SmartShares, SuperLife, Simplicity & InvestNow. ETF & Index Fund Investing in New Zealand

ETF and Index Fund are simple, low-cost and diversified investment option with a positive result in the long term. It plays an important part in my plan to achieve financial freedom by only do a few smart things and nothing much else. To put my money where my mouth is, over 90% of my investment are in ETF and Index Fund. I believe everyone should have at least some investment in those products. SmartShares, SuperLife, Simplicity, and InvestNow are the four investment services in New Zealand that I am currently using. Here is a breakdown of them.

The Breakdown

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Compare four ETF/Index Fund investment in NZ. Best option highlighted in yellow

SmartShares

New Zealand Stock Exchange owns SmartShares. They issue the ETF for local share markets such as NZ Top 50 (FNZ), NZ Top 10 (TNZ), NZ MID CAP (MDZ) and NZ Bond (NZB). They also repackage ETFs and index funds from oversea to sell to New Zealand investor. Those ETFs cover Austraila, Europe, Asia Pacific, US, emerging markets and world markets. You can check out the list of offering here. The most popular oversea ETF is US 500. It tracks the top 500 companies on US stock example, most of them are top international corporations.

Some people mistaken SmartShares as an investment service provider but in fact, SmartShares is an ETF issuer. Their job is to manage and issue ETF for New Zealand stock exchange. That’s why investor can’t log onto SmartShares site for track their holding because they are not managing the holding for you (hence there is no annual admin fee).

If you invested in their ETF, you are basically buying a share on the share market. You can but those ETF directly on share market if you wish.  SmartShares will direct investor to Link Market Service to register and track their ETF holdings. An investor can track their holding on other services like ASB securities, ANZ Securities or Share Sight.

SuperLife

Superlife offer the most ETF and Index Funds investment options in New Zealand. They not only offer SmartShares ETF in fund format but also provide managed fund and sector fund options for the investor. All of those funds invested in a passive index fund or ETF.

The Sector fund cover different country (NZ, AUS, Overseas), industry (Property, Shares) and investment vehicle (Cash, Bond, Shares). Those are great options to build your own balanced and diversified portfolio.

The Managed Fund is is a grouping of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, and cash equivalents. The nature of those financial assets can be classified into two groups, income asset, and growth asset. Income asset includes cash and bond. They tend to carry lower risk levels and, therefore, are more likely to generate lower levels of return over the long term. Growth assets are shares and property. They tend to carry higher levels of risk, yet have the potential to deliver higher returns over longer investment time frames.

Superlife managed fund have different names, like SuperLife 30 or SuperLife 80. The number at the end show the target portion of growth asset in that fund. Superlife 30 will aim to hold around 30% of growth asset and 70% of income asset in the portfolio. So this fund is a low risk (or conservative) fund. On the other hand, Superlife 100 will aim to invest 100% into the growth asset. So the risk is high. Here is a breakdown.

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SuperLife offer the most options, functions in the breakdown. The entry requirement is basically nonexistent, and the cost is relatively low. That’s why I recommend the beginner to start with Superlife.

Simplicity

Simplicity started as a nonprofit KiwiSaver provider. They provide low-cost KiwiSaver options to New Zealander while donating 15% their income to charity. Simplicity recently opened up their investment fund as non-KiwiSaver options as investors can deposit and withdraw their investment anytime they want. Simplicity only offers three managed funds as conservative, balance and growth fund. The majority of Simplicity fund invested in Vanguard’s funds or ETFs. The management fees are the lowest in New Zealand at 0.31% for managed fund. However, the initial investment requirement is $10,000.

InvestNow

InvestNow is a new online investment platform. Investors can directly invest into the selected fund on their platform with as little of $250. InvestNow does not charge any transaction, admin, setup or exit fee at this stage. Investor only needs to pay the management fee on an individual fund.

The biggest advantage of InvestNow is to allow the investor to directly invest into two Vanguard index fund in Australia. They are Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Fund (currency hedged and non-hedged version) with management fee at 0.20% and 0.26%. Those two funds are not PIE fund, means you will have to do your own tax return. For under 50k holding, you will only have to do tax return on dividend received, which is not that hard. You can check out the detail in this blog post.

Fund Comparison

I picked a couple of index funds and ETFs from each provider and made a comparison. Here is the breakdown.

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As you can see, most of the option’s underlying asset are Vanguard ETFs and Index Fund. That’s basically what I am trying to do on my international exposure, putting money into low-cost Vanguard cost for long term.

 

Me try to invest in NZ 2

Accurate description of my international investment strategy.

Conclusion

  • Superlife have the most function, investment options and easy to start. Also have the lowest cost aggressive managed fund in NZ. It is great for both beginner and experience investor.
  • Simplicity have the lowest cost managed fund in Conservative, balance and growth aera. Great for anyone with $10,000 to start investing.
  • InvestNow user can easily invest in Vangaurd index fund in Australia with 0.20% – 0.26% fee. Great for someone who can handle their tax return on dividend recived (not that hard) or calculate under FIF rule.
  • SmartShares is good if you wish to buy ETF on share market.
  • There are other ways to invest into passive fund and ETF in New Zealand, like ASB Investment Fund, AMP, and Lifestages. However, the cost on those fund are quite high compare to these four services, which defeat the purpose of low-cost passive investing.
  • New Zealand investors can buy Vanguard ETFs on Australian Stock market. The management fee can go as low as 0.04%. I will go into that later once I’ve done it myself.

 

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Compare ETF Fund Cost between Superlife and Smartshares (2017 Update)

Recently SuperLife and SmartShares lower the management fee on four ETFs. So it’s time to update the ETF cost comparison. Also, I am changing my initial recommendation on starting your investment with SmartShares then switch to SuperLife.

Cost update

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Both Superlife and SmartShares lower their cost on Total World, Europe, Asia Pacific and Emerging Markets ETF. The reason was Vanguard reduce their underlying fee, so SuperLife and SmartShares passed on the cost saving to its customer.

Should you start with SmartShare?

In the past, I recommended to start your ETF investment with SmartShares then switch to Superlife when the fund hit a certain amount. The main reason was Superlife charge a $12/year admin fee, it will cost more in term of percentage for beginners with a small amount of investment. However, that calculation ignored the $30 one-off initial fee, the cost of setting up extra funds with SmartShares and the exit cost.

Let’s look the following example for an investor started NZ Top 50 ETF with $500 initial investment and $50/month contribution for 5 years. NZ Top 50 ETF 5 years annualised return is 16.49%. I’ve put it in a simple simulation to compare investment between SuperLife and SmartSharesand for 5 years.

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SmartShaers started with $30 less due to the setup fee. That $30 initial different made Smartshares cost more for that first 3 years, (38 months to be exact). By the end of the 5 years, the different between Superlife and Smartshares is only $24.09. That’s about 2 years of SuperLife admin fees and represent about 0.44% of your holding. That percentage will decrease if we increase the investment amount. So, there are some saving with Smartshare, but the saving is insignificant.

Also, there are some other benefits with SuperLife.

  • Better user interface compare to Link Market Service
  • Easy to switch fund with no cost
  • No setup cost for new fund
  • More fund options included sector fund and passively managed fund
  • No withdrawal cost

Personally, I think those benefit worth that $12/year with Superlife.

My Recommendation

If you wish to invest in S&P500 ETF, NZ Cash ETF and Emerging Market ETF, start with SmartShares because their management fee is still lower than SuperLife.

For any other ETF, just go and join SuperLife. You will be much better off.

If you are currently holding SmartShares ETF and want to switch to SuperLife. There is a way to switch without open a brokage account and pay $30 to sell your Smartshare. However, you will have to email me on that.

Email thesmartandlazy@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @thesmartandlazy if you have any questions.

Do you need KiwiSaver if you plan to retire early?

(This post contains the concept of  Financial Independence & Retire Early (FIRE), and terms like 4% withdrawal rate that may sound confusing. If you like to know more, jump to the end of this blog post for more information.)

When we approaching June in New Zealand, you can see lots of personal finance articles tell everyone to put in some money into their KiwiSaver and get the free money. I want to focus on a group of people who is working toward financial independence and wants to retire early. They may think since they are planning to retire way ahead of 65, KiwiSaver is irrelevant to them. They could be in KiwiSaver, but not sure if they should include KiwiSaver as part of their financial independence plan.

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Return on your KiwiSaver contribution

If you wish to live off your saving and investment, you ought to find the best return on investment out there. For KiwiSaver, your employer has to match your 3% contribution, and some employer may go higher. That’s 100% return on investment! (Correction: Actually is not 100% return because the employer needs to pay tax on their contribution. So the ROI is 100% – Tax, from 10.5%-33% less. Still a great return)

The government also provide KiwiSaver member tax credit for the first $1042.86 contribution from you each year (not counting your employer contribution). The Government will pay 50 cents for every dollar of member contribution annually up to a maximum payment of $521.43.  That’s 50% return on your first $1042.

If your wife/husband/partner is not working and you are working full time, you should consider contributing $1042 into their account as well. Those credits are risk-free and guaranteed.  It is hard to find such return on the market with basically no-risk.

Locked until 65

Some people think the big problem of KiwiSaver is you cannot access the fund until you turn 65 or to buy your first home. For the people who are planning an early retirement, they like to put every dollar into their investment so the investment can generate enough income to support their living expenses.  They don’t count on KiwiSaver and NZ superannuation to retire. However, you should still put money into your KiwiSaver.

One simple question: Do you plan to live beyond 65? If yes, then you should contribute to your KiwiSaver because it’s your money! You will spend on your investment before 65, and you will still spend on your investment after 65. The KiwiSaver fund is just one of your investment funds, and you don’t draw on that fund before 65, it will still help you to achieve your financial independence.

KS Before and After

Include KiwiSaver fund into your early retirement number

Look at the graph below. We assume you need 1 million portfolios to retire early, $300k in KiwiSaver and $700k in a normal investment fund. Your annual withdrawal rate 4%.Blank Diagram - Page 1(1).jpeg

You just need to stack up your investment and put KiwiSaver at the bottom and only draw the fund at the top. You keep drawing your non-KiwiSaver investment fund before you turn 65 and let your KiwiSaver Fund untouched. Yes, your non-Kiwisaver fund may get smaller and smaller (depends on your withdrawal rate) because you are drawing $40K (4% of 1 million) on a 700k investment fund. However, your KiwiSaver fund will keep growing. When you reach 65, you can draw from both funds.

Therefore, you should keep contributing to your KiwiSaver and include KiwiSaver as part of your early retirement plan.

Don’t over contribute into KiwiSaver

The key is you should not put too much into your KiwiSaver. You don’t want your non-KiwiSaver fund run out of money before you reach 65. Although it’s unlikely but possible.

Let’s assume you are 40 years old and have 1 million investment portfolio. You plan to draw 4% on your investment every year for living expenses. The expected return on investment is 6%. However, for some unknown reason, 70% of your investment are in KiwiSaver, and only 30% of your investment are in non-KiwiSaver Fund. You can only draw from your non-KiwiSaver fund before you turn 65.

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By age 48, your total portfolio growth to 1.24 million but your non-KiwiSaver fund ran out. Most of your money are locked in KiwiSaver, and you are 17 years away to access them. You need to go back to work.

To avoid that, you just simply contribute up to wherever your employer will match and enough to get the member tax credit every year. Put all extra cash into your non-KiwiSaver investment, including paying off mortgage, shares, bond, property, etc.

Now, if we reverse that situation and put 30% investment in KiwiSaver, 70% in non-KiwiSaver. That non-KiwiSaver fund will least 30 years. Here is the how the fund works.

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How long will you non-KiwiSaver fund least?

I actually worked out the formula on how many years your non-KiwiSaver fund will least base on percentage of your portfolio in KiwiSaver. The graph was based on 4% withdraw rate. KS empty at 4.png

X is the percentage of your KiwiSaver and Y is the number of years will your non-KiwiSaver fund last.

If your Kiwisaver is about 18% of your total investment and you are 28, do you need to worry? Using that formula y = -24.61(0.18) + 0.3429, y =42.5. Your Non-Kiwisaver fund will least 42.5 years, by the time your non-KiwiSaver fund runs out, you are already 70 years old.

If you plan to retire at age 38, you will have to draw on your non-KiwiSaver fund for 27 years. Using that formula 27 = -24.61 In(x) + 0.3429, x = 33.85%. So your KiwiSaver needs to be less than 33.85% of your total investment portfolio.

That formula only works with 4% withdraw rate. You can work out how long will your non-KiwiSaver fund least with your own figure. Check out this google sheets. Make a copy and play around.

Conclusion

  • KiwiSaver is a great investment with a high return on investment due to employer match and government tax credit. It is one of the best investment in New Zealand.
  • You should contribute toward your KiwiSaver to achieve Finacial independence and include your KiwiSaver amount into your equation.
  • Do not over contribute into your KiwiSaver.
  • If you are employed, you should contribute up to your employer match and no more.
  • If you are self- employed, just put in $1042.86 to get your $521.43 tax credit every year.
  • All extra cash goes into non-KiwiSaver investment.
  • If you are not retiring extremely early (in your 20s) and your KiwiSaver is below 20% of your total investment portfolio, you will be alright.

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About FIRE

If you want to know more about Financial Independence & Retire Early, I will cover that in the future. Meanwhile, Check out the link below.

What is Financial Independence & Retire Early (FIRE)

The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

The 4% Rule: The Easy Answer to “How Much Do I Need for Retirement?”

Kiwi Mustachians – New Zealand FIRE community (Facebook Group)

Email thesmartandlazy@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @thesmartandlazy if you have any questions.

Investnow – Invest in Vanguard Fund with 0.20% Fee

Investnow is a new online investment platform and fund management service just started this year in New Zealand. It is NOT an investment firm but a marketplace for investment funds. Kiwi investor can directly invest into the selected fund on investnow platform without the middle man. I’ve done some research on the company and invested some money via the service. Here are my findings.
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Range of Fund

Investnow offers 33 different investment funds from both local and international fund manager. The investor needs to deposit minimum $1000 $250 into Investnow transaction account and invest into the fund on their platform at $250 minimum.
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Here is the list of the fund provider
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No Transaction/Admin/Joining/Setup/Exit Fee

The main selling point for Investnow is no transaction/admin/Joining/Setup/Exit fee at all. When you put $1000 $250 into Investnow, Investnow won’t charge anything on your money. You can invest that full $1000 $250 into different funds. You only need to pay the cost of each investment fund.
Investnow made their profit by charging investment fund providers to list their funds on their platform.

The REAL selling point

Since investor can contact most of those investment funds directly and set up an account, no transaction/admin fee is not a real selling point here. For me, the real selling point for Investnow is low barriers to entry and Vanguard fund.
If you want to invest into those funds directly without Investnow, the majority of those funds have a minimum initial investment amount from $2000 to $500000. For example, Fisher Fund’s International Growth fund require minimum $2000 initial investment and Mint asset management’s Australia New Zealand Real Estate Investment Trust minimum investment is $5000. If you invest from investnow platform, you can put only $250 into those funds. It dramatically lowers the entry requirement for those funds and makes it more accessible to the average retail investor.

Vanguard fund

Vanguard

The most significant benefit with investnow (for me at least) is you got access to Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Fund. That fund launched for AUS and NZ market in late 2016. It contains about 1500 listed companies across 20 developed international markets (without Australia). This fund is an ethical fund as they excluded Tobacco, controversial weapons and nuclear weapons investment.
Simplicity Kiwisaver invests heavily into this Vanguard fund. 61% of Simplicity Growth fund invested in Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Fund.
There are two versions of this fund. Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Fund has a low managed fee at 0.20%. The Fund is exposed to the fluctuating values of foreign currencies, as there will not be any hedging of foreign currencies to the Australian dollar. So this fund has a higher risk due to foreign exchange fluctuation. Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Fund – NZD Hedged are hedged in New Zealand Dollar with a higher management fee at 0.26% but with lower risk.
For individual investors, if you want to invest into this fund directly, you will have to start with $500,000 AUD. Investnow lower that entry barrier down to just $250. In my opinion, this is a great fund to invest because of the low-cost, diversified portfolio and low barriers to entry.

Everything sounds good, so what’s the catch?

Yes, there one thing not so good about Investnow. You’d need to do your tax return if you invested in Vanguard funds.
Admittedly, I am not good at tax. So the following information may be wrong.
From what I understand, those two Vanguard funds are not the same with other listed fund on their platform as they are not PIEs fund. Vanguard funds are Australian Unit Trusts. Accordingly, they are taxed under the FIF rules (that apply to global shares). Investors need to do their own tax return. Investnow produces consolidated tax information to help investors to complete their own FIF tax return.

My Experience

After some research and background check on the company, I invested $1000 into Investnow and tested it out.
The sign-up process was quite simple; I managed to complete in 5 mins. The interface is easy to understand. The funding and investing took 1-2 days to complete. You can check out your holding and performance any time.
Check out the screenshots below. 
 
One thing worth mentioning is Investnow use a Two-Factor Authentication for login. You need your username, password and a six-digit passcode that send to your email or phone to log in. I recommend using your phone to received that passcode in txt.

Conclusion

So far I am happy with the Investnow as its allow me to access Vanguard fund with just $1000 $250 investment AND no one charging me extra fees in the middle. The service is straightforward and easy to use. The only concern will be the tax implications on its investor if you invest in the Vanguard fund. (Personally, I need to figure that out before next April.)
InvestNow is free to join. You don’t have to deposit $250 to become a user. You can just sign up with an email address and check out the offering.
Investnow is a new company; some investor will (and they should) question the legitimacy of the company/service and the safety of their investment. I’ve done research on that and I will share that in the next post.
(UPDATE: InvestNow recently lower their minimum deposit amount to just $250.)
Email thesmartandlazy@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @thesmartandlazy if you have any questions.