Latest news

Fall in share prices no reason to panic

So far, 2022 has seen significant volatility in share markets, prompted initially by the prospect of interest rate rises in response to rising inflation rates. Russia's invasion of Ukraine unsettled markets further. If you’re invested in a fund with an exposure to growth assets, you will have seen your balance reduce since the beginning of the year. This, in itself, is no cause for alarm. In most cases, the best course of action will be to do nothing. This article from our investment manager Mercer explains what’s behind the current market volatility and provides information to help you in your decision making.

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Quarterly investment review

A review New Zealand and international markets for the three months ended 31 March 2022 from our investment manager, Mercer. Read more

PSS investments in Russia

The scheme’s directors have been in close contact with our investment manager Mercer since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. As you know, the war has added significantly to recent market volatility. Russia is a major energy provider and international sanctions have seen global oil and gas prices rise markedly. These price movements, if sustained, will flow through to rising inflation and slower economic growth. These sanctions have also seen a sharp decline in the value of Russian assets.

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New higher-risk/higher-return investment option

We have introduced a fund for members who are prepared to tolerate higher volatility in exchange for higher long-term expected returns. The new option called High Growth invests 95% in shares with a 5% allocation to cash for liquidity management purposes. We’ve introduced High Growth in response to interest from members in a more aggressive investment option. It does not express a view that the directors believe now is a good (or bad) time to invest predominantly in shares.

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Mercer targets greenhouse gas emissions

Our investment manager Mercer New Zealand has committed to a target for its investment funds of net-zero absolute carbon emissions by 2050. Net-zero means that any greenhouse gas emissions are offset by investments and activities that remove carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere. To achieve its goal, Mercer expects to reduce portfolio carbon emissions by 45% from 2020 levels by 2030. Mercer aims to make the transition without sacrificing returns to members. The net-zero target aligns with the goals of the Paris Agreement. This international treaty on climate change was agreed in 2015. Its goal is to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels.

Government's First Home Grant available to PSS members

Check out the government's First Home Grant if you're looking to buy your first home. To qualify for a First Home Grant you'll need to have been contributing to the PSS (or a KiwiSaver scheme or complying superannuation fund) for three years or more. The grant is administered by Kāinga Ora and does not come out of your PSS funds. You do not have to pay back the grant in most circumstances. Grants are subject to price caps, which vary geographically, and income caps.

Find out more about the First Home Grant.

A registered charge will slow benefit payments

As you know, you can use your savings as security for a loan with the Police and Families Credit Union or other lender. If you do, a charge is registered against your account. This gives the lender the option of having any outstanding balance repaid at the time you make a withdrawal from the scheme. When you apply for a benefit, Mercer contacts the lender. The lender assesses the security of the loan and either authorises Mercer to process the payment or contacts you if an amount needs to be repaid or retained in your account as security. If there’s a charge against your account, Mercer needs to follow this process whether or not you have repaid the loan. Expect your payment to be delayed by up to a week while the charge matter gets sorted.

Proof of bank details required for benefit payments

We can only pay benefits into an account in your name. This means we cannot pay benefits into family trust accounts, business accounts or accounts in someone else’s name. That’s why we need to ask for supporting evidence of your bank account details when you make a withdrawal, and it also helps prevent a slip-up in transcribing your account number. The evidence needs to show the name the account is in and the bank account number. The simplest way is to take a screenshot from your internet banking or a photocopy of the top of a bank statement or ask your bank to print and sign a verification of account slip. Once Mercer has this information on file, you won’t need to provide it again unless you change your account. This extra step is designed to help protect members against fraud. It’s also required by our auditor.