The KiwiSaver Gender Gap

We've all heard of the gender pay gap, but how many of you have heard about the gender KiwiSaver gap?

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Research conducted by the NZ Institute of Economic Research (NZIER) has found that the average KiwiSaver balance is 20% lower for women than it is for men. As of mid 2022, the average balance for men sat at $32,553, with the average balance for women sitting at $27,061. While a $5,000 difference doesn’t sound like much, by the time women reach 65, this gap could have grown by anywhere from $15,000 to over $300,000, depending on their industry, income, and maternity leave taken away from work.

What’s driving the gap?

There are a lot of reasons that this gap is so large, with the majority of them reflecting inequalities that women and other marginalised groups face in our society. The report attributed the women’s disadvantage to:

  • The gender pay gap, which is still sitting at 9.2%.
  • The 9.5% gap in labour force participation.
  • Women traditionally being more likely than men to take time off work to raise children.
  • Lower confidence levels and knowledge associated with investments and KiwiSaver.


Addressing the KiwiSaver gender gap is an important part of promoting financial equality and ensuring that everyone has access to a secure retirement. Although a lot of work needs to be done on the employer side (such as a greater focus on pay equity and further enhancement of maternity benefits), there are a few things that women can do to close this gap themselves – here are a few examples.

Ensure that you are in the right fund given your investment timeframe and risk preferences.

Being in the right fund, and particularly making sure that you’re investing aggressively enough for your timeframes, can go a long way to making sure that your KiwiSaver balances reach their full potential over time.

Costs are an important focus too – generally speaking, lower-cost funds will have a performance edge over the long term.

Ensure that you are contributing enough to receive the full government contribution.

If you’re self-employed, working part-time, or are on a lower income, check to make sure that you’re contributing enough to reach the $1,042.86 minimum member contribution to receive the full member tax credit of $521.43 per year.

For someone aged 30 today, the tax credit and minimum member contributions alone could be worth as much as $216,242 by retirement age.

Check that your tax rate is correct.

If the KiwiSaver scheme that you belong to is a portfolio investment entity (PIE) then your KiwiSaver income is taxed at your prescribed investor rate (PIR), which can either be 10.5%, 17.5%, or 28% depending on your individual circumstances. You should use the PIR rate calculator on the IRD website to determine your PIR and check that this matches. If the KiwiSaver scheme that you belong to is not a portfolio investment entity (PIE) then your KiwiSaver income is taxed at 28%.

Review your KiwiSaver on a regular basis.

Our lives are constantly changing, and it’s important that our KiwiSaver fund choice keeps up with those changes too. To ensure this it is important that you are reviewing your KiwiSaver on a regular basis. Here are a few examples of times in your life when you might want to think about your KiwiSaver fund choice or your contribution rate:

  • When you start a new job you should ensure that you are maximising your employer’s contribution match.
  • After you’ve purchased your first home you may want to look at switching to a more growth-focused fund. This is because you’re likely to have some time before retirement to weather any market fluctuations, meaning that the potential benefits of investing in a higher-growth fund may outweigh the potential risks.
  • As you get closer to retirement you may want to move to a lower-risk fund to give yourself some more certainty around your savings to help you plan for your retirement.


Seek professional advice

We understand that creating an appropriate strategy and managing your KiwiSaver can be a daunting task. If you would like professional advice to help you create a KiwiSaver strategy tailored to your situation then please get in touch and we’ll be more than happy to help you.

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