Tough quarter for KiwiSaver

Most KiwiSaver funds reported a negative return for the first three months of this year.

Morningstar has released its latest KiwiSaver survey, for the March quarter.

It shows funds invested in defensive assets outperformed those with a bias to growth.

Morningstar said volatility returned to the markets in the first quarter of 2018 and while New Zealand equities were not immune to global wobbles, they fared better than most.

The NZX50 was down 0.9% to the end of March. The ASX200 fell 7% in New Zealand currency over the same period and the MSCI World Index 2.7%.

Interest rate-sensitive assets, such as listed property and infrastructure, had the biggest losses.

Average multisector category returns ranged from 0.37% over the quarter for the conservative category, through to negative 2.58% for the aggressive funds.

Top performers in their peer groups were Westpac’s default scheme, Westpac’s conservative fund, Westpac’s balanced fund, Milford’s active growth fund and Mercer’s KiwiSaver high growth fund.

On an annual basis, all funds reported a positive return.

Over 10 years, Milford’s active growth fund is a standout performer. It started out with a greater bias to Australasian equities but has become more diversified.

“Asset allocation does move around, and the strong performance has come from a bias to growth assets and exposure to Australasian credit,” Morningstar said.

ANZ retained the largest slice of the KiwiSaver business, with $11.7 billion under management. ASB was second and Westpac third.