KiwiSaver officially breached the 3 million-member mark in November, Inland Revenue Department (IRD) figures confirm.
The IRD statistics show KiwiSaver membership grew by a net 7,040 in November, tipping the quasi-compulsory savings regime just above the 3 million level.
Following the latest burst of growth, KiwiSaver has captured about 60 per cent of the total NZ population, which was pushing 5 million as at the end of September last year.
Since November 2018 KiwiSaver has seen a net membership increase of more than 93,000, equating to an almost 3.2 per cent growth rate.
During the annual period to end November last year, monthly membership growth mostly hovered between 7,000 and 9,000 as the market continued along the slow-and-steady path of recent years.
Most other IRD metrics also show KiwiSaver ticking along undisturbed with November scheme transfers (11,334 members) and account closures (largely due to retirement) on trend.
But November 2019 did see a record amount of withdrawals (by dollar amount) under the first home loophole as 3831 members drained a collective $110 million from their accounts to fund property purchases.
First home withdrawals combined with financial hardship payments of $9 million (about average for the year) totaled over $120 million in the month, bettering the previous record of almost $115 million set last May.
Over the 12 months to the end of November almost $1.2 billion left the KiwiSaver system by the first home and hardship routes – or about 2 per cent of the roughly $60 billion currently in the scheme.
While 2019 may have been relatively tranquil for the KiwiSaver market a number of disruptions loom on the horizon including changes to the default provider rules. The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is due to table final draft proposals for default providers after publishing a discussion document last August.
Providers are also set to face further pressure on fees as the Financial Markets Authority digs deeper into the value-for-money question.
Regardless, the number of KiwiSaver schemes looks likely to increase further in 2020 with at least two new providers understood to be in the wings. Last year a pair of fresh KiwiSaver providers – Koura Wealth and the Pathfinder-backed CareSaver – entered the fray, increasing the scheme numbers to 33 after a period of consolidation in the market.