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KiwiSaver transfers from Australia still a drag

Some New Zealanders trying to transfer Australian superannuation funds back to this country are still facing difficulties.

Tuesday, August 23rd 2016, 6:00AM

by Susan Edmunds

Trans-Tasman portability of superannuation funds has been possible since 2013. Funds can be transferred to KiwiSaver schemes.

But Jeremy Hoskin, of Super-Advice, which helps with the process, said many people were still being left frustrated.

“With more New Zealanders returning than going to Australia, this service is really ramping up,” he said. “The common thread is the absolute frustration from people who have tried unsuccessfully to gain access to their funds. There appears to be administrative roadblocks put in place to deter people from getting their money across to New Zealand.”

He said his firm had helped move about $1.5 million in super savings so far. The biggest transfer was $500,000.

The Australian fund managers in particular were reluctant to play ball, and the transfer could take a significant amount of time, he said. “They seem to lose documents a lot. I have had that happen multiple times.”

He said there was a lot of money in Australia that New Zealanders could bring back. “There is more money in Australian super funds earned by New Zealanders than in all of the KiwiSaver schemes. You can see why they don’t want to let it go.”

More “lost super” is being transferred to the Australian Tax Office, where it is harder to access it.  If a scheme cannot contact a member and the balance is relatively small, it gets transferred across.

The Government has been gradually increasing the threshold under which these lost accounts are transferred to the ATO - up to A$4000 last December.

In the 2015 financial year, there were more than six million lost superannuation accounts worth $19 billion held by the ATO and it is estimated a quarter of them relate to New Zealanders.

AN ANZ spokesperson said things had been running more smoothly for the last year. “Generally, once the member has completed the Australian forms and sent these to their provider…it only takes a few weeks to have their savings in their KiwiSaver account.”

But she said it might be easier for ANZ than some providers because it was the only one with an exemption to allow people in New Zealand to open an Australian scheme, so they could consolidate their savings in one place.

ANZ had $31 million transferred across the Tasman in the year to July 2016, up from $20 million the year before.  Since transfers began, 2659 ANZ members had transferred $63.7 million from Australia into a KiwiSaver scheme.

Tags: KiwiSaver

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