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 Westpac Kiwisaver Scheme's own website, fund updates, and the product disclosure statement published on 29 May 2020.
Facts & History of the KiwiSaver provider
Westpac is Australia’s oldest bank and company, one of four major banking organisations in Australia, and one of the largest banks in New Zealand.
They provide a broad range of banking and financial services in these markets, including consumer, business, and institutional banking and wealth management services.
The Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme is one of New Zealand's largest providers and has been a default provider since 2014. The Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme offers a focused investment menu of multi-manager diversified funds. These funds are managed by BTNZ, the investment arm of Westpac NZ.
The BTNZ investment team is committed to seeking ways of improving the outcomes for its customers. BTNZ takes a long-term approach to implementing its investment strategies, recognising that the short term is unpredictable. The investment team is prepared to back their convictions, and have a culture that is driven, focussed, and accountable, with a high standard of excellence, integrity, and ethics.
Below is a link to their History :
The Westpac KiwiSaver scheme has six investment options, a cash option, and five diversified options. It has a total Assets Under Management (AUM) of over $6.8 Billion.
Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme received the Platinum rating from SuperRatings in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
The investment team, structure and their alignment with clients
Nigel Jackson - Acting Head of Investments & Insurance
Nigel is the Acting Head of Investment & Insurance at Westpac. He has over 32 years of experience in the banking industry covering a variety of areas including business and product development, Investment and marketing management, Client Services, and relations.
Nigel has been with Westpac for over nine years. Prior to joining Westpac, Nigel was Head of Product & Marketing at OnePath New Zealand for 3 years, National Product Manager at ING (NZ) Limited for 6 years, and Manager of Investment and Client Services at ANZ Funds Management for 2 years.
François Richeboeuf - Acting Head of Investment Solutions
François was recently promoted to the Acting Head of Investment Solutions. Before his promotion, he was the Senior Portfolio Manager and joined BTNZ in 2010. Where he had overall responsibility for asset allocation and portfolio construction.
Richeboeuf has been responsible for managing the BTNZ diversified funds for over seven years. Richeboeuf is supported by a well-resourced team spanning across external manager research, internal investment capability for NZ bonds, and asset allocation.
Stephen Hong - Senior Portfolio Manager
Stephan joined BTNZ in 2013 and has overall responsibility for domestic fixed interest and allocations managed internally by the team.
Stephan has over 36 years of experience in the banking and investment sector. Prior to joining Westpac, he was a Portfolio Manager at AXA Global Investors Limited for 5 years, Manager of Portfolio Research and Fixed Income Investments at BNZ Investment Management for 6 years.
Angelika Sansom - Investment Analytics Manager
Angelika is the lead investment analyst supporting the long-term strategic asset allocation and portfolio analytics processes, She joined BTNZ in 2002.
The investment team is responsible for idea generation, management, and monitoring funds within the full product suite. All funds are subject to oversight by a series of research teams operating within the investment team, some asset class-specific, for example, the Fixed Interest Group (FIG).
The Investment Strategy Group (ISG) and Manager Monitoring Group (MMG) are more universal and are attended by the full BTNZ investment team. All outcomes are dealt with by the BT Investment Committee (BTIC), which is ultimately accountable to the BT Funds Management (NZ) Limited (BTNZ) Board, which is an all executive Board.
BTIC includes a single non-executive independent member, all other appointments and attendees are internal Westpac/ BTNZ employees. BTNZ engage the services of a third-party investment adviser, Willis Towers Watson, who provides regular reviews of the investment team processes, and additional external manager data for offshore manager selection. The investment adviser is a non-voting relationship, and the investment team is not obligated to implement any recommendations from the investment adviser. The use of groups, committees, and an external adviser assist in mitigating key person risk.
Below is a link to the key roles in full:
The primary objective of the fund is to outperform the composite benchmark index over the time horizon for the relevant fund. BTNZ’s investment philosophy is based on the broad principles of diversification and active management, backed by a research-driven approach focused on identifying and managing risk and sourcing value-added opportunities.
Investment personnel all invest in BTNZ's investment offerings through KiwiSaver and the Westpac Staff Superannuation Scheme (for which BTNZ is the investment implementation manager). The same fee applies.
This Code describes the standards of conduct expected of our people, both employees, and contractors. It provides a set of guiding principles to help us make the right decision every time.
The principles that operate in the Code are:
1. They act with honesty, integrity, and due skill, care, and diligence.
2. They comply with laws and our policies.
3. They do the right thing for our customers.
4. They respect confidentiality and do not misuse information.
5. They value and maintain our professionalism.
6. They work as a team.
7. They manage conflicts of interest responsibly.
Below is a link to their code of conduct 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.
The Supervisor and Custodian of the Scheme are The New Zealand Guardian Trust Company Limited. They are licensed by the Financial Markets Authority under the Financial Markets Supervisors Act 2011 to act as a supervisor of issues to the public in respect of Debt securities KiwiSaver schemes, non-fund schemes, specified managed funds, and superannuation 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.
A supervisor is a licensed entity independent of the 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.
The Guardian Trust is the corporate trustee for many of New Zealand's leading corporations, financial institutions, fund managers, and banks. Their clients span a broad range of business activities and the quality of their client portfolio reflects their status as a provider of corporate trustee services in New Zealand. As of June 2018, they manage funds in excess of NZ$ 120 billion.
Below you will find a link to a more detailed look into the Guardian trust:
Their approach to corporate governance is based on a set of values and behaviors that underpin day-to-day activities, provide transparency and fair dealing, and seek to protect stakeholder interests.
This approach includes a commitment to excellence in governance standards, which Westpac sees as fundamental to the sustainability of their business and their performance. It includes monitoring local and global developments in corporate governance and assessing their implications.
In addition, from time to time, the Board participates (either directly or through representatives) in due diligence committees in relation to strategic decisions, capital, and funding activities. The Executive Team, Disclosure Committee, and Executive Risk Committees are not Board Committees (that is, they have no delegation of authority from the Board) but sit beneath the CEO and the Board Committees to implement Board-approved strategies, policies, and management of risk across the Group.
The key functions of the Board and each of the Board Committees is outlined in this Corporate Governance Statement.
All Board Committee Charters are available in the below link.
The investment processes followed by the manager
BTNZ believes markets are somewhat inefficient and portfolios can be positioned in a manner to take advantage of opportunities that occur, which is a philosophy that generally applies to active investment selection.
The intent of the process is to deliver sustainable funds with repeatable long-term returns. While day to day security selection decision making is delegated to third party specialist investment managers (excluding that of NZ Bonds and NZ Cash), the primary focus of the investment team is on top down asset allocation (both strategic and tactical), third party manager selection and blending, and portfolio construction.
The investment team formally meets weekly to discuss investment strategy, performance, and risk. Asset allocation decisions are discussed and decided at this meeting. BTNZ implements a tactical asset allocation process that aims to take advantage of investment opportunities and manage risks in the short to medium-term, typically 1 to 3-year views. Investment opportunities may occur within a particular asset class where an asset class sub-sector is preferred over another.
Asset class views are derived from an assessment of economic and financial conditions, sentiment, valuation, and supply/ demand imbalances. The investment team also meets monthly for the purpose of drilling down into underlying sub-manager performance. Recommended changes to managers, downgrades to views, or any other change to sector positioning will be discussed at this meeting.
Key external relationships also include Willis Towers Watson, BTNZ's retained asset consultant who provides advice on manager selection, and FactSet Systems, a provider of investment and risk analytics.
The investment process is centered around the utilisation of insightful, high-conviction strategies and the maintenance of high levels of underlying transparency, liquidity, and risk management.
There are five key pillars of the investment process:
A disciplined and active approach
Their investment process focuses on insightful and high-quality research. We believe that a disciplined and active approach to investing, together with broad diversification across asset classes, securities, and investing styles will help their customers achieve long-term wealth creation.
Specially selected Investment Managers
They believe in a multi-manager approach. They outsource much of the selection of investments to specialist investment managers, both locally and globally, that they consider being the strongest in each particular asset class.
Stronger risk-adjusted investment returns
Using this multi-manager approach, they aim to deliver stronger risk-adjusted returns for their customers by including a wide variety of investment processes and strategies into their portfolios and managed funds.
Active not passive management
They believe that markets are somewhat inefficient and portfolios can be structured to take advantage of dislocations and opportunities. They apply this belief using an active approach to security selection and asset allocation. They believe that the best active managers will beat the market in the long run.
A team of dedicated investment professionals
They have a team of dedicated investment professionals, whose responsibilities are spread across Asset Allocation (Strategic and Tactical), Manager Selection & Blending, and Portfolio Implementation.
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.
Together, BTNZ and Westpac NZ have developed a Responsible Investment Policy which applies to the management of their portfolios. It means that their funds exclude sectors or companies that manufacture and sell assault weapons to civilian customers, manufacture controversial weapons, tobacco, or process whale meat.
But responsible investing is about more than just keeping away from certain sectors. It’s also about looking to the future and making rigorous decisions on the basis of a range of environmental (E), social (S), and corporate governance (G) factors.
The theory is: companies that perform well in terms of ESG are more likely to perform well financially over the long-term.
Below is a link to their BTNZ's Responsible Investment Approach in full:
TBTNZ defines Responsible Investing as the integration of ESG factors into the investment decision-making process, enabling risks to be better managed and to meet their customers’ long-term investment objectives, consistent with their fiduciary duty. BTNZ refers to ESG risk as to the risk of performance due to failure to recognise or address material existing or emerging ESG factors.
They believe such factors have the potential to impact the performance of investment portfolios over the long term, whether they are issues specific to companies, sectors, regions, or asset classes. BTNZ believes ESG factors can have a material impact on the long-term successful performance of any business.
BTNZ has taken the following approach:
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?
Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme has the following KiwiSaver Funds. More details on each of these funds can be found in the links below.