You’re able to access all your KiwiSaver money when you turn 65. But how should you manage it? 

If you’re a Kiwi retiring in the next 20 or so years, your KiwiSaver cash could fund a large proportion of your retirement spending. But thinking about how to manage your lump sum can be difficult. 

Research by the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) in 2016 showed providers were more focused on educating members how to accumulate KiwiSaver money, and less on how to handle their money when they’re retired.

But this part of KiwiSaver is the most important. This is your retirement income, which is the whole point of investing for when you are no longer working. 

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Don’t blow it all

If you stop work and then blow all your retirement savings too soon, there’s no back-up money, because you’re not earning any more of it. You’ll qualify for NZ Superannuation, but for most this isn’t much. 

So, it’s crucial to work out how to manage your KiwiSaver ‘windfall’ when you retire. 

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How do you get your money when you turn 65?

Members have to fill in and sign a statutory declaration and other requirements before they receive their money. Processing this can take 10 days for some providers. You’re advised to talk to your KiwiSaver provider when you’re nearing 65.

You can get a lump sum pay-out from your provider. Some providers also give you other options, such as regular withdrawals, which might suit you better. 

The frequency of withdrawals and minimum amounts vary from provider to provider. 

The FMA says there are no requirements for providers on how they manage fund drawdowns, so check in with your own provider about your options.

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So, you got a lump sum

If you decide to take all your KiwiSaver cash out in a lump sum, your first thought might be to move it into a bank account. 

But Lisa Dudson, Acumen’s financial adviser, says your returns from the bank won’t be as good as you were getting in KiwiSaver, though it’s probably a less risky option. 

And, worse, you might get tempted to spend it all.

Another option is to get the money looked after by an investment manager. James Paterson, a wealth adviser at Pie Funds, says this might be an option for some. 

You could also put your lump sum into an annuity-style product, where you hand over your money to a company which guarantees a regular weekly or fortnightly or annual payment to you. 

There’s currently only two annuity providers in the New Zealand marketplace, Lifetime Retirement Income and Britannia's Lifetime Income Fund. It’s expected that as more and more Kiwis access their KiwiSaver cash, choices in this area will grow. 

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Should you still stay in KiwiSaver?

Paterson says, for most Kiwis, staying enrolled in KiwiSaver after you turn 65 is the right choice. 

Many people are still working past the age of 65. You might find you keep working for many years past 65, because Kiwis’ life expectancy is increasing. 

“KiwiSaver funds generally have lower fees than standard managed funds and still provide sensible diversification, so remaining in KiwiSaver is a viable option,” Paterson says.

He says you’re not entitled to the government contributions once you turn 65 but, if you’re still working, your employer still might be willing to keep contributing their 3 per cent. It’s worth talking to them about it.

Feeling confused about what’s best for you?

The experts agree that getting financial advice is crucial.

Paterson says: “They can talk you through your options… share insights based on what other clients just like you might have experienced, and suggest solutions to address the financial implications of retirement.”

Dudson says it’s likely your KiwiSaver cash will be a significant amount of money – and might be the largest part of your retirement savings.

“You’ve got to be really smart about it; this is critical. 

“You’ve saved and worked really hard for this money, so you want to be serious about what you do with it.”

Dudson says if you just blow it all, there’s nothing else to provide you an income, other than NZ Super, which “for most of us just covers the real basics”.

If you’re not a person who’s disciplined with money, Dudson says it’s essential your total balance is drip-fed to you, rather than withdrawing a lump sum you can easily access.

Talking to a financial adviser will help you work out the best way to manage the withdrawal, so the lump sum can be turned into a regular income through your retirement.

Join JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme

Published August 2018

Story by Claire Connell, JUNO

We aim to make investment with KiwiSaver easy to understand. To help us make this article reader friendly, we used The Write Plain Language Standard.

James Paterson is the Head of Wealth and an authorised financial adviser at Pie Funds Management Limited. You can access his disclosure statement free of charge at www.piefunds.co.nz.  This article is general in nature only and has not taken into account any particular person’s objectives or circumstances. We recommend you speak with a financial adviser. All content is correct at time of publication date.