SavvyKiwi, the online KiwiSaver comparison tool, is starting to gain traction in both the employer and intermediary sector, according to founder, Binu Paul.
Since its launch in 2014, SavvyKiwi has targeted individual subscribers, financial intermediary firms and employers, with most of the growth coming in the latter market.
“With SavvyKiwi employer clients the main underlying common characteristic observed so far, is that they are all very employee-centric,” Paul said. “There is no particular pattern to the type of business either – there’s a mix from the media, communication, design and professional services sectors.”
He said employers also value SavvyKiwi’s independent stance, with no KiwiSaver providers, advisory firms or other third-parties influencing the research process.
“For example, currently one employer is considering getting out of their preferred provider arrangement and providing SavvyKiwi as an alternative,” Paul said. “On one hand, they won’t be perceived to be providing any advice or direction (via the preferred arrangement) and on the other, staff have access to information on every single KiwiSaver scheme rather than locking in to one provider.”
While employers provide a natural market for SavvyKiwi to expand into – particularly with most NZ firms no longer offering traditional superannuation schemes – he said corporates tend to take a long time to flick the switch.
Paul said the most recent employer to select SavvyKiwi – a well-known NZ brand with about 500 staff – took almost a year to make the sign-up decision.
“Invariably though with employers the one common question is ‘who pays for this?’ and they find it refreshing that the business doesn’t take any kickbacks.”
He said while some employers have chosen to make SavvyKiwi free for staff, others have provided a “hefty” partial subsidy to employees to access the system.
“It’s one of the cheapest staff benefit options they have,” Paul said.
Despite the automated nature of SavvyKiwi, which provides an online comparison of every publicly-available scheme across a number of metrics as well as educational tools, employers generally request Paul provide a face-to-face introduction to the service for staff.
“From SavvyKiwi’s perspective, these relationships give the ability to engage deeply with users,” he said. “Additionally, the leverage here is that each new business creates a pool of users who are engaged with their investment decisions and that SavvyKiwi has access to.”
As well as employers, Paul said a small, but growing, number of financial advisory firms have begun offering SavvyKiwi to clients for free – with “some reseller interest also emerging”.
“They would rather focus on their main advice business and provide educational and informed decision- making tools for KiwiSaver via SavvyKiwi,” he said.
Paul also has plans to expand the SavvyKiwi offering beyond the current KiwiSaver-only service.
“The platform is flexible for any other product or jurisdiction and has been built to scale accordingly,” he said. “We also took a mobile first strategy given trends in technology consumption of the investing public.”
SavvyKiwi may also benefit under the just-released Financial Adviser Act (FAA) review proposals, which green-lighted the use of automated financial advice systems in NZ.
As part of the new wave of financial technology – or ‘fintech’ – Paul is organising a conference in Auckland later this year to showcase local and international developments in the fast-changing field.
The SavvyKiwi ‘Finnotec 2016’ conference, slated for November 10, is targeting fund managers, financial advisers, business leaders and technology specialists, he said.
According to the Finnotec flyer released last week, the conference will address a range of subjects including how
“robo-advice, blockchain technology, predictive analytics for client engagement, [and] application of artificial intelligence” could impact financial services businesses.