2 Sep 2015

You pay into KiwiSaver, but then what?

8:26 am on 2 September 2015

A quarter of people approaching retirement have no plan for how they will manage their KiwiSaver funds, a survey shows.

The research was done by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the Commission for Financial Capability.

Man holding piggy banks

Many people pay into KiwiSaver but have no plan for the money. Photo: 123RF

According to the survey, only half those approaching retirement felt the information available from their KiwiSaver provider was useful for making decisions about their savings and for working out how much they will have when they are 65.

Mark Ward, a 45-year old computer consultant with four children, said he had not given any thought as to what to do with his KiwiSaver funds.

"To be honest, it's 20 years away for me and I haven't thought about an action plan for after I retire, its an important step.

"We spend our lives saving this money and we've got to think about where to from there right?" He said.

The FMA's Andrew Park said a lack of a spending plan could be put down to a focus mostly on getting people to join KiwiSaver.

"We've been focused if you like on the accumulation phase. KiwiSaver is still relatively young, only eight years old in terms of a national universal scheme," he said.

Janet is in her late 30s and said she has not thought any further than simply depositing money into KiwiSaver fortnightly.

"It's just something I put my money into, I guess by the time I retire I'll probably use it to supplement a pension if the pension is still available at the time," she said.

Tim Rosamond, in his late 40s, held a similar view to Janet.

"As I get closer to that time, I'll have to think about it, but no plans at this stage, I'm sure it'll come right," he said.

Michael Littlewood, a director at Superlife which provides KiwiSaver schemes and a director at Auckland University's Retirement Policy and Research Centre, said the financial survey was asking people the wrong question.

"If the question is for example; 'will you pull your out your KiwiSaver and tell me where your funds are currently invested?'; that would be so much more interesting," he said.

The survey shows a quarter of those approaching retirement planned to take out their lump sum when they reach 65, and 10 per cent of those said they would spend it, rather than invest it.

Michael Anastasiadis, who is in his 50s, has a plan for his KiwiSaver.

"I'd probably either put it in more investments, either stock, keep some of it in cash and spend a third of it. The idea is one-third, one-third, one-third, so I wouldn't spend all of it", he said.

Age Concern said with the average life expectancy reaching 91 years by 2053, compared with 80 in 1970, it was essential to plan for retirement.

The Colmar Brunton survey canvassed 1000 people for the study.