KiwiSaver members missing retirement “bonus” through government contributions

KiwiSaver members could be missing out on tens of thousands of dollars of extra savings at retirement if they don’t top up their contributions to qualify for the full government subsidy, according to a Westpac NZ analysis.

For every $1 a member pays into KiwiSaver up to $1,042.86 each year, the government matches 50c – creating an annual $521.43 “bonus payment”.

Based on assumed returns from the Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme Calculator*, a 25-year-old who invests in a growth fund at an average projected return of 4.50% p.a. and receives the full government contribution every year would have an extra $55,808 at age 65, thanks to the government contribution and associated investment returns.

A 35-year-old in a balanced fund at an average return of 3.50% p.a. stands to pocket an extra $26,917 by age 65, while a 45-year-old in a conservative fund at 2.50% would have an extra $13,319.

BT Funds Management (NZ) Limited is the Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme provider. With the annual June 30 cutoff looming, BTNZ CEO Nigel Jackson says members can make voluntary lump sum contributions into their KiwiSaver any time to ensure they receive the full $521.43.

“These figures show that a relatively small amount invested in your KiwiSaver account a year can make a big difference to your retirement years,” Mr Jackson says.

“We know many New Zealanders are doing it tough at the moment, so saving for retirement probably isn’t top of mind. But every dollar you can put in up to that $1,042.86 cap is a handy investment in your future financial wellbeing.

“If you don’t have the money to contribute this month, make a plan to ensure you qualify for the full amount in 2025.

“One tip we’ve shared with customers is to consider setting up a weekly $24 automatic payment into their Westpac KiwiSaver Scheme account. This will put them comfortably on track to receive the full amount next year.

“We’ve made it quick and simple for our customers by giving them the ability to make one-off contributions via their Westpac One online banking app.”

Westpac is working hard to educate customers about how to make their KiwiSaver work for them. It has sent targeted email, direct mail and Westpac One communications to around 113,000 customers, outlining their current contribution level and what they need to do to get back on track.

“Our 2023 data shows that women, people aged under 40, and people who are in our default fund rather than actively choosing a fund were more likely than other groups to miss out on the government contribution,” Mr Jackson says.

“Regardless of your age, gender, or stage in life, it’s always a good time to be thinking about saving for retirement.

“To younger New Zealanders, that might seem like a long way away. But these figures show they stand to benefit the most by contributing regularly, because a little amount could make a big difference over decades.

“Even if you can’t afford to contribute to your KiwiSaver account right now, it’s still a good time to think about your goals for retirement and how you’re going to get there, including whether you’re in the right type of fund for you and your stage in life.

“If you’re not sure about any aspect of your KiwiSaver account, come and talk to us.”

/Public Release. View in full here.