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The ingredients for successful KiwiSaver communications

Page last updated: 27 Feb 2019

Media release
MR No. 2019 – 05
27th February 2019

The results of a second FMA, MBIE and industry trial demonstrates using communications based on behavioural insights encourages KiwiSaver members to make an active choice about their investment. The report, “Using behavioural insights to improve KiwiSaver outcomes” was published today.

Behavioural insights are techniques that recognise what drives consumers’ decision making processes. The trial, run with ANZ, focused on KiwiSaver members who were turning 56.

Key findings

  • Using behavioural insights can change behaviour. People sent an improved letter were more likely to make an active fund choice.
  • Behaviour change from written communications may be limited to relatively simple actions. While members clicked on links to online tools, none took up the offer of ringing ANZ for free advice. Calls to action for consumers need to be small and easy to do.
  • Communicating at the right time makes a difference. The letters led to a large jump in the number of people making a voluntary contribution to their KiwiSaver account (rising from 6 to 330), while the amounts contributed were relatively large (rising from $2,351 to $76,544)

Implications for KiwiSaver providers

The trial has demonstrated for a second time that making changes to communications can change behaviour. This offers a low-cost opportunity to make a significant difference to outcomes for members.

All KiwiSaver providers should consider how they could apply these findings to their own letters and emails.

The trial, alongside the FMA’s KiwiSaver report 2018, demonstrates some of the key ways to engage with KiwiSaver members. Key methods include:

  • Applying behavioural insight techniques to transactional letter and emails to make them more effective.
  • Using emails where possible as these make it easier for consumers to take action.
  • Following up letters and emails, including calling members outside of business hours and simplifying scripting.
  • If the provider has branches, providing improved tools for branch staff to have better conversations with members.
  • Stepping consumers through decisions, with at least class-based advice.

Providers who are communicating with members have told the FMA that there is a multiplier effect when a range of activities are underway.

Scott McMurray, FMA Acting Director of External Communications and investor Capability said, “KiwiSaver providers should read and understand the results of the trial and the lessons it offers in crafting communications for members.”

“Even these simple day-to-day communications can be made more effective if they use the right language and prompts to action, and if they’re sent at a time that makes sense to members.”

ANZ Managing Director of Wealth & Private Bank Craig Mulholland said, “We wanted to find new ways to encourage people in their mid-50s to think about whether they are in the right KiwiSaver fund for their circumstances and whether they are putting enough money aside for their retirement. This study has produced some promising results.”

“It is clear that any actions you are encouraging people to take must be small and easy to do. The research indicates that people are more likely to take action if it is not going to be time consuming.”

ANZ intends to continue sending the letter to its KiwiSaver members as they turn 56, and is considering how the learnings from the pilot study can be applied to other age groups.

Details of the first behavioural insights trial with Kiwi Wealth, which concluded in 2017, can be found here

A third behavioural insights trial, involving AMP and IRD, is currently underway.

Publishing the findings of all these trials helps and enables KiwiSaver and other financial services providers to benefit from the conclusions.


Edwin Mitson
021 702 036

Tony Field
021 220 3152


Using behavioural insights to improve KiwiSaver outcomes