Managers ramp up communication

Fund managers’ communication channels have been put into overdrive by market downturns around the world – and some predict it could change the way KiwiSaver members engage with their investments in future.

Sunday, April 5th 2020, 1:42PM

Craig Mulholland

Since the Covid-19 outbreak began to have an impact on global sharemarkets, KiwiSaver managers in particular have dealt with a big increase in the number of people looking to de-risk their portfolios.

Managers have responded with emails, webinars and videos for members.

Jeff Ruscoe, general manager of product and marketing at AMP, said there had been noticeable concern from members when markets started moving “dramatically” in mid-March.

“A bunch of people who might not have been engaged in their KiwiSaver in the past … they got interested quite quickly.”

He said AMP had worked hard to help people understand what was driving the change, and encourage them to focus on their goals and long-term plan without being distracted by market noise.

There was a lot of “high-level” information available in the market, he said, which tended to be too broad to give members the reassurance they wanted.

This was a chance for managers to make a difference by reaching out to members, rather than having them do it themselves, he said. “What we are saying to clients is come and talk to us first. Seek help rather than just making a change because you're a bit nervous about the market.”

AMP was trying to give people as much individual advice as possible, he said. It has phone-based advisers offering information, and deals with people via social media channels. “What we’re trying to do is get personal information to people as best we can. High-level just becomes more noise rather than helping them make the decisions they need.

“We won't get to everyone but what we are trying to do is provide as much information as possible ... We think we’ve got the majority of channels covered.”

He said he hoped this disruption would change the way people engaged with KiwiSaver in future as they developed a better understanding of how the funds could be expected to perform, and what they needed to consider in choosing the right fund for them. “Our job is to stimulate that as well.”

Murray Harris, head of distribution and KiwiSaver at Milford Asset management, said it had an adviser and a direct audience to cater to.

“We have stepped up communication quite a bit,” he said. Members were receiving updates from the firm’s chief investment officer in their weekly newsletter.

Milford ran a roadshow for advisers before the lockdown and was now replacing its planned roadshows with video updates, he said. Financial advisers could also use those with clients, he said.

Harris said Milford had had a high volume of calls from members but it was nothing like that received by default providers. “We might have had 200 calls a day [at the peak] but the banks were getting a couple of thousand.”

Technological solutions were a help to managers who needed to get messages out to a lot of people quickly, he said.

Milford had launched a cash fund and a moderate fund pre-lockdown, which had been well received, he said.

Craig Mulholland, managing director of wealth and private bank at ANZ, said it had been regularly updating its KiwiSaver members and investors in other funds by email, their website and through a banner on internet banking.

“We have been explaining why financial markets are volatile and what this means for investments like KiwiSaver. We’ve been reminding members that unlike a savings account, investments do go up and down and for many members, KiwiSaver is a long-term investment.”

Tags: AMP ANZ Covid-19 KiwiSaver Milford Asset Management

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