Since Kōura Wealth was launched in 2019 it does not have 5 years' worth of past performance data, which makes it difficult to say if it's a good choice for investors in terms of returns.
However, there's a lot more to selecting a KiwiSaver fund than just checking past returns and fees. If your hard-earned money is invested in KiwiSaver, you need to ask the important questions to understand where and how that money is invested.
Note: The following information is taken from Kōura Kiwisaver Scheme's own website, fund updates, and the product disclosure statement published on August 2023
A short summary review of the KiwiSaver provider
Updated: 8th August 2023
Reviewed by: Jayvin Ang
Kōura Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme review
The Kōura Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme is a Kiwi owned and operated KiwiSaver scheme.
They offer nine different KiwiSaver Funds, including fixed income funds, equities funds, and a specialty fund. A unique offering to the scheme is the ability to personalise your portfolio by combining multiple funds.
Kōura Wealth uses a passive investment management approach across its funds, allowing its members to invest in thousands of underlying companies and securities. The provider is committed to ESG investing and applies the New Zealand Super Fund exclusions list to its portfolios where possible.
Kōura Wealth applies an annual management fee of 0.63% to all its funds, along with a 1.1% fee specifically for the speciality fund. Additionally, there is a $30 annual fee for members over the age of 18. The provider does not charge any performance fees for any of its funds.
Kōura Wealth was launched in 2019 and does not yet have 5 years' worth of past performance data. However, its Robo-advice initiative is another feature that sets it apart from many other providers.
Useful news related to the Kōura Wealth KiwiSaver Scheme
Facts & History of the KiwiSaver provider
Kōura Wealth was established in 2007. They are an all-digital advisory firm.
Why are they called Kōura? Firstly, They fully plan on being the KiwiSaver gold standard scheme.
But this isn’t just any kind of gold they are talking about here, it’s KiwiSaver gold. That’s why they looked for a uniquely New Zealand way to express this word. And what better way to demonstrate their proud Kiwi heritage than using Te Reo Māori?
So they named their company kōura. You may recognise kōura as a freshwater crayfish, but it also translates to gold and goal and has wider connotations of wealth and abundance – all cornerstones of their company.
✅ New Zealand Based Provider
Kōura was established in October 2019. They manage six KiwiSaver Funds and have 1,970 KiwiSaver Members and over $65 million in Funds Under Management (31 March 2023).
The investment team, structure and their alignment with clients
Rupert Carlyon - Founder, Managing Director
Rupert has worked in financial service roles his entire career – starting at global investment bank UBS, where he had a slew of roles in London and Auckland.
Returning to New Zealand in 2014, Rupert was disappointed to see the KiwiSaver market had not moved on since he left. Seven years on, New Zealanders were still being given the same stock-standard, three-fund offering and he could see that KiwiSaver was not really working for everyone.
So he began to look internationally, at companies and technologies that were doing retirement investing right. kōura is the result - a way to give kiwis access to the technology and products to help them achieve their financial goals.
Warren Couillault - Chairman
Warren is New Zealand’s KiwiSaver guru. And when you’re running a KiwiSaver company, it’s pretty great to have him on board. Warren was a crucial member of the team that created the Fisher Funds KiwiSaver scheme in 2007 and the award-winning Generate KiwiSaver scheme in 2011.
Now the CEO of Hobson Wealth Partners, one of New Zealand’s largest wealth managers and a key strategic partner of theirs, Warren is also the Chairman of kōura and sits on their Investment Committee. His role is to help steer the team, making sure they continue to deliver great financial outcomes for you.
Mark Solomon - Director
Mark is well versed when it comes to the New Zealand financial markets, having been in the industry for more than 25 years’. He has owned and managed a number of financial advisory firms and New Zealand’s leading online insurance platform Life Direct.
When he's not sitting on kōura's board, Mark is Managing Director of both Life Direct and Insurance Market Capital & Coast, an insurance advisory firm based in Wellington..
Nigel Scott - Director
Nigel has over 30 years’ experience in the NZ and UK financial markets with significant depth in the key areas of wealth management, equity and debt capital markets, structured finance, risk, and investment management. His last executive position was as the Head of Advice and Distribution at Hobson Wealth, and he also previously held the role of GM Wealth Distribution at ANZ Bank.
Nigel's broad and in-depth industry knowledge, paired with his experience sitting on several other boards means that they consider themselves lucky to have him as one of kōura's Directors.
Angela Frazerhurst - Director
Angela is a marketing professional who has worked with some of New Zealand’s most successful brands over the past 20 years. Previously Head of Marketing and General Manager for Lewis Road Creamery, Angela is currently Managing Director and owner of a leading New Zealand social media agency, Content & Co.
They're fortunate to have Angela as a director at kōura, sharing her strategic marketing and brand knowledge, as well as her deep understanding of consumers and how best to talk to them.
The Manager of the Scheme is Kōura Wealth Limited, a company incorporated in New Zealand under the Companies Act 1993 on 20 February 2019. Kōura manages the investments of, and administers, the Scheme. Kōura is 100% New Zealand owned; they are very proud of their Kiwi heritage.
Details of the directors of Kōura are set above.
Kōura is licenced to act as managed investment scheme manager by the Financial Markets Authority (the FMA) under the FMC Act. Kōura also holds a digital-advice exemption allowing it to offer its clients personalised digital advice.
The Manager’s functions
As the Manager of the Scheme they:
The Kōura KiwiSaver Scheme has been designed and set up to help people achieve better outcomes for their KiwiSaver. Fundamentally, they believe that KiwiSaver is a complicated product and investors need help and advice to help them achieve their objectives. They do this through a differentiated fund structure and digital advice.
The Kōura Funds
You can choose to invest in any of the following investment funds:
The objective of the Scheme is to provide investors the ability to create an appropriate portfolio by investing in a range of funds. The investment objectives and strategies for each of Kōura’s 6 funds are set out in Schedules 1- 6 of their SIPO together with the market indices used to measure the performance of the assets each fund invests in.
Governance & Compliance processes
All KiwiSaver Scheme Providers must ensure they meet regulatory standards and act with customer interests in mind.
KiwiSaver Scheme Managers must exercise care, diligence and skill in the investment of scheme assets, and act in accordance with the stated investment policy and objectives. The FMA monitors that KiwiSaver Schemes are compliant with their obligations. Additionally, KiwiSaver Scheme Trustees also have a responsibility as front-line supervisors for monitoring the management and administration of these schemes.
Kōura appoints Public Trust as their independent supervisor and custodian.
Public Trust of New Zealand was a government-appointed corporation sole providing trustee services to those unwilling to use private services or required by the courts or legislation to use the Public Trustee. From 2001 Public Trust ceased to be a corporation, adopting a structure similar to a company as a Crown entity, and was renamed Public Trust. It administers 50,000 estates, trusts, funds and agencies. They supervise seven KiwiSaver Providers with approximately $13.5 billion assets under management.
A supervisor is a licensed entity independent of a KiwiSaver scheme provider that supervises the provider’s management of the scheme. KiwiSaver schemes are trusts, and (except for restricted KiwiSaver schemes) the terms of the trust deed states that the supervisor (or another custodian) must hold all contributions and investments in trust for the investors.
A custodian plays a key role in protecting your investments. They hold your money and investments (i.e. keep custody of them) on your behalf. So they are the legal holder of your assets while you are the beneficial and ultimate owner.
The investment processes followed by the manager
The Scheme operates to a number of core principles:
They believe that markets are efficient, and therefore a passive approach to investing will deliver better long term results for investors in the long term. This means that they invest in index funds or indexed portfolios with a long-term asset allocation strategy attempting to replicate market performance, rather than actively choosing investments to exploit short term fluctuations in financial markets.
Long term views:
They believe that investors' interests are best served by taking long term views and therefore they should not be making regular changes to the investment strategy or the composition of the Kōura funds. Investors will do better by remaining invested through the cycle rather than trying to time the market.
Use of underlying investment managers:
For their international exposures (US Equities, Rest of World Equities and Emerging Markets Equities), they will invest exclusively in funds managed by one of the large global passive fund managers.
For their domestic exposures (NZ Equities, Fixed Interest and Cash), Kōura may elect to either invest directly in a portfolio of securities or alternatively may invest in an existing investment fund. The Investment Committee will review the available options on an ongoing basis.
As investors they have a unique ability to influence behaviour by choosing where to invest or, more importantly, where not to invest. They therefore believe it is important to invest according to globally recognised Environmental, Social and Governance principles.
Currency risk adds volatility to investor returns. They, therefore, believe it is important to hedge their international exposures to reduce the volatility of their investors' portfolios. Their hedging policies are described in the Schedules relating to each of their Funds within the SIPO
Each fund is monitored daily to ensure that investments have been made in compliance with the SIPO.
On a monthly basis, the Kōura Managing Director prepares investment performance reports for the Investment Committee to review the performance of the fund.
On a quarterly basis, the Investment Committee will conduct a formal review of the funds to ensure that they are performing in line with expectation. That review will consider (amongst other things):
The Investment Committee meets quarterly. At each meeting, it will review the Scheme’s investment funds and a sample of Kōura Portfolios. In conducting its review, it will consider whether the funds and portfolios are meeting the desired risk and return objectives or whether changes are required to the investment approach, asset allocation or asset exposure being targeted.
The Investment Committee will report to the Board of Directors of the Manager with the results of that review.
At all times, Kōura ensures that it acts in the best interests of its customers and treats all customers equitably.
Kōura has a Conflicts of Interest Policy in place relating to any potential conflicts that may arise between Kōura and investors' individual interests. Any conflicts must be managed by the Kōura Board and the Supervisor must be notified. Where a conflict exists, it will be resolved in favour of the investor.
Kōura is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Kōura Wealth Holdings Limited. Hobson Wealth Holdings Limited and HWPL Custodian Limited (controlled by a director of Hobson Wealth Partners) are both shareholders of Kōura Wealth Holdings Limited.
Furthermore, two of the directors of Hobson Wealth Partners are also on the board of Kōura. Hobson Wealth Partners are paid brokerage fees in respect of investment decisions for Kōura’s funds. This conflict is managed by ensuring that brokerage fees paid to Hobson Wealth Partners are on arms' length terms.
Social and Ethical Considerations
Socially responsible investing (SRI) or Environmental, Social and Governance investing (ESG), also known as sustainable, socially conscious, “green” or ethical investing, is any investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social/environmental good to bring about social change regarded as positive by society.
Basically, SRI investing is investing in companies that have a positive impact on society, based on a number of factors.
Koura is committed to responsible investing and applies the UN Principles of Responsible Investing. Koura will invest in a way that recognises its fiduciary duty to provide the highest returns to its savers but also takes into account the environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues as they affect the companies whose shares and bonds they purchase.
As investors, we have a unique ability to influence behaviour by choosing where and how we allocate our capital. Equally importantly, international research shows that returns are at least no worse off and potentially better off after incorporating ESG principles into investment decisions. Kōura and its investors need to acknowledge that it is a passive investor, and relies on external funds and fund managers. As a result, it may not always be able to adhere to all of its ESG principles. Kōura relies on external providers for funds and for ESG analysis, this creates limitations.
The Kōura Investment Committee will review their adherence to their ESG principles at least annually with a view to consistently improving their adherence.
Where possible, they will apply this exclusions list to their own investments - They will not directly invest in companies who are directly involved in the activities set out in this list. They will also select underlying funds that apply a similar exclusions policy.
As of 1 September 2021, the exclusion list included: