Kiwi Saver, Mary Holm financial writer and columnist

  Independent and down to earth financial info you can trust
  from Mary Holm, New Zealand's most widely read investment writer

Archives

Read Mary's current Herald column on-line now, listen to recent radio broadcasts, or search the archives for previous subjects in her Herald and syndicated columns or broadcasts.


Investment Returns

The following is a selection of articles and radio broadcasts mainly from January 2005 to the present. To explore this topic in more depth and access earlier columns, please use the search box.

Articles

RNZ Radio 15 September 2016

Why I'm sticking with shares for the long term - despite recent research

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RNZ Radio 19 May 2016

KiwiSaver performance, and timing markets

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NZ Herald 15 February 2014

Q&As: KiwiSaver not quite so marvelous over several decades
- But it's still worth being in
- The "buy a home before travelling?" question varies with the circumstances

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NZ Herald 20 October 2012

Q&As: Reader's returns in the stratosphere
- Bach reading reveals very long-term data on gold prices
- To buy or not to buy when house prices look bubbly

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Syndicated column 6 October 2012 - Rental property beats shares - or does it?

At first it looked as if a recent article in the Reserve Bank Bulletin might help with the perennial question: Is it better to invest in property or shares? But no such luck!

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Syndicated column 7 April 2012 - Slow and steady not always the way to win

Slow and steady isn't always best when it comes to regular investing. We'll look at making annual investments, to keep it simple. But the same principle applies to contributing to KiwiSaver or other investments in which you make more frequent deposits of the same amount.

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NZ Herald 10 December 2011

Q&As: Three readers offer advice to early 60s couple looking for jobs - go and look around the country; check out motels; try a B&B
- AMP responds to a KiwiSaver's concerns about returns
- A Christmas message
- More letters from readers giving advice to couple seeking work

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NZ Herald 17 September 2011

Q&As: What a good ad about KiwiSaver growth should and shouldn't include
- Bank ad doesn't always quite work
- Should 65-year-old worker feel guilty about getting NZ Super?
- Missing pit in last week's picture
- 2 Q&As about KiwiSaver tax credits in the last year of receiving them

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Syndicated column 14 August 2010 - Turbulent times lead to confusing KiwiSaver returns

Confused KiwiSavers are asking some probing questions about the returns on their accounts, and I can't blame them.

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Syndicated column 19 June 2010 - Too good to be true - but it IS true

It sounds like a too good to be true scheme that's bound to end in tears: "Earn 36 to 56 per cent a year on a low-risk investment!" But there is such an investment, and it's called KiwiSaver.

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WHICH ASSETS ARE FOR YOU?

This week, Mary Holm's Q&A column is replaced by an excerpt from her latest book, "The Complete KiwiSaver". The principles she discusses here apply not just to KiwiSaver but to investing in general. Her Q&A column will resume next week.

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Syndicated column 30 June 2009 - How would you have done in financial knowledge survey?

It's question time. How would you have answered the following in a recent survey: "Which is generally considered to make you the most money over the next 15 to 20 years: a savings account, range of shares, range of fixed interest investments, or a cheque account?"

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NZ Herald June 20 2009

Q&As: No use crying over split milk: Investor can still make use of 10-year rule
Not all landlords have a dream run with their tenants
How KiwiSaver returns are boosted
Do KiwiSaver contributions need inflation-proofing, and if so, how?

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Syndicated column February 10 2008 - Young man's caution could be costly

A quote in a newspaper article recently caught my eye. "I guess in the next year or so it will be good to invest in equities (shares), but probably not yet," said a young man. My response to him: "Don't wait on the sidelines for the bottom of the market."

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Syndicated column October 25 2008 - Same rules for big and little savers

There's plenty for Joe and Joanne Saver to learn from two recent news items about the NZ Superannuation Fund, sometimes called the Cullen Fund. In short:

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NZ Herald April 5 2008

Q&As: The best KiwiSaver fund for a 23-year-old depends on her house-buying plans.
Angry Blue Chip investor muddles my opinion with a reader's opinion.
A reader suggests why online tax payments sometimes go wrong.

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NZ Herald March 8 2008

Q&As: A landlord's threats are perhaps a little hasty - but he has a point.
A KiwiSaver misunderstands the ups and downs of the market.
Are property shares a good option for young man saving to buy his first home?

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NZ Herald January 26 2008

Q&As: 3 Q&As about recent negative Herald articles about KiwiSaver returns in the early months - and why they are misleading. We also discuss how KiwiSaver membership forecasts are made - with an apology to Michael Cullen and Peter Dunne - and how repaying a mortgage fast is a type of saving.

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Syndicated column June 26 2007: KiwiSaver - be in to win

Ever since the government announced its added incentives to KiwiSaver last month, everyone is talking about the retirement savings scheme. And well they might.

While I still have reservations about the distortion of savings decisions, and while many employers are angry at being forced to contribute, practically all individuals will be better in than out.

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NZ Herald April 14 2007

Q&As: A tax on house sales, to subsidise first home owners, is a lovely idea that wouldn't work.
Renting and saving elsewhere can leave you better off than home ownership.
Semi-retired couple who sold their home and rent are probably doing fine.

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NZ Herald February 17 2007

Q&As: Is the Kiwi dollar to blame for poor overseas investment performance?
How foreign dividends will be dealt with under the new tax rules.
Where to go for historical foreign exchange data - for tax purposes.
A lionish company bites back.

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NZ Herald February 10 2007

Q&As: The warning signs in investment ads
Should we adjust investment returns to allow for inflation?
How best to assess long-term returns on shares and property
How to tell if an Australian company qualifies for the tax exemption

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NZ Herald February 3 2007

Q&As: Unlucky reader challenges the value of index funds.
Questions galore on the $50,000 threshold in the new international share tax regime.
How to get historical foreign exchange data for calculating that threshold.

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Syndicated column January 20 2007: It's the same old song

New data confirm the same old messages about share investing: hang in there, and diversify.

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NZ Herald January 20 2007

Q&As: Are index funds, which I recommend, inferior share fund investments, as Herald columnist Brian Gaynor claims?
A small New Zealand town has it all, a resident claims!

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NZ Herald December 2 2006

Q&As: A handy rule for quick money calculations
When an ice cream at the movies was a luxury
Insights into the life of a share investor hobbyist
It's hard to know what goes on behind charity closed doors

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NZ Herald November 25 2006

Q&As: Is it a good idea to go back to 100 per cent mortgage on rental and invest the money in a term deposit?
A reader supports gradually building up a share portfolio.
Another charity offers Christmas gifts for the needy on behalf of your friends and relatives.
Reader wants more info on charities before making gifts.
A Sydney minister's quick-witted response.
Prices then and now - and how houses fit into the picture.
Cathedral carvings show inflation is nothing new.
A reader's pie and doughnut confession.

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Holm Truths Spring 06

Mortgage moves: How you can make the big loans work better for you
Also in this issue: From the mailbox - Is it a good idea to increase your mortgage and invest the money elsewhere?

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Syndicated column November 21 2006: Look beyond the dividends

In share fund investing, keep your eye on the prize - the over-all return, not just the fees and dividends.

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NZ Herald November 18 2006

Q&As: Should we get bigger tax deductions for donations to charity? Also - give Christmas gifts to those who really need them.
Readers disagree over the price of a 1950s pie.
Buying shares company by company, over the years, not the best strategy.
Is the new proposed tax on international shares fair?

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NZ Herald November 11 2006

Q&As: What's happened to the price of pies over the years?
Would it be good for NZ if Inland Revenue was tougher on rental property capital gains?
When is "income" really "profit"?
Reluctant shareholders worry about their lack of power - How best to hold shares.

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Syndicated column November 7 2006: An exceptionally unlucky reader

International index funds, a favourite long-term investment of mine, don't look good to one reader.

"I bought about $2000 worth of WiNZ in 2000," he writes. "They are now 27 per cent lower (have been for quite a while). Fortunately for me it was not a huge amount.

"Twenty years is a long time to wait for the fund to claw its way back up. Hopefully all the investors in index funds can wait that long!"

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NZ Herald October 28 2006

Q&As: A reader finds a flaw in my "avoid the rear-view mirror" argument. Or does he?

Would NZ's tax revenue actually increase if we all invested offshore?
Inland Revenue says it can't fix everything at once.

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Syndicated column July 18 2006: Owning your home not always the best option

Most New Zealanders grow up expecting to own their own home, but soaring house prices have made it harder for people to get into the market. Does that matter? Is home ownership all it's cracked up to be?

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Syndicated column July 4 2006: A worrying prediction about the way share funds are run

A section in a submission to the government from Shareholders Association chairman Bruce Sheppard caught my eye.

Referring to proposed changes in the way share funds are taxed, he wrote: "The ability of NZ and Australian funds to trade without having to pay tax may well result in higher trading by institutions, as the active funds strive to differentiate their performance from the index by generating trading gains.

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NZ Herald July 1 2006

Q&As: Comparing NZ and other countries' taxes and lifestyles.
Several Q&As on government's tax proposals, including submissions info, Bruce Sheppard quotes and size of Grey List share markets.
A promise for a tax-change-free column next week!

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NZ Herald June 24 2006

Q&As: All on government tax proposals

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Syndicated column June 20 2006: Which index fund -- if any?

A reader asks which index fund to invest in. These days, though, we need to ask first whether any index fund is still a good idea.

Index funds invest in all the shares in a sharemarket index. For example, the TENZ fund invests in the ten biggest companies that make up the NZX 10 index.

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NZ Herald June 17 2006

Q&As: All on government's tax proposals

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NZ Herald June 10 2006

Q&As: All on government's tax proposals.

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Syndicated column June 6 2006: Bigger and better houses distort numbers

Readers keep sending in thought-provoking letters about the shares v rental property debate. It's central to the question of how to invest long-term savings, so it's worth continuing to explore the issues.

Today, excerpts from two letters:

"Your reader who commented on comparisons between housing price indexes and share market indexes has overlooked many points. Sometimes very large amounts are spent on home improvements without being considered when calculating house price increases.

"With new houses, a trend for larger houses...

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NZ Herald June 3 2006

Q&As: All on government's tax proposals.

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NZ Herald May 27 2006

Q&As: All on government's tax proposals.

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NZ Herald May 20 2006

Q&As: All on government's tax proposals.

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NZ Herald May 13 2006

Q&As: All on government tax proposals

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Syndicated column May 9 2006: Index distortion not what it seems

A reader's point about the ongoing shares v houses debate sounds fair enough.

"Your comparisons do not compare like with like," he writes, "because you are using an index for shares, which only covers some companies, whereas for housing, you are using the average over all houses."

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NZ Herald May 6 2006

Q&As: All on government's tax proposals

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NZ Herald April 29 2006

Q&As: All on government tax proposals

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Syndicated column April 25 2006: Shares easier than reader thinks

It's like a red rag to a bull. A paragraph in a reader's email started, "Without getting into the share v property argument..." But why not get into it? After all, it's at the very heart of most New Zealanders' thinking about long-term investment.

The reader, a mortgage broker, goes on to say, "I believe it is good for people to have a dabble in shares with spare cash but use property as their main retirement plan, even if they go hard out paying off just one rental property.

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NZ Herald April 22 2006

Q&As: All on government's tax proposals

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NZ Herald April 15 2006

Q&As: Attitudes to student loans.
Interest on student loans.
Fear and share investment.
Spending in retirement.

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Syndicated column April 11 2006: Another reason to spread your investments

I can think of three good reasons to hold lots of different shares, as opposed to one or just a few. Two reasons are obvious, but one is less so, even though it may be just as important.

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NZ Herald March 18 2006

Q&As: Man panicked and bailed out of share fund. No!
Real Estate Institute denies that it's hard to buy a house in NZ.

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NZ Herald February 18 2006

Q&As: Couple reluctant to sell their shares in a takeover.
Owning 19 shares is good, but it's too soon to judge performance.

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NZ Herald February 4 2006

Q&As: Man who has made $3 million from shares.
How much risk for a 53-year-old?
How good is advice from banks?

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Holm Truths summer 05-06

Can you get rich quick?: Only by taking big risks

Also in this issue: From the Mailbox - Spending in retirement

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Syndicated column December 13 2005: Can't see the forest for the houses? Also: Christmas shopping.

Quick question: Which of the following grew fastest in the last year: New Zealand house prices, New Zealand shares, hedged overseas shares (hedging removes the effects of foreign exchange movements), or unhedged overseas shares?

Surprise, surprise, it wasn't house prices. Bigger surprise still: house prices came last.

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NZ Herald November 19 2005

Q&As: How well do share funds perform?
Comparison of investment performances.

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NZ Herald November 5 2005

Q&As: Share funds v rental property.
Income splitting by the self-employed - is it OK?

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Syndicated column October 4 2005: A message that goes too far - Shares beat mixtures over long term

I take exception to a recent New York Times article entitled, "The long-term lesson: It pays to diversify". If you look hard at the numbers quoted by the writer, they show just the opposite.

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Syndicated column July 26 2005: Keeping financial advisers on their toes - good for the rest of us

A warning to financial advisers: You'd better give good, unbiased advice to your next new client. And the one after that. And the one after that. You never know which one might be a "mystery shopper" working undercover.

If you do serve a mystery shopper, they will report on a website whether the advice you gave "is truly in the best interests of the individual client" - something that Joe and Joanne Blow often find hard to judge.

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Syndicated column July 12 2005: Complexity of financial products no accident

Confirmation, at last, of what we've suspected all along: Providers of financial products may deliberately make them sound complicated.

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Syndicated column June 28 2005: Economist article about house prices should worry reader

I've just re-read an email from a reader, and it concerns me - especially in light of a recent Economist cover story.

The reader put $80,000 into two rental properties six years ago, and it has turned into $255,000, "with very little effort on our part."

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NZ Herald May 7 2005

Q&As: A letter to give a spouse who is mean with money.
Where to get info on interest rates.
Returns on share funds, and debt repayment.

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Syndicated column February 8 2005: Higher returns don't matter for the short term - they need time to work their magic.

There's more than one reason behind the old investment message that goes like this: If you need your money in just a few years invest your savings conservatively, but if you have a longer horizon take more risk.

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Syndicated column January 25 2005: How to cope with the topsy turvy share market

The value of worldwide shares in a certain industry grew more than 52 per cent in the year ending last October. Why didn't we hear more about it?

A clue might lie in the fact that the industry was information technology - infamous for its volatility.

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Holm Truths summer 04-05

Scattering the seeds: By diversifying, you reduce risk but not returns

Also in this issue: From the Mailbox - Some people over-save for retirement

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Holm Truths spring 04

Investor beware!: How to spot a rip-off or scam

Also in this issue: From the Mailbox - Plans for single mother of 41

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Holm Truths winter 04

3rd big question: When? - How should you time your investing?

Also in this issue: From the Mailbox - Where to invest while saving for a car

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Holm Truths summer 03-04

Time is Money: A basic principle that helps you understand investing

Also in this issue: Great Debate - Revolving credit v traditional mortgages

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Holm Truths winter 03

First things first: How much should you invest in bonds, shares, property and so on?

Also in this issue: Great Debate: NZ v international shares

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Holm Truths autumn 03

Emotions and investing: The way we feel affects our investing in ways we are not aware of

Also in this issue: Great Debate - Term deposits v corporate bonds

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Holm Truths spring 02

Don't bail out: Even when the market falls, stick with your long-term investments

Also in this issue: Great Debate - Trading v buy and hold

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Holm Truths winter 02

Getting into gear: Borrowing to invest makes a good investment better and a bad investment worse

Also in this issue: Great Debate - Fixed v floating mortgages

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