How can I get a better grasp of KiwiSaver?

Last updated 05:00 20/07/2014

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Not all of us are great extracting our information from printed material.

This can make life hard, particularly when the task is grasping both the big picture, and the finer points of KiwiSaver.

But there are plenty of online clips now available that people can use to get started, including on YouTube.

The written material provided by KiwiSaver schemes is not terrible, but it is pitched at a level higher than a fair proportion of the population.

Ironically, the aspirational images in the investment statements may well cement in some portions of the population the impression that KiwiSaver providers are not really talking to them, but a better-off, better-educated part of the population.

They are predominantly (not all) images of slim, attractive youngish white folk, with a scattering of thinnish, attractive-looking Asian and Polynesian folk.

There is also a liberal dose of "Kiwi" iconography, like beaches, and retro caravans.

The investment statements are also long - the average length of those of the five big banks is 55.6 pages.

They can be read, but those starting out with an inferiority complex and poor literacy may struggle - and these are people who arguably have the most to gain from KiwiSaver.

Putting KiwiSaver into the search bar on YouTube throws up over 2650 results.

Some are a bit dated, and some are very much branded clips with the likes of Fisher Funds, Milford, AMP and ANZ trying to attract custom.

But they are not to be sniffed at, particularly the ANZ and AMP clips which include short guides to essential KiwiSaver topics and principles.

If you want to know what the member tax credit is, there's a clip for that.

If you want to know how to switch schemes, there's a clip telling you how.

If you want to know how KiwiSaver can help you, or a child, save for a new home, there's one for that.

If you've hit financial hardship, or think you soon will, there's a guide to what you can expect from your KiwiSaver provider.

Some KiwiSaver providers have good clips on their websites as well, and it is a growing means by which scheme managers talk to their savers.

It's a trend that will continue to grow, and a use of technology that promises great hope for lifting financial literacy.

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- Sunday Star Times

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