Sharesies (Beta) – How does it stack up to SuperLife and SmartShares on ETF Investing

(This is a repost from thesmartandlazy.com, originally published on 26 June 2017.)

Sharesies started rolling out their trial run (a.k.a beta) investments options a couple of weeks ago. I got their invitation recently and checked out their offering. Sharesies is currently offering six SmartShares ETFs for their investors including NZ Top 50, AUS Top 20, US 500, NZ Bond, NZ Property and AUS Resources. You can check out their current offers here.

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What is Sharesies

Sharesies is a New Zealand financial start-up company supported by Kiwibank Fintech Accelerator. They are an investment platform where users can make investments with small amounts of money. Their mission is to make investment fun, easy and affordable.

The main selling point of Sharesies is that by paying a $30 annual fee an investor can invest into multiple investments with the minimum at just $5. Also, there is a $20 credit for the early Beta investor.

Invest $5 into ETF

By comparison, SmartShares ETF’s initial investment is $500, set up cost is $30/ETF and monthly contribution minimum is $50. So Sharesies is a great way for beginner investors to invest a small amount into many low-cost, diversified ETFs. It bypasses the $500 initial investment and $30 set up fee with each ETFs.

On the other hand, SuperLife also offers the same ETF in their investment fund with a different management cost. You can check out the detailed comparison here.

While Superlife also doesn’t require initial investment and the minimum contribution can be just $1. How does Sharesies stack up to SuperLife and SmartShares on ETF investing?

Sharesies vs SuperLife & SmartShares

I’ve picked two popular ETF, NZ Top 50 and US 500, to run an analysis for 60 months (5 years). The analysis will compare the results on different contribution level(low and high contribution) for all three services. The low contribution will be at Sharesies minimum requirement, $30 initial investment (for the annual admin fee), $20/month contribution (about $5/week); The high contribution will be at SmartShares minimum requirement, $500 initial on each ETF, $50/month conditions.

NZ Top 50 ETF at low contribution

Here are the fee structures on the ETFs:

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This is the amount of low contribution and expected return:

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So Sharesies have a higher admin fee ($30) and ETF management cost (0.50%), so its expenses should be higher then Superlife NZ top 50 ETF. Since Sharesies are aiming for beginner investors, I put around $5/week as a low-level contribution. The $30 initial investment cost is to cover Sharesies annual fee. Smartshares will not be included in this analysis as the investment amount is too low.

Here is the investment return each year:

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Superlife did better as it has a lower management fee and admin fee resulting in a higher return for the customer. The 5-years different is $135.81, 8.4%.

NZ Top 50 ETF at high contribution

This is with a higher contribution and expected return:

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We increased the contribution to $50/month, put $500 as an initial investment and include SmartShares into the mix.

Here is the investment return each year:

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SmartShares came out on top despite the fact that they have a higher management cost. The main reason is that Smartshares don’t have an annual admin fee while Superlife charges $1/month. However, if you wish to cash out those Smartshares at this stage, it will cost you at least $30.

The difference between SmartShares and Sharesies is $163.34, 3.3%. Although both services have the same management cost, Sharesies charge $30/year admin fee which brings down the balance.

US 500 ETF at low contribution

Here is the fee structure on US 500 ETF:

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This is the amount of low contribution and expected return:

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This is more interesting as Sharesies have a lower management (0.31%) cost compared to Superlife (0.44%).

Here is the investment return each year:

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Due to the smaller holding, the lower management cost (0.35%) did not cover the higher annual fee ($30) with Sharesies. Superlife holding was $122.28 more than Sharesies in year 5, 8.1%.

US 500 ETF at high contribution

This is the amount of high contribution and expected return:

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Now we will do the same thing by increasing the investment to Smartshares minimum requirement.

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SmartShares USF came out on top with no annual fee and lower management cost. The different between SmartShares and Sharesies at year 5 is $154.75, 3.3%. The difference from Superlife is $41.5, 0.9%.

In both scenarios investors with a low contribution level are better with SuperLife. If you have $500 and $50/month to invest, SmartShares is the cheaper way. (Although I will suggest going with Superlife on NZ top 50. I’ve already covered that in another post)

How about portfolio building?

Since Sharesies investors can bypass SmartShares setup fee and initial investment requirement Sharesies is actually a great tool to build a simple portfolio. I will use US 500 ETF, NZ Top 50 ETF and NZ Bond ETF to build a portfolio.

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Here is a balanced portfolio you can easily build with Sharesies. 25% NZ Bond, 37.5% US 500 and 37.5% NZ Top 50. If we keep the low contribution at $20/month, you can put $5 in NZ Bond, $7.5 in US 500 and $7.5 in NZ Top 50.

If you wish to set up something similar in SmartShares, you will have to spend $30 x 3 =$90 on set up fees, at least $500 x 3 = $1500 initial investment and $50 x 3 = $150/month contribution. Not feasible at all.

SuperLife, on the other hand, as my best pick for portfolio builder in New Zealand can easily build the same portfolio. Let’s check out the cost difference:

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Here are the contributions and return:

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Here is the investment return each year:

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Superlife still edged out at year 5 with $123.15 more, 8.2%. I didn’t do a high contribution comparison here because SmartShares are really not for for portfolio building.

Conclusion

Based on the analysis, SuperLife is still the better choice on low contribution and most of the high contribution (except US 500 ETF) regarding cost. However, I still think Sharesies is doing something good here.

Sharesies is promoting to young Kiwis who never invested before by providing a straightforward and easy-to-use app. The sign-up process is simple and painless. The interface is robust and delightful. They’ve done an excellent job on explaining each investment options to beginner investment and make it accessible. Check out the screenshots below.

I don’t mind about the $30 admin fee if that what’s it take for a newbie to start investing for their future. I’ve been telling readers to spend $12/year on Superlife as they have a better user interface and functions over SmartShares. Sharesies interface and user experience are way better than both of them. They made investing as easy as shopping online, which should bring a lot of people into the world of investing.

Sharesies are still in beta, so there are some functions are missing, like reinvest and auto allocation. I am sure Sharesies will continue to improve on their functions and bring in more investment options. Hopefully more companies like Sharesies will pop up in New Zealand to bring more people into investing.

More investors, increase the market size, lower the cost!

Email thesmartandlazy@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @thesmartandlazy if you have any questions.

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Compare ETF Fund Cost between Superlife and Smartshares

(This is a repost from thesmartandlazy.com. Published on June 8, 2017)

Recently SuperLife and SmartShares lower the management fee on four ETFs. So it’s time to update the ETF cost comparison. Also, I am changing my initial recommendation on starting your investment with SmartShares then switch to SuperLife.

Cost update

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Both Superlife and SmartShares lower their cost on Total World, Europe, Asia Pacific and Emerging Markets ETF. The reason was Vanguard reduce their underlying fee, so SuperLife and SmartShares passed on the cost saving to its customer.

Should you start with SmartShare?

In the past, I recommended to start your ETF investment with SmartShares then switch to Superlife when the fund hit a certain amount. The main reason was Superlife charge a $12/year admin fee, it will cost more in term of percentage for beginners with a small amount of investment. However, that calculation ignored the $30 one-off initial fee, the cost of setting up extra funds with SmartShares and the exit cost.

Let’s look the following example for an investor started NZ Top 50 ETF with $500 initial investment and $50/month contribution for 5 years. NZ Top 50 ETF 5 years annualised return is 16.49%. I’ve put it in a simple simulation to compare investment between SuperLife and SmartSharesand for 5 years.

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SmartShaers started with $30 less due to the setup fee. That $30 initial different made Smartshares cost more for that first 3 years, (38 months to be exact). By the end of the 5 years, the different between Superlife and Smartshares is only $24.09. That’s about 2 years of SuperLife admin fees and represent about 0.44% of your holding. That percentage will decrease if we increase the investment amount. So, there are some saving with Smartshare, but the saving is insignificant.

Also, there are some other benefits with SuperLife.

  • Better user interface compare to Link Market Service
  • Easy to switch fund with no cost
  • No setup cost for new fund
  • More fund options included sector fund and passively managed fund
  • No withdrawal cost

Personally, I think those benefit worth that $12/year with Superlife.

My Recommendation

If you wish to invest in S&P500 ETF, NZ Cash ETF and Emerging Market ETF, start with SmartShares because their management fee is still lower than SuperLife.

For any other ETF, just go and join SuperLife. You will be much better off.

If you are currently holding SmartShares ETF and want to switch to SuperLife. There is a way to switch without open a brokage account and pay $30 to sell your Smartshare. However, you will have to email me on that.

Email thesmartandlazy@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @thesmartandlazy if you have any questions.

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The Best way to start your investment as beginner in New Zealand

(This is a repost from thesmartandlazy.com, published on May 31, 2017)

You may already know you need to start investing for your future, but you have no idea where to start. There are so many options out there like the sharemarket, investment property, P2P lending, the bond market, active and passive fund, etc. You have no idea which one is the best for you.

Well, I don’t know what is best for you because everyone’s situation is different. However, I think it’s better to start somewhere rather than sit here and do nothing. People say, “you need time in the market, not timing the market” or “The earlier you start the better”. I believe both of them are true. So, here is my suggestion on where to start your investment.

What you need to do before you start investing

Before you jump into the world of investing, you need to have a solid financial foundation. Here is what you should do.

  1. Pay off your consumer debt like credit card balances, personal loans, store credit, overdrafts and hire purchases. It doesn’t make sense to chase for 6-7% return on investment while paying 19-22% interest on your credit card debt.
  2. Join KiwiSaver. KiwiSaver is one of the best investments available in New Zealand because of the employer contribution and member tax credit. You will have an instant risk-free return on your investment.
  3. Set up an emergency fund for 3-6 months of living expenses. This fund will help you to deal with any unexpected situations, so you’re not forced to cash out your investment, especially during a market downturn
  4. Live on less than you make. Naturally, no one can become successful with their money without first learning how to live on less than they make. Where will you get the money to invest if you live paycheck to paycheck?

Better to start with a plan, however…

You should have a plan for your money before you start investing. Failing to plan is planning to fail, right? That why in my previous post I said the first thing you’ll need to work out is how long can you leave the money in the investment? Or how long before you will need to use that money?

On the other hand, I know how hard it is to come up with a plan when you don’t understand most of the investment terms. It’s hard to learn something from the outside when you don’t have personal experience. You may be afraid you will make a mistake and lose your hard-earned money.

I also understand how busy life is and how lazy we are (Well, at least how lazy I am). It took me six months to finally put down some cash into an investment. I kept making ‘plans’ and doing ‘research’ for my investments (actually I’ve been putting it off because I am lazy).

I started looking into investment strategies on the Internet in April, but I looked around without making any decisions for 4 months. I remember I found out about Smartshares and SuperLife and decided an index fund is the way to go in August, but it still took me two more months to pick which fund or ETF to invest in. Who knows if that is analysis paralysis or just laziness paralysis?

It may be just me, but I know lots of people are in the same boat, especially the beginners. You know you need it start investing, but you don’t have a complete plan yet. So you wait. To those people, hear me out!

If you don’t have a plan, just start without one.

Start small and start early

I am not talking about putting in your life saving without a plan. I suggest you dip your toe in the water.  Just put under $500 into an investment and get it started. TODAY!

That small amount of cash should not affect your financial situation (if that is a problem, you should make sure you have a solid financial foundation). You should be able to move it quickly to start a small investment. You may not even care if you lost it, so you don’t need a plan for that small initial investment. You can put it in almost any fund as the start of your investment.

The most important thing is to get you started on something. Once you dip your toe in the water, you’ll have a personal stake in the investment. Looking at the value go up or down will motivate you to know more about investment. It will help you put together a plan for your investment.

Best way to start – SuperLife

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SuperLife provides 40+ different passive investment fund to New Zealander. They also offer superannuation, KiwiSaver, and insurance solutions. They are great for beginner to start because:

  • No minimum investment requirement – You can invest by making regular or lump sum payments to the scheme at any time. There is no minimum contribution amount.
  • Passive Index Fund – All investment fund with SuperLife are passive index funds. They either invest in a fund designed to track an index or in a number of assets for the long term. It is a cost-effective and diversified investment opinion with a proven result.
  • Low cost – The annual admin fee is $12/year (or $30/year if you want paper documents) which covers all fund in SuperLife. The management cost on each fund is around 0.39% – 0.94%, fees for the most popular funds is around 0.49%.  SuperLife’s fees are relatively low in New Zealand standard(2nd lowest in the country), and some aggressive funds and sector funds have the lowest cost in New Zealand. There is no joining fee, exit fee, and no cost for you add/close/or switch funds.
  • Flexible – SuperLife provides 40 different investment products on managed fund, sector fund and ETF. An investor can invest in a single fund or multiple funds with their own asset allocation. You can switch fund allocation on SuperLife website.
  • Web Site and App – Investors can log onto SuperLife website to check the performance and value of their holding. They’ve also got an iOS and Android App for that.
  • Simple Tax – SuperLife’s investment fund is a portfolio investment entity (PIE). The amount of tax you pay is based on your prescribed investor rate (PIR). SuperLife will pay the tax from your holding, and you don’t need to manage your tax return.
  • Lots of functions – Investors can make lump sum investments or regular contributions with direct debit from their bank account. You can organise your portfolio and allocation your contribution into different funds based on your preferred percentage. SuperLife can auto rebalance your portfolio, which is a great tool for the investor who wants to build a portfolio with their own asset allocation. It can also reinvest your dividends.
  • Owned by New Zealand Stock Exchange –  NZX is New Zealand stock market operator. They 100% own SuperLife. In my opinion, this makes SuperLife a very safe company.

Start with Index Fund

For those who don’t have a plan and want to start small and test it out, here are a couple Funds/ETF in Superlife I think are ideal for beginners.
SuperLife Age Step: This is a managed portfolio invested in multiple Vanguard ETF in both income and growth assets. The ratio between income and growth assets depends on your age. When you are young, over 90% of that portfolio is invested in growth assets (shares and property). It will increase the ratio of income assets (Bond and fixed income assets) as you age. If you join at 28 years old, 80% will be in growth assets, and 20% will be in income assets. On the other hand, if you join at 58, 60.5% will be in growth assets, 30% in income assets and 9.5% in cash.  This is a great fund to start especially if you aim for retirement. You can basically set it up and forget about it for decades. The management fees are 0.45%-0.52%.
NZ Top 50 ETF: This growth asset ETF is the same as FNZ from SmartShares. They invest in financial products listed on the NZX Main Board and is designed to track the return on the S&P/NZX 50 Portfolio Index. You are basically investing in the 50 biggest companies on New Zealand Stock Market. The concept is simple and easy to understand, so this is a great starting point for beginners. One disadvantage is this ETF is not as diversified as others because it is only invested in 50 companies in one country while other funds invest in between 100 to 7000+ companies all over the world. On the other hand, investors can take the tax advantage on local investing. You only need to pay tax on dividends and no tax on capital gain. The management fee is 0.49%.
Overseas Shares (Currency Hedged) Fund: This growth asset fund invests in shares in major stock markets all over the world via the Vanguard ETF. The number of companies included is over 7000. This fund is currency hedged, which reduces the currency fluctuations and exchange rate risk on the fund. The management fee is 0.48%.

Conclusion

  • Make sure you have a good financial foundation before you start investing. Clear your consumer debt, Join KiwiSaver, have an Emergency Fund and live on less than you make.
  • Best to start with a plan
  • If you don’t have a plan, start small while you make your plan.
  • The hardest part is getting started. By starting small, you make the first step so much easier.
  • SuperLife is the best place to start your investment in my opinion because there is no initial requirement, and it is diversified, low-cost, flexible and straightforward.
  • If you have no idea what fund to invest in, consider SuperLife Age Step, NZ top 50 ETF and Overseas Shares (Currency Hedged) Fund
  • Start small and START NOW!

Email thesmartandlazy@gmail.com or follow me on Twitter @thesmartandlazy if you have any questions.