SuperLife KiwiSaver Scheme 

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.

What questions are important to Investors?

Note: The following information is taken from SuperLife Kiwisaver Scheme's own website, fund updates, and the product disclosure statement published as of July 2023.

Review of the SuperLife KiwiSaver Scheme

A short summary review of the KiwiSaver provider

Updated: 19th July 2023
Reviewed by: Raymond Hu

SuperLife KiwiSaver Scheme review

The SuperLife KiwiSaver Scheme offers the biggest variety of KiwiSaver funds in New Zealand. 

They have a total of 50 different KiwiSaver Funds, covering a wide range, including managed funds, bonds, shares, property funds, ethical funds, overseas funds, emerging funds, sector funds, ETFs and cash funds. The scheme also offers its 'Age Steps' funds, which are designed to accommodate investors throughout their lifespan by adjusting the allocation based on risk levels (i.e. more conservative funds as you get closer to retirement).

SuperLife uses passive investment management across its funds and believes that constantly changing its investments consistently adds value to investors. This also allows the scheme to keep its fees relatively low.

SuperLife charges annual fund fees that range between 0.20%-1.43%. It also charges an annual administration fee of $30 (excluding those in the Default Fund). It is free to switch between different funds within the scheme and there are no joining or exit fees if you decide to switch providers. The provider does not charge any performance fees for any of its funds.

Changes within the SuperLife KiwiSaver Scheme

In Dec 2021, SuperLife gained the default provider status as part of a larger overhaul of the Default KiwiSaver scheme by MBIE.

In closing

Based on past performance alone, for the past five years, SuperLife has performed below the average KiwiSaver fund after fees and taxes. 

How do SuperLife compare to others?

Best Performing KiwiSaver Funds

Kiwi Wealth Balanced
Milford Active Growth
High Growth
Booster SRI High Growth

*Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future performance.

*List is of the highest 5-year returns A-rated funds as per our Investment Selection Process

*All returns are after fees and tax (28% PIR) as of the quarter ended 31st December 2023.

*Source: National Capital Research February 2024

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Latest News on SuperLife

Useful news related to the SuperLife KiwiSaver Scheme 

Who is SuperLife?

Facts & History of the KiwiSaver provider


The SuperLife KiwiSaver Scheme is a KiwiSaver scheme managed by Smartshares Limited (Smartshares), which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of NZX Limited (NZX).

SuperLife provides KiwiSaver, investment, superannuation and insurance solutions to over 50,000 members. For over 15 years, they have focused on what matters most to their members:

A passive investment philosophy

SuperLife believes that a passive approach to investing will deliver better long-term results. They do not think that constantly changing their investments (that is, trading regularly and seeking short-term gains) consistently adds value to investors.

They believe that no one knows what will happen in the economy and the investment markets over a particular future period. While history may give us some insights, history also tells us that each period can be different.

Low fees

SuperLife’s fees are among the lowest in the market. They don’t charge performance based fees or commissions.

Fees matter. The impact of even small fee differences each year can be significant over time.

It is their view that investment management is an exception to the rule "you get what you pay for" - they do not believe high-fee fund managers will deliver superior performance over time.


Each of SuperLife’s four schemes (KiwiSaver, investments, workplace savings and UK pension transfer) offers access to the same broad range of investment options.

Investors can set and change their investment strategies at any time, free of charge.


This means being honest about what they can and can’t do for you.

SuperLife will always quote investment returns after (net of) total fund charges and taxes. This is because they believe this information is more useful for you.

Exceptional customer service

They are focused on providing you with information to help you make informed decisions. This does not include personalised financial advice.

✅   New Zealand Based Provider


The SuperLife KiwiSaver scheme has a total Assets Under Management (AUM) of over $1.78 billion. SuperLife has 72,410 KiwiSaver members (as of March 2022). 

Who are the people looking after my money?

The investment team, structure and their alignment with clients

The Investment Team

Graham Law - Chair

Graham is Chair of the Smartshares board. He is also Chief Financial & Corporate Officer of NZX. He has considerable experience working across the financial and professional service sectors in New Zealand and United Kingdom. Graham previously worked as Head of Finance at Acc, and prior to this was Managing Director and Chief Financial Officer at AMP Capital Limited. Graham brings expertise in strategic leadership, corporate governance, and risk and financial management.

Mark Peterson - Director

Mark is a director of Smartshares, and CEO of NZX. Mark has previously worked in a number of senior finance roles including Managing Director of ANZ Securities. He has held executive roles with FNZC and The National Bank of NZ, and ANZ Institutional Bank. He is a former Chairman of the NZ Securities Industry Association.

Guy Elliffe - Independent Director

Guy is the Chairperson of the Smartshares Audit and Risk Committee and an independent director of Smartshares. He is currently Corporate Governance manager at the Accident Compensation Corporation. Previously he was Head of Equities at AMP Capital Investors (New Zealand) Limited, and he has held a range of senior investment roles in New Zealand and the US. 

John Williams - Independent Director

John is the Chairperson of the Smartshares Investment Oversight Committee and an independent director of Smartshares. He was most recently the Investment Manager at Trust Investments Management Limited. Previously he was a Key Client manager at Vanguard Investments, and has held a range of investment strategy and consulting roles in the New Zealand institutional market.

Investment Strategy Review

Smartshares' Investment Oversight Committee reviews the Scheme’s investment strategy annually.

Smartshares' Investment Oversight Committee undertakes an ad hoc review of the Scheme’s investment strategy if:

  • Changes to market conditions necessitate changes to either: (1) the nature or types of investments that can be made and any limits on those; and/or (2) any limits on the proportions of each type of asset invested in; or
  • Smartshare's Board instructs the Investment Oversight Committee to review the Scheme’s investment strategy.

Smartshares' Investment Oversight Committee considers management’s recommendations in respect of changes to the Scheme’s investment strategy.

Smartshares' Investment Oversight Committee reports to the Board as to the outcome of its review, together with any proposed changes to the Scheme’s investment strategy.

Smartshares' Board considers the Investment Oversight Committee's report and may approve the changes to the Scheme’s investment strategy.

How do I know my money is safe?

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.

SuperLife's Supervisor

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.

SuperLife’s supervisor is Public Trust. Corporate Trustee Services are part of Public Trust and are a leading specialist corporate trustee company in New Zealand, with more than NZ$90 billion under trusteeship and supervision. They are New Zealand's sole Crown-owned trustee company.

SuperLife's Custodian 

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. SuperLife's custodian is also Public Trust (acting through its nominee company, SuperLife Nominees Limited).

How do they decide where to invest?

The investment processes followed by the manager

Investment Philosophy 

Smartshares’ investment philosophy is based on the following key beliefs:

  • Most markets and asset classes are efficient, meaning there is limited opportunity for fund managers to provide above market returns after fees and other expenses.
  • Based on academic evidence, asset allocation is the single most important factor in determining long-term investment returns.
  • Diversification is the best way to manage the risk that a combination of assets within a portfolio fails to meet its investment objectives.

Smartshares aims to provide a comprehensive suite of listed and unlisted funds that can be used by individuals, companies, financial advisers and institutions. Most of these funds are designed to track market indices. These range from traditional market capitalisation-weighted indices to customised indices that target or exclude a particular sector, industry or specific securities.

Smartshares recognises that in some markets, the predominant index may not provide a diversified or efficient exposure. In these circumstances, it will use a systematic approach to actively manage a portfolio or select an external manager to perform this function.

Smartshares recognises that environmental, social and governance (ESG) risk can impact investment performance, and that some investors prefer funds that integrate ESG factors into the selection of investments and external managers.

Investment Monitoring 

The Scheme’s investment performance is monitored every month (by Smartshares’ Chief Investment Officer) and every three months (by Smartshares’ Investment Oversight Committee and Smartshares’ Board). In particular:

  • Every month, Smartshares prepares investment performance reports and provides them to the Chief Investment Officer
  • Every three months, Smartshares prepares investment performance reports and provides them to Smartshares' Investment Oversight Committee
  • Every three months, the Smartshares' Oversight Committee reports to Smartshares' Board. The investment performance reports are also provided to Smartshares' Board


Does SuperLife Invest responsibly?

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.

Investment Policies


A derivative is a financial product with a value that is reliant upon or derived from an underlying asset or group of assets.

Each fund that uses derivatives has a derivatives policy. These are set out in the schedules to the SIPO.


Smartshares implements a dynamic hedging strategy. This means that as the actual hedging level changes over time due to cashflows and market movements, adjustments are made to bring the currency hedging back to the target level. The hedging levels within each fund are monitored on an ongoing basis and adjusted at the discretion of the portfolio manager within an allowable range.

Their currency hedging is managed using the following methods:

  • In-house managed currency overlay using forward foreign exchange contracts
  • Outsourced currency management by a third-party manager
  • Investment into a mix of funds that are NZ dollar hedged and unhedged

Each fund that has foreign currency exposure may have an overall target hedging level. For the diversified funds, the overall level is based on the benchmark hedging level for each asset class above. We may change the target hedging level at any time within a specified range. The overall target hedging level and permitted range for each fund are set out in the schedules to this SIPO.

Responsible Investment

SuperLife know the increasing importance customers are placing on aligning their investments with their values. That’s why SuperLife approach responsible investing by considering both socially responsible investment (SRI) factors and environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.

SuperLife incorporates responsible investment into their funds' management process in the following ways:

Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Exclusions:

Their Ethical and Principle-Based Funds use a minimum set of SRI standards, to exclude companies which:

  • derive a material part of their revenue from the exploration or extraction of coal
  • are associated with tobacco
  • are associated with illegal weapons (such as cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines, and nuclear explosive devices)

The Ethica Fund also incorporates further SRI exclusions, such as companies associated with alcohol, gambling, palm oil, adult entertainment, child labour or factory farming.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) screening:

ESG factors are non-financial considerations used to assess the sustainability of an investment. SuperLife focus on environmental criteria such as how well a company minimises their impact on the environment through reducing their greenhouse gas emissions compared to market benchmarks.

External Investment Managers:

Where SuperLife uses external investment managers, they assess their approach to responsible investment prior to their appointment and at least annually after that. Their preferred external manager appointments are signatories to the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI).


SuperLife's aim is to support voting rights for shareholders and promote responsible corporate behaviour.

They engage proxy research and voting advisers when creating voting and engagement strategies, this includes deciding how to exercise specific voting rights, and in the actual execution of such voting rights.

Investment Governance and Management


The Board is responsible for managing and overseeing the business and affairs of Smartshares, including approving the investment strategies and the SIPOs for the managed investment schemes managed by Smartshares. The Board must ensure that the standards, systems, processes and controls necessary to provide good outcomes for investors are in place.

The directors on the Board are appointed by NZX.

Investment Oversight Committee

The Investment Oversight Committee (a Board committee) oversees Smartshares’ investment management function, including:

Monitoring the investment performance and risk exposure of the managed investment schemes managed by Smartshares;

  • Establishing a framework for monitoring compliance with the SIPOs for the managed investment schemes managed by Smartshares;
  • Reviewing management’s recommendations as to the appropriateness of the investment strategies and investment policies set out in the SIPOs for the managed investment schemes managed by Smartshares, and making recommendations to the Board in relation to any required SIPO amendments; and
  • Approving the appointment, or the termination, of external investment managers, and any
  • other outsource providers that provide investment management functions.

The members of the Investment Oversight Committee are Smartshares directors and senior managers and are appointed by the Board.

The Investment Oversight Committee reports to the Board.


Ethical Exclusions

Relating to the Ethical Fund, the following information is applicable:

The fund may not invest in investments where (in Smartshares’ opinion) the activities of the entities behind the investment:

Have an overall negative impact on social and community outcomes; or Would be illegal in New Zealand; or Are inconsistent with the United Nations’ policies on health and safety, child rights and human rights; or Are expected to result in long-term, detrimental change to the environment.

Current investments and sectors that are excluded are those where a material part of their revenue and/or activities are in the areas of gambling, tobacco, alcohol, armaments, pornography and fossil fuel extraction.


List of Superlife KiwiSaver Funds