Advisers losing favour with KiwiSaver investors

Financial advisers are losing popularity as a source of information for KiwiSaver members, who prefer to go to product providers or their employers, according to new research.

Monday, May 21st 2012, 6:30AM

by Niko Kloeten

The Mercer KiwiSaver Sentiment Index Study found only 19% of respondents preferred to go a financial adviser for information about the scheme, down from 23% in the last study in 2009 and 33% when the first study was conducted in 2007 just before KiwiSaver was launched.

Nearly half (49%) chose their KiwiSaver provider as a preferred source of information, while one in four respondents preferred to go to their employer or HR manager.

However, the latter figure is down from 48% in 2007 and 37% in 2009 (the numbers add up to more than 100% as respondents can choose more than one answer).

Financial advisers were just behind government sources such as the IRD (20%, down from 40% in 2009), slightly ahead of family (17%) and well ahead of the media, which only 5% of people chose as a preferred source.

Mercer's Elyssia Silberstein, who oversaw the research, said respondents weren't asked why they preferred a particular source.

"I would expect that there's a lot more information and communication available now.  Financial advisers have been used in the past but with the government playing an active role [in providing information] perhaps the perceived need for financial advisers has diminished over time."

Martin Lewington, head of Mercer New Zealand, noted that the drop-off had taken place at the same time the new regulatory regime for advisers was introduced.

"Hopefully in the 2014 survey KiwiSavers will have seen the benefits in the new regulatory environment and we will have seen an uptick in that."

He noted that although 73% of respondents said in 2007 before the scheme's launch that they planned to pick their own provider, in the latest survey only 58% had actually done so, with the rest allowing their decision to be made by the IRD or their employer.

The study also found opposition to KiwiSaver had increased, with 30% actively against it compared to 22% in 2009; those actively against it tended to be over 55, owned their own home and had children who weren't enrolled in KiwiSaver.

Lewington said the increase in opposition had implications for the debate on whether to make the scheme compulsory.

Niko Kloeten can be contacted at niko@goodreturns.co.nz

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