The Medical Assurance Society (MAS) has appointed Public Trust as licensed supervisor for a new set of wholesale funds to be used by its KiwiSaver and superannuation funds.
MAS manages about $1.5 billion in total, split almost evenly between a traditional super fund and its KiwiSaver scheme.
In a statement, MAS says the new wholesale fund structures “will deliver operational efficiencies and cost savings for Plan members”.
MAS is by far the largest of the five restricted KiwiSaver providers, boasting about $750 million under management and more than 15,000 members. (The next biggest restricted KiwiSaver, Supereasy, which services local council employees, has about $280 million.)
Under changes introduced in 2010, all KiwiSaver schemes were required to appoint independent corporate trustees (now licensed supervisors). The move added a new layer of costs for many providers that had until then used related party trustee companies to oversee scheme investments.
However, the 2010 regulation exempted restricted schemes – or those with a limited, clearly-defined target membership – from the licensed supervisor duty. Restricted schemes, instead, must appoint a licensed independent trustee to their governing boards.
MAS has a reasonably wide target audience in the healthcare industry that includes many well-paid medical professionals.
In fact, the MAS KiwiSaver has one of the highest average member balances of about $48,000 as at March 31 last year, just behind the Craigs ($49,000) and Milford ($55,000) schemes.
While MAS holds an enviable position in the high-end niche, that market also has limited growth potential. Aside from the eight schemes that lost members during the 2018/19 financial year, MAS recorded the slowest KiwiSaver growth-rate of 1.4 per cent (or a net gain of 211 members).
With a licensed supervisor in place, MAS could potentially open up its KiwiSaver scheme to the wider public.. Since 2017, MAS has also progressively upped its responsible investment dosage – an area of increased attention in the KiwiSaver world.
MAS, which offers insurance, mortgages and other financial services to members is headed by Martin Stokes.
In an unrelated move, the overarching MAS entity is in the throes of restructuring as a charity under the MAS Foundation banner.
Officially formed last December, the tax-effective MAS Foundation will “contribute around $2 million each year in funding for health promotion, initiatives, education and research”, the group says.
MAS members approved the change in 2018. A release at the time said the shift “will be enabled by MAS’ tax exemption as a charity…
“The proposal will not in any way distract MAS from its core business of providing quality products and services to Members. The Charitable Trust will operate separately from MAS, so that MAS’ core business won’t be disrupted.”
The MAS Foundation is currently recruiting for a CEO, described as “both a strategic and operational role, which will suit a versatile and entrepreneurial ‘generalist’ who is passionate about health and equity in New Zealand”.
In December, the MAS charity named Jennifer Gill, former Foundation North chief, on the board along with Sharon Shea, Julia Ioane, Boyd Swinburn and Carrie Bryers.