Finders and keepers – Aussie super schemes

If you have worked in Australia at any time since 1992, chances are you have money sitting over there in account waiting for your attention and or collection. According to the Australia Tax Office (ATO) there is something in the order of NZ$19 billion worth of money waiting collection. It’s called the Lost  Money fund owing to the fact that superannuitants have essentially abandoned it, or else lost track of it.

Under recently, it was difficult for New Zealanders wanting to repatriate that money to get their hands on it.  A little known piece of law known as the Trans Tasman Portability Agreement has simplified the process.

Fund managers in New Zealand will be keen to push the case for repatriation because they stand to profit from the additional money that flows across the border into your account via the investment fee you pay.  Putting aside their interests, there are some valid reasons to bring your super money back home:

Ease of management (it’s all in one place), reduced fees (you’ll only be paying one set of management fees on a larger pot of money) and a greater sense of control are a few arguments in favour.

On the flip side, there’s some good reasons to keep the money in Australia once you have laid claim on it again. Lower taxes, earlier access at age 60 (as opposed to 65) and also greater diversification or your portfolio are among the main one’s you’ll hear.

Conflicted? We don’t blame you. Here’s a few considerations to mull over and an action plan.

  • First things first; you need to establish when you have any abandoned funds over in Australia. The ATO has established a Super Seeker facility that allows you do to this rather painlessly.  You can find it online.
  • Once you have found that money and established how much it is, you’ll want to make an informed decide about whether to bring it over to the pond. A qualified financial advisor can help with the decision making process here to determine what’s best for you and not what’s best for your fund manager.
  • To date, superannuation money in Australia can only be tapped and transported if it’s going into a complying scheme here in KiwiSaver.  So don’t get excited about buying that new car. Your provider here should be able to make this process easier and some schemes have introduced some slick new systems to make it as hasslefree as possible.
  • If you are going to the trouble of repatriating your money, it’s a good time to review your KiwiSaver fund in general terms to ensure you are in the right fund and with the best provider for your needs. Again, a reputable and qualified financial advisor can help you with that.

What are you waiting for? Finders are keepers.

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