No more hopping the ditch to get KiwiSaver rich

 

Trans-Tasman transfers

In November 2008, Ronald became a member of Retirement Riches KiwiSaver fund.  

In September 2013, Ronald was thinking about moving to Australia for a new job. He called Retirement Riches and asked whether he could withdraw his KiwiSaver if he moved permanently to Australia. Retirement Riches’ agent told Ronald that after being in Australia for 12 months he would have his KiwiSaver funds paid to him, less any associated fees.

In September 2013, Ronald accepted a job in, and moved to, Western Australia. 

In October 2013, Ronald called Retirement Riches to ask how he should track he was in Australia for 12 months. Retirement Riches then told Ronald that the law had changed in July 2013 and Ronald could not withdraw his KiwiSaver if moving to Australia.  

Ronald was angry that he had not been informed of the law change, but had been led to believe he could withdraw his funds. Retirement Riches told Ronald he could transfer his KiwiSaver to any complying Australian superannuation scheme.    

Ronald contacted his Australian superannuation scheme, Dingo Dollars, and discovered they could not accept a transfer of his KiwiSaver funds. Ronald then contacted FSCL.

 

The complaint

Ronald was given incorrect advice from Retirement Riches in September 2013 that he could withdraw his KiwiSaver funds on permanently moving to Australia. Ronald wanted Retirement Riches to release his funds as advised or transfer his KiwiSaver to Dingo Dollars’ fund.

 

Retirement Riches’ position              

Retirement Riches could not recall the advice provided to Ronald in the phone call in September 2013. Retirement Riches believed they had advised their members of the change to the law before it happened and publicised the change in pamphlets and other information provided to Ronald and all other scheme members. 

Retirement Riches believed that even if the phone advice had been correct, Ronald still would have moved to Australia. Further, Retirement Riches could not control law changes and neither could they influence Dingo Dollars or other companies into accepting KiwiSaver transfers.

 

FSCL’s review

We investigated and found:

  • The law had changed in July 2013 and was therefore in place prior to the advice Ronald’s phone call for advice.  
  • Ronald likely would have moved to Australia for his new job even if he received correct advice at the time of the phone call.
  • Most Australian superannuation schemes, like Dingo Dollars are refusing to accept KiwiSaver transfers but there are a few superannuation schemes that accept transfers.

  

Outcome

We accepted that Retirement Riches could not do anything about the law change or influence Dingo Dollars into accepting the KiwiSaver transfer. We provided Ronald with the contact details for Platypus Pennies, a superannuation scheme that did accept KiwiSaver transfers. Ronald changed over to Platypus Pennies and once a member, Platypus Pennies and Retirement Riches worked out the transfer of Ronald’s KiwiSaver.

We considered that Retirement Riches should compensate Ronald for the inconvenience caused by the incorrect advice and having to change superannuation scheme providers. Retirement Riches paid $200 to Ronald.

 

Lesson

In July 2013, the law was changed for KiwiSaver transfers to Australia. You cannot withdraw your KiwiSaver after permanent emigration to Australia (as you can for all other countries) but your funds can be transferred to a complying Australian superannuation scheme. At present most Australian schemes are not accepting transfers but this is expected to improve over time. It is worth finding out if your Australian superannuation scheme accepts KiwiSaver transfers before signing up to become a member. 

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