KiwiSaver as part of your overall investment strategy

For many of us, KiwiSaver will provide a significant portion of our retirement income. But it's only one part of the equation.

In this page we look at the role KiwiSaver plays in an overall investment strategy, what other assets you should factor into your retirement savings calculations, and how to optimise your KiwiSaver now, so you can retire with more.


In this page we consider:


What’s great about KiwiSaver is that it's automatic, you don’t even notice you are investing, and your employer and the government also contribute.

Is KiwiSaver a valuable investment?

KiwiSaver is a solid foundation for retirement savings. What many people don’t realise is that most KiwiSaver investments are managed funds. KiwiSaver scheme providers invest in their funds on your behalf, and, as with any other form of managed fund, there are many options to choose from.

Your KiwiSaver should be an important consideration in your overall investment strategy.  Focusing on how your KiwiSaver is invested is not only important for maximising your potential income at retirement, it’s also a great way to learn about the world of managed funds.

And as KiwiSaver providers are obliged to set reasonable fees, KiwiSaver is a cost-effective way to continue with your retirement investment long after the ‘golden age’ of 65. With the right structure of funds within your KiwiSaver, you have the flexibility to draw down your money, as and when you need it, so you can keep your investments working.

Try our GoalsGetter online investment platform to see how you can tailor your KiwiSaver with Nikko AM.


Today we are living longer, healthier and more active retirements than our parents and grandparents did. So will your KiwiSaver provide you enough income for champagne or beer, and for how long?

Why KiwiSaver alone may not be enough

For many of us, the lifestyle we may wish to live in retirement is likely to require income from other sources, as well as KiwiSaver. The old saying “Champagne taste on a beer budget” comes to mind!

Take any online KiwiSaver retirement calculator test and you may find there’s quite a gap between what your KiwiSaver will provide in the way of weekly income, versus your desired income (and lifestyle), so it’s wise to consider KiwiSaver as one part of a retirement investment strategy that comprises a diversified portfolio of investments and income. This could include:
  • KiwiSaver
  • A mix of multi-sector diversified managed funds across local and international markets
  • Property investments (which could also provide rental income)
  • Government Superannuation
  • Business investments or ongoing employment

If you’re lucky enough to have income, savings or a windfall that allows you to invest in financial markets, then investing in managed funds (over and above your KiwiSaver) is an approach to wealth building to be seriously considered.

By working with a fund manager who manages your investment portfolio, you’ll get the advantage of their experienced and ever-watchful eye on market movements, trends and companies to watch.


The great news is that KiwiSaver doesn’t suddenly come to an end at 65. As KiwiSaver providers are obliged to set ‘reasonable’ fees, KiwiSaver is a cost-effective way to continue with your retirement investment.

How to maximise your investment in KiwiSaver

With KiwiSaver as part of a wider investment strategy, it’s still important to think about how you can maximise the returns you’re getting from your KiwiSaver today, in the lead up to, and during retirement. Here’s some considerations for today, tomorrow and when you retire in the future.

Today: Are you invested in the right funds?

Most people are familiar with the broad fund categories of KiwiSaver Schemes - Conservative, Balanced and Growth - which target different levels of risk. However, what many people don’t understand is that you also have the opportunity (and ability) to manage your risk by carefully selecting the specific types of funds you invest in (note: you can choose your funds, but not the underlying assets the fund is invested in). For example, if 'new tech' and innovation is of interest to you, you could choose to split some of your KiwiSaver investment into the ARK Disruptive Innovation Fund* that invests (on your behalf) in companies that meet specific criteria for 'disruptive innovation'.

A fund’s risk level is defined in the product disclosure statement (PDS) and is based on historic volatility. Volatility is about how much the value of the underlying assets move up and down over time. For example, equities typically move up and down by greater amounts than bonds and so would have a higher level of volatility and higher risk rating. Cash is typically more predictable in the short run and will only have small changes in value especially in periods when interest rates are very low. By choosing a combination of these assets the KiwiSaver providers are able to target different levels of risk for different funds.

How do you decide what funds are right for you? Consider:

Your timeframe

As a general guide, the more time you have until you can access your KiwiSaver for retirement, the more risk you may be able to tolerate, as you have time to recover from potential losses.

Other investments you may have

If KiwiSaver is your entire retirement saving plan, you might want to make sure it's well diversified across different strategies. But if it is a small portion of your total retirement plan, you may look at shifting towards a more aggressive fund. Consider how to achieve diversity with a mix of assets as you grow your wealth.

Your level of comfort with risk

Your level of comfort with risk is important, regardless of your timeframe and mix of investments. Are you comfortable with losses in the short-term to achieve higher returns in the long run or does the thought of any loss keep you up at night?

Consider active vs passively managed funds

Do you want rules-based investment (passive) or would you prefer an experienced professional to be researching companies and markets and making calculated investment decisions?


Tomorrow: Think about your contributions

An obvious option many people question is the value of increasing  contributions to KiwiSaver compared to investing money elsewhere. As your investment is managed for you, under strict government regulations and with reasonable fees, you could consider increasing your contributions to beyond the minimum 3%.

However, remember that your money is locked into KiwiSaver until the age of 65 – unless you’re making a withdrawal for a first home or other limited circumstances. So before deciding to increase your contributions, do the maths to see if it suits your situation. You may want to consider an additional long term investment outside of KiwiSaver using managed funds.

When you retire: Your investments can continue

You can still keep your Kiwisaver invested – but consider how and when you want to use your KiwiSaver.

As you approach 65 and immediately after, you should continue to assess your objectives and comfort with risk, for many people this may change once you stop earning. If you intend to start using your KiwiSaver for income straight away you may choose a mix of lower-risk, income-focused funds. However if you don’t intend to use your KiwiSaver for another 5-10yrs , higher risk/return funds maybe more appropriate to help reach you retirement goals. Or you could be somewhere in the middle in which case a combination may be best.

With the right structure of funds within your KiwiSaver, after 65 you’ll have the flexibility to draw down your money, as and when you need it, but also keep your investments working.

* The ARK Disruptive Innovation Fund is available for everyday Kiwi's to invest in via GoalsGetter. 


We are fortunate in New Zealand to have a standardised retirement savings scheme in the form of KiwiSaver. But it’s wise to consider your KiwiSaver as only one part of your retirement income if you have dreams of retiring comfortably. In the meantime, there are ways to optimise your investment in KiwiSaver. Try our GoalsGetter online tool to see how your retriement target can grow with a different mix of investments.

Optimise your KiwiSaver investment with GoalsGetter

Optimise your KiwiSaver investment with GoalsGetter

Using GoalsGetter you can access the Nikko AM KiwiSaver Scheme, including the ARK Disruptive Innovation Fund. Get your KiwiSaver working harder for you now.

Join or transfer your KiwiSaver