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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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.

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.

 

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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.

Why your KiwiSaver Employer Contribution are Less than Yours while Both Paying 3%

By New Zealand law, the employer required to contribute to their employee’s KiwiSaver account or complying fund at 3% of their gross salary or wage if the employee joined Kiwisaver. However, when you look into your KiwiSaver contribution transaction record as an employee, you may notice the employer contribution amount are less than your employee contribution.

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Here is an example, assume your weekly income before tax is $1200, $62400/year.

Without KiwiSaver, your take home pay will be $1200 – 225.77 (PAYE) – 16.68 (ACC) = $957.55.

If you join KiwiSaver and contribute 3%, your take home pay will be $1200 – 225.77 (PAYE) – 16.68 (ACC) – 36 (KiwiSaver) = 921.55 On your KiwiSaver statement, your contribution will be $36. However, your employer contribution will be $25.2, not $36. Why?

The reason is the employer contribution are taxed under Employer superannuation contribution tax (ESCT). Your employer payout extra 3% of your income to KiwiSaver but part of that went to IRD as tax.

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You may think why both employer and employee are paying 3%, how come the cash hit my KiwiSaver fund is different? (That was me two days ago)

Let’s break it down in detail. The 3% contribution is calculated based on your income before tax. In our example, the weekly 3% KiwiSaver contribution will be $1200 x 3% = $36. So both employee and employer will pay $36 each into the KiwiSaver Fund.

Here is the tricky part, on employee contribution, it was calculate based on pre-tax income and take out on after-tax income. So the $36 will take out after they deduct PAYE and ACC and that $36 will reach your KiwiSaver fund without IRD take out any more tax.

On the other hand, employer contribution will be taxed under ESCT. So 30% of $36 = $10.80 will go to IRD, and the cash hit your KiwiSaver fund will be 36 – 10.8 = $25.2

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Therefore, I was wrong by saying you will have 100% return on your employer contribution. It’s more like 67%-89.5% return. It’s still an unbeatable risk-free guaranteed return and one of the best investment in New Zealand.

Check out IRD website on ESCT for more information.

P.S. Thanks to gligorkot for pointing that out on a previous blog post.

The Best Way to Start Your Investment as Beginner in New Zealand

You may already know you need to start investing for your future, but you have no idea where to start. There are so many options out there like the sharemarket, investment property, P2P lending, the bond market, active and passive fund, etc. You have no idea which one is the best for you.

Well, I don’t know what is best for you because everyone’s situation is different. However, I think it’s better to start somewhere rather than sit here and do nothing. People say, “you need time in the market, not timing the market” or “The earlier you start the better”. I believe both of them are true. So, here is my suggestion on where to start your investment.

What you need to do before you start investing

Before you jump into the world of investing, you need to have a solid financial foundation. Here is what you should do.

  1. Pay off your consumer debt like credit card balances, personal loans, store credit, overdrafts and hire purchases. It doesn’t make sense to chase for 6-7% return on investment while paying 19-22% interest on your credit card debt.
  2. Join KiwiSaver. KiwiSaver is one of the best investments available in New Zealand because of the employer contribution and member tax credit. You will have an instant risk-free return on your investment.
  3. Set up an emergency fund for 3-6 months of living expenses. This fund will help you to deal with any unexpected situations, so you’re not forced to cash out your investment, especially during a market downturn
  4. Live on less than you make. Naturally, no one can become successful with their money without first learning how to live on less than they make. Where will you get the money to invest if you live paycheck to paycheck?

Better to start with a plan, however…

You should have a plan for your money before you start investing. Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? That why in my previous post I said the first thing you’ll need to work out is how long can you leave the money in the investment? Or how long before you will need to use that money?

On the other hand, I know how hard it is to come up with a plan when you don’t understand most of the investment terms. It’s hard to learn something from the outside when you don’t have personal experience. You may be afraid you will make a mistake and lose your hard-earned money.

I also understand how busy life is and how lazy we are (Well, at least how lazy I am). It took me six months to finally put down some cash into an investment. I kept making ‘plans’ and doing ‘research’ for my investments (actually I’ve been putting it off because I am lazy).

I started looking into investment strategies on the Internet in April, but I looked around without making any decisions for 4 months. I remember I found out about Smartshares and SuperLife and decided an index fund is the way to go in August, but it still took me two more months to pick which fund or ETF to invest in. Who knows if that is analysis paralysis or just laziness paralysis?

It may be just me, but I know lots of people are in the same boat, especially the beginners. You know you need it start investing, but you don’t have a complete plan yet. So you wait. To those people, hear me out!

If you don’t have a plan, just start without one.

Start small and start early

I am not talking about putting in your life saving without a plan. I suggest you dip your toe in the water.  Just put under $500 into an investment and get it started. TODAY!

That small amount of cash should not affect your financial situation (if that is a problem, you should make sure you have a solid financial foundation). You should be able to move it quickly to start a small investment. You may not even care if you lost it, so you don’t need a plan for that small initial investment. You can put it in almost any fund as the start of your investment.

The most important thing is to get you started on something. Once you dip your toe in the water, you’ll have a personal stake in the investment. Looking at the value go up or down will motivate you to know more about investment. It will help you put together a plan for your investment.

Best way to start – SuperLife

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SuperLife provides 40+ different passive investment fund to New Zealander. They also offer superannuation, KiwiSaver, and insurance solutions. They are great for beginner to start because:

  • No minimum investment requirement – You can invest by making regular or lump sum payments to the scheme at any time. There is no minimum contribution amount.
  • Passive Index Fund – All investment fund with SuperLife are passive index funds. They either invest in a fund designed to track an index or in a number of assets for the long term. It is a cost-effective and diversified investment opinion with a proven result.
  • Low cost – The annual admin fee is $12/year (or $30/year if you want paper documents) which covers all fund in SuperLife. The management cost on each fund is around 0.39% – 0.94%, fees for the most popular funds is around 0.49%.  SuperLife’s fees are relatively low in New Zealand standard(2nd lowest in the country), and some aggressive funds and sector funds have the lowest cost in New Zealand. There is no joining fee, exit fee, and no cost for you add/close/or switch funds.
  • Flexible – SuperLife provides 40 different investment products on managed fund, sector fund and ETF. An investor can invest in a single fund or multiple funds with their own asset allocation. You can switch fund allocation on SuperLife website.
  • Web Site and App – Investors can log onto SuperLife website to check the performance and value of their holding. They’ve also got an iOS and Android App for that.
  • Simple Tax – SuperLife’s investment fund is a portfolio investment entity (PIE). The amount of tax you pay is based on your prescribed investor rate (PIR). SuperLife will pay the tax from your holding, and you don’t need to manage your tax return.
  • Lots of functions – Investors can make lump sum investments or regular contributions with direct debit from their bank account. You can organise your portfolio and allocation your contribution into different funds based on your preferred percentage. SuperLife can auto rebalance your portfolio, which is a great tool for the investor who wants to build a portfolio with their own asset allocation. It can also reinvest your dividends.
  • Owned by New Zealand Stock Exchange –  NZX is New Zealand stock market operator. They 100% own SuperLife. In my opinion, this makes SuperLife a very safe company.

Start with Index Fund

For those who don’t have a plan and want to start small and test it out, here are a couple Funds/ETF in Superlife I think are ideal for beginners.
SuperLife Age Step: This is a managed portfolio invested in multiple Vanguard ETF in both income and growth assets. The ratio between income and growth assets depends on your age. When you are young, over 90% of that portfolio is invested in growth assets (shares and property). It will increase the ratio of income assets (Bond and fixed income assets) as you age. If you join at 28 years old, 80% will be in growth assets, and 20% will be in income assets. On the other hand, if you join at 58, 60.5% will be in growth assets, 30% in income assets and 9.5% in cash.  This is a great fund to start especially if you aim for retirement. You can basically set it up and forget about it for decades. The management fees are 0.45%-0.52%.
NZ Top 50 ETF: This growth asset ETF is the same as FNZ from SmartShares. They invest in financial products listed on the NZX Main Board and is designed to track the return on the S&P/NZX 50 Portfolio Index. You are basically investing in the 50 biggest companies on New Zealand Stock Market. The concept is simple and easy to understand, so this is a great starting point for beginners. One disadvantage is this ETF is not as diversified as others because it is only invested in 50 companies in one country while other funds invest in between 100 to 7000+ companies all over the world. On the other hand, investors can take the tax advantage on local investing. You only need to pay tax on dividends and no tax on capital gain. The management fee is 0.49%.
Overseas Shares (Currency Hedged) Fund: This growth asset fund invests in shares in major stock markets all over the world via the Vanguard ETF. The number of companies included is over 7000. This fund is currency hedged, which reduces the currency fluctuations and exchange rate risk on the fund. The management fee is 0.48%.

Conclusion

  • Make sure you have a good financial foundation before you start investing. Clear your consumer debt, Join KiwiSaver, have an Emergency Fund and live on less than you make.
  • Best to start with a plan
  • If you don’t have a plan, start small while you make your plan.
  • The hardest part is getting started. By starting small, you make the first step so much easier.
  • SuperLife is the best place to start your investment in my opinion because there is no initial requirement, and it is diversified, low-cost, flexible and straightforward.
  • If you have no idea what fund to invest in, consider SuperLife Age Step, NZ top 50 ETF and Overseas Shares (Currency Hedged) Fund
  • Start small and START NOW!

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

 

 

Simplicity Cease Offering on InvestNow… but Don’t Let it Stop You

Last Friday I wrote about investing Simplicity non-KiwiSaver fund via InvestNow from as little as $250.

However, I am sorry to say this opinion is no longer available. Simplicity decided to cease offering on InvestNow.

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You can read the statement from InvestNow here.

I am personally disappointed as this is a great way for anyone to invest in a quality low-cost fund with a low initial investment. I was planning to invest in Simplicity fund but I don’t have the fund until next month, so I missed out on that.

What does it mean for the investors?

If you are InvestNow user and you already invested your money into Simplicity fund via InvestNow, you will be able to hold your investment in the fund, but you will not be able to make new investment.

For those who wanted to join Simplicity Fund but don’t have $10k available, you will have to keep saving until you reach $10k…. or not. Hear me out!

Don’t wait, Start NOW!

If you have some money to invest now, you don’t have to wait. I would suggest you invest those fund elsewhere rather than save for months and years to reach $10K.

I know Simplicity fund is excellent, and I may even say it’s the best fund in this country. However, that is just the best fund when you have $10k or more. It doesn’t mean you can’t invest in anything else before you come up with $10K.

You can invest in Superlife 80, which is similar to Simplicity growth fund. Superlife 80 holds 80% growth asset (Share, property) and 20% income asset (Bond, cash). They also invested in Vanguard fund and ETF. Superlife a higher management fee (0.50%) and small annual fee ($12). The most important thing is there is no minimum initial investment requirement. If you are young and happy with the risk, you can go with Superlife 100, a managed fund with 100% growth asset, something Simplicity do not offer.

If you already put the money in InvestNow, you can invest in their Vanguard fund with just 0.26% fee. Simplicity Growth invested 60% into that fund (and you will have to pay tax on dividends received). I’ve done a blog post on that.

My point is, there are lots different opinion for investor out there. Don’t let that $10K hurdles stop you and start investing. You will reach $10k before you know it.

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