KiwiSaver

Milford – understanding the problem

So then, the NZ Super Fund dropped a nuclear bomb on the NZ financial markets late last week, by suspending Milford Asset Management from overseeing funds on behalf of the NZ public. This can only been seen as bad news for Milford as the FMA is due to report back on their enquiries soon. Clearly, the NZ Super Fund are expecting bad news for Milford.

We have also been forwarded a “panic stations” email from Milford to their clients, outlining how the allegations do not affect KiwiSaver funds. While this may be the case, there may yet be questions to answer on pumped up performance fees charged to Milford clients (which might also include their Kiwisaver clients), as the allegations over asset manipulation may have meant fund managers got extra money, paid for by their clients.

There are however, a number of things that need to be pointed out and deserve reinforcement.

Firstly Milford have claimed in a number of communications to the press that the investigations over asset manipulation relate to an “individual trader” at Milford, over “specific trades”.

This is misleading on Milford’s part. They do not employ anyone called a “trader”.  You can go see for yourself. Click through the various divisions of Milford to see all their staff members. No-one is called a trader. They do have a “dealer”, but this person only joined Milford in November of last year, well after the alleged manipulation took place.

What they are trying to mislead the public over is that the allegations may in fact apply to a Portfolio Manager, or perhaps a Private Wealth adviser. This changes the story materially. Portfolio managers or Private wealth advisers are big fish. They are the kinds of people who would give instructions on which shares, bonds and other financial products should belong in either an individual portfolio, or a large fund. They also stand to benefit from performance gains in portfolios with outperformance fees.   Read more »

Herald continues to keeps Milford columnist when NZ Super suspends them

gaynor

Yet again, Brian Gaynor of the besieged financial firm Milford Asset Management has his weekly column published in the NZ Herald, despite the NZ Super Fund taking the unprecedented step of suspending Milford from running any investment mandates for them.

You will recall the FMA is investigating Milford Asset Management staff and transactions for alleged manipulation of share prices for their fund and personal gain.    Read more »

Milford Asset Management are blaming “the web guy” – not taking responsibility

Milford Asset Management says it has contacted other KiwiSaver fund managers to explain an “inadvertent breach of conventions” in Google search terms used for marketing purposes.

This comes after rival fund manager Fisher Funds lodged a complaint about Milford’s use of its brand in a so-called “ambush marketing” campaign where it used other KiwiSaver providers’ names to try to attract potential customers to its own website by paying for search words.

Hence, when someone typed “Fisher kiwisaver” into Google, an ad for “Milford Fisher KiwiSaver” topped the search list with a link to the Milford website.

“It has never been our intention to use such tactics in our marketing,” Milford managing director Anthony Quirk said today.

Except that you were.   And this is yet another incident in Milford Asset Management’s murky existence.  You have to love it – a business that depends on trust more than most, and they simply don’t appear to care unless they’re caught.   Read more »

A win for the Whale…Milford pulls its ambush marketing

Weekend readers will have read the article covering the unethical behaviour of Milford Asset Manipulator’s ambush marketing of its competitors here.

The Whaleoil army can wave a victory flag this afternoon.

Milford Asset Manipulators have pulled all their Google ads where they attempted to manipulate the public into clicking into their link.

NBR is reporting:

Milford Asset Management’s woes continue as a rival fund manager lodges a fresh complaint to the FMA about ambush marketing of KiwiSaver services.

Fisher Funds boss Carmel Fisher says she is disgusted at Milford’s apparent deliberate misuse of the Fisher brand name through a Google AdWords marketing campaign.

Milford appears to have used the Fisher name to try to attract potential customers to its own website by paying for search words.

Hence, when someone typed “Fisher kiwisaver” into Google, an ad for “Milford Fisher Kiwisaver” topped the search list with a link to the Milford website.

Similar outcomes were experienced for fellow providers Generate and ANZ’s OneAnswer KiwiSaver scheme.

Milford has pulled the campaign, which was highlighted by Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil blog yesterday.    Read more »

More unethical behaviour from Milford Asset Murkiness

The tip line is running hot with financial industry people contacting us with snippets of unethical practices by Milford Asset Murkiness, excuse me, Management. Thank you for the tips – we are working to ensure the FMA is made aware of some of the alleged behaviour of Milford.

One of the more intriguing tipoffs is the proven ambush marketing Milford are engaging in with paid Google search.

There is widespread abuse by Milford in ambush marketing using Google search. This is where they use the name of one of their competitors in their own paid search result to try and confuse the person searching about Kiwisaver.

For example, one of the smaller but fast growing Kiwisaver funds operators is a firm called Generate. I’ve never heard of them before now, but they’re obviously getting some traction as they’ve won some awards recently. But tellingly, they are the victim of Milford’s ambush marketing.

If you go to Google and search for “Generate Kiwisaver”, the first link that comes up is an ad for Milford. That’s not surprising, companies will often invest heavily in making sure their own name comes up ahead of competitors in Google searches relevant to their industry.

But what the Milford Ad says is very interesting and raises questions about their ethics.

Apparently, they call themselves in their ad “Milford Generate Kiwisaver”.

unnamed-8 Read more »

Michael Cullen’s only legacy crumbles to dust

Cullen was generally regarded as a steady steward of the nation’s funds, although many who said so conveniently ignored the fact he did so during an economic boom time when he had no idea what to do with all the money coming out of the tax payer fountain.

Upon his departure, the purchase of KiwiRail at the blunt end of $2B was as cynical as it was an act of sabotage.

But all through this period, and until recently, people still thought kindly of him when talking about KiwiSaver.

That myth just fell apart too.

KiwiSaver tax credits cost more than $800 million a year but careful analysis by Treasury economists of the best data we have on household finances can find no evidence it has boosted the accumulation of wealth, a key objective of the scheme.

Research by David Law and Grant Scobie published by the Treasury examined data from Statistics New Zealand’s longitudinal Survey of Family, Income and Employment (SoFIE).

Their first look at SoFIE found that between 2008 (the first “wave” of data after KiwiSaver was introduced in 2007) and 2010 (the last before it was discontinued) both members and non-members of KiwiSaver increased their savings, defined as net wealth or assets minus liabilities.

But non-members fared better than members, averaging an increase of $32,000 or twice that recorded by KiwiSaver members.

In English – people who avoided KiwiSaver and made their own arrangements are better off than the state-run semi-compulsory scheme that was supposed to save us (heh) from ourselves. Read more »

Bill Ralston says Labour’s Tax Policy is like genital herpes

Bill Ralston accurately sums up Labour’s financial plans.

There doesn’t seem to be much hope in the pronouncements from Labour on what it would do to restore my fortunes. It seems determined to reduce the amount of disposable cash in my pocket.

David Parker wants to give the Reserve Bank the power to pump up my KiwiSaver contributions, which he’ll make compulsory. Yes, I know that means I’m saving, but I can’t touch it till I’m retired and the amount of money I have to live on weekly in the meantime is reduced further.

Labour seems obsessed with getting the Kiwi dollar reduced dramatically in value, but it occurs to me that would mean I’d be paying more for imported goods and inflation would go up, leading to less money in the wallet.  Read more »

Labour won’t come clean on their ‘big tool’ policy

Yesterday Audrey Young wrote about Labour’s new ‘big tool’ and Labour’s refusal to provide figures.

Labour is refusing National’s challenge to provide estimates of how much an increase in the KiwiSaver saving rate would be needed to prevent a 1 per cent rise in interest rate rises through the official cash rate.

Labour finance spokesman David Parker said the call to provide such a figure was part of a “narrow little game”and he was not going to play it.

Unfortunately David Parker is dead wrong. you can’t launch a policy then refuse to outline details of the policy when voters ask for details.

That isn’t a policy, it is slogan and about as deep as a bumper sticker.

To make matters worse the associate spokesman, Trevor Mallard, is issuing made up details from the ‘back of an envelope’.

Mr Mallard last week tweeted that according to his “back of the envelope”calculations, a 0.5 per cent lift in the KiwiSaver rate would equate to $187.5 million a year. That would compare to $210 million a year for a 0.25 per cent mortgage rate increase by the banks.   Read more »

Has Metiria Turei taken her pecuniary interests declaration seriously?

Has Metiria Turei taken her responsibilities regarding disclosure to the pecuniary interests register seriously?

Turei

She calls her house a castle (ok, ha ha) but she also says she holds shares in Comvita New Zealand Limited.

Comvita New Zealand Limited is wholly owned by Comvita Limited so it is 100% unlikely that Metiria has shares in  it.

In fact she has misled in her declaration to Parliament.   Read more »

Labour needs to tell the truth about their new ‘big tool’

Steven Joyce has called out Labour and David Parker for not even knowing basic details about how their new ‘big tool’ will work and how it will affect the take home pay of Kiwisaver victims affected by their policy.

The Government and its political allies have gone on the attack over Labour’s ground-breaking interest rates and savings policy, after signs the plan was getting traction with commentators and the public.

Widely regarded as perhaps Labour’s strongest policy package in some time, the Government was initially dismissive, but chose not to engage on the specifics of the plan to vary employees’ KiwiSaver contributions within a band of about 8 to 10 per cent, as a substitute for some Reserve Bank interest rate movements when fighting inflation.

Labour argues increasing KiwiSaver contributions to fight inflation would cool the economy by diverting a portion of households’ cash into savings rather than into higher interest payments.

Avoiding some interest rate hikes when fighting inflation would help prevent the dollar rising to levels that damaged export earnings and jobs.

But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, one of National’s key political strategists, this morning suggested the policy was no more than half baked and it would take massive increases in contributions to have a meaningful effect on interest rates.

Mr Joyce said Labour’s finance spokesman David Parker had been unable this morning to this morning to “answer a simple question today on how much KiwiSaver contributions would have to go up for wage and salary earners in order to stop a 1 per cent rise in interest rates”.

“Surely you must be able to answer that question. If you can’t, it’s not a policy, it’s not even an idea, it’s just a David Parker thought bubble.

“It’s simply not thought through,” Mr Joyce said.    Read more »