Check your Kiwisaver

Written By: - Date published: 12:30 pm, August 18th, 2016 - 21 comments
Categories: Ethics, kiwisaver - Tags: ,

An excellent piece by Matt Nippert, Caleb Tutty, Olivia Carville in The Herald is generating a lot of discussion this morning:

Dirty secrets of KiwiSaver revealed

A Herald investigation into KiwiSaver funds has found pervasive holdings – totalling more than $100 million – by members of the public in companies considered so controversial the government-owned New Zealand Superannuation Fund has blacklisted them.

The exclusions range from companies involved in tobacco industry, to those breaching international agreements New Zealand has signed banning nuclear and cluster weapons and landmines, and mining companies guilty of gross human rights abuses.

Fund providers are shown to have markedly different approaches to responsible investing, with several having moved in recent years to match NZSF exclusions while some are considerable more exposed than others.

KiwiSaver funds analysed by the Herald have been approached for comment and further findings will be released this afternoon as they respond.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said he was “horrified” by the nature of the KiwiSaver investments.

“I think the vast majority of New Zealanders would also be horrified that their life savings are invested in companies that are actively involved in the manufacture and distribution of cluster munitions, nuclear weapons, land mines and tobacco.” …

21 comments on “Check your Kiwisaver”

  1. Draco T Bastard 1

    Ah, the immorality of capitalism.

  2. alwyn 2

    I originally posted a comment on Open Mike in response to Paul who had commented on the subject. I think it is equally relevant now you have put up an entry on the topic.

    “I presume Mr Shaw will be having harsh words with the rest of his caucus.
    There are about half them who subscribe to the traditional Green approach of “Do what I say, not what I do” aren’t there?
    Half the Green Party MPs have their Kiwisaver investments with these supposedly terrible organisations.
    Explanations will no doubt be forthcoming do you think? Apologies and the transfer of the tainted money to a charity perhaps?”

    Ms Genter can probably address her question to her own Caucus

    • The point is that many people are not *aware* of where their KiwiSaver money is invested. The information is often difficult to obtain, and unless you’re in a dedicated “ethical” fund, it can change without warning.

      I have no idea why this should be a black mark against the Green Party.

    • You think they actually knew the investments were dirty beforehand?

      This is precisely the problem with simple disclosure of investments, unethical businesses are used to having to launder their media profiles to avoid scrutiny, and how is your average mum or dad supposed to know what the blazes X holding group or Y consolidated actually does?

      There’s a fair argument that if we’re going to rely on the public to make ethical investment decisions, that funds should be required to disclose the industries they invest in publicly to all prospective clients, so you don’t need journalists to do the work. But even that will likely pop up surprises.

      • alwyn 2.2.1

        “You think they actually knew the investments were dirty beforehand”.
        I very much doubt it but they certainly must be expected to know now.
        Have they withdrawn from those funds? After all, if Genter has been looking at this for any length of time they certainly should have.
        People in default funds certainly wouldn’t have known and are extremely unlikely to ever know. To be in a default fund is because you had so little interest in the subject that you didn’t even choose an appropriate type of investment.
        They are, and will very likely remain, in a state of blissful ignorance. The Green MPs don’t have that excuse, do they?

  3. nom 3

    I canceled paying into my KiwiSaver after about a year. Frankly I don’t trust the stock market Ponzi scheme to be around for the next 30 odd years.

    If I could find one I would pay into a KiwiSaver fund that specialised in physical gold.

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Physical gold is also not worth keeping – especially if its not in your actual possession. Physical gold sitting in someone else’s vault in who-knows-what-country is just as worthless to you as numbers in a computer somewhere.

      If you want something to ride out the future, land that you own free and clear of debt is the best investment.

      Even though I think economy as we know it is going to cease to exist inside of 20 years, I’m still invested in Kiwisaver. It only takes up a small amount of my salary, and I get extra returns from the government and my employer. I’m not really expecting to cash it out when I’m 65, but there is the provision of being in “financial stress” that allows you to take the money out. That could be the difference between defaulting on my mortgage or not. Also if the shit hits the fan big-time, the government could change the rules to allow people to take out their investments early.

      Also I’m with Kiwiwealth (Kiwibank’s scheme, previously named Gareth Morgan Investments). They take a defensive approach to investment to try and actively protect your investment during downturns – during the GFC their growth fund dropped up to 30%, whereas I believe most other funds dropped by around 70-80%.

      • Blackcap 3.1.1

        Don’t know how accurate your figures are about most other funds dropping by 70-80%? Sharemarkets as a rule fell about 50% from peak to trough but since then those funds have put on more than that drop and are now in record territories, with the DOW being at 18,500. The NZ market also has gone from a low of 3000 to where it is not at 7300. ,

        From Wikipedia:
        The U.S. stock market peaked in October 2007, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average index exceeded 14,000 points. It then entered a pronounced decline, which accelerated markedly in October 2008. By March 2009, the Dow Jones average had reached a trough of around 6,600. Four years later, it hit an all-time high. It is probable, but debated, that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive policy of quantitative easing spurred the partial recovery in the stock market.[179][180][181]

        • Lanthanide

          Depends on the fund. The sharemarket as a whole may have dropped by that much. But if you had stock in Bear Stearns for example, you would have lost 100%.

  4. Henry Filth 4

    I suspect that most people don’t care very much if at all.

    If they do, it’s not hard to email your Kiwisaver provider for the information, and to choose a new one

    • Lanthanide 4.1

      I agree. I think ‘middle New Zealand’ will just look at this news and shrug their shoulders and carry on. That is, those of MNZ who even hear about this ‘news’, since most people don’t pay attention to this sort of thing.

    • How strange, that’s exactly what the bankers who’ve been using Kiwis’ retirement money to buy shares in cluster bomb manufacturers said.

      • Lanthanide 4.2.1

        People who actively cared about this could already have chosen an ethical kiwisaver fund, since such things already exist.

        • “Active caring” vs “don’t care at all” is a false dichotomy. Nobody can be aware of literally everything happening in the world, and they’re allowed to start caring once it’s brought to their attention.

          One of the worst arrogances of the left is assuming that people are deliberately callous or wilfully ignorant of issues like these. The fact is that life is complex and most people have more than enough on their plate keeping a roof over their heads and feeding their kids, without us sneering that they’re not following every political issue of the day in minute detail.

          • Lanthanide

            I’m suggesting that there aren’t going to be all that many people that fall into that camp.

            I mean, sure, if you do a poll of people, a fair number might say it concerns them. But the number of those people who actually bother to take action, by moving their kiwisaver fund, will be significantly less than those who say they care.


            I mean, this post has (right now) only gotten 18 comments, and almost half of them are you and I. It’s hardly setting the record for ‘buzz’.

  5. Infused 5

    Who cares.

  6. save nz 6

    Good post.

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