Whilst many of us regularly contribute to KiwiSaver, not all of us know exactly what fund type we’re in. This can be quite detrimental to your overall savings at retirement, especially if you’re one of the 700,000 Kiwis who are in a default fund. Since more than half of those in a default fund haven’t actively chosen to be in that fund, we thought we’d share exactly what a default fund is, how to know if you’re in one, and what you can do about it.
So what is a default fund?
A default KiwiSaver fund is one that you are enrolled in automatically when you first sign up to KiwiSaver. It’s designed to be a temporary solution until you decide which fund is best for you and your financial situation.
Default funds typically take a more conservative investment approach, meaning that you’ll usually have fairly stable, smaller returns, with little risk. This might suit some people, but if you’re wanting to retire comfortably, it’s important to know what other fund types are available that may yield more returns.
How do you know if you’re in a default fund?
You might be in a default fund if you enrolled in KiwiSaver quite some time ago and aren’t really sure what fund type you’re in.
Usually you get sent out an annual statement from your KiwiSaver provider (i.e. Booster, Generate, etc.) that details which fund type you’re in and what your returns have been for the year. If you can’t remember receiving this, or you’ve lost it, you’ll need to give your provider a call to find out which fund you’re in.
If you’re not sure which KiwiSaver provider you’re with, you can call 0800 KIWISAVER to find out – you’ll need your IRD number handy.
You’re in a default fund – is this bad?
If you’ve found out that you are in a default fund, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it all depends on your own situation.
However, if you do choose to stay in a default fund, it could mean that you’ll be missing out on thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars at retirement.
So before you make any final decisions, it’s important to understand what other fund types are out there, and whether there may be another one better suited to your needs.
So what other fund types are there?
There are typically four main types of KiwiSaver fund that each have their own levels of risk and return.
Conservative – Conservative funds tend to have a lower-risk, lower-return model. There will still be ups and downs because KiwiSaver is an investment, but overall you’ll likely see less dramatic changes with this fund.
Balanced – Balanced funds carry a little more risk, but you’ll usually get a little more return with this one too. This is considered a fairly steady fund.
Growth – With a Growth fund, again you’ll see perhaps a higher risk, but also higher returns. You might see a few more ups and downs, but if you don’t plan to use your KiwiSaver for quite some time, a fund like this could be an option.
Aggressive – Aggressive funds tend to be based on a high-risk, high-return model. You’ll likely see more dramatic changes, but in the long run, you may end up with a lot more of a return.
Which fund type should you be in?
This all depends on your own personal situation. You’ll need to consider a few different things, such as how much you’re paying in fees for each fund, the returns you’re getting, as well as how soon you’ll be drawing on some or all of your KiwiSaver money.
It’s important to do your own research, and you can start with taking a look at our KiwiSaver calculator to show you some overall fund type comparisons.
Our advisers can also help you out, providing class advice so that you can make the best decision for your situation.
For more detail on the fees associated with each of the available funds, you can also check out Sorted’s Fund Finder.
Struggling with some of the terms in this article? Check out our translation of the KiwiSaver jargon here.