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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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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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.