Page last updated: 23 May 2019

Superannuation products

Many New Zealanders have some or all of their retirement savings in a superannuation scheme other than KiwiSaver. This may be a workplace savings scheme or another superannuation scheme.

Superannuation schemes are managed fund investments. When you save via a superannuation scheme, your money is pooled with other New Zealander’s in your scheme and is spread across different kinds of investments. Some schemes offer additional benefits such as life or disability insurance.

Insurance advice

Understanding returns

Unlike a bank term deposit, the return you get from your superannuation scheme will go up and down over time, depending on what it’s investing in. With some schemes the investment choice will be made for you. In others you’ll choose an investment fund.

Growth and aggressive funds have a much higher proportion of ‘growth’ assets. Growth assets are things like shares and property and these go up and down in value more frequently than ‘income’ assets like cash and bonds. This means their returns may rise and fall quickly. However over time they typically provide a higher return.

Superannuation scheme returns aren’t shown in tools like Smart Investor as there are often special features of superannuation schemes that mean you can’t compare them directly to KiwiSaver funds. However you can use average KiwiSaver fund returns as a guide to what you should expect from your superannuation scheme.

Understanding the risks

Superannuation schemes are either monitored by a licensed supervisor or by us to make sure they meet the required standards and act with your best interests in mind. All superannuation schemes must be registered.  The risks for individual schemes vary depending on the scheme structure.

Understanding the costs

Fees can have a big impact on your total returns over the longer term. It’s worth keeping an eye on the fees you pay because as your balance grows so will your fees.

  1. How big your balance is – the bigger the balance, the greater the fee
  2. The type of investment fund you’re in – generally lower-risk funds are cheaper than higher-risk funds (but remember lower-risk funds give less overall return)
  3. The scheme provider – some providers charge higher fees than other

If you are in a workplace superannuation scheme your employer may part or all of the scheme administration fee.


If you’re using a financial adviser they may also charge you a fee for their services. There may also be other fees for example if you:

  • change your investment options
  • transfer savings from another superannuation scheme
  • withdraw money from your superannuation scheme.

What to do before you invest

A product disclosure statement (PDS) will provide the essential information you need when joining. Compare the benefits of the superannuation scheme with joining KiwiSaver

  • A workplace savings scheme may offer higher employer contributions than KiwiSaver
  • You may also get additional benefits like life or disability insurance
  • Usually, you won’t receive government contributions and your money is paid out when you change employer
  • KiwiSaver moves with you when you change jobs
  • Detailed information about KiwiSaver is available on the Smart Investor tool. Superannuation scheme information is not available on this tool, but you can find additional information on the Disclose register.

Managing your superannuation scheme investment

Review your superannuation scheme account at least once a year.  The ideal time to do this is when you receive your annual member statement.

Your annual statement shows money that has gone in and out of your superannuation account in the past year.

All superannuation schemes must give you a copy of their annual report, or a link to it on their website, within six months of the end of their financial year.

The annual report describes any changes made to the scheme in the last year, how it’s being managed, how investments have performed against the scheme’s goals, and if the auditor has raised any concerns. It also gives details of the size of the scheme’s membership, total funds invested and investment returns.

In addition to the annual report, you’ll also be able to access annual fund updates for the individual funds within your scheme. Fund updates let you see how your fund is performing, what it’s costing you and what your fund is currently investing in. You’ll find fund updates on the Disclose register.

This is a normal part of investing and reacting by making changes when the value is low will often make things worse.

Transferring overseas superannuation

If you are thinking about transferring money from another country back to New Zealand, make sure you have all the facts before making your decision.

  1. What benefits will you lose when you transfer?
  2. If you’re using a financial adviser to help with the transfer, is the fee set or is it commission-based? If the fee is commission-based, find out how much, and make sure you are comfortable your adviser is acting in your best interest.  
  3. Will you be charged any other fees, either by your adviser or the pension or superannuation providers?
  4. Are there any tax implications you need to consider?
  5. Will the age you can access your benefits be different?

If you want to transfer money from your UK pension fund back to New Zealand, you must use a New Zealand Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (ROPS) - a scheme which has permission to receive transferred UK pension funds. You cannot transfer your UK pension savings into your KiwiSaver scheme.

If you have already transferred your UK pension into a New Zealand ROPS, you may be able to transfer it back to a registered pension scheme in the UK, but the rules around this are complex, including any tax implications, so we strongly recommend you speak to an financial adviser and consider speaking to an international tax adviser.

If you’re in a UK ‘defined benefit’ (DB) pension scheme or fund, transferring your savings to New Zealand can have significant financial and tax implications. Seek financial and tax advice to ensure the transfer is in your best interests. 

Be aware of people contacting you out of the blue

We’re aware of overseas companies cold calling New Zealand residents and offering UK transfers. This may not be in your best interests. Often, people are offered different ways to invest, special ‘deals’ or opportunities to access their money before 55. 

If you’re contacted out of the blue, hang up. It’s likely to be a scam. Visit the UK Financial Conduct Authority's website for more tips on how to protect yourself from pension scams.

If you’re a New Zealand resident, you can transfer your Australian superannuation savings into your KiwiSaver scheme. If you’re living in Australia permanently, you can also transfer your KiwiSaver savings to an Australian complying superannuation scheme.

Once your pension has been transferred, you cannot transfer it back so we strongly recommend you speak to a financial adviser first. You should also consider speaking to an international tax expert.

Before making a decision to transfer, get advice from an authorised financial adviser. You should also consider speaking to an international tax expert. To learn more read IRD's fact sheet on trans-Tasman transfers.

If you are a New Zealand resident wanting to transfer pension funds from your country of origin to New Zealand, you need to check whether the laws in your country allow it.

Consider the tax and financial implications before deciding. The IRD's website provides some information on foreign superannuation taxation, but you should also get advice from a financial adviser and an international tax expert.