Kiwis may get hands on Aus funds

RICHARD MEADOWS
Last updated 13:57 05/08/2014

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New Zealanders with money stranded in Australian superannuation schemes may finally be able to get their hands on their retirement savings.

Billions of dollars are trapped at the Australian Tax Office (ATO) because of difficulties in transferring funds to KiwiSaver.

The rules were changed a year ago to allow portability between the two countries, but fishhooks have made them mostly unworkable.

ANZ Investments has teamed with the trustee of one of the bank's Australian super schemes to find a way to bring the money home.

ANZ has already helped more than 540 customers repatriate more than $11.4 million of Australian super money.

With about a quarter of the $19 billion of "lost" superannuation funds in Australia estimated to belong to Kiwis, that represents the tip of the iceberg.

Every New Zealander who has worked across the Tasman is likely to have a super fund because saving 9 per cent of salary is compulsory there.

More than 21,000 people have returned home from Australia in the past year.

Those who have approached the ATO to recover lost accounts have been told they cannot transfer the money directly into KiwiSaver.

Instead, they first need to move it to an Australian superannuation scheme, which was difficult for those no longer living in Australia.

ANZ Smart Choice Super has become the first provider to be given an exemption from the rules that have made it difficult to open accounts for non-residents.

New Zealanders can now open an account with the ANZ scheme in Australia, which uses a "super-matching tool" to track down and collect their missing retirement savings.

From there, the money could be transferred to an ANZ KiwiSaver scheme in New Zealand.

ANZ Wealth New Zealand managing director John Body said savers who wanted to transfer money would need an existing ANZ KiwiSaver account.

They would then be able to bring the money across at the "click of a button", rather than filling out endless forms, he said.

ANZ's KiwiSaver scheme has more than 585,000 members and over $4.8b in funds under management.

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