is available at a time that's different from the rest of your KiwiSaver money. This can be as young as 60 under Australian rules.
One problem with Australian Super is many New Zealanders work in Australia, often for a short time, make contributions to a Super fund and then lose track of the money. Super fund managers who have lost contact with members holding less than $4000 in their accounts will have that money transferred to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
ANZ's general manager, wealth products, Ana-Marie Lockyer, says it estimates a sizeable amount of unclaimed Super money owed to New Zealanders is sitting in Australia.
"This is either held in the Australian Taxation Office or by individual superannuation fund managers."
If your money is with an APRA-approved Super fund manager, your KiwiSaver provider should be able to help you get it to New Zealand.
It becomes a lot more complex when the money is with multiple Super fund managers or held at the ATO.
Lockyer says the ATO will find your superannuation money but this money can only be transferred into a single Australian superannuation fund. "Non-residents cannot open one of these."
Last year, the Australian Government flagged it would sort this problem but the legislation has yet to materialise.
ANZ offers its KiwiSavers the option of opening an Australian ANZ Super account, which gathers up any money held in their name and consolidates it in a single account.
"The member can either leave that money in Australia or transfer it to their ANZ KiwiSaver account," says Lockyer.
"We have transferred $53 million from Australia into ANZ KiwiSaver accounts on behalf of 2200 customers over the past two years."
Lockyer says it makes good sense to round up this money.
"Anyone who had a few different jobs in Australia is likely to have a few different superannuation funds.
"They are likely paying administration fees on each of these accounts so their balances may be declining if they've stopped contributing.
"They may also be paying premiums for insurance products linked to the superannuation scheme that they are probably not able to make a claim on now if they are resident in New Zealand."