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 Milford KiwiSaver Plan's own website, fund updates and the primary disclosure statement published on 23 July 2020.
Facts & History of the KiwiSaver provider
Milford Asset Management was formed in 2003 by an experienced group of individuals who recognised the need for an investment company that provides New Zealanders with a world-class investment partner they can trust. Brian Gaynor was one of the original founders of Milford Asset Management and has also been a board member of a number of listed and public owned entities, including the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund (NZ Super).
The Milford KiwiSaver Plan is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Milford Asset Management Limited. It was created to enable investors to take advantage of the investment expertise and experience of the Milford Asset Management Limited team.
✅ New Zealand Based Provider
The Milford KiwiSaver Plan manages six funds with over 45,000 members and has total Assets Under Management (AUM) of over $2,632 million NZD (as of 30th Sep 2020).
- CanStar Provider of the year – Winner, 2020
- Consumer NZ People’s Choice Award – KiwiSaver 2019
- INFINZ Fund Manager of the Year – Winner, Equities 2019
- Morningstar Fund Manager of the Year – KiwiSaver Category, New Zealand 2019
The investment team, structure and their alignment with clients
Wayne Gentle - Chief Investment Officer & Head of Australian Investments
Wayne is the Chief Investment Officer at Milford and the Head of Australian Investments. He is the Portfolio Manager of the Australian Equities Wholesale, Trans-Tasman Equity and Australian Absolute Growth Funds. He has over 20 years’ experience in managing a diverse range of Australian equities portfolios.
Prior to joining Milford, Wayne was Deputy Head of Australian Equities at Colonial First State Global Asset Management. Previously, Wayne held Senior Analyst and Deputy Head of Research roles with Allianz Global Investors and spent 10 years with JP Morgan.
Johnathan Windust - Portfolio Manager & Deputy CIO
Jonathan is Deputy Chief Investment Officer, Portfolio Manager of the Milford Active Growth Funds (Unit Trust & KiwiSaver) and Co-Manager of the KiwiSaver Aggressive Fund. Prior to joining Milford in 2008, Jonathan worked for Gartmore Investment Management in London where he was Portfolio Manager for the Royal Bank of Scotland Pension scheme which had assets in excess of NZ$25 billion.
While at Gartmore, Jonathan was also responsible for investment strategy and investments into individual private equity funds and companies across Europe and Asia. Prior to that, he worked for BT Funds Management, Frank Russell and the New Zealand Dairy Board (now Fonterra).
David Lewis - Portfolio Manager & Deputy CIO
David is Deputy Chief Investment Officer and is the Portfolio Manager of the Milford Diversified Income Fund. He is also the Co-Manager of the Milford Trans-Tasman Bond & Global Corporate Bond Funds.
David joined Milford in 2013 from Merrill Lynch where he worked in Sydney and London for eight years in a variety of areas including credit research, emerging market research, and principal investments in high yield/distressed credit. Prior to this, David spent four years as a fixed income analyst at BT Funds Management and Principal Global Investors, based in Sydney and London.
William Curtayne - Portfolio Manager
William is the Portfolio Manager of the Australian Absolute Growth Funds and the Milford Dynamic Funds. William is also Co-Manager of the flagship Milford Active Growth Fund. William joined Milford in 2010 and has been working from Milford’s Sydney office since its establishment in 2014.
William visits and speaks to hundreds of companies every year and conducts a detailed financial analysis to uncover high-quality investment ideas.
The responsible oversight body for approving and ensuring adherence to Milford’s Statement of Investment Policy and Objective (SIPO) is a committee of the Milford Asset Management Board (‘Investment Committee’). The Investment Committee meets regularly and senior members of the Investment and Business teams, attend the Investment Committee
The investment team at Milford is made up of a three-person executive team (listed in the previous section), responsible for the oversight and portfolio management of specific funds. The rest of the team is made up of twenty-three investment professionals with varying levels of experience and involvement in the analysis, management, and execution of their respective fund strategies.
In regards to the key personnel involved with the management of the Active Growth fund, Johnathan Windust and William Curtayne are responsible for the portfolio management of the fund, with eleven and a half years and six years of experience with this fund respectively.
Employees at Milford are personally invested in their funds to ensure the alignment of obtaining returns and responsible investing are matched. Milford developed a framework to illustrate Investor Rights to ensure that the way they invest is beneficial to their clients. Here is what they believe your investor rights are:
Below is a link to their investor rights page that displays their values in full
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.
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.
Milford’s custodian is National Australia Bank Ltd (NAB)., Australia’s largest business bank. NAB is the world’s 42nd largest financial services company with USD$49.2 billion in revenue. The bank has a AA- rating according to S&P Global Ratings and is ratest the 17th safest bank in the world by the Global Finance Magazine.
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.
Milford KiwiSaver Scheme’s supervisor is Trustees Executors Limited. Trustees Executors is a professional New Zealand Trustee Company that provides a range of financial and trust services to individuals and also the corporate sector as a Licensed Financial Markets Supervisor. Trustees Executors oversees the administration and supervision of client funds totalling in excess of NZD$122 billion.
The responsible oversight body for approving and ensuring adherence to the SIPO is a committee of the Milford Asset Management Board (‘Investment Committee’). The Investment Committee meets regularly and senior members of the Investment and Business teams, attend the Investment Committee.
The objective of the Investment Committee is to assist the Milford Board to discharge its responsibilities in relation to investment oversight including the Plan’s portfolio structures, performance and risk.
An investment performance report containing the key performance considerations is presented to the Investment Committee at each of their meetings. Performance is analysed as per the following time periods: one month, one quarter, six months, one year, three years, five years, and since inception (both absolute and per annum). More frequent or specific reporting occurs if the Investment Committee or the Milford Board believes this is appropriate, given specific market or Fund developments. Milford’s key performance considerations can be found in their SIPO document, section six.
The investment processes followed by the manager
Milford’s investment process involves conducting proprietary research. They undertake analysis of the macro-economic environment as well as fundamental analysis of the industries and individual entities within their investment universe.
Milford’s macro-economic analysis, via the monitoring and analysis of economic data, aims to identify changes to the prospects of particular asset classes and industries, including the direction of interest rates.
Milford’s fundamental analysis aims to identify the best opportunities within identified asset classes and industries for investment. They aim to meet with a large number of companies each year across a wide range of industries to discuss their prospects with the management of the companies.
When considering individual companies, Milford seeks to understand key value drivers for bond and share investments including; the company’s competitive position and industry structure, the strength of its balance sheet, the quality and sustainability of earnings, quality of the board and senior management, and ESG factors.
Milford’s Investment Forum meeting brings together all of their research where investment ideas are formally presented and debated for potential implementation by the Portfolio Managers. The Investment Forum aims to promote collaboration on investment decisions and leverage the extensive industry experience and knowledge, both in New Zealand and overseas, held amongst the team. The Portfolio Managers are responsible for the final selection of the securities to include within a portfolio.
Here is an infographic of Milford’s investment process, obtained from their SIPO document.
Milford empowers Portfolio Managers of individual Funds with the autonomy to make tactical asset allocation decisions within the asset allocation ranges outlined for each Fund. Portfolio Managers make these investment decisions on an active and continuous basis to improve the risk-adjusted returns of the Funds.
They actively monitor the Funds to ensure that investment authority limits are not breached. In cases where these limits are breached, they will take action to rebalance the Fund’s portfolio in line with the authorised asset ranges.
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.
Milford’s responsible investing consideration goes beyond the industries on their exclusion lists. The company research they do to determine if they invest or not includes ESG (environmental, social and governance) considerations. Once Milford invests, their position as a larger shareholder with an active management style means their ongoing engagements with investment companies can drive continual improvements of responsible practices over time.
Outside of Milford’s investment process, they are committed to making a positive social impact within the New Zealand community through their diverse sponsorship program. You can view more information about their various community partners on their sponsorship page below.
Milford is a signatory to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment and a member of the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.
As per the Milford Responsible Investment Policy document, across all Milford funds, including their KiwiSaver funds, they will not directly invest in companies that are directly involved in the following activities:
To the extent it is feasible and commercially prudent, they will avoid indirect investment in companies on the Exclusion List (i.e. through ETFs or other collective investment vehicles). These types of investments are assessed on a case-by-case basis by the portfolio managers and any potential for indirect exposure is carefully considered and factored into investment selection.
Milford is an advocate for strong corporate governance, shareholder rights, and transparency. They endeavor to exercise their proxy voting rights wherever possible and in a manner which reflects an understanding of the environmental, social, and governance impact of their investee companies.
Milford primarily makes voting decisions in-house but does subscribe to proxy advisory services to assist with voting matters if it is considered appropriate.
We have looked at the best performing KiwiSaver funds based on their 5-year returns, however, looking at past performance of a fund is just one aspect when choosing a KiwiSaver fund. Other questions you should be asking include:
Our research team at National Capital looks at over 100+ funds and can recommend the right KiwiSaver investment for you.
Our KiwiSaver recommendations look at the big picture and not just the scorecard. So, what are you waiting for?
Milford KiwiSaver Plan has the following KiwiSaver Funds. More details on each of these funds can be found in the links below.