Nigel Pinkerton says making KiwiSaver compulsory is a step too far; many committed savers don't need it, many low income people will face unfair deductions

Nigel Pinkerton says making KiwiSaver compulsory is a step too far; many committed savers don't need it, many low income people will face unfair deductions
Is it good to be tied in for compulsory savings with the funds industry, your employer, and the Government?

By Nigel Pinkerton*

According to a Horizon poll, commissioned by the Financial Services Council (FSC), 41% of us feel we need to be forced to save. 

Isn’t it great then that we have a scheme like KiwiSaver which effectively compels us to save once enrolled? 

But many want to go further, forcing people like myself who have made a conscious decision not to be in KiwiSaver to join anyway.

The Horizon poll suggested significant support for compulsory KiwiSaver.  35% of respondents fully supported making KiwiSaver compulsory. 

Adding people who don’t know but “lean towards” supporting it, or support it with “some reservations” you get 70% of respondents expressing some level of support for compulsory KiwiSaver – which makes for impressive headlines.

Given over 2 million of us have enrolled in KiwiSaver, it is plausible the support for compulsory KiwiSaver comes almost exclusively from current members.

The published results contain some breakdown (for example by age and income) but there doesn’t appear to be any distinction between current KiwiSaver members and non-members. 

There is a big difference between saying “force me to save” as discussed at the beginning of this article, and saying “force everybody else to be in KiwiSaver”.

One interesting point to note is that support for compulsory KiwiSaver was significantly higher for respondents over 65 years old (44% fully support) compared to under 65 year olds (34%).  It seems reasonable that people not directly affected by a policy are more likely to support the idea of it, and the same could be said for people already in KiwiSaver.

Something else gleaned from the published results is that support for a compulsory retirement savings scheme increases significantly with income.

You may expect this to be the case, because lower-income people are less able to afford saving than higher-income people.

For those on average and above-average incomes, enrolling in KiwiSaver usually means diverting existing savings into the scheme to take advantage of tax breaks.

It could it also be however, that higher-income people are already saving and want to force lower-income people to do the same.

The outcome of this policy would be that poorer people are forced to save for their own retirement and the burden on the tax system, which is primarily met by those on higher incomes, is reduced.

Whether or not New Zealand has a savings “problem” is outside the scope of this article, and there are plenty of well-meaning people on both sides of the debate. 

Reading the FSC’s media release that accompanied the poll, it would be easy to be left with the impression it is a problem for which people are crying out for a solution.

But there are still a significant number of people that don’t want to be forced to save through the KiwiSaver vehicle.

What we should be considering is whether there is a justification for forcing the remaining hold-outs to be part of a scheme that they have made a conscious decision to stay out of.

The people who want to be compelled to save already have the option of being in KiwiSaver, and these days it is easier be in the scheme than stay out of it. 

Personally I choose not to be in KiwiSaver right now.

I believe my decision is a rational decision, that I will be adequately set up by the time I retire through other savings vehicles, and I would oppose any government move to take that decision out of my hands.

----------------------------------------------------

Nigel Pinkerton is the lead developer at Infometrics, an economic consultancy and forecasting service. You can contact him here »

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61 Comments

I've thought about taking a holiday from ks to put the money into other things. But the opportunity cost makes it very hard to justify. As an employee the return is too good to stay out of ks. Getting a loan at current interest rates actually works out a lot cheaper.

How do you justify not being in kiwisaver?

a) Greatly enhanced risk of default and its impact at the moment. Debt remains no matter what in a deflationary event, "savings" can be wiped out.  eg My main pension after 30 years lost 22% in 2008, my mortgage didnt decline 22% to compensate.
b) We went over or are going over the peak oil hump, therefore we are not in BAU of never ending growth and therefore small returns and even sizable losses in the future are probable as the world's economy shrinks.
c) Govn seizing control, or "directing" funds to put money where the Govn says. eg "50% of funds from now on must be NZ based"
d) lack of control, i want to control my own money and finances.
So I justify not being in it as I am paying down debt first as that is my biggest risk and I cant control how the money is managed. If nothing else the pensions industry are a bunch of lemmings over-charging for diddly.
regards
 

I am not an employee.

I agree that is the case with the status quo, in other words you have little choice.
 
However in a true accounting of the situation you are not allowing for the reduced wages you are being paid by your employee to compensate for being forced to pay you an additional 2% (or whatever).

My sister refuses too save for her retirement and my take on this is simple. If you are not saving you are not taking responsibiility and expecting someone else too for you.
I am not sure how you can beat free money from an employer and a gift from the government. If you can then you should write a book as it will sell very well. 3% from you matched by an employer if basically 100% return allbeit after the tax man takes a bit. To say that can be beaten would be a miracle.
If people wont take responsibility they need to be forced to rather than to arrive at retirement with their hand out (all the time spending money on their other priorities).The poor will need help and that is fine but there is no excuse for not taking responsibility

there is no such things as free money from an employer and please stop supporting that false meme, as it teaches people with poor financial understand even worse habits.

If the money is there for an employer to pay Kiwisaver, it is because a customer had to pay that much more.
And if the product is good enough to warrant the extra payment, then the employer could have just paid it to you as wages/salary _anyway_.  Eiterh way KS or paypacket you still pay the same tax rate, so it's not "free" in the slightest.

How are you going to refund all those who don't live until payout day?  Or is it just ok to steal their money when they are young?

and actually... lets get _real_ if your _sister_ gets to retirement age, chances are she'll have a partner, or a life assurance policy from a partner.  And if all else fails, she can just lower her standards a little in 40+yr old bracket and get herself a meal ticket.  Why _should_ she have to save her money now?  Far better to spend up now, be interesting and experienced, which will make her much more saleable/employable... and being a poor unfortunate woman with no partner to support her, there's a high chance that the bleeding heart PC socialists in the government of the future will pay out for her.

you, on the other, better save ,since you've got a penis. 

It's not correct to say that people who fail to save cost the taxpayer money, whereas people who do save for themselves reduce the cost on taxpayers.  Both you and your sister will receive the same amount of NZS when you are 65.
 
Thus, the beneficiary of your saving is your future older self, not the taxpayer - you will have additional income over and above NZS.  The main loser from your sister's approach will be your sister herself when she is older, not the taxpayer - she will have nothing but NZS to live on.   She may well feel that is an acceptable trade-off for having the money available for things that she needs now, and who am I or you or anybody else to tell her that she's wrong in that.
 
 
 
 

Actually I think you are in-correct as there is means testing.  The pension is the minimum, hence if you need a top up for say rent or food because the OAP isnt enough with no private savings WINZ has to meet the costs (in a general sense). If you have some money WINZ can decline until its gone.
regards
 
 

NZS isn't means tested, is what I meant.  Certainly, the very poorest pensioners can also claim additional help from WINZ.  Perhaps some of them could have avoided that situation if they had saved earlier, but I suspect that if they are that poor now it is likely that they were also poor during their working lives - in which case, forcing them to transfer wealth from their younger selves to their older selves will simply transfer hardship (need for state assistance) from their older selves to their younger selves and so not improve their overall lifetime welfare, or save the taxpayer very much.

Contradictory MdM. You don't like compulsory KS. But think compulsory NS is ok.
 

No, because NZS and KS are quite different and have different purposes.  You don't fund NZS for your own private benefi,t and you don't get benefits out of it in proportion to what you put into it.  That's why it has to be compulsory, unless you think that old people who are not able to support themselves should be reliant on nothing but charity.  Whereas private saving is for your own benefit, and you do benefit out of it proportionate to what you put in.  As such it's no business of mine whether you choose to do that or not.

New Zealand as a whole can't afford universal super, but individually all New Zealander's can afford to be in compulsory kiwisaver?
And where are these million kiwis going to live when they return to N.Z.?

It's the same lemon painted a new colour... 
we can't afford Universal Super because we have to pay out so much
we "can" afford people to be paying into KS
until
we have to start paying out KS, they the tune will change as suddenly all the money is going out.

...ain't it just so weird how ponzi schemes work....    

broad base narrow top, all is good. when those payers want their share of the cheese, tada! magic trick, no money!

And since we're playing the tango of inflation based wealth reduction and economic choking, and inflinitely rising costs (through diminishing returns),   gee who would ever be able to predict what might happen.

No its not  contradictory,  a) life isnt, a black or white thing, there is nothing wrong with mixing diffeent ideas and policies to get teh result wanted.   b) OAP gives a minimum and somewhat re-distributive as is our tax regime, its also paid via the compulsory tax system.   c) options for saving to give a retirement income above this bare minimum should be up to the individual.
regards

Quote from Magnum
3% from you matched by an employer if basically 100% return allbeit after the tax man takes a bit. To say that can be beaten would be a miracle.
$1 from me matched by $1 from my employer equals 100% return p/a if i cashed up next year.
But i cant cash out next year, but rather in 30 years,
so $1 return reverse compounded over 30 years is about 2.5%
With a mediocre rate like that and about the lowest liquidity I can get next to forestry i dont see how you need a miracle to beat that.
 
 

This.....'and about the lowest liquidity I can get next to forestry i dont see how you need a miracle to beat that.'

No, horsie.

That magical 3%.

where do you think that comes from?  Is your boss or the shareholders going to take a hit in their pay packets - what if they have Kiwisaver too?  They won't be taking a hit, they, like you, will be getting magical 3% bonuses.

(1)where in the companies profit and loss/balance sheet do you think that very real 3% cash is going to come from?
(2) and where do think it could have gone instead?  

(the answer to the second question I'll give you.. .that 3% could have gone straight on to your wages).

Now I answered the second question, you answer the first, where did that cash come from?

Did you read the whole post?
The first sentence in bold was a quote from Magnum.
My comments followed Magnum's quote.
 
 
 

The post you replied to is almost a month old.
Bold is for highlighting. (as is underlining).
""  are quote marks and are used for quoting material.
Italics can be used for quoting blocks or stressing small phases/words of text.
- -

The $1 is matched at time of contribution, and is taxed at the same time.
so the $1 is compounded at whatever return your provider and scheme is using.  Generally the conservative ones do better, p.a. and turnover is per annum so most decades they'll outperform others.  
so it's (1-tax) * (1+ interest rate).^ (years)
It's not easy to reverse compound it as the returns aren't steady for most funds.

However, any way you look at it, the money going into KS, could have been money into your paypacket for you to put where you want.  And either way your employer/business still has to earn that contribution including tax, in sales revenue somehow.

>>> I am not sure how you can beat free money from an employer and a gift from the government. If you can then you should write a book as it will sell very well. 3% from you matched by an employer if basically 100% return allbeit after the tax man takes a bit. To say that can be beaten would be a miracle.
 
What an incredibly naive set of statements.
Your "free money" from your employer is just a part of the wage that you would otherwise be earning and have now lost control of, in addition to the 2% that you are directly forced to part with - and/or it has contributed to inflation of the pricing of your company's products, which has simply screwed all consumers of NZ products nationally.
Did you think it came out of the profits of the company shareholders, the goodness of their hearts?
Zero sum game.
Same with the government "contribution", an utterly shameless tax grab and effectively a sneak "redistribution of wealth" orchestrated by Labour.
 
>>> If people wont take responsibility they need to be forced to rather than to arrive at retirement with their hand out (all the time spending money on their other priorities).The poor will need help and that is fine but there is no excuse for not taking responsibility

Heil Hitler! Or Lenin?

Agree with Cowboy. The money is not free.
My salary is based on a total package that includes any contribution from the employer. So if I opt into KS at 3% (unless it has gone up?), then my "employer's contribution" is 3%, which means a full 6% comes out of my salary. The only benefit I think is that the employer's contribution is before tax.
With a mortgage and a family on one income, I cannot afford to take 6% out of my salary, therefore I opted out of KS.

Cowboy, if you don't see the problems synthesised from the externalities of being without KiwiSaver; hope you enjoy being ground down between taxation and inflation. Toxic comments suggest you don't care for analysis or debate. Are you a cotton mouthed, radical libertarian zealot, intent on replacing government and police with businesses and private armies? Probably not, but you can see how toxic your ad hominem, unintelligent and emotive rhetoric about "PC socialists" is now.
Magnum makes a good point about not taking responsibility. We can surely agree there is a problem in the lack of savings, does that not put the responsibility on government, to help those without the financial prowess many here have? Where does that particular responsibility lie? Do we ignore it and say it's the problem of those who don't save?

"Being without Kiwisaver" is not at all the same thing as "being without savings".  Many people were already saving before there was KiwiSaver; many people now are saving additional to, or instead of, being in Kiwisaver.
 
Why should we agree that there is a "problem in the lack of savings"?  I don't have such a problem, and neither apparently does Nigel, do you? 
 
And even if we do agree that some people don't save as much as they should, why does it follow that that puts any responsibility on Government (ie, the rest of us through our taxes) - over and above what Government is already doing,which is to provide all over-65s with sufficient income to keep them just above the poverty line? 
 
 

Stuart - people can be without savings.....but can have investments which will provide for them in their retirement years. Savings are not an investment.....low interest rates, inflation and taxation will erode any value very quickly.
 
PC Socialists are a problem......and Cowboy correctly targets them.....how many PC Socialists have qualifications as Financial Advisors? or how many of them have ever started their own business from the ground up? Yet they want to enforce KS on all people without the appropriate financial expertise.
 
Reading some of the comments on this site is very much a reminder as to how ignorant people are on issues surrounding money and investment.
 
 

"innocent"  :)

Suart, you are up against it - I would go further. Supporting the idea of an authoritarian compulsory savings scheme with heavy taxpayer involvement and part socializing of wages is not just "PC socialist", it is quite solidly within the "communist" range of the politico-economic spectrum. It almost defies belief in a modern democracy.
 
This is not hyperbole. If you had even hints of such ideas overseas, e.g. modifications to the United States' 401K system in this direction, you would have riots on the streets and the political suicide of the party responsible.
 
It is unbelievable quite how left-wing / socialist large sections of the New Zealand population can be that these sorts of regimes are brought in and forced on us without protest.

" you would have riots on the streets and the political suicide of the party responsible."

Welcome to the world of the demigogue and mob rule.

As said this is the legacy of PC socialists - I say it now while it's still legal to do so.

Soon it will be like Canada where almost nothing worthy can get through government at any level because _someone_ will make an objection and need their feelings massaged ()at taxpayer expense)

The thing that really grates with me on these discussions are the comments that seem to automatically align 'not in kiwisaver' with 'not saving at all'.
Could the staunch defenders of kiwisaver as the only way to save in town, please acknowledge the changes already made in the very short life span of this scheme?
p.s. if it was such a winning, can't lose scheme, then why isn't everyone in it? I mean we all know smoking is bad for you, so why not just outright make it criminal to smoke?

Don't worry so much, the systems is auto correcting.  Eventually the country won't have a big enough tax take to pay all these non savers and the system as it currently runs will get re-organised.
 
Today we live in the age of entitlement; all rights and no responsibilities, but it won't be that way forever.

David Parker's plan to make Kiwisaver  compulsory and raise contributions to 9% or higher to control inflation is a fund manager's dream come true.
It is also unfair on those who would prefer to pay off their mortgage and other bills rather than pay a fund manager 1%for 40 years, i.e 40% of their savings approx.Hell, you might even put the money into a business and generate wealth(David would not imagine it possible)
It is also unfair on those, particularly Maori, who are not going to make it till age 67 or whatever number is dreamed up; so the wretched son-in-law will get the lot, not the original sucker Kiwisaver.
It is also obvious that you won't get a lump sum as David Parker's replacements will not let you silly sods get your hands on it, it will be converted to annuities and drip fed if not outright confiscated.
Only way out is to be self employed.
Or just don't vote for the Labour/Green whatever loopy coalition
 

I would vote compulsory KS. And to dump compulsory NS.
 

I didn't think National Service was compulsory any more :)

In so doing, you would deliver substantial lifetime benefits to the rich and drastically reduce the lifetime wealth of the poorest members of our society.  If that's what you want, then by all means vote for it

You have said before you like the National Superannuation scheme because of it's redistributive role. 
If you seek redistribution, well that's fine, but KS/NS does not seem to me to be the place for the argument.  

Don't see how you can think redistribution considerations are irrelevant in a discussion about NZS/KS.  Redistribution is the whole point of NZS, and completely irrelevant to KS.
 
Do you seriously think that even the poorest people are capable of saving enough to fund their own retirements; and if not, how do you propose they be supported in their old age?

NS?
 

S/he means New Zealand Superannuation

The problem is in effect there is a real danger that KS becomes a backdoor tax.  ie we could see the Pollies "re-direct" the compulsory KS into areas they deem "worthwhile" (such as council and Govn debt) then when the losses occur, and they are certian, we'll see the pollies wash their hands of it, or try to.
On top of that compulsory KS places your/my money in the hands of  frankly the in-competant or the lemming.  I lost 22% of one of my main pension funds, so after 35years of saving, effectively 8 years was wiped out in 2008. Right now based on the projections I am seeing its likely to pay 1/2 what was "promised" to me at 17.   My concern is these bozos are not taking risk into account adequately. eg Take the large oil companies, they are regarded as great to be in for pensions because of the dividend payouts. Yet Shell borrowed money to pay a dividend and we see selling of assets and a gutting of exploration and development meaning the future profits are going to go bye bye.
 
regards

The potential for mis-use by politicians is certainly a problem with compulsory private saving, as it is with the New Zealand Superanuation Fund, although I wouldn't say it was the problem, nor is it specific to retirement savings - if politicians want a source of money to direct into their favourite causes, there are several other places they could look. 
 
 

Within the context of how I see the future un-folding I expect many if not all avenues will be explored in search of $s to pay for the "necessities" of Govn let alone pet projects.
regards
 

political you push through your pet projects first, that's why it's politics to buy and sell support.

then when the "necessities" turn up, there's a "public interest" to put the thumb screws on and people to scream loudly

Just take a look at the number of regulatory changes made to the Australian compulsory system since inception.  The bigger it gets the more flies it attracts.

Some of those borrowings to pay dividends have solid (if sad) reasons behind them.

One case I've heard of the company was commited to a minimum return on net proft by it's foundation documents, done to ensure that membershare holders (and merger company shareholders)  (eg not unsimilar situation to our Fonterra) would receive ongoing returns, and that it would just be a couple of big employee-shareholders/directors pocketing big paychecks.  the company had grown huge but the foundation rules weren't changed.

In another case the company had completed a large acquisition so really didn't have a lot of spare cash floating around for payout, mostly due to timing factors.  This was extra important for the next reason:

Some large companies on the public exchange are valued because they're yield paying companies with a solid dividend history.  Often these companies have very large share values and have huge holdings by retirees and places like insurance business, who rely on the dividends for cash flow.....  IF they didn't payout, those people would be short on cashflow, the primary reason for purchase would drop as would demand for their shares, and! some of those parties might liquidate shares to provide needed cashflow.... into a falling share price O_O !
..and if the company is relying on some debt/share value....

Which seems to be a typical position of the far right.  However putting aside for the moment the effect of ppl decideing to save say 10% of their income all of a sudden (think big economic recession) then most ppl seem to accept or wish for the OAP to continue.
So,
a) doing this would be  a regressive action, which would increase inequality in NZ.
b) There isnt any sound economic case for doing this I can see, just cause "you'd like it"  isnt a terribly great way to attempt to run things.
c) Compulsory saving in effect creates a monopoly situation allowing rentier pricing.
regards

Don't particularly see what's "far right" about it, it certainly isn't libertarian, and note that it is Labour and not National who have compulsory private saving as official policy.  On your numbered points:
 
(a) agreed
(b) agreed, KH has yet to give his reasons for preferring 100% private provision to part public funding
(c) no it doesn't, there is plenty of choice and competition within KiwiSaver

It is interesting that there are so many clashes between the right and libertarian, yet they seem to join forces "naturally"
besides that, looking at tax policy it seems the right and libertarians prefer a flat tax sort of regime, ie do away with the progressive nature of tax and do away with welfare, so Im not sure why you say its not (at least partially) libertarian in nature.
c) There is no competition if the Govn makes KS compulsory, and then dictates to all KS companys how they invest, "thou shall invest 50% in NZ and 40% in public bonds" pretty much is it. It also means my own plans would not be possible as its a DIY thing, ie pay down debt and buy my own shares.  So I'd be at the mercy of incompetant lemmings.
regards

I don't know why you think right wingers and libertarians join forces naturally.  Right wingers agree with libertarians on some things and not others.  So do left wingers.  It's perfectly possible to be a right wing libertarian or a right wing authoritarian, just as it is perfectly possible to be a left wing libertarian or a left wing authoritarian.  Have a look at http://www.politicalcompass.org/analysis2    
 
Certainly libertarians prefer lower taxation so that everybody can decide for themselves whether they want, and are prepared to pay for, the things that they are currently forced to pay for through taxation.  So a libertarian position would indeed be to do away with NZS. 
 
But it does not follow that a libertarian would replace NZS with compulsory private savings - compulsion in anything is anathema to libertarians.  They would not replace NZS with anything, instead leaving it up to the individual whether or not they saved up in preparation for their retirement.  Individuals would also be free to decide whether they wanted to help old people less fortunate than themselves, for example by contributing to relevant charities.
 
c)  There is no such provision in place at the moment and nothing to suggest that logically that would be the consequence of compulsory Kiwisaver membership.    Certainly compulsion would mean that you wouldn't be able to manage all of your own money (you might still be able to manage some of it, depending on what was the required amount that you were required to put into Kiwisaver).  That is precisely why Nigel Pinkerton and indeed I oppose compulsion. 
 
 

If you have a flat tax policy it assists in keeping the Politicians in order when it comes to spending on dubious social programmes.....and other wasteful expenditure....they have to live within their means......like the rest of the population....Government is an overhead on business!
 
The buying and selling of votes becomes a thing of the past.......as there are no carrots to dangle....a high level of discipline is necessary with a flat tax regime.....it gets rid of the tyre kickers in Parliament.
Privatising profits and Socialisng costs would be more difficult with a flat tax rate as well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lemon_socialism
 
NZ is very unlikely to experience a disciplined approach in Wellington......they are always looking for causes along with the media......the irony is in so many media cases it is often philanthropists who come forward when media stories of some type of hardship break out.....NZ'ers are a very generous bunch with their own money and this plays into the hands of the Politicians and Socialists.
 
I think one question you should consider is.....if a Government cannot live within a set amount.....then how do you expect the majority of the populace to live within a wage or salary set amount?   The majority never know what increases in their costs will come the influences in Parliament.
 
You often label people libertarian or right wing in a derogatory way....yet most libertarians and right wing people have a deep understanding of the influences of meddling forces which severely impact on the welfare of others.

Not a deep understanding, but a deep/fanatical/extremist belief, ie you cannot support that ascertion and only a tiny % of NZers hold such views..
ie what you consider "dubious" others consider normal and reasonable.
Quite simple, we have a progressive tax system in order to support the social policies the vast majority of NZers seem to want.  I'll justify that buy pointing to ACTs vote in elections, at 1 or 2%, no other party with a meaningful % of the vote puts forward a flat tax at all and even Act looks ready to disappear off the political landscape.
regards

You should be a bit careful in running the  "you are wrong because the majority of people don't agree with you" argument steven.   The fact that most people don't agree with you doesn't seem to worry you when you get onto your "peak oil/energy is everything" hobby horse

Kiwisaver is not protected from bankruptcy, so if you are in a high risk farm, property or business situation - be aware that your Kiwisaver is not ring fenced.  We are the only country that allows this access http://www.bankruptcy.org.nz/kiwisaver.html
One strategy is to keep taking KS holidays to split some savings to a safer place etc rather than exclusively KS.  
 

I thought last Court rulings was still up in the air on it.   Have they resolved it in case law now?

Kiwisaver is not protected from bankruptcy, so if you are in a high risk farm, property or business situation - be aware that your Kiwisaver is not ring fenced.  We are the only country that allows this access http://www.bankruptcy.org.nz/kiwisaver.html
One strategy is to keep taking KS holidays to split some savings to a safer place etc rather than exclusively KS.  
 

but how can you legally hide assets? if bankrupt you cant surely?
 
regards

some assets can be protected through companies and use of trusts.

you can't "hide" them legally, but you can stop creditors overstepping your personal and financial property and taking what belongs to others.   Which, if you were wunning a couple of trading businesses as a sole trader and you personally go bankrupt, it all goes.   If the businesses are companies and you have shares, they can only seize the value of the shareholding (ie your asset)

And that is why people place their assets in Trusts and then use a company that owns nothing but undertakes the day to day transactions of the business. 100 $1 shares is pretty common practice not much of an asset there.

So can someone tell me what I should do, given the conflicting statements here - I am in my early forties and I plan to retire at 55 (I am NOT in Kiwisaver). However, I am saving every cent I earn and getting around a 10% return per annum on my investments.  The reason I am not in Kiwisaver - is I personally have a fairly watertight business plan (ready to put into action to fund my retirement), and I also want to head down the lifestyle choice route at age 55.  Being in Kiwisaver (or being forced to) would effectively mean I would have to wait another 10 years and with my health - I am not particularly willing to take a chance on that.  So, do I keep doing what I am doing (rather effectively I might add) or cut some of the savings and channel them into Kiwisaver for when/if I reach 65?  At 65, I should be rather comfortable with a freehold property and income to enjoy life and I don't expect to be offered a state funded pension - thoughts/comments?

Considering you are so well placed that you are looking to retire at 55 you are probaly fine as KS will tie you in till 65. Especially so if you are self employed .If not then I would do the sums. You put in 3% and your employeer match 3% (this is where self employment means you do both yourself). People argue over the term free money but if your employer does not lower your package by participating then this wiil Govt money (was $1000 then $500+ p/a) means it is lucretive.  
If say 45 you get $1k kick start + $500 p/a till 65 so that is $11k - Employers contributions on top. ALso various funds have done circa 10% over the term of KS.
Stil worth considering as an investment vehicle if the above holds true
Well done 

Considering you are so well placed that you are looking to retire at 55 you are probaly fine as KS will tie you in till 65. Especially so if you are self employed .If not then I would do the sums. You put in 3% and your employeer match 3% (this is where self employment means you do both yourself). People argue over the term free money but if your employer does not lower your package by participating then this wiil Govt money (was $1000 then $500+ p/a) means it is lucretive.  
If say 45 you get $1k kick start + $500 p/a till 65 so that is $11k - Employers contributions on top. ALso various funds have done circa 10% over the term of KS.
Stil worth considering as an investment vehicle if the above holds true
Well done 

I'm with the author on this one.
Our reason being, we are in a lucky position re decent wealth at a young age, with decent prospects and grasp on investment and overall opportunity cost.
It’s that last point which is key, my opportunity cost. I feel come retirement my wife and I will safely have enough assets which produce adequate income to cover us.
With the assurance of a “safe” retirement through other means, the question is would we rather “heaps more” money (the free kiwi saver contributions + compound growth) at retirement or just “more” money today (the 4% or whatever it is).
The answer to that is easy for us, more money today given our age, health and overall freedom.
This is a potentially slippery slide and not an approach I would recommend to the masses, but for us its an easy decsion.
Think I’ll be voting National..
Note - for those who feel opting out and investing their KS themselves will reap better returns, I say goodluck with that. If you overlay Buffet's record using the lower capital (no govt contributions) against the defualt KS (with more capital), compounding to retirment. You will do well to get close.