Fund Update: Regular Investing with InvestNow, Cheaper SmartShares and More Funds in Sharesies

Got a couple fund updates in October 2017 including regular investing with InvestNow, cheaper SmartShares management cost, more fund options in Sharesies and new fund with Simplicity.

Regular Investing with InvestNow

InvestNow just rollout their regular investing options. Yay! Before that, every time investors transfer money to InvestNow, the money will be sitting in their “Transaction account”. The investor was required to log into their account and manually invest that money into funds. Not very robust.

Now with regular investing, you just need to instruct InvestNow how you want your fund distributed once and they will do it automatically. Also, with regular investing, the minimum transaction amount is lowered to $50. Here is how it works.

Once you login to InvestNow, you will see a new option called “My Plan”.

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Click create to start a new plan.

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 10.33.45 AM.pngYou decide how much you want to invest and how frequently. You can invest on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or six-monthly basis. Also, you can choose when the plan start and end. Below is an example for $100 invested monthly with no end date.

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Next is to instruct which fund you would like to invest by percentage. The minimum investment amount for a single fund is $50/transaction. If you are investing $100, you can invest in 2 different funds at $50/each or $100 in a single fund. Below is an example for $100 invested into two Vanguard funds.

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After that, click save and you are done. Make sure you set up an automatic payment from your bank!

I am glad InvestNow introduces regular investing options and lower the transaction amount to $50. It makes it easier for investors to set up automatic payment and use the dollar-cost averaging method to invest. It further lowers the barrier of entry and makes InvestNow be a “set and forget” investment solutions.

Check out their Regular Investment Plan page for more info.

Just be aware that minimum lump sum investment amount is still at $250/transaction.

InvestNow buy RaboDirect’s managed funds line

InvestNow just announced they acquired the Managed Funds product line of RaboDirect. RaboDirect started a marketplace for investment funds in 2006. In fact, the InvestNow’s managing director, Mike Heath, set up RaboDirect’s platform back then.

Now InvestNow acquired the Managed Funds product line from RaboDirect, their customer will transit to InvestNow platform.

I think it’s great as RaboDirect customer get to stay in the same fund and will save more on fees because InvestNow does not charge admin or transaction fee. It will also expand InvestNow customer based. I hope it will lead InvestNow to bring more high quality and low-cost index fund to New Zealand like Vanguard and Blackrock.

Check out my blog on InvestNow here.

Investnow – Invest in Vanguard Fund with 0.20% Fee

Smartshares reduces fee on award-winning ETF

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SmartShares’ NZ Mid Cap ETF recently won the New Zealand Equity Sector Fund of the year at the 2017 FundSource Awards.

The NZ Mid Cap ETF tracks the share price of 38 New Zealand Stock and its median market cap at 1,090 million. The index is made up of top 50 companies in NZ stock exchange but excluded the top 10 companies and product issued by non-New Zealand issuers. You can find the stock of The A2 Milk Company, Xero, Air New Zealand, Mercury, Mainfreight and Port of Tauranga in this ETF.

Here is the sector breakdown on Mid Cap ETF.

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SmartShares just lower their management fee from 0.75% to 0.60%. So this is good news for their current investors. This ETF used to have the biggest cost difference with their ETF fund counterpart in SuperLife. Now the cost is more in line with SuperLife ETF fund. However, SuperLife still has the lower management cost at 0.49%.

Check out my comparison on management fee between SmartShares and SuperLife.

Sharesies added New Socially Responsible Funds

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Sharesies, the new Wellington start-up, just added two socially responsible funds from Pathfinder Asset Management. They are The Pathfinder Global Responsibility Fund and the Pathfinder Global Water Fund.

Socially responsible investing also known as sustainable, socially conscious, “green” or ethical investing, is any investment strategy which seeks to consider both financial return and social good to bring about a social change. Those funds will invest in companies practices that promote environmental stewardship, consumer protection, human rights, and diversity. They avoid business involved in armaments, gambling, tobacco, thermal coal and pornography.

Pathfinder Asset Management said Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) scores as one of the factors to invest with those two funds. Pathfinder Global Responsibility Fund targets 250 stocks from around the world and Pathfinder Global Water Fund target on 50 to 100 companies that generate significant income from water-related activities. Both funds are actively managed, and the management cost is 0.93% and 1.3% per year. Also, those two funds have a transaction fee on buy and sell of 0.05%. So if you invested $50 in either fund, $0.025 would be charged as a transaction fee.

I think Sharesies did a great job adding socially responsible funds on their platform as the fund will appeal to their core customers. However be aware of those two funds are actively managed, and there is a transaction fee on buy and sell.

Check out the fund info here. The Pathfinder Global Responsibility Fund and the Pathfinder Global Water Fund.

One More Thing

One last thing, Simplicity added Guaranteed income fund and I’ve got a sperate blog on that.

Simplicity Guaranteed Income fund, What’s that and How it Works?

Simplicity, the non-profit and low-cost KiwiSaver provider introduced a new fund last week called “Guaranteed income fund.” Guaranteed income investment products had been around for years in other overseas markets, but it’s very new to New Zealand. So in this blog post we will look at what is guaranteed income fund, how does it work, the pros, the cons and do you need it.

What are Guaranteed income fund and annuity

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The guaranteed income fund is basically an annuity. They provide a stable and secure source of retirement income. You will need to surrender a sum of money in exchange for a stream of income that’s guaranteed for life. The annuity has been around for a very long time in the overseas market. Usually, annuity service is offered by an insurance company because there is a guaranteed element in this product. New Zealand just had our first annuity service from LifeTime Income Ltd not long ago.

How does it work?

Simplicity now partners with Lifetime Income Ltd and provide a guaranteed income fund that offers 5% guaranteed return at age 65 for the rest of your life. The minimum amount is $50,000, the annual cost is $30, fund management cost is 0.31%, and insurance cost is 1.3% of your protected income base. Protected income base is your initial investment if you start receiving cash payment immediately. If you decided to delay receiving the cash payment, your protected income base would be either your initial investment amount or the current fund value, whichever is higher. We will explain that later.

You can think of it as you borrow some money to another person. That individual will keep paying you interest at 5% for the rest of your life.

Here is an example of how it works. Assume you are now 65. You decided to put $50,000 into Simplicity Guaranteed income fund and start receiving the cash income immediately. Every year, you will receive 5% of that $50,000, which is $2,500. It will payout fortnightly at $2,500 / 26 = $96.15 for the rest of your life. The $50,000 are still with Simplicity as an investment. That money will continue increase or reduce according to how the investment market performs, tax and fee charges. The cash you receive will also come from that fund as well.

Here is a simplified calculation

Your capital + gain or loss from investment – tax – annual fee ($30) – management cost (0.31%) – Insurance cost (1.3% of initial value) – cash payout (5% of initial capital) = end balance

Apply that to our $50,000 example with 6.5% return, Taxed under FDR rule with PIR at 17.5%, here is the performance for the first year.

Initial Capital $50,000 + Investment return $3,250 – Tax $465.94 – Annual fee $30 – management cost $163.63 – insurance cost $650 – cash payout $2,500 = End year balance $49,440.43

Here is the performance for next 25 years with the same return at 6.5%

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Here is the graph of your fund value over the years.

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What if my fund runs out?

As you can see with 6.5% return, your fund value will keep going down, and you will run out of money some day. If your investment fund is exhausted, there will be no money to draw from. At this point, the insurance policy will take over and pay out that guaranteed amount ($2,500/year) for the rest of your life. That’s why there are a 1.3% insurance charges on the fund.

Now I will use the same example but lower the return on investment to 2.5%.

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Your investment fund exhausted age 82. You can only draw $1,495 from your fund at that year. The insurance company will pick up the tap and continue to pay the guaranteed income for the rest of your life.

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Here is a closer look at guaranteed income. Insurance policy kicks in at age 82 and continue.

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Can I delay and get more Cash Payout?

The 5% is the minimum income guarantee. It goes by 0.1% each year that you defer taking out the guaranteed income. When you start getting the income at 65, the guaranteed rate is 5%; if you start getting it at 70, the guaranteed rate is 5.5%. It tops at age 90 with 7%. The money in the fund will increase or decrease with the investment return but there is no cash withdraw.

Here is an example when you join at 65 but only start to get income at 70 and get 5.5% guaranteed income.

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What if the receiver pass away?

If the receiver passes away, whatever left in the account will be passed on to their estate. Now, let’s go back to our 2.5% return example.

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If the receiver passes away at age 77, there are still $16.962 capital in the account. That amount will pass onto receiver’s beneficiary. On the other hand, if the receiver passes away at age 86, there will be no money left in the fund. So there will be no money to receiver’s beneficiary, and the insurance payment will stop.

What so good about Guaranteed income fund

Imagine you are now retired and you only living on superannuation plus your saving. Every time you spend money on the power bill, water and food, your retirement saving go down a little bit. Do you worry you may outlive your retirement savings and have to live on superannuation alone? This is a real concern for many retirees and it reduces their spending in retirement years.

Below is the typical situation for New Zealand retiree. Their retirement is partly funded by superannuation and their own savings/income to reach their ideal standard of living.

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Since we don’t know how long we are going to live, some retirees worry they may outlive theirs. So they reduce their spending and stand and hope the saving will least long enough. The living standard reduced as a result.

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Since guaranteed income fund and annuity provide a steady stream of income for life, it is a powerful tool for retirees. You can surrender part of your retirement saving and exchange for a guaranteed income for life. Add that on to superannuation from the government, you will have a bigger part of fixed income every fortnight. So it will help to bridge the gap between your living expenses and superannuation. Also, It will reduce the concern if you will out the saving. The most significant benefit its gives you the certainty that you can always fall back to Superannuation + guaranteed income level.

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What are the Limitation & Risk

There is always a catch with investment and insurance products. There are certain restrictions and risk regarding guaranteed income fund.

KiwiSaver Only – currently this fund is only open to the KiwiSaver member. If you are not eligible for KiwiSaver or you already left KiwiSaver, you can’t join the fund. Also, you’ll have to be 65 to start receiving a cash payment. Alternatively, you can get the annuity from Lifetime Income with a higher cost.

Fixed amount – It is great that you will have an income for the rest of your life. However, that amount is set for life as well. So inflation will be your biggest problem. With inflation, the same amount of money will have less buying power. In the early 2000s, the price of petrol was well below $1. I can fill my tank for $30-$40. Now, I can only fill 60% of the same tank with $40. Here is a table of the real value for $2500 after 2% inflation. 10 years in at age 75, that $2500 will worth about $2000 today, it lost about 20% of its value.

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Since the cost of living and superannuation are rising along with inflation, you will have to fund more of your living expenses out of your retirement savings. Just like the graph below.

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However, people tend to spend less as they age. Although the cost of living increased, the cost for an ideal living standard will decrease and it softens the effect on inflation.

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Cost: This fund is very similar to Simplicity balanced fund and they have the same admin fee and management cost. However, guaranteed income fund have an insurance policy attached to it and it cost 1.3% of your initial fund amount. No matter how your fund performs, it will charge the same amount of insurance fee.

Insurer risk: Since this fund has an insurance policy, there is always the risk of insurance company collapse. The insurer is Lifetime income limited, which is not a big insurance company like AIG.

Access to fund: You will need to surrender a large sum of cash to the investment provided to start your income guaranteed fund. There are limitations on how you can withdraw your fund from the plan. First, your fund may not have enough money due to the fees and investment return. If there are fund to pull out from, you can either withdraw up to 20% of your fund and take a pay cut by the same percentage you took out. The other options are completely empty your fund. The good thing is Simplicity will not charge a fee on that.

Do I need it?

I think it’s great that there is one more option for New Zealand retirees with Guaranteed Income fund. It will reduce the concern of retirees outlive their savings and provide a fallback for them if they have to scale back their spending.

Make sure you understand Guaranteed Income fund is just one of the many options for retirees and you should not put all of your eggs in one basket. I will include them as part of the retirement plan along with term deposit, investment fund or property and superannuation.

The key point is you should not put all of your money into Guaranteed Income fund and annuity. One way to work out how much guaranteed income you’ll need is to decide how much income you wish to be guaranteed along with superannuation income.

For example, a married couple will get $1200.60 each fortnight. They also worked out their ideal living standard will cost them $2350 each fortnight including nice food, shopping, dining out, travel and avocado on toast every Sunday. On the other hand, we can cover their basic expenses (power, water, communication, petrol and basic food)  for $1500 each fortnight.

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If the couple wants to the guaranteed income cover their ideal living standard, the guaranteed income needs to be $2500 – $1200 = $1300 each fortnight. To get that amount of guaranteed income, the couple will have $1300 x 26 / 5% = $676k in the fund. That is not a small amount for most people.

How about we just need to cover the basic. The guaranteed income will be $1500 – $2500 = $300 each fortnight and the fund value will be $300 x 26 / 5% = $156k. This amount is not too big and seems reasonable to average retirees. It will cover the basic for the couple at their early stage of retirement. They will be happy to know if anything happens that cost all of their life-saving, they will still have enough to cover the basic living with superannuation and guaranteed income. They can even increase the fund value to hedge against inflation.

Conclusion

  • Simplicity offer Guaranteed Income fund for the KiwiSaver member.
  • The investment fund is similar to Balanced fund with $30/year admin fund, 0.31% fund management fee and 1.3% insurance cost based on the initial fund value.
  • Investors will receive 5% of the initial fund value as cash payment every year from 65 for the rest of their life.
  • The cash payment is drawn from your investment fund. If the investment fund runs out, an insurance policy will kick in and provide the cash payment.
  • This is a great option (in combine with superannuation) for retirees to set a safety income line.
  • Do not over commit. This fund should be part of your retirement plan along with superannuation, term deposit, and other investment.

 

 

 

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The Best Way to Invest for Your Children in New Zealand – What to Invest

This is the second part of my investing for children series. In a previous post, we talked about why should we invest for your kids and what you need to know beforehand. Now, let’s dive into what to invest for your children in New Zealand.

Index Fund & ETF for Kids

In case you don’t know, I am a big fan of the low-cost index fund and ETF because this is a low-cost investment option with a diversified portfolio and low entry requirement. Naturally, I will put my kid’s investment into them as well as a managed fund with ETF and Index fund in it. However, lots of investment services won’t accept anyone who is under 18 years old as investors. Basically, under their terms and conditions, you will have to be 18 years old or over to sign that agreement. Therefore, there are not a lot of choices for children.

 

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Looking for investment options for my kids

Furthermore, a good investment for kids is kind of the hidden gem out there. The one that advertised heavily aren’t very good, and you will have to dig deep to find the good ones. After lots of googling, emailing and reading, here are my top picks.

SuperLife MyFutureFund

Hidden Gem No.1 is Superlife MyFutureFund. This is a different service from SuperLife KiwiSaver and SuperLife Invest (non-KiwiSaver Service). This service doesn’t have a web page at the moment so you won’t find it under SuperLife web site. The information is buried under SuperLife Invest Product Disclosure Statement, page 26 and 27 of that PDF file.

(Superlife is currently redesigning their web site. MyFutureFund page will return after that.)

MyFutureFund itself is NOT an index fund or managed fund, it’s just a way that allows children to invest in SuperLife’s product. The account is in the child’s name but the guardian/person opening the account has control of the account including access to the funds through until 18 years of age. The account is separate from parents account, but you would be able to view the account through a “linked” membership.

MyFutureFund has access to the all Superlife investment options. There are over 40 different investment options available for kids including ETF, index fund, sector fund and managed fund. My personal picks for my kids are SuperLife 100 and Overseas Shares (Currency Hedged) Fund.

SuperLife 100 is made up of mostly Vanguard Index fund and ETF plus fund from Somerset. The investment included, 55% of international shares, 33% of Australasian shares and 12% listed property. The management cost is 0.52% and risk indicator at level 4. Three years return after tax (PIR at 28%), and fees are 8.35%. Seven years return is not available.

Overseas Shares (Currency Hedged) Fund is made up of eight Vanguard ETF. Invested 100% in international shares and mainly in US and Europe stock market. The management cost is 0.48% and risk indicator at level 4. Three years return after tax (PIR at 28%), and fees are 7.52%. Seven years return is 11.47%.

I picked those two funds because they are both diversified and contain 100% growth asset. Regarding fees, the management fees are relatively low, and SuperLife’s annual admin fees are only $12/years. They do not have regular contribution requirement, minimum investing amount can be just $1. So Superlife is great for both regular and irregular investing for your kids. I already got an account with SuperLife on my own so linking the kid’s account is straightforward and easy.

What about Investment for Mid-term

Those two fund that I suggested were 100% growth asset so they are aggressive fund. They provide great return for long-term investing. However, they will be too risky for mid-term investment. If you plan to use that money within 4-10 years, you may consider some other fund with lower growth asset.

SuperLife 30, 60 and 80 are similar to SuperLife 100 but added different percentage of income asset. Fund with more income asset will have a lower range of gain and loss in any given year and better return during recession compare to 100% growth asset fund. On the other hand, when the market is booming, those fund will have a lower return.

I think Superlife 30 will be ideal for 4-6 years investment, Superlife 60 will be great for 6-8 years and Superlife 80 will be ideal for 8-10 years. For example, if your kid is 12 years old and planning to use that money for the university at 19 year olds. Your investment timeframe will be 7 years and you should consider Superlife 60. For any plan under 4 years, term deposit with the bank is a good choice.

How To Join MyFutureFund

SuperLife doesn’t have the easiest way to join so there is how you can join them. You will need to fill in the application form from SuperLife and send it over by mail or email.

  1. Download and read SuperLife Invest Product Disclosure Statement
  2. Go to Applications form (page 22 of the PDF file) and fill out your kid’s details and use a separate email set up for kids investing.
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  3. Under Saving section, you choose how you are going to invest. It can be one lump sum investment, regular investment or both. The example below starts with $500 lump sum investment with NO regular contribution.
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  4. Fill out the Communications and ID verification. You should be using NZ passport or NZ Birth Certificate for the kid.
  5. Under Investment strategy, they will ask if you would pick their managed fund first.  If you wish to join SuperLife 100, just tick as below.
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  6. If you wish to join other funds or join multiple funds, you’ll need to tick “My Mix” and go to the next page.
  7. At page 5 of the application form (page 26 of the PDF file), fill in initial investment or regular investment. You can set the amount by actual dollar value or by percentage. At the example below, I invest 50% to Superlife100 and 50% to Overseas Shares (Currency Hedged Fund).
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  8. On the right side of My Mix page, you can decide what to do with your investment income. They can be reinvested into the fund or save the return in cash fund. Reinvestment is the most common choice for kids. Below that, you can decide rebalancing options, I suggest to use the standard rebalancing for the kids.
  9. At the next page (page 25 of the PDF file), after you pick the beneficiaries (usually “My estate”), DO NOT sign at the bottom. You should move onto the next page.
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  10. At the next two pages (Page 26 and 27 of the PDF file), you will have to fill in your own information as the guardian, supply the ID information, and sign it.
  11. Once you compeleted the application form, you can send it over to SuperLife and the investment account will be ready in a couple days.

If you have any other questions, contact Superlife with superlife@superlife.co.nz or call them at 0800 27 87 37.

InvestNow’s Vanguard Fund

The second gem is InvestNow. InvestNow is an online investment platform provide mutiple investment fund for their investors with low entery require and no middle-man fee. You can check out my blog post on InvestNow here. Unlike other investment service, InvestNow’s term and condition do not have a age restiriction. Therefore, InvestNow open the door are a whole range of investment fund for your kids. You can check out the full range of investment fund from InvestNow here.

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Out of all those investment options, my pick for my kids is 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.

The BEST things about this fund is the cost. It only charge 0.20%/year on management fees and NO annual admin fee. The fund itself is a wholesale fund, which mean it usually only accept institutional invest. The minimum initial investment require was $500,000 AUD. The good news is, investors can join this fund via InvestNow with just $250 investment. (InvestNow will lower that requirement to $50 shortly.)

There is two version of this fund, one with NZD currency hedged with 0.26% managment fee and one without currency hedged with 0.20% management fee. Without currency hedge, the fund is exposed to the fluctuating values of foreign currencies. So this fund will have higher risk with lower cost. On the other hand, you will pay a higher fee for a more stable return with the currency hedged fund.

Here is the link to check out those two funds in detials.

Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Fund

Vanguard International Shares Select Exclusions Index Fund – NZD Hedged

Pay Tax on Investment

Those two fund have a different tax treatment compare to normal PIE fund. With PIE fund, investor usually just need to submit their IRD number and PIR rate once, then they dont need to worry about tax. With those Vanguard fund in InvestNow, they are Australian Unit Trusts and will be taxed under Foreign investment funds (FIF) rule. Investors is required to sumbit their income from FIF and file a tax return every year. If the holding amount is under $50,000 NZD, which should be the case for most children investors, you will need to pay tax on the dividend you received with the kids’ RWT rate. If the holding is over $50,000 NZD, you will have to calculate your taxable income with either Fair dividend rate (FDR) method or Comparative value (CV) method.

For children investors with portfolio value under $50,000, filing a tax return on dividend received is not too hard. You will need to file a Personal tax summaries (PTS) with IRD and it can be done online. I will share how I do that with my kids next year. Regarding FDR and CV method, I personally don’t know how to do it. You better to talk to a tax accountant for that.

How to Join InvestNow

InvestNow sign-up process is very straght forward so there won’t be a step by step guide. You’ll need to click on the join link on InvestNow home page and use a seprate email address to sign up. After you sign up an account, InvestNow will ask you to provide information on ideneifcation. You don’t have to complete that. Instead, contact them directly with contact form or call them at 0800 499 466 and let them know you want to set up an account for your children. Make sure you got the following information ready

  • Email address for the account
  • NZ birth certificate or a passport for a child
  • IRD number for the child
  • PIR and RWT rate for the child
  • Proof of guardian’s address

InvestNow will be able to set up an investment account from here. They can also link multiple child accounts to your current InvestNow account if you have one already.

Update in functions

Currently (at 19 Sept 2017), InvestNow don’t have auto-invest function and minimum transaction amount is at $250. So its not the best choice for someone who wants to reguarly invest for their kids because they will have to transfer $250 into InvestNow, then login to their platform and manually invest that money into the fund. The Good news is InvestNow will implement auto-invest function and lower the minimum transaction limite to $50 in the near future. So Investors can set up instruction to let InvestNow automatically invest into your prefered fund everytime you transfer money to them.

Conclusion

Here is the breakdown on my top picks compare to our kids investment requiremnt.

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  • Superlife MyFutureFund provide a full range of fund for different investment timeframe. They have all nessary function for you to setup different investment plan for your kids. A great “set and forget” solution. However, they don’t have the lowest fee.
  • InvestNow allow user to invest in a great Vanguard investment fund with 0.20% management fee and no annual fee. However, you will have to do tax return for your kid every year.
  • Feel free to contact them before you sign up and understand the process. I found both company are great with answering customer questions.

In next part of my investing for kids series, we will look at some other investment options including KiwiSaver, Bonus Bond, SmartShares and more. If you are currently invested in or considering some investment program for your kids and want me to cover them, drop me an email at thesmartandlazy@gmail.com. I will try my best to cover that.SaveSave

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The Best Way to Invest for Your Children in New Zealand – What You Need to Know

I am a father of two pre-school kids and I been researching on how to invest for them in New Zealand. There are some options out there, but the good one is surprisingly hard to find. So here is my finding on the best way to invest for your children and what you need to know.

There is a lot to write about investing for kids, so I am breaking this topic into three parts. I will talk about why invest for your children and what you need to know before investing here. Part 2 will be my pick on the best investment options for kids and part 3 will be my view on some other investment options in New Zealand.

Why Invest for Your Children

Education: The main reason I invest for my kids is that I want them to know about personal finance. I personally know a few smart and bright teenagers who are horrible with money, which leads them to big money problems (I used to work in student accommodation and know lots of students who left home and flatting with others). It seems like we don’t teach personal finance at school and we don’t talk much about money at home.  When some of those kids leave home, they have no idea how to handle money and make a mess with their finances. So for my kids, they will learn about personal finance from a young age. I won’t start them off the complex financial product, but eventually we will get there. That will be a great example to show how their own money is working for them.

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We will start with a piggy bank first, but we will get to managed fund… eventually

 

Prepare for their future: I can’t predict whats going to happen in the future, so I want to do my best to prepare for it. For now, you can get an interest-free student loan for study, but it is not always the case. Student loan used to carry interest and before that, Univesity used to be free. For my kids, I have no idea what sort of society they will be facing, so it’s always better to have something prepared. No matter if they want to go to Univesity, go overseas, start their own business, there will be some money for them.

Best time to invest: There is a Chinese proverb said something like, ““The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”. For us, we can’t go back 20 years ago and invest for yourself unless we get our hands on a DeLorean DMC-12. At least we can do it for our kids. “It’s not timing the market, it’s time in the market.” By investing at their young age, that investment will have all the time in the world to grow and ride out of recession. It almost guarantees those diversified investments will have a great return once your kids reach adulthood.

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You can’t go back 20 years ago to start investing, but you can do it for your kids.

There are two New Zealand personal finance bloggers wrote on this topic I think you should check them out. Ruth from the happy saver wrote a great blog post on ‘Teach kids about money’. Ryan from Money for Young Kiwis wrote another great piece on “Should you invest for your children”.

What do you need?

Before we go into the details, here is a checklist of what you need to set up an investment for your kids.

  • IRD number for the kids
  • Set up a new email account for kids’ investing purpose
  • Identification document for kids (Birth cert, Passport)
  • Identification document for guardian (Passport, Driver license)
  • Prove of relationship between guardian and child (Birth Cert)

Tax Matter

Some people think children do not pay tax as they have little or no income and that is not true. No matter how cute your kids are, IRD is going to charge tax on them. There is two type tax your kids will be paying, Resident withholding tax (RWT) and Prescribed investor rate (PIR).

Resident withholding tax (RWT) will be familiar to most people because you can see that on your bank statement when you received interest. Resident withholding tax is a tax deducted from a New Zealand tax resident customer’s interest income before they receive it. So it’s basically a tax on your interest and dividend received. Your kids will be using this tax rate if they earn interest from bank deposit or receive a dividend from shares.

Prescribed Investor Rate (PIR) is the rate at which an investor pays tax on their share of taxable investment income from a Portfolio Investment Entity (PIE) investment. It basically taxes on your investment funds like KiwiSaver, index fund and managed fund.

All investment service require IRD number so you MUST register your kid with IRD. If your children don’t have an IRD number, go to this website and get an IRD number for your child. You can check out IRD website to find out the correct RWT and PIR for your kids.

Tax Rate Difference between Adults and Kids

For most kiwi kids who have no income, their RWT and PIR will be at 10.5%.   This tax rate is important because average working adult RWT is at 30% or 33% and PIR at 28%. So kids pay much lower tax compared to an adult, and this is a great advantage for kids.

Some parents already set aside some money to invest for their kids under their name because of convenience. There is nothing wrong with that, but it’s not tax efficient. Let’s look at an example below:

Parent A and B both put $500/years into an investment fund with an average return at 7% after fees before tax. Parent A invested under their own name with PIR at 28%. Parent B invested under their child name with PIR at 10.5%. Here is the result after 15 years.

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Parent B’s fund ended up with a higher balance because it was taxed at 10.5%. The actual tax paid with PIR 28% was 1.4% of the fund and 0.525% with PIR at 10.5%. The different is just 0.875%/year. When the kids paid less on tax, more money kept in the fund to grow.  At year 15, it resulted in 7.39% different in value.

Remeber, your kids are NOT your tax shelter. Don’t put your own investment and life-saving under your kid’s name to pay less tax. IRD may treat that as tax evasion, and this is a criminal offense. When you invest for your kids, that money supposed to be their money or planning to use for them.

Skip the Bank Account

A popular thing parents do for their kids is to set up a bank account and put money into it for saving and earn a bit of interest. When I look at bank saving, it’s a safe option but not a good investment. Yes, you do earn interest from the bank, but the returns aren’t very good. Also, inflation and tax will reduce your return. You may get some interest on that money but it may worth less in the real terms after inflation.

Take a look at the interest rate on high interest saving account from January 2003 to August 2017 below.

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Before 2008, you can get about 4% – 8% interest on your deposit and now is above 2%. Let’s add tax and inflation to those interest rate. I will be using RWT at 10.5% as tax rate here.

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The green will be the real return on bank interest. It was around 2%-4% before 2008, dropped below 0% at 2010 and currently sitting just above 0%. Therefore, if you keep your kids money in the bank as ‘investment,’ the return is only a better than inflation.

For me, I will still open a bank account for my kids, but the purpose will only be temporary saving. The bank account is not an investment for my kids, it’s just a safe keeping.  Most for their money will be sitting in some funds.

Long-Term Investment

Some parents may think investment funds are too volatile for their own risk appetite, that’s why they choose saving account. This is true as saving account provide a low but safe return, investment funds’ return can range from 20% to -20% in a single year. However, we need to separate parent’s risk appetite with kids.

Kids have a lot more time ahead of them compared to their parents. For an average Kiwi kids in an average income family, here is a list of some life events that they may need to use that investment fund.

  • Pay for tertiary study at 18-20 years old
  • Moving out for job or school around their 20s
  • Overseas experience around their 20s
  • Buying their first home between 20-35

Most of those events happen around their 20. If you kids are under 10 years old, the investment time frame will be at least 10+ years for them. The common wisdom is you should take more risk when you have a long investment time frame. You shouldn’t worry too much about market downturn as they will definitely occur within their investment timeframe. By staying in the market for a long-term, you will ride out of the recession.

Investment Requirement for Kids

As we’ve established, Kids have different tax treatment, long investment time frame, and higher risk appetite compares to adult. Furthermore, Kids investment fund usually started with a small amount without regular contribution. Therefore, the investment requirement will be different as well. Here is a list

  • Age requirement: Must accept under 18 investor
  • Investment Time Frame: Mid to long-term
  • Risk: Medium to High
  • Asset mix: Mostly growth asset
  • Tax treatment: Prefer multi-rate PIE fund or RWT
  • Management fee: As low as possible (of course!)
  • Annual admin fee: As low as possible for good reason
  • Initial investment amount: As low as possible
  • Lump sum investment amount: As low as possible
  • Regular contribution: Prefer not to have regular contribution commitment

The reason we prefer not to have regular contribution is that kids don’t have a regular income. They may only get money once or twice a year for their birthday or Christmas gift. So we prefer an investment without regular contribution commitment, low initial investment and low lump sum investment amount. Parents and relatives can put in some money, no matter a little or a lot, whenever they want.

Watch Out for Annual Fees

Regarding fees, the amount of annual admin fee can be more important than management cost because that fund usually started with a small amount. When you investment fund valued at $20,000, that $30 admin fee is just 0.15% of your holding. However, if your fund valued at $500, that $30 admin fee will be 6% of your holding. Way more than the usual management cost you will be charged. So we prefer an investment with low annual admin fee.

Also, be aware if you started with a small amount and forgot about it for a couple years, the annual fees may eat up your entity portfolio. Check out the graph below on a small portfolio with $30 annual fees, 7% return after tax and management fee and with no further contribution.

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For those portfolio balance with $200 or less, the annual fees will reduce your investment down to zero within 10 years. You won’t be able to keep your initial investment unless you start with $500 or more(based on $30/year annual fee and 7% return).

Therefore, if you plan to put some money in the let it sit for couple years without any contribution, you should start with $500 or more. If you plan to put some more money in at least once a year, you can start at around $250. Anything less than $200 should be kept in the bank. Also, pick an investment service with low or no annual fee will help.

What’s Next?

This is part one of my investing for kids blog. Next part will be my personal pick of the best investment options for kids and how to join them. Part three will be my take on other investment options in New Zealand. If you are currently in or considering some investment program for your kids and want me to cover them, drop me an email at thesmartandlazy@gmail.com. I will try my best to cover that.

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

Different Tax on SmartShares and SuperLife ETF

Recently a tax accountant contacted me regarding my post on comparing cost on ETF investing between SmartShares and Superlife. He pointed out that apart from the admin fee and management cost, investors also need to consider the tax implication when investing. I’ve known about this issue but did not include on my blog because I did not fully understand the rules. After I’ve asked around and done some research, here is my finding on different tax treatment on SmartShares and Superlife ETF and why does it matter to New Zealand investor.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a tax accountant or expert. In fact, I am pretty bad at tax despite I’ve done a couple tax papers at university. So what I am going to say would be incorrect. If you notice anything wrong in my blog post, please let me know and I will correct that ASAP. You should contact a tax accountant or IRD for tax advice.

What are PIE and PIR?

According to IRD website,  a portfolio investment entity (PIE) is a type of entity, such as a managed fund that invests the contributions from investors in different types of investments. Eligible entities that elect to become a PIE will generally pay tax on investment income based on the prescribed investor rate (PIR) of their investors, rather than at the entity’s tax rate.

Prescribed investor rate (PIR) is the tax rate that PIE fund use to calculate the tax on the income it derives from investing your contributions. It based on your taxable income, e.g. income from salary, wages and any additional sources of income (including the income from your investment) that you would include on your income tax return.

For an individual, your PIR can be 10.5%, 17.5% and 28%. Check out IRD web site to work out your PIR rate.

How PIE Works?

I will explain PIE with ‘interest on saving account’ as an example. You usually received interest by saving money in a bank account. If you look closely at that interest transaction, you can see the bank gave you some interest, then IRD take away some as ‘Withholding tax’. Check out the transaction below.

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So I earned $0.79 in interest, but IRD took $0.26 away.  The amount decided how much IRD can take is based on my Resident withholding tax (RWT). In this situation, the RWT is 0.26/0.79 = 33%. You can work out your RWT here.

For people who are having a full-time job, their RWT rate will likely to be 30% or 33%. That’s where PIE come in. The most common PIE fund you will see is the PIE account at your Bank. There are ANZ PIE Fund, Term PIE at BNZ, PIE Funds at Kiwibank and Westpac Online Saver PIE.

If you put money in those PIE accounts, in stead of paying 30% or 33% on your interest earned, you will be paying the max PIR rate at 28%. So in my situation, IRD will only tax $0.22 on my $0.79 interest income. The amount may seem tiny here, but if you have $20,000 saved in a PIE Term deposit with 3.5% interest, you will just have to pay $196 on tax instead of $231.

Different PIEs with SmartShares and SuperLife ETF

There are different types of PIEs and we will talk about Multi-Rate PIE and Listed PIEs here.

Multi-rate PIE (MRP) is a type of PIE that uses the investors’ prescribed investor rates (PIRs) to calculate the tax on the investment income it earns from the investors’ contributions. Most PIEs are multi-rate PIE including SuperLife and Simplicity fund.

A listed PIE is a type of PIE listed on a recognised exchange in New Zealand, and they calculate the tax on a fixed rate regardless of investors PIR. SmartShares ETFs are listed PIE, and they will pay tax at 28%. Check out section 6 on SmartShares’ product disclosure statement.

So the main difference between those two investments are you will pay 28% tax on SmartShares ETF and with SuperLife ETF Fund, you will pay tax according to your PIR.

Why Does it Matter to Investor

An investor needs to work out their PIR so they can decide each provider is more tax efficient. You don’t want to overpay your tax. There are three different PIRs for individuals: 10.5%, 17.5% and 28%.

For people who earn over $48,000 a year for the past 2 years, their PIR will likely to be at 28%. In this case, there is no tax different between SmartShares and SuperLife ETF as you will pay 28% on taxable income with both funds.

For people who are on low or no income, their PIR could be at 10.5% or 17.5%. They can be students, children, part-time/casual worker, stay-home mum/dad and retirees. In this case, they will pay tax on their PIR with SuperLife ETF Fund while SmartShares will still charge 28% tax on them. Therefore, they will pay extra tax with SmartShares.

Here is an example on US 500 ETF valued at $20,000. We will compare the value after tax and fee with the different tax rate. Assume there was no contribution and no value change during the year. Taxable income calculated at 5% of the portfolio under FIF rule. Ignored Smartshares $30 setup fee.

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Despite SmartShares have a lower management cost and no annual admin fee, investors with 10.5% or 17.5% PIR will end up better with SuperLife as they paid less tax. That’s more reason for you to choose SuperLife ETF Fund if you are on low PIR rate.

Conclusion

  • If your PIR is at 28%, pick SmartShares or SuperLife based on cost, functions, and experience. In my opinion, SuperLife is the better choice for most ETF except US 500 ETF. You can check out my comparison here.
  • If your PIR is at 17.5% or 10.5% SuperLife ETF Fund provide a better return due to the lower tax paid. The amount of tax saved will increase the value of your portfolio.
  • Investor at lower PIR can get the excess tax back with a tax return.
  • Since most of the investment funds are multi-rate PIE. It is essential you work out the correct PIR and submit that to your fund manager. You can work out your PIR here.
  • Consult IRD or a tax accountant for tax advice.

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

InvestNow Added SmartShares ETFs into their Offerings

InvestNow announced they added 7 SmartShares ETFs into their investment platform. They are the following:

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You can access to those ETFs from SmartShares, Superlife, and Sharesies (on some ETF) already. I’ve compared the cost on those ETFs on the previous post and concluded you should get most of the ETF from Superlife except US 500; SmartShares was the better choice for US 500. You can check out the related post below

Related post: Compare ETF Fund Cost between Superlife and Smartshares

Cheapest Option for US 500 ETF

Smartshare was the cheapest option for investing in US 500 ETF because of the low management fee at 0.35% and no annual admin fee. There is a $30 set up fee if you use SmartShares contribution plan and at least $30 exit fee when you sell your ETF.
If you buy or sell the ETF on the share market, there will be $30+ transaction fee on each transaction. Superlife US 500 ETF fund has a higher management fee at 0.49% and charges a $12 annual fee. Sharesies have the same management fee with SmartShare, but they charge $30/year on admin fee. Therefore SmartShares contribution the cheapest option for US500 ETF investing.

Now InvestNow added SmartShares ETF into their offerings, it further lower the cost of US500 ETF. InvestNow offers an investment platform for investors with no annual admin fee. Investors can also bypass the $30 set up fee and the cost of exit the fund on SmartShares ETF. The minimum investment amount lower at $250 and no contribution commitment required. The management fee will be the same with SmartShares at 0.35%. Check out the comparison below.

 

 

Different Way of Contribution

By looking at the number, InvestNow investors can save on $30 set up and the $30+ cost of exit, so it appears to be a better deal to SmartShares. There is a difference on how you contribute to the fund between Smartshares and InvestNow. Take a look at the function difference below.

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The main limitation for InvestNow investors is the lack of small amount direct debit. SmartShares Investor will be committed to at least $50/month contribution (can be stopped at request). InvestNow investors are free to contribute whenever they want. However, the minimum contribution amount will be $250/transaction. If you only have $50/month to invest, you will have to put money in InvestNow once every five months to reach the $250 requirements. So on the one hand, you will save $30 in the beginning, but you will miss five months possible loss/return.

Compare Return Between InvestNow and SmartShares

To work out which one is the better deal on US 500, I ran an analysis to compare the return between InvestNow and SmartShares.

I assume the investor has $500 available to invest and can contribute $50/month. With SmartShares, the fund going to start with $470 due the to $30 setup fee and the investor will contribute $50/month. At InvestNow, investor’s fund will start with $500 and will contribute $250 every five months. The investor will continue for five years (60 months) without any withdrawal. Expected return rate is 10.32% before tax. Here is the breakdown.

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Although SmarShares charge a $30 setup fee up front which lowered the starting amount to $470, they ended up with a higher end balance at $4,640.51. The reason is Smartshares investor contribute $50 every month, and those funds are growing while InvestNow customer’s money is sitting in the bank doing nothing.

Here is the result of different levels of contribution at the end of the fifth year.

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SmartShares investor has a higher return over InvestNow at a lower rate, the gap close as they reach $250 marks. I stopped at $250/month because once you can contribute that amount, you can put money in InvestNow every month. From this point, InvestNow customer will always have better return over SmartShares

It seems SmartShares will be a better deal if your contribution under $200/month. However, there is a flaw in this analysis.

In my assumption, I set the rate of return at 10.32% for all five years. It assumpts the share price of the ETF going up in a straight line and investor will have a positive return every month. However, in real life share price goes up and down every day. By contributing less frequently, InvestNow investor may lose some of the gains during those five months, but they also avoid some drop as well. Afterall, the share price looks like this in real life.

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Applying Real Data

So I collected the share price of US 500 ETF for the past 24 months and plugged that into our analysis. Here is the result. Click here to see the ROI. 

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This time InvestNow ended up with a higher balance over SmartShares. In fact, Investnow beats SmartShares on every contribution level with past data. Check out the result below.

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The Real Deciding Factor

No one knows how the US 500 ETF is going to perform in the future so either service can be cheaper. If you look closely at the amount, the cost difference between InvestNow and SmartShares are insignificant, less than 0.1% of your fund. So investors will need to consider their contribution level and the experience of those two services.

In my opinion, InvestNow functions and its user interface are much better than SmartShare. InvestNow have a modern, clean and easy to understand platform. SmartShares’ holder will be checking their current stock holding on Link Market Service web site. The interface feels like it stuck in 2010.

Related post on InvestNow and SmartShares (Link Market Service)

The main limitation on InvestNow is lack direct debit option, so it’s not a “set and forget” type of investment solution. The investor will have to deposit the money into InvestNow platform and manually invest US 500 ETF on InvestNow website. InvestNow said the direct debit function is on the road map so the situation may improve in the future.

Link Market Service interface for SmartShares is not good, but you can view your holding on other services like ShareSight, Google Finance, and Yahoo Finance to improve that experience.

Conclusion

It’s great to see InvestNow adding more and more fund onto their platform. I prefer InvestNow interface and function over SmartShares. However, I understand everyone circumstances are different so here are some recommendations which service you should consider on US 500 ETF.

  • Use SmartShares if you want a ‘Set and Forget’ solution and you plan to contribution between $50 – $200/month.
  • Use InvestNow if you like their user interface (you can register for free on InvestNow to check out the interface), don’t want to commit to a monthly contribution plan and happy to invest manually at minimum $250.
  • Use SuperLife if you already have a portfolio with SuperLife and want to have all funds under one flexible service with great functions.
  • Use Sharesies if you like their interface. Check out my comparison here.
  • For other ETFs, you should use SuperLife, here is why.

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

 

 

How to Check Your Investment Fund and KiwiSaver Fund’s Admin Fee

A reader asked me about their Superlife fund charges. She notices something funny on her transaction list: Instead of charging $1/month on admin fee, she got charged $1/day.

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After checking my transaction, I believe those charges are incorrect and she contacted Superlife. Superlife immediately said the charges were wrong and reversed them straight away.

This is a good reminder for all investors to a take look at their transaction once in a while. I am all for ‘set and forget’ method to invest but we should look at those charges maybe once or twice a year. Not only to Superlife but all of your investments including your KiwiSaver.

I have account with Superlife and KiwiSaver with Simplicity, here is how to check those transactions

Superlife

Go to superlife.co.nz and click on “Log in”

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Click “Transaction history” on the left

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Select ‘last 12 months’ on period, select ‘All’ on Funds, select ‘Administration Fees’ on Transaction types.

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They should charge $1/month. (The $2.75 charges was before the admin fee price drop)

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Simplicity KiwiSaver

Go to Simplicity.kiwi and Log in.

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Click ‘My transaction’ on the menu.

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There will be a list of transactions and Simplicity should charge $2.5/month on member fee.

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If you are with a different fund or service and don’t know how to check transactions, call the service provider and ask them.

If there is anything out of the ordinary, you should contact the fund manager and get them to correct that as soon as possible.

Top 3 Investment Options in New Zealand

I spent a lot of time on my blog talking about ETF and index fund investing in New Zealand. I believe they are great options and an import investment vehicle to help me achieve financial freedom.

However, there are three investment options are objectively better than ETF and Index fund with low entry requirement, low risk and high (sometimes guarantee) return. They are the low hanging fruit of personal finance that everyone should do it. Those three investments options are pay off consumer debt, join KiwiSaver and reduce the mortgage. I will go through each one of them and talk about they risk and return.

No.1 Pay off Consumer Debt

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You want to kill those consumer bills ASAP!

Credit card debt, car loan, payday loan, personal loan, hire purchase, P2P loan… All of those are consumer debt. Debts that are owed as a result of purchasing goods or services that are consumable and do not appreciate in value. Those debts usually have high-interest rate and exorbitant admin fee. If you are paying interest on depreciating assets, they are dragging back you financially. You won’t go forward if most of your income goes to those stupid bills. You need to get rid of them ASAP!

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Paying off debt is Investing

This concept may not be obvious to everyone but PAYING OFF DEBT IS INVESTING. For me, debt and investing are just two sides of the same coin. One side (investing) is to increase your wealth (with a given level of risk). Like you buy NZ Top 50 ETF from SmartShares, if the share price increase and they pay out a dividend, your wealth increased. On the other hand, the shares price may drop, and your wealth will decrease. So there is a risk of losing money with investing.

The other side of the coin (debt) will reduce your wealth. If you have $1000 credit card debt with 20% interest, your interest expense for the first month will $16.67. So your wealth reduced by -$16.67. Unlike investing, the debt will guarantee to reduce your wealth and drag you back financially. Therefore, reduce your debt will move you forward financially, guaranteed.

Whats the return and risk?

I will use a simplified sample to present the financial effect of paying off debt.

Assume you have $1000 in cash and $1000 credit card debt with 20% interest.  If you keep the $1000 in cash and don’t pay it off credit card debt, in one year, you will be $1000 x (1 + 20%) =  $1200 in debt. Financially you moved backwards by $200.

Now, you invest the $1000 cash in a 12 months term deposit with 3.25%. You still keep your $1000 credit card debt and not paying that off. In one year, your earn $1000 x 3.25% = $32.5 in interest from your term deposit. Take away $9.75 as tax; you will have $1022.75 in cash. On the other hand, your credit card debt still cost you $200 in interest. So financially, you moved backwards by $177.25.

Instead of invest that $1000 into a term deposit, you use that $1000 to pay off your credit card debt. Since the credit card debt is gone, it won’t occur interest. In one year, you will be in the same financial position.

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Look at all three scenarios, pay off credit card debt resulted in the best financial position. As you putting that $1000 cash to pay off your credit card debt, you are in fact getting 20% return on those $1000. Unlike other investment, those returns are Tax-free and guaranteed. If you need to get 20% after-tax return on investment, the pre-tax return will need to be 27.77%. That is an excellent return on investment. I am not saying you can’t get 27.77% return out there, but I am sure there is no investment (except KiwiSaver) can guarantee a 27.77% with no risk.

If we look that those high-interest-rate consumer debts, paying them off will be a great return for your money. Also, paying off consumer debt will reduce your financial risk and stress. You will be in a much better position when you negotiated mortgage term and resulted in better deals. That why paying off consumer debt is one of the top three investment options.

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What about Student Loan?

The student loan in New Zealand is interest-free as long as you are staying in the country. The payment only occurs when you have income. So you should just pay it off as you’ve got income. I would not be paying them off early unless you plan to leave the country for a long time.

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No. 2 – Join KiwiSaver

KiwiSaver is a voluntary, work-based savings initiative to help you with your long-term saving for retirement. It’s designed to be hassle-free, so it’s easy to maintain a regular savings pattern. Once you join KiwiSaver, at least 3% of your income will invest into a KiwiSaver fund. You can only access those fund until you use it to buy your first home or turn 65. What makes KiwiSaver to be a top investment option is because of employer contribution and member tax credit.

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Employer match

If you’re over 18 and is a member of KiwiSaver, when you make your KiwiSaver contribution, your employer also has to put money in. By law, the employer required to contribute at least 3% of your income. The employee can choose to contribute either 3%, 4% or 8% but employer only requires to match at 3%. Some employer may decide to match 4% or 8%.

It may seem you will be making 100% return on investment on your 3% contribution. However, IRD will take out tax from you employer contribution, so the actual return on your contribution is about 67%-89.5%. (You can find out why here)  It’s still an unbeatable risk-free guaranteed return.

Member Tax Credit

KiwiSaver Member Tax Credit is to help you save on your KiwiSaver. The government will make an annual contribution to your KiwiSaver fund (a.k.a Free money). The amount is $0.5 on every dollar up to $521.43. You will have to be 18 or above to receive the tax credit. This is a way of government help you save for your retirement and encourage you to join the plan. It cap at $521.43 so it will benefit for the most full-time employee but not favour mid to high-income earner.

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Return on Employee

If you are over 18, fully employed, annual income at $55,000 before and contribute at 3%. Your minimum return on your contribution will be like this.

Your annual contribution (3%): $1650

Employer contribution after tax: $1361.25

KiwiSaver Member Tax Credit: $521.43

The return on your investment: (1650 + 1361.25 + 521.43 – 1650) / 1650 = 114%

Return on Self-Employed

If you are self-employed, you won’t get the employer match, but you are still entitled to member tax credit as long as you make a minimum manual contribution for $1042.86

Your manual contribution: $1042.86

KiwiSaver Member Tax Credit: $521.43

The return on your investment: (1042.86+ 521.43 – 1042.86)/ 1042.86 = 50%

Those are only your base return; you are likely to make investment return on your KiwiSaver Fund as well.  Here is a couples data on a KiwiSaver fund with different income level. The KiwiSaver fund cost and return data are based on SuperLife 80.

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No. 3 – Reduce your Mortgage

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Mortgage payment can easily be the biggest expenses on most homeowners’ budget. Average first home buyer will spend $1500/month on the mortgage, and it will cost more if you have a mortgage in a major city. Imagine what you can do with that money if you don’t have a mortgage payment.

Return on Reducing Mortgage

Paying off have the same effect on paying off consumer debt. It will give you a tax-free and guaranteed return. The return is not as high as those consumer debts because the interest rate on the mortgage is lower at 4% – 6%. The equivalent pre-tax return is around 8.3%.

Reduce your Mortgage or Invest elsewhere

Some people may think 7-8% is not a very good return, and you can achieve that with other investment options without taking a lot of risks, like the share market. However, I still think paying off the mortgage on your own home is a better option because you are paying off an asset that will provide you with a place to live, offset the cost of renting in the future and the house will increase in value (in the long term for most cases).

If you can’t decide to reduce mortgage or invest elsewhere, ask yourself a simple question: 

If you fully owned your house today, will you borrow $500k on your mortgage-free house to invest in share market? Or you will use your income to invest in the stock market every month?

If you say you won’t borrow on your mortgage-free home (like me), then you should focus on reducing that mortgage now. I basically asked the same questions but put it in a different perspective. If you have the money to reduce the mortgage, but you put it into the share market, you are basically borrowing on your house to share market.

Saving Big on interest expense

Since the mortgage size is usually over $200K (over $500k in Auckland) and the payment terms are 20-30 years. You end up paying A LOT on interest expenses. Check out the chart below.

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For a 30 years term mortgage at 5% interest rate, you will end up paying 93% extra for interest payment. So what will happen if we increase our payment and shorten the mortgage by ten years?

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When we shorten the mortgage term by ten years (-33%), our monthly payment increased by 23%, total interest paid decreased by 37.3%! Only 36.9% of your payment went to interest.

Reducing mortgage may not give you a high percentage return, but due to the size of the mortgage, the saving you are likely to make is in the hundreds of thousands. I will have a series of blog posts in the coming month to show you how to be smart on your mortgage with different setup and tips.

Conclusion

  • The top 3 investment options in New Zealand are paying off consumer debt, join KiwiSaver and reducing your mortgage.
  • Paying off consumer debt is investing. The returns are in the range of 15% – 35%. You will be in a better financial position once you pay off your debt.
  • A KiwiSaver member can enjoy instant return from minimum 50% – 110% due to member tax credit and employer match. However, that money is locked-in until you purchase your first home or turn 65.
  • Paying off return about 7% – 8% on your dollar, not as high compared to other. However, due to the size of the mortgage and interest paid, you are likely to be saving hundreds of thousand of the dollar

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

Sharesies (Beta) – How does it stack up to SuperLife and SmartShares on ETF Investing

Sharesies is rolling out their trial run (a.k.a beta) investments options couple weeks ago. I’ve got their invitation recently and checked out their offerings. Sharesies is currently offering six SmartShares ETFs for their investor including NZ Top 50, AUS Top 20, US 500, NZ Bond, NZ Property and AUS Resources. You can check out their current offers here.

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What is Sharesies

Sharesies is a New Zealand financial start-up company supported by Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator. They are an investment platform where users can make investments with small amounts of money. One of their mission is to make investment fun, easy and affordable.

The main selling point of Sharesies is by paying a $30 annual fee, an investor can invest into multiple investments with the minimum at just $5. Also, there is a $20 credit for the early Beta investor.

Invest $5 into ETF

In comparison, SmartShares ETF initial investment is $500, set up cost is $30/ETF and monthly contribution minimum is $50. So Sharesies is a great way for beginner investor to invest in a small amount into many low-cost, diversified ETFs. It bypasses the $500 initial investment and $30 set up fee with each ETFs.

On the other hand, SuperLife also offers the same ETF in their investment fund with a different management cost. You can check out the detailed comparison here.

While Superlife also doesn’t require initial investment and the minimum contribution can be just $1. How does Sharesies stack up to SuperLife and SmartShares on ETF investing?

Sharesies vs SuperLife & SmartShares

I’ve picked two popular ETF, NZ Top 50 and US 500, to run an analysis for 60 months (5 years). The analysis will compare the result on different contribution level(low and high contribution) for all three services. The low contribution will be at Sharesies minimum requirement, $30 initial investment (for the annual admin fee), $20/month contribution (about $5/week); The high contribution will be at SmartShares minimum requirement, $500 initial on each ETF, $50/month conditions.

NZ Top 50 ETF at low contribution

Here is the fees structure on the ETF

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This is the amount of low contribution and expected return

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So Sharesies have a higher admin fee ($30) and ETF management cost (0.50%), so its expenses should be higher then Superlife NZ top 50 ETF. Since Sharesies are aiming for beginner investor, I put around $5/week as a low-level contribution. The $30 initial investment cost is to cover Sharesies annual fee. Smartshares will not be included in this analysis as the investment amount is too low.

Here is the investment return each year

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Superlife did better as it has a lower management fee and admin fee resulted in a higher return for the customer. The 5-years different is $135.81, 8.4%.

NZ Top 50 ETF at high contribution

This is the amount of high contribution and expected return

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We increased the contribution to $50/month, put $500 as an initial investment and include SmartShares into the mix.

Here is the investment return each year

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SmartShares came out on top despite the fact that they have a higher management cost. The main reason is that Smartshares don’t have an annual admin fee while Superlife charges $1/month. However, if you wish to cash out those Smartshares at this stage, it will cost you at least $30.

The difference between SmartShares and Sharesies is $163.34, 3.3%. Although both services have the same management cost, Sharesies charge $30/year admin fee which brings down the balance.

US 500 ETF at low contribution

Here is the fees structure on US 500 ETF

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This is the amount of low contribution and expected return

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This is more interesting as Sharesies have a lower management (0.31%) cost compare to Superlife (0.44%).

Here is the investment return each year

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Due to the small amount of holding, the lower management cost (0.35%) did not cover the higher annual fee ($30) with Sharesies. Superlife holding was $122.28 more then Sharesies in year 5, 8.1%.

US 500 ETF at high contribution

This is the amount of high contribution and expected return

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Now we will do the same thing by increasing the investment to Smartshares minimum requirement.

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SmartShares USF came out on top with no annual fee and lower management cost. The different between SmartShares and Sharesies at year 5 is $154.75, 3.3%. The different to Superlife is $41.5, 0.9%.

In both scenario, Investor with low contribution level and better with SuperLife. If you have the $500 and $50/month to invest, SmartShares is the cheaper way. (Although I will suggest going with Superlife on NZ top 50. I’ve already covered that in another post)

How about portfolio building?

Since Sharesies investors can bypass SmartShares setup fee and initial investment requirement. So Sharesies is actually a great tool to build a simple portfolio. I will use US 500 ETF, NZ Top 50 ETF and NZ Bond ETF to build a portfolio.

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Here is a balanced portfolio you can easily build with Sharesies. 25% NZ Bond, 37.5% US 500 and 37.5% NZ Top 50. If we keep the low contribution at $20/month, you can put $5 in NZ Bond, $7.5 in US 500 and $7.5 in NZ Top 50.

If you wish to set up something similar in SmartShares, you will have to spend $30 x 3 =$90 on set up fees, at least $500 x 3 = $1500 initial investment and $50 x 3 = $150/month contribution. Not feasible at all.

SuperLife, on the other hand, as my best pick for portfolio builder in New Zealand can easily build the same portfolio. Let’s check out the cost difference.

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Here are the contribution and return

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Here is the investment return each year

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Superlife still edged out at year 5 with $123.15 more, 8.2%. I didn’t do a high contribution comparison here because SmartShares are really not fir for portfolio building.

Conclusion

Based on the analysis, SuperLife is still the better choice on low contribution and most of the high contribution (except US 500 ETF) regarding cost. However, I still think Sharesies is doing something good here.

Sharesies is promoting to young Kiwis who never invested before by providing a straightforward and easy-to-use app. The sign-up process is simple and painless. The interface is robust and delightful. They’ve done an excellent job on explaining each investment options to beginner investment and make it accessible. Check out the screenshots below.

 

 

I don’t mind about the $30 admin fee if that what’s it take for a newbie to start investing for their future. I’ve been telling readers to spend $12/year on Superlife as they have a better user interface and functions over SmartShares. Sharesies interface and user experience are way better than both of them. They made investing as easy as shopping online, which should bring a lot of people into the world of investing.

Sharesies are still in beta, so there are some functions are missing, like reinvest and auto allocation. I am sure Sharesies will continue to improve on their functions and brign in more investment options. Hope more companies like Sharesies will pop up in New Zealand to bring more people into investing.

More investor, bigger the market size, lower the cost!

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

How to Start Investing with Smartshares and How Long will it Take

SmartShares is an excellent way to invest in low-cost, diversified ETF in New Zealand. Especially if you wish to invest in the top 500 companies on US stock market. Smartshares S&P 500 ETF (USF) is a great option for all investors as it is simple to understand, the management cost is low at 0.35% and has a long positive track record. I’ve been getting questions on how to start with investing with various investment service I covered and the most of the questions on Smartshares. So here is the guide on Smartshares.

How long will it take?

Let’s set the right expectation here, its gonna take a LONG time to set up a monthly contribution plan with SmartShares. For average Kiwi investor (without any connection to politician or United State), will take about 2-5 days to set up with most investment services. However, with SmartShares, you will have to spend around 27-53 days. Yes, that is not a typo. Just make sure you are prepared for it.

Sign up with SmartShares

We are going to walk through the setup process for an individual investing $500 into S&P 500 ETF with a $50/months contribution. Before we start, you will need to prepare the following items.

  • IRD number
  • NZ Drivers Licence
  • Bank account number for direct debit
  • Read the product disclosure statement

Go to Smartshares Invest Now page and click on “Apply online.”
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Under investment options, select “Individual”, leave it blank on “Common Shareholder Number” if you are a new investor. Put $500 (minimum) on US 500 (USF) investment and $50 (minimum) as regular saving plan.

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Next page is your personal information and email address. That email address will be your main point of contact. You will receive an email during the set process to confirm your email address.

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Next is your ID verification. Put in your NZ Drivers license details.

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Next, confirm your payment details with your bank account no. Please make sure you have enough fund at 20th of each month.

 

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Next part you will have to review your information and confirm your contact email with an authentication code.

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Here is the authentication email with the code. Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 10.38.27 PM.png

Once you completed this process, you are done with the sign-up. The next part is the long wait….

What you are waiting for?

The SmartShares signup process is straightforward and painless. However, investors need to wait a long time to check up on their holding. An investor cannot log on to SmartShares to check their holding. SmartShares will direct investor to use Link Market Service to do that. To register for Link Market Service, you will need two pieces of information: FIN (Faster Identification Number) & CSN (Common Shareholder Number). FIN will send to you by mail (physical letter), and CSN will be on your holding statement in an email. You will need those two numbers to prove you own those stock. Check out this page from ANZ Securities on what is FIN and CSN.

The long wait

So here is my timeline on signing up with SmartShares.

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4/5 – I submitted my application on SmartShares website.

8/5 – I got a confirmation email on my SmartShares application and my direct debit.

20/5 – $500 initial investment withdraw from my account, and it supposes to make the purchase at the beginning of June.

6/6 – the purchase happened

7/6 – a letter came into my mailbox with the FIN number. I still can’t log onto Link Market Services because I don’t have the CSN number.

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12/6 – got an account statement from Link Market Service with my CSN number.

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I managed to log into Link Market Service and check out my holding. Yeah!

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So it took 39 days for me. To be fair, I can submit my application on 12/5 or 13/5, it will still make the 20th direct debit cut-off date. So you can shorten 7-8 days there. On the other hand, if you submit your application right after the 20th cut-off date, you will have to wait over a month.

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Why it took so long?

Smartshare is NOT an investment service or fund manager. They are an ETF issuer. ETF is not an investment fund; they are tradable shares. Usually, you will have to set up a brokerage account and pay a fee to buy shares in New Zealand Stock Exchange. The minimum is $30/trade.

SmartShares offer a service allow investor buy shares in a small amount monthly without paying a brokerage fee. If I have to do it in the with a stock broker, it will cost me at least $360/year on brokerage fee alone. I am happy to wait a couple of days to save $360.

If you don’t want to wait that long, you can open up a stock brokage account and buy SmartShares directly on the stock market. It will take 2-5 days to set up a brokage account, and it will cost at least $30/trade.

Hope this blog will set an expectation for you when you sign up SmartShares. Don’t be panic when they took your money for 2 weeks without any communication. Your FIN and CSN will arrive…eventually.