Some need to know, with a bit of WealthDesign nice to know thrown in.

I often ask myself if we learnt anything from the GFC a decade ago? The latest Morningstar report on KiwiSaver came out the other day and there is now $51.7 billion invested with various KiwiSaver providers. There are over 3 million individual accounts and these people have heavy exposure to both local and international shares.

I don’t believe all of these investors understand the KiwiSaver beast and I think there is going to be a day that proves my concerns are valid. Human nature makes us all react to fear. With investments, fear of losing is greater than the thrill of winning. For the past ten years, the sales pitch around KiwiSaver has been “you can see your daily balance on your phone”. This is great when things are on the up and up but not so cool when the prices are falling. For the past few years, a monkey could have run most KiwiSaver funds and made money.

I’m reading the old platitudes rolled out by fund managers and regulators. Things like, “don’t try and time the market, it’s important to be in the market, get your risk tolerance right.” These are all valid points, but experience has shown me that people are emotional beings and when things go south, they make decisions with the heart not the head, and they just won’t listen.

Here’s an example:

Just think, your KiwiSaver balance is $50,000 – you are feeling great and every time you look at your online banking app on your phone,  you know you are  in line to meet your retirement goals. You are in a balanced fund so you are comfortable you have things in hand. You feel great. It’s worked for the past 10 years, so why worry?

Let me tell you why. Tomorrow you wake up to the news that the DOW Jones is down 25%, the NZX and ASX are following suit. The papers are full of bad news. You look at your KiwiSaver account balance and it’s down to $40,000. You are a bit concerned but you remember the FMA has been telling you it will be okay. The next day the DOW Jones bounces and you KiwiSaver account follows suit and the balance comes up to $45,000. You blood pressure recovers and you start to feel better.

Two days later that DOW drops again, your KiwiSaver drops to $38,000. You have a sick feeling in your stomach. You know in real terms you have lost $12,000.  You try to phone your provider but there are hundreds of other investors doing the same.  You get that cold feeling that things are only going to get worse. What if it drops another $5,000? You start to question the glib one liners coming out of the FMA and the managed fund industry. You go online and start to do some research and find that the cash accounts in KiwiSaver have only dropped a couple of percent.

You feel you need to do something.

This is the day that thousands of KiwiSaver investors will make the same terrible mistake. They will hit the transfer button on either their phone or computer and move to a defensive cash based fund.

They will realise their losses and by transferring, the fund managers will be forced to sell shares both locally and internationally. Worst still is this will happen on a falling market. Compounding this even more is the size of the total KiwiSaver, and the amount invested in our local share market.

There aren’t enough qualified independent advisers to influence this action after the event.  I don’t  believe for a minute that market briefing, emails or newsletters or hand wringing by the regulator, will alter this behaviour. We are just human.

 Smart investors will line up to buy great shares in awesome companies at hugely discounted prices. The question you need to ask yourself is which side of the table will you sit on? The panicked seller or the smart buyer?

My advice? Get advice now! Make tactical decisions and have a plan for when the markets change. The markets will fall and this scenario will pay out, it’s just a matter of when.

Reach out! Call me now and let’s make sure you’re ahead of the game.

John Barber
WealthDesign – a life well planned

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Good news travels and bad news flies

It’s been 10 years since the world suffered the greatest recession since the 1930s.  The first couple of months of 2008 was eerily calm and then all hell broke loose. A major economic meltdown was underway. Banks wouldn’t lend to each other and institutions such as the Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill Lynch, and the Royal Bank of Scotland all got wiped out. Mortgage companies in the USA such as Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae also took a hiding. It was tough for a lot of people and New Zealand didn’t miss out on the pain. We had our equivalent of the USA bank failures with the finance company sector falling over, and losing investor’s money.

I remember reading reports and looking at different graphs comparing the start of the recession to tough times of the past but it wasn’t until I started seeing graphs that matched the 1930 depression, that I really got to understand just how bad things had got.

Looking back, it took a while for the news to spread out. You had to be on line, watching TV or reading the news – but today the world is even more connected, bad news circulates instantly, as people’s love of smart phones intensifies. And this intensifies too, the impact of the bad news.

Today there is $46 billion dollars invested in KiwiSaver schemes by average kiwis, and most of these funds are at risk of losing value if things go south.

After every bull market (when everything goes up in value) we have a pull back, or a bear market. For 10 years we have seen the world capital markets increasing year on year. We will all see the turning point after it happens.  In my opinion when it happens, there will be a repeat of 1987, 2001 and 2008. Ill-informed investors will panic and move their funds to less volatile funds. In turn this will force the KiwiSaver manager’s to sell on a falling market. How would you feel if your KiwiSaver balance lost 20% over night?

My advice is to have a strategy in place now. If you have five to eight years left until you turn 65 – make sure you are in a capital stable fund.  But whether you have five, 15 or 40 years until 65 rolls around, come and get some advice. It will prove invaluable – now that’s a promise.

John Barber
WealthDesign – a life well planned

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You may think that cryptocurrency (think Bitcoin) gains are tax free. Oops – you would be wrong. The IRD treat Bitcoin and the like, as property, very much like they treat investment in gold. These assets don’t generate an income, so the IRD basically thinks that investors are obviously buying these asset to make capital gains, meaning it’s taxable income.

Yes, some investors have made a lot of money out of buying these cryptocurrencies and haven’t known or wanted to tell the IRD about their winnings. Having poor records or pleading ignorance isn’t going to be a defence if the IRD coming knocking. 

There are more types of cryptocurrency than just Bitcoin. Not all of them can be valued in New Zealand dollars. If the cryptocurrency can’t be valued in New Zealand dollars, then investors need to value them in American dollars, and then record the purchase and sale value, based on the New Zealand/American dollar value. The difference is profit, and needs to be accounted for in one’s IRD tax returns.

Don’t be fooled into thinking the IRD can’t find out about past transactions. They have a whole department dedicated to tax avoidance and if they put resources into this area, the unaware could be in for a horrid tax surprise. Remember the IRD can go back seven years and can add some hefty penalties if they deem it appropriate.

If this applies to you and you have bought some cryptocurrency, my advice is to visit the IRD site for more details, or talk to your accountant.

John Barber
Managing Director
WealthDesign – a life well planned

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KiwiSaver – income for your future self

Maximising the income that will provide the lifestyle for your future self, is how to approach your KiwiSaver. And you may be surprised to learn that if you don’t have your finger on the pulse of your KiwiSaver scheme, your future self may be a little short-changed.

The KiwiSaver initiative is not a set and forget sort of deal, with a ‘bells and whistles’ app on your phone that gives you your balance instantly (can you tell I think the sales pitch for this gimmick is utter BS? But that subject can wait for another day!). It needs managing as it’s an investment like any other long term investment.

An example arose recently when a client’s tax rate was 28%, rather than 10.5% At 6% return on his money, he had paid $1050 more than he needed to. Unfortunately the app on the phone doesn’t prompt you to manage your KiwiSaver scheme balance wisely, it just tells you what’s in the account at any given time.

When was the last time there was a rendezvous between you and your KiwiSaver scheme balance? If you have over $50,000 in yours, recent research (by Westpac) reveals you are in the top 13% of men and the top 4% for women in New Zealand. And if your balance is over $30,000, you are in the top 27% for men and the top 15% for women in New Zealand.

These are scary statistics when you consider a 65 year old male will need enough money to live on for another 19 years from his 65th birthday. It is even worse for women, as they tend to out-live the guys, yet their KiwiSaver scheme balances are on average, much lower than males.

Here’s what’s important.

Join KiwiSaver as soon as possible. When is the right time to join? Yesterday. When is the next best right time? Right now.

If you know you are in KiwiSaver and you’re not sure where yours is at, contact IRD and they will give you the relevant details. Or click here to find out more.

Secondly, ensure you’re in the right fund for you, plus you have the right tax rate for you. How do you know? Give me a call – I’m here to help.

It really makes my day when I ensure people are optimising their KiwiSaver investment.  So come and talk to me about your KiwiSaver scheme – your future self will thank you!

 

John Barber
WealthDesign – a life well planned

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