JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme founder, Mike Taylor, says from the outset JUNO's aim was helping Kiwis understand the enormous impact of fees on their KiwiSaver balances, take charge of their KiwiSaver and ask their providers tough questions about value for money.
Mike says seeing other providers lowering fees, following JUNO's launch, shows the new scheme's impact on the industry. "We were the first KiwiSaver scheme charging absolutely nothing for kids and people with balances under $5,000. Since then, Christian KiwiSaver Scheme started offering zero-fee accounts for children, and BNZ and KiwiWealth have cut their fees. But it's not enough – we want more providers to jump on board and make KiwiSaver an attractive investment for families looking to help secure their own and their kids' future."
Strong performance, details of which can be found at https://www.junokiwisaver.co.nz/funds/performance, has also been an incentive for those transferring from the big Australian banks. Mike says he's conscious a year isn't long enough to judge the ability of an investment manager, but "we're happy with the start we've made. All funds have performed credibly relative to their market index, particularly the Growth Fund which has returned 11.79% over the year. It's particularly pleasing when much of our first 12 months has been investing in inhospitable market conditions, with high cash to protect members' KiwiSaver balances."
Mike also notes while most members have transferred from other providers, he's pleased $1m has been invested by 550 New Zealanders brand-new to KiwiSaver. "Statistics show one million Kiwis are missing from KiwiSaver, harming their ability to invest in a first home or for their retirement. Fees can be a big deterrent, so we're delighted to have contributed to engaging some of the missing millions with low or no fees and starting them on their investment journey."
"We are particularly heartened to see our industry-first approach of free accounts for under 18s and people with low balances included as options in this month's discussion paper on the Government review of KiwiSaver Default Provider Arrangements," Mike says.
"We firmly believe zero fees for under 18s and people with low balances – and low fees for everyone else – helps New Zealanders form and keep an investment habit. As well as our brand-new KiwiSaver members, we've also attracted 90 members from competitors' default schemes. That's 90 New Zealanders making an active choice, maybe their first active choice, about who manages their KiwiSaver account. Their average age is 37, so there's time for their great decision to make a real difference to their retirement outcomes."
In another industry first, JUNO KiwiSaver Scheme recently employed a registered teacher to spearhead JUNO's financial education efforts in schools and workplaces. "Education is one of our core values, so when we say we're committed to financial education, we really mean it. Our team is passionate about helping Kiwis master their money and is getting into schools, businesses and the wider community – at no charge to those who take up the offer – to help people worry less about money and enjoy it more."
Other highlights of the past 12 months include:
• Active, direct investment in 29 companies from 13 different countries including Greece, the Philippines, Indonesia, Russia, and China;
• More than 40% of all members were referred by family or friends;
• 40% of all members under 18;
• Publishing a report, using external analysis from ESG research provider Sustainalytics, on ESG performance;
• Winning a Write Plain English Award for JUNO's Your Guide to KiwiSaver and being praised by judges for "giving citizens information in clear, accessible ways".
"If what we are doing here at JUNO helps members really enjoy their relationship with their KiwiSaver investment - and contributes in some small way to system transformation - we'll be thrilled," Mike concludes.