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The impact of Covid-19 on global markets was the main determinant in the overall performance of the NZ Super Fund (“Fund”) for the 2019/20 financial year.

For the year ended 30 June the Fund posted a return of 1.73 percent and stood at $44.8 billion at year-end (after costs and before NZ tax). This financial result is unaudited and subject to finalisation through the normal end of year processes.

Markets recovered sharply after the turbulence in February and March when the Fund saw substantial declines following sharp downturns in global equity values. However, economic damage from restrictions and uncertainty about the path of infection continue to weigh on sentiment.

“Over the past financial year we have endured a profound and globally far-reaching crisis. It presented a hugely challenging environment that put the Fund’s resilience to the test,” says NZ Super Fund Chair Catherine Savage.

“As an organisation, we remain committed to staying true to our investment beliefs, our organisational values and focusing firmly on the long term.

“The most important thing for us amid the upheaval of the past few months has been to maintain our discipline as investors, remain systematic in our investment processes and consider the long-term implications of our decisions.

“Given the NZ Super Fund has a long-term horizon with no substantial withdrawals until the 2050s, the Fund’s portfolio is heavily weighted towards equities and with a market shock like Covid-19, we expect the value of the Fund to fall sharply. Yet we also expect the Fund to earn back these losses – and then some – in subsequent years as markets recover.”

The Fund underperformed its benchmark reference portfolio, which returned 3.82 percent for the year, by 2.08 percent*. Since inception in 2003 the Fund has returned 9.63 percent per annum, adding value of $7.75 billion over the benchmark reference portfolio.

Since inception Treasury Bills have returned 3.72 percent per annum, meaning that the Crown is $26.12 billion better off  than what could have achieved by paying down debt.

“In recent years we’ve been upfront about the potential for the Super Fund to suffer reductions in value when markets drop. That was clearly apparent in March when the Fund saw the second biggest monthly reduction in its history, of 12.27 percent,” says CEO Matt Whineray.

“We went into this period in a strong position. Our long-term horizon meant when risk sentiment was at its lowest we could lean into market opportunities via counter-cyclical strategies such as dynamic asset allocation and accessing stressed credit and funding markets, to take advantage of the corresponding recovery.  The Fund added significantly to its equity and credit positions as markets fell, and has progressively reduced those positions as markets have recovered.

“Through challenging investment and operational conditions, the team was able to deliver a strong result for the year. It highlighted the importance of sticking to our investment strategies, good governance and carefully managing our levels of liquidity.

“The low interest rate environment and constrained economic conditions point to a difficult period ahead, and the uncertainty in the economic outlook is reflected in continuing volatility in global markets. As always, we’re constantly reassessing what constitutes fair value for the various markets we operate in, so as to most effectively invest the Fund for the good of New Zealand. Market pricing indicates interest rates will remain very low for an extended period, meaning that expected returns on all assets are below our long run expectations.”

The NZ Super Fund 2019/20 annual report will be released in October 2020.

 

Since Inception

10 year

5 year

1 year

NZSF Return p.a.

9.63%

12.60%

8.52%

1.73%

Reference Portfolio Return p.a. (The passive benchmark)

8.42%

10.32%

7.52%

3.82%

Treasury Bill Return p.a. (The Government’s cost of funds)

3.72%

2.24%

1.73%

0.89%


*NB difference due to rounding

ENDS

Note to editors:
Fund performance figures are reported on a provisional basis and are subject to finalisation through normal end of year processes. All figures are reported after costs and before NZ tax.

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