The $85 million Whai Rawa scheme has replaced Link with Mercer as administration provider ahead of a raft of changes to the Ngāi Tahu savings vehicle.
Mercer, which also manages the Whai Rawa money, takes over the scheme admin job from Link later this year. The back-office migration will coincide with a shift to a unitised system for the Whai Rawa scheme and the addition of portfolio choice for members.
Since inception Whai Rawa has operated a single conservative investment portfolio, managed by Mercer, with members attributed earnings by way of quarterly interest payments.
In 2017 the Ngāi Tahu-backed scheme tendered for a new investment offering including the potential to launch a KiwiSaver scheme. Despite dropping the KiwiSaver plan last year, the Whai Rawa board approved a move to expand investment choice, retaining Mercer as manager.
Fiona Pimm, Whai Rawa chair, said in a statement last week that “there are some important synergies and streamlining that can be advanced with Mercer as both our investment manager and administration manager, which is exciting for our members in the months and years ahead”.
The savings scheme, established 12 years ago, offers the South Island-based iwi members – which number in total almost 60,000 – matched contributions as well as the ability to withdraw funds for education, first home purchase, or retirement purposes.
However, less than half of the total iwi population has joined the generous Whai Rawa scheme, which has 26,500 members and $85.5 million, according to the latest figures.
Since Link assumed the admin role from Aon three years ago, Whai Rawa has 6,500 members and distributed over $10 million to members.
Martin Lewington, Mercer NZ chief, said in the release: “We see this as an exciting opportunity to work closely with Whai Rawa and the Board to deliver investment choice, introducing new and personalised digital experiences and tools to customise members’ savings while helping them achieve better retirement outcomes.”
Mercer is the largest corporate superannuation admin provider in NZ, servicing 30 funds (including two staff schemes) on behalf of 56,000 underlying members.
The group also administers more than 160,000 member accounts across the Mercer KiwiSaver and other in-house superannuation products. In 2016 Mercer lost its biggest external KiwiSaver and fund administration gig after Fisher Funds rationalised its then dual back-office systems under a single provider, Trustees Executors.