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Which Is The Best KiwiSaver Provider For You?

The importance of KiwiSaver to our financial wellbeing has been thrown into sharp relief by Canstar’s latest research, which reveals a third of us will rely on its income for a comfortable retirement.

As such, New Zealanders need to ensure they are with the right provider, and right fund, for their life stage and risk appetite.

Canstar is revealing the winner of its annual deep dive into KiwiSaver providers, identifying those that offer the best value and service to their customers.

Canstar is proud to announce that Milford Funds has again swept top honours, being named KiwiSaver Provider of the Year, along with collecting an Outstanding Value Award for its Milford KiwiSaver Plan.

The BNZ KiwiSaver Scheme and the Fisher Funds KiwiSaver Scheme are also winners of Outstanding Value Awards.

The awards are being released at a vital time for Kiwis, many of whom are struggling to figure their financial futures after a year in which COVID-19 has upended the economy.

Canstar’s survey of Kiwis’ personal financial situations showed that nearly 40% are worse off financially as a result of the pandemic and nearly half say they aren’t saving any money because they can’t afford to. More than a quarter have dipped into their savings.

Despite that, there is a clear understanding of the value of KiwiSaver, with more than half of Kiwis reviewing their funds over the last year.

The latest KiwiSaver annual report, released by the FMA, shows total membership has risen by more than 2%, to nearly 3.1 million. Average balances have hit more than $26,000, on the back of a swift market recovery. The report also notes the 43% rise in hardship withdrawals, to nearly $160 million. This was due to the report covering a time in which unemployment had risen, the FMA noted.

Overall, however, the FMA noted “KiwiSaver held up under pressure this year, as global markets bounced back from the initial shock of COVID-19, despite further lockdowns here and cases surging overseas.”

Jose George, Canstar New Zealand General Manager, said a large number of New Zealanders had been left financially vulnerable by the pandemic, and were clearly concerned about their finances. However, he said it was heartening to note the high levels of interest in KiwiSaver funds, which were important to maintain, if possible, even during times of financial stress.

“So many of us are relying on KiwiSaver to support us through our retirement. To ensure a comfortable lifestyle, it is important to keep investing money in our KiwiSaver funds. At times of financial stress, it may be necessary to pull back on the sum invested in each year. But each dollar that goes in will benefit you hugely by the time you retire. The value of investing now for your future cannot be underestimated.”

Murray Harris, Head of KiwiSaver and Distribution at Milford, said, “We are delighted to have won these two awards for a second year in a row. We work very hard to provide outstanding value to our KiwiSaver members, so to receive this independent confirmation that what we are doing is hitting the mark is extremely pleasing.

“We are particularly pleased with the Provider of the Year Award, as that is our members telling us how satisfied they are. Rest assured we’ll be continuing to focus on delivering value to our members, meeting their high expectations and helping them to achieve their KiwiSaver goals.”

In the Outstanding Value category, BNZ took an award for the third year running, due to its focus on value in its KiwiSaver offer.

Peter Forster, BNZ General Manager for Wealth, said winning the award for the third consecutive year was great recognition of the efforts they’ve made to provide a high-quality, low cost scheme. “Delivering value for money for our members is at the core of what we set out to achieve every day,” Mr Forster said.

“We were the first major provider to remove fixed fees and we’ve cut our percentage-based fees to some of the lowest in the market. And we’ve reduced our fees while retaining our focus on enhancing the quality of the investment product. That’s how you demonstrate outstanding value.”

To find the KiwiSaver Provider of the Year and the Outstanding Value Award winners, Canstar rated 17 providers and 133 funds. To qualify, the fund must have been publicly available for at least five years.

For its Provider of the Year Award, Canstar assesses the provider’s scheme and its customer satisfaction.

The Outstanding Value Awards assess performance, features and price.

For further details please visit the Canstar NZ site, here.

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