In our recent review of where New Zealanders have invested our KiwiSaver nestegg, we asked the question: Does our preference for using bank schemes help or hurt our returns?
That review found that two thirds of all funds are invested with a bank scheme.
We have almost $32 billion invested with bank schemes, and only $15 billion invested with other scheme managers.
Banks have one very powerful magnet working for them: the ability to report and display the fund balance and transactions, integrated into their ubiquitous banking apps.
That impulse has nothing to do with returns or results. So it is logical to ask the question: are KiwiSavers being hurt or helped as a consequence.
We used our deep database of regular savings returns that begins in 2008 to do this assessment.
Our database includes 159 separate funds overall, one of the most comprehensive reviews available. Clearly, your fund assessment will involve the particular institution you are with. This assessment is more general. We have looked at weighted returns for the top five funds in each risk category for bank-based ones, and non-bank-based ones. And we are only looking at track records, which is a backward-looking perspective. It is no guarantee of what will happen in the future.
This review concludes there is little overall disadvantage for being in the better bank funds, than the better performing non-bank funds.
But there are exceptions, which we note below.
|Top 5||Top 5|
|last 3 years||6.586%||7.446%|
|% of sector total||61.8%||28.5%|
|last 3 years||5.332%||5.868%|
|% of sector total||61.1%||24.3%|
|Balanced Growth funds:|
|last 3 years||4.624%||5.075%|
|% of sector total||66.9%||30.2%|
|last 3 years||3.132%||2.974%|
|% of sector total||66.0%||23.2%|
|last 3 years||1.406%||1.942%|
|% of sector total||49.2%||40.1%|
|last 3 years||2.920%||3.030%|
|% of sector total||61.2%||38.8%|
While it is pretty even overall, there of course are quite wide variances on a specific fund basis. You will need to inspect that detail yourself and our individual fund resources give you the basis to do that.
If you have your investment in aggressive risk funds, generally being in a good performing bank fund has come with a return penalty. Our estimate is that over the last three years, investors in bank-based aggressive funds have suffered a shortfall of about $180 million in returns.
For growth funds, our estimate is that these investors are about $100 million disadvantaged.
But there doesn't seem to be a material disadvantage if you are an investor in balanced growth funds, nor moderate, conservative or default funds.
Our conclusion: Banks may have a very strong, attractive platform advantage in winning your support which could disadvantage you if you want your investments in a growth or aggressive risk category. (You are generally better off using high performing non-bank schemes then).
But you suffer no practical disadvantage for the less risky categories.
(This review was for fund data up to December 2017).