KiwiSaver is one of those things nestled away accumulating money without much thought. But could it be working harder for you?

It’s a powerful tool that can play a significant part in your overarching wealth strategy. It’s deducted before you see it (if employed), is contributed to by your employer, includes free money from the government, and is locked up so it’s harder for you to splurge.

But your KiwiSaver savings shouldn’t be ‘set and forget’. Especially if you are still in the default account you started off with as there’s the potential that you could be missing out on significant returns.

Find out why below.


KiwiSaver is more than a ‘savings’ account.

Contrary to its name, KiwiSaver is more than a ‘savings’ account. It’s actually a managed fund. Meaning that on top of yours, your employer’s and the government’s contributions, your KiwiSaver money is also earning returns from the fund it’s invested in.

With hundreds of funds to choose from, there’s plenty of opportunity to make your KiwiSaver money work harder for you. And if the thought of having to research all those funds feels daunting, not to worry! We can help remove the guesswork and find a fund that suits your investment goals through a KiwiSaver review. (More on that below).


What can you do to make the most of your KiwiSaver investment?

Start by figuring out what you want to achieve with your KiwiSaver investment. Are you using it for retirement or to purchase your first home?

Once you’ve got that figured out, you’ll have a better idea of what timeline you have to play with, which in turn influences the risk profile best suited to your investment.

The longer you have before you need to access your KiwiSaver investment, the more risk you’ll be able to afford to take.


What do we mean by risk?

Risk describes the level of volatility an investment is exposed to and what returns you might expect. A higher-risk investment has the potential for higher returns over the long term, but also larger potential losses in the short term.

So, the longer you have before you need to access your KiwiSaver investment, the more risk you might be able to afford to take.

Below is an illustration of just how much of a difference each fund type could have on your overall investment. While it doesn’t take into account employer contributions (if you’re employed) and the free government money, it will give you an idea of how taking a little more risk can result in greater returns.

Say you’re 35 and saving for your retirement at 65. You start out with $10,000 in your KiwiSaver. Here’s what your KiwiSaver investment might do over the next 30 years depending on what type of fund you invest it in, and whether you keep contributing or not.

Conservative Fund

(Assumed rate of return 2.5%)


Balanced Fund

(Assumed rate of return 3.5%)


Growth Fund

(Assumed rate of return 4.5%)


Growth Fund

Plus you contribute $100 towards it every month.







As you can see, even a difference of 1% in average returns can have a significant impact on the amount you might end up with in 30 years’ time!

If you’d like to see how your KiwiSaver investment could perform based on your current investment and time horizon, check out our KiwiSaver calculator here.


Why else might you review your KiwiSaver investment?
  • Perhaps you’re not only concerned about returns, but also about the ethical impact your KiwiSaver investment might have. In that case, choosing where you put your money could make a difference to the planet and the people who walk it.
  • Managed funds changing management.When this happens, it may be nothing to be concerned about, but it still pays to check that the strategic direction of the fund your money is invested in still aligns with your values and will help you achieve your goals.
  • Fund performance and fees change.
    When it comes to fees, the cheapest may not necessarily come out on top for returns. Certain funds charge higher fees, and if that’s the case, you’ll want to ensure you’re compensated for those higher fees with better fund performance. And if the fund you’re in changes their fee structure, it’s worth checking that this will work in your favour.
  • Your time horizon changes.
    This is one of the most important ones to remember. As you’re nearing the day you need to withdraw your KiwiSaver money (first home purchase or retirement), you’ll want to ensure you’re still taking the appropriate amount of risk to reflect that time horizon. If retirement is now around the corner, you may want to switch strategies, taking less risk and preserving your hard-earned cash instead.



KiwiSaver is just one piece of your broader wealth strategy, but it’s a powerful tool that can help get you to where you need to be come retirement, or to help you make your first home purchase. But don’t just set and forget. Regularly review your KiwiSaver investment to ensure it’s working harder for you so that it’s pulling its weight in helping you achieve your financial goals.

For help on ensuring you’re getting the most out of your KiwiSaver investment, book a review with one of our experienced advisers today. They’ll consider your goals, timeframe and whether the current fund you’re in aligns with this or if there’s a fund available that might provide a better outcome.



The figures used to demonstrate investment returns can be found on the KiwiSaver calculator here then clicking the hyperlink Find out more about how this calculator works >’. However, just note that returns are never guaranteed, and investments always carry a degree of risk. This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute individual financial advice. If you’re interested in receiving financial advice, you can book a review with an AdviceFirst adviser here.