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.

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

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

The Breakdown

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

SmartShares

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

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

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

SuperLife

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

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

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

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

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

Simplicity

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

InvestNow

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

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

Fund Comparison

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

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

 

Me try to invest in NZ 2

Accurate description of my international investment strategy.

Conclusion

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

 

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

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

Cost update

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

Should you start with SmartShare?

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

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

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

Also, there are some other benefits with SuperLife.

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

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

My Recommendation

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

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

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

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

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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Do you need KiwiSaver if you plan to retire early?

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

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

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Return on your KiwiSaver contribution

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

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

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

Locked until 65

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

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

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Include KiwiSaver fund into your early retirement number

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

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

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

Don’t over contribute into KiwiSaver

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

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

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

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

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

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How long will you non-KiwiSaver fund least?

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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About FIRE

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

What is Financial Independence & Retire Early (FIRE)

The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

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

Kiwi Mustachians – New Zealand FIRE community (Facebook Group)

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

Investnow – Invest in Vanguard Fund with 0.20% Fee

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

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

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

The REAL selling point

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

Vanguard fund

Vanguard

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

Everything sounds good, so what’s the catch?

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

My Experience

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

Conclusion

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

How Easy to Get Your Money out from SmartShares ETF

SmartShares offer 23 exchange-traded fund (ETF) in New Zealand. They tracked different stock and industry index in New Zealand, Australia, United States and international market. It is an excellent opinion for Kiwis investor due to the low-cost and diversified portfolio. So, how easy to get your money out? (Spoiler alert: Very easy)

ETF is tradable share

ETF is similar to an index fund that tracks an index, a commodity, bonds, a sector or a basket of assets. However, ETF can be traded on the stock market like any other stock. ETF shareholders are entitled to a proportion of the profits, such as earned interest and dividends paid.

Liquidity of shares

Since ETF is a share, i. In order to get the money out, you will have to sell your ETF in the stock market, just like any other stocks. This brings us to Liquidity of a share.

Liquidity means how easy for you to sell your share into cash on the stock market. If lots of people wanting to buy that share and lots of willing seller on the market, the liquidity is good.

We use trade me as an example here. If you are selling a brand new iPhone on trade me at a price closed to everyone else is selling, you will be able to sell that iPhone quickly.  Also, you can use similar amount cash to buy an iPhone on trade me without any problem. So the liquidity of an iPhone is good on trade me.

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However, if you want to sell an expensive and rare antique phone on trade me, it may take months and multiple listing to sell that phone. You may have to lower your price to get it sold. It also hard to find another expensive and rare antique phone on trade. So, the liquidity of an expensive and rare antique phone is bad.

Let’s take a look at Auckland International Airport’s stock info.

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You can see there is lots of buying (Bids) and selling (Asks) order. Lots of trade happened in 13 mins. The different between buy and sell price (a.k.a. Bid-Ask Spread) is only $0.5c.

Now compare that to Delegat Group Limited’s Share.

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There are some buy and sell order, but there was no trade at all. The different between buy and sell price is $10c. There is a seller want to sell 2000 units of share at $6.25, but there is no one taking that offer. If the owner of that 2000 share intends to liquidate the stock quickly, they will have to lower their selling price by $10c to $6.15 to meet the closest bid. That is $200 less on 2000 share.

If you are an owner of Auckland International Airport share, It will be very easy to liquidate your stock in a short time. On the other hand, if you hold shares in Delegat Group Limited, you will have to wait or lower your price for someone to buy your share.
Here is the info on two popular SmartShare ETF, NZ Top 50 and US S&P 500.

 

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Both of them have a good amount of bid/ask and the spread is small. Therefore, the liquidity is good.
Also, there is a market maker for all Smartshare ETF.

Market Maker

A market maker is an investment firm that guarantees liquidity of stock by putting out buy and sells order on the stock market. They make sure investor can always buy or sell the shares.
The Bid and Ask below are the market maker order.
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At December 2014, SmartShares appoints Craigs Investment Partners as the market maker. Craigs will offer two-way quotes of agreed minimum volume and maximum spread for an agreed minimum period of the full trading day. This will cover all current Smartshares ETFs, plus future ETFs launched by Smartshares.

Always ready to sell

With a market maker on all Smartshare product, its very easy to liquidate your Smartshares holding. However, you will need a stock broker to sell your shares. Especially for those who purchase Smartshares via monthly contribution plan since you don’t need a broker account to do that. Smartshare is not an investment fund, they will not cash out the ETF for you. Lots of people don’t know that.
In order to sell your Smartshare ETF, you will need a broker to put your holding on the stock market. You can google “Stock Broker NZ” to contact any broker firm and set up an account. The cheapest way for most people is to use ASB and ANZ securities to trade online. ANZ cheapest rate is $29.90/trade under $15000. However, you have to be an Online Multi-Currency Account (OMCA) holders with sufficient cleared funds available to fully cover the purchase of securities prior to submission of the order. Otherwise, ANZ charge $29.90 + 0.40% on trade. If you are not an OMCA holder with ANZ, go with ASB Securities, they charge $30 or 0.30% per transactions, whichever higher.
If you currently hold SmartShares ETF and don’t have a brokerage account, do it ASAP. You never know when you need to sell you share in a short period. It will take 2-10 days to set up account with ASB and ANZ. If you starting a monthly contribution plan with SmartShares, make sure you open a brokerage account as well.
Email thesmartandlazy@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @thesmartandlazy if you have any questions.

Investing: it’s only getting easier

I think the hardest part of investing is the beginning. When you are starting out, the return on investment seems minimal (unless you start out with 50k+ lump sum). I started my investment with $500 each in Smartshare and Superlife. I remember the first couple months, returns are under $10 and I lose money in some months as well. However, as I slowly build up my investment by monthly contribution and reinvest my returns, the returns are getting better over time. My portfolio passes its milestone with less and less time. Investing is getting easier
Here is a simulation for someone who investing into a growth asset with $500 a month. The average annual return is 7% and the goal is to reach $100,000. It took 11 years and 2 months to reach 100K
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If you break down the investment by $10,000 block and measure the months it took to reach each one of them, it took less and less time.
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The first $10,000 took you 20 months and the last $10,000 only took you 9 months. It’s just getting easier.
Also, around the 10th year mark, the monthly return on investment actually is more than your $500 monthly contribution.
Overall, you’ve only contributed $66,500. The rest came from the return of your investment. investment easy 3.png
You may think you only got a tiny amount right now, it won’t make a difference. From our example, the first $500 contribution turns into $1,226 at the end. That small $500 contribution is only 0.75% of your total contribution. However, with the power of reinvesting, continues contribution and compounding interest, the return on that first $500 represent 1.23% on the $100,000. So if you haven’t started your investment, start now! That small initial investment could be your biggest return. If you already started, the hardest part is already over, just enjoy the downhill ride.
Also, don’t be afraid to aim for a big number. The path to get there is a lot shorter than you think. Currently, I am only 5% on my investment goal, but I know the hardest 5% is over. Investing, it’s only getting easier.