How to choose the KiwiSaver provider and fund that works best for you

  • 02/09/2022
  • Sponsored by - Milford
Budget planning.
Photo credit: Getty Images

For many New Zealanders, their KiwiSaver account will become one of their largest assets, a major help in buying their first home and a key part of living comfortably in retirement.

KiwiSaver can be a powerful way to grow your savings – with contributions from you, your employer and the government, plus the investment returns achieved, all helping to build your investment over time. It’s natural to think of KiwiSaver as a savings account, but really, it’s an investment account. Investing can feel intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a range of tools and resources on KiwiSaver providers’ websites and if you prefer to talk it through with someone, there are professionals who can help ensure you’re in the right KiwiSaver fund for you.

Liam Robertson, a financial adviser at Milford, is one of them. He's an expert at helping people make the most of their KiwiSaver account and we've put some of the most important questions to him.

Newshub: How do I maximise my KiwiSaver savings?

Robertson: Essentially, there are two key levers you can pull in order to maximise your returns in the long term:

  • You can increase your contributions. Many Kiwis put in 3 percent because that's what their employer is obligated to match. But you can increase that to four, six, eight or 10 percent. The more you put in, the larger the sum of money you have invested which can help generate more returns over time.
  • Choose the right fund for you. In practice, this could mean considering a higher risk, potentially higher returning fund, like a growth or aggressive fund if that’s appropriate for your goals, timeframe and tolerance for risk. Whilst these funds will naturally have more ups and downs in value over the short term, history shows us that they typically generate better returns in the long term, which helps you to maximise your savings over time.

How do I make sure I'm getting good value for money?

You should look at the investment returns of KiwiSaver providers on an after-fee basis. Most KiwiSaver providers will display their returns after-fees. You’ll also want to consider the service you're getting, the transparency of your provider, how easily you can see your account information via app or web portal and detailed fund reports, amongst other things. When you call them on the phone, do they pick up and answer questions you have about market volatility, making you feel at ease and offering help to ensure you're investing in the right fund? Low fee providers do not necessarily generate a better return, and high fee providers do not necessarily provide better value for money, either. If you use an independent source like the quarterly Morningstar KiwiSaver Report, you can compare how KiwiSaver providers are performing.

How do I make sure sustainability is incorporated into how my money is being invested?

You should be able to view your KiwiSaver account and get a good snapshot of where your money is being invested. Your provider should be clear about their approach to ethical or sustainable investing. At Milford, we take an active engagement approach. As providers of capital to businesses we believe we can make the biggest impact by driving companies to do better. Informed by our detailed analysis, we challenge them on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance. We've engaged with over 200 companies in the last 12 months.

What is the most important factor in choosing which fund type is right for me?  

There are three key factors:

  • What is your goal - are you investing for your first home or retirement? If you need to save $100,000 for a house deposit over the next ten years, you need to be in the mindset that you will have to contribute enough to get there. So be committed to the goal.
  • What is your timeframe? Generally speaking, if your goal is further away, then you have a longer investment time horizon and the more risk you can consider taking on (because you have time to recover from the ups and downs of markets).
  • What is your risk tolerance? You need to think about how comfortable you are with market volatility, which can see your balance go up and down as markets go through cycles. If you're going to lose sleep over that, a growth fund probably isn't right for you.

If you can invest in a fund which complements all three of these factors, you're going to be a more comfortable, happier investor who can tolerate times of volatility, such as those we are seeing this year.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide you with general information only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Milford Funds Limited is the issuer of the Milford KiwiSaver Plan. Please read the Milford KiwiSaver Plan Product Disclosure Statement at Before investing you may wish to seek financial advice. For more information about Milford’s financial advice services visit Financial Advice Disclosure Statements for all Milford Financial Advisers are available on request free of charge. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

This article was created for Milford.