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Lost Aussie super could add $5bn to KiwiSaver

New Zealand's fund management industry could be in for a $5 billion bonanza if a planned deal to repatriate "lost" superannuation money from Australia comes off.

Wednesday, August 6th 2008, 5:08AM

by David Chaplin

According to Vance Arkinstall, Investment Savings and Insurance Association (ISI) chief executive, about A$15 billion of unclaimed superannuation savings sits in holding funds in Australia of which up to 25% might belong to New Zealanders who have returned home.

Arkinstall said the Australian Minister of Superannuation, Nick Sherry, has agreed in-principle to allow New Zealand residents who have worked previously in Australia to transfer any forgotten superannuation savings to KiwiSaver accounts.

"If they can identify their Australian super and they have a KiwiSaver account Sherry said he would be happy for them to transfer the money," he said.

While the details have not been finalised Arkinstall said a publicity campaign here to alert New Zealanders of the ability to find and transfer their Australian super could unearth a significant figure.

"Senator Sherry said perhaps 25% of the A$15 billion of lost superannuation could belong to Kiwis," he said.

Over the last couple of years Australians have been encouraged to find "lost" superannuation with a number of online search engines - including one offered by the Australian Tax Office (ATO) - providing a service.

In Australia, lost or unclaimed superannuation accounts are usually transferred to an "eligible rollover fund", such as AUSfund, and invested in low-risk strategies.

According to AUSfund, more than five million Australians have lost some of their superannuation.

The Australian and New Zealand governments are currently working on an agreement to allow portability of superannuation between the two countries. In July, NZ Finance Minister, Michael Cullen, and Australian Treasurer, Wayne Swan, issued a joint statement confirming a deal on super portability was imminent.

"We are now confident that KiwiSaver and complying Australian superannuation accounts are mutually compatible and that outstanding policy issues can be addressed in time for a Memorandum of Understanding to be ready for signing by the end of October," the July statement said.

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