BNZ adds First Home Buyer Fund to KiwiSaver scheme; conservative offering with investment horizon of up to 5yrs

BNZ adds First Home Buyer Fund to KiwiSaver scheme; conservative offering with investment horizon of up to 5yrs

By Craig Simpson

Saving for your first home just became easier with BNZ launching a KiwiSaver First Home Buyer Fund.

With 85% of the assets invested into a mix of cash and fixed income (bonds) the fund is conservative in nature and is designed for those with an investment horizon of up to five years. When you are saving for a specific goal such as a home you can't afford to have large swings in the value of your savings.

BNZ is marketing the new fund as suitable for those looking to accumulate funds for their first home over the next three to five years. So long as investors deposit over $20 per week (or $1042.86 per annum) they should also be entitled to the full annual member tax credits of $521.43 per annum. The Government currently deposits 50 cents for every $1 you save into your KiwiSaver account and this is also pro-rated based on how long you have been in the fund.

There is no guarantee this tax credit will remain in place over the term of the investment, however any additional contributions to the account will certainly assist in reaching your savings goal.

Also under the BNZ KiwiSaver scheme if you have Fly Buys points you can convert these into additional deposits into your KiwiSaver account. Every 108 Fly Buys points is the equivalent to a $20 contribution to your BNZ KiwiSaver Account.

For some having their KiwiSaver and regular bank accounts available on one banking platform will also be an advantage.

The First Home Buyer initiative is not new for KiwiSaver per se as Superlife has an AIM First Home strategy, which has been around for a considerable period of time. Under the KiwiSaver (Periodic Disclosure) Regulations 2013 (Regulations), the Superlife strategy is not considered a fund in its own right, but is a combination of existing single sector funds and therefore does not have to make periodic disclosure reports.

BNZ's First Home Buyer Fund has an annual management fee of 0.5% and a member fee of $1.95 per month.

By comparison SuperLife's AIM First Home strategy which is available under KiwiSaver has an annual management fee of 0.31% and the standard member fee is $2.75 per month ($33 per annum).

ASB's Conservative KiwiSaver Fund is also priced cheaper at 0.4% p.a. and has a $2.50 per month member fee.

If the investor has a balance of $10,000 saved they would pay $50 per annum in management fees and a further $23.40 in member administration costs, a total of $73.40 per annum or the equivalent of 0.734%.

After accounting for the higher monthly member fee the ASB product works out to be $3.40 cheaper based on the same $10,000 investment and SuperLife's strategy is $9 cheaper per annum. We are not talking great sums of money here but it all counts.

Looking at the annual management fee in isolation, when comparing it to similar conservative strategies inside and outside KiwiSaver I feel the pricing is reasonable but not overly generous especially when the cash portion, which is considerable (at 60% of the total fund) stays in-house.

There is a provision in the investment statement for BNZ to outsource the management of the cash portion to Nikko AM in the future.

I expect the new fund offered by BNZ will prove to be a better option for saving towards a first home deposit compared to other forms of saving and my expectation is savers should be able to see their savings grow at a quicker rate, especially if they convert their Fly Buys points and receive Member Tax Credits regularly.

Despite my criticism on pricing I think BNZ should be applauded for their initiative to help first home buyers.

For those wanting more information on the First Home Buyer Fund this can be found here and the new investment statement here.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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"There is no guarantee.." should be emphasized. BNZ's record on superannuation plans (prior to their entering KiwiSaver) should be checked - it included the conservative Future Lifestyle superannuation Plan - which was frozen and eventually returned 99% of funds invested after more than a 5 year wait.

The funds that were frozen were done so to try and protect the investors capital. Results will have been far worse if you had a run on funds and the mannager was forced to sell at the bottom of the market to pay investors out, then you would have been looking at around 60c in the dollar. BNZ can not be blamed for their actions as it was prudent at the time and ultimately a better result for investors. Also BNZ were not the only ones involved in freezing funds.

You had all the mortgage funds from reputable insurance and trustee companies such as Tower, Guardian, Perpetual freezing their funds to withdrawals during the GFC so it is unfair to single out BNZ.


It was a registered superannuation fund advertised by BNZ on the day it was frozen as being 'suitable for those in retirement and those approaching retirement' - which is why it is fair to single it out. The superannuation fund which was frozen had 50% of its 'investments' in a related party non-superannuation scheme which had no restrictions on withdrawing funds - unlike the superannuation fund which was restricted on withdrawals.

There was more than a five year freeze on the return of the retirement monies.

That's a big assumption. To say that everyone was happy to wait over 5 years for 99c in the dollar. It may well be that with hindsight, some might have wanted to get out 5 years earlier than they did with only 60c in the dollar.

maybe they reliaze with no FHB they have no ongoing mortgage business, if you cant feed from the bottom the tree wont grow and will fall over eventually when the top gets to heavy

Nice, shame they couldn't organise the proverbial booze up in a brewery.