KiwiSaver to simplify fee figures

A big change is coming for KiwiSaver. But not for another year.

And that has drawn criticism from one KiwiSaver manager who says the changes should be happening right away.

From 2018 all KiwiSaver providers will have to tell you in dollars and cents how much you pay in fees each year.

That is important because the Commission for Financial Capability says fees are a major source of confusion for many people.

At the moment the providers can report their fees in percentage terms and in a variety of formats.

One percent, or 1.3 percent, might not sound like much, but it can really add up over time. The more that you pay in fees the less is left in your account to compound over time. That means less money for you when you retire.

Adding to the confusion is that the providers have been reporting their fees in different ways.

There is a management fee, an administration fee and in some cases a performance fee (if the manager exceeds certain performance targets).

So comparing one fund with another has not been as clear cut as it should be.

The government agrees. That is why it is changing the rules for providers.

But the new requirements won't come into force until 2018 because of a request from some of the KiwiSaver fund managers.

They argued that they need to make changes to their IT systems and will not be able to provide a dollar figure for fees next year. So they are getting a one-year "transitional option."

Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister Paul Goldsmith says: "Providers not able to include a dollar figure for fees in 2017 annual statements will be required to disclose total fees as a percentage. All providers will be required to report dollar fees from 2018."

He added that: "I am still of the view KiwiSaver providers should be working toward providing their members with this information sooner than the regulatory deadline."

But Simplicity Chief Executive Sam Stubbs does not think that is good enough and says the government has been swayed by lobbying from some of the fund managers.

He points out that the information about fees is already provided by the fund managers to the Sorted website, which is operated by the Commission for Financial Capability.

"They can tell the Government, because they have to, but miraculously find it 'too hard' to tell their members until 2018."

Mr Stubbs says that an investor with $30,000 in their KiwiSaver fund will on average be paying $372. But in some cases the statements from their provider might leave them thinking they are paying only $30 in fees.

Mr Goldsmith says: "Should KiwiSaver investors have questions about their fees, I encourage them to contact their provider directly. A number of providers are already disclosing total fees in annual statements."

He says investors wanting more information can also use the Sorted website's KiwiSaver Fund Finder.


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