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  • rmacculloch

The Financial Markets Authority Board Should be Fired for Defending the Billion $ Fees of Kiwi Saver Fund Managers - when the FMA's Job is the Opposite

From 2019-23 KiwiSaver Fund Managers took $3.1 billion in fees from the accounts of savers. The new Coalition swore its primary job was to reduce the cost-of-living that is blighting so many lives. So what is it waiting for? Take on the supermarkets. Break up Fletcher Building that can't make a buck even though its a monopoly. Slash the rip-off fees of Big Banks. The time for cowardice is over. All of government should now be directed toward enhancing competition. How else is the cost-of-living going to fall? How can Kiwis function when the game is stacked against them? Take this latest example taken from page 12 of the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) Kiwi Saver Annual Report 2023:

Focus area - Value for money

Value for money in KiwiSaver does not mean fees must low.

That's untrue. Value for money in KiwiSaver damn well does mean fees should be low. Let's call that headline in the FMA's report out for what it is - bald faced misinformation that is to the detriment of savers and to the benefit of the fund managers. If the Board of the FMA won't defend the public interest by writing such outrageous lines then the whole lot of them should be sent packing by the new Coalition. There are thousands of articles by the world's leading finance gurus proving that what the FMA writes above is nonsense. A good place to start is Eugene Fama, Professor of Finance at Chicago University who won the Nobel Prize - he's ranked as the 9th-most influential economist of all time & is regarded as "the father of modern finance". Here is part of an interview he did:

FAMA: "Active management in aggregate is a zero-sum game - before costs. Good (more likely just lucky) active managers can win only at the expense of bad (or unlucky) active managers. This principle holds even at the level of individual stocks. Any time an active manager makes money by overweighting a stock, he wins because other active investors react by underweighting the stock. The two sides always net out - before the costs of active management. After costs, active management is a negative-sum game by the amount of the costs (fees and expenses) borne by investors".

FAMA: "After costs, only the top 3% of managers produce a return that indicates they have sufficient skill to just cover their costs, which means that .. even the top performers are expected to be only about as good as a low-cost passive index fund. The other 97% can be expected to do worse. [Consequently] an investor doesn’t have a prayer of picking a manager that can deliver true alpha".

Nearly every KiwiSaver Active Provider will underperform the market over time, after fees. Of the very few that do outperform, the extra return will be taken in fees - you won't see a buck of it. In other words, the $3.1 billion of fees that Kiwi Saver providers sucked out of NZ'ers over just a five year period is a big, fat rip-off. The FMA board should be fired for stating the industry is "value for money" when it is not. Put your funds with a low cost passive index fund costing no more than around $50 a year and ignore the FMA.



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