Feb 22 2024

How do you know you’re in the right investment fund?

One of the great things about workplace savings schemes is that they help you grow a tidy nest egg over time without lifting a finger. Each payday, a set amount is deposited in one or more of the scheme’s investment funds where it’s put to work on your behalf before you even see it. Since it’s a long-term investment, most people don’t even need to think about it much day-to-day.

Do you know what fund or fund you're currently invested in?
If the answer’s no – in fact, even if it’s yes – it might be worth putting your hands back on the wheel, just for a minute. Because it really does pay (literally!) to make sure you’re in the right investment fund for your particular situation.

It’s equally important to remember that the best fund for you right now might not be the same ten years down the road, which is why it’s a good idea to check in on your investments every now and then. Once a year, at least.

For starters, it helps to understand what the different fund options are. Typically, investment funds fall under one of the following categories, depending on the mix of assets they invest in:

Defensive funds, such as the Lifetime Cash Fund, are designed to preserve money, so they tend to invest in low-risk assets like cash and bonds. Capital (i.e. money) growth is relatively low compared to funds that invest in shares, but the chance of losing money is also low. That’s why defensive funds are ideal for those who want access to their investment in the short-term – within a year – to help supplement retirement income, for example.  


Conservative funds, such as the Lifetime Conservative Fund, are also focused on capital preservation for investors who have a limited appetite for risk and/or intend to tap into their savings within the next 3-5 years. These funds can have more exposure to shares and less to cash than defensive funds, however mostly invest in bonds. Because bonds pay a fixed income, they are usually more stable than shares but deliver lower growth.


Much as the name suggests, balanced funds, such as the Lifetime Balanced Fund, aim for a balance between keeping money safe and growing it over time. These funds tend to be split fairly evenly between more stable assets like bonds and cash and growth assets like shares and property. They’re a popular option for investors who can live with a few ups and downs in the value of their capital and won’t need to access their money for at least 5-7 years.


Growth funds, such as the Lifetime Growth Fund, have a greater exposure – up to 75% of the whole portfolio - to assets like shares and property, with the remainder held in bonds and cash. As a result, these funds can have significant ups and downs in value in the short-term, but tend to deliver higher returns than more stable funds over a longer period. Growth funds are a good option for investors who can stomach periodic share market falls and who plan to stay invested for more than 7 years.


Aggressive funds, such as the Lifetime Active Growth Fund, take the most risk of all the fund categories, by investing almost wholly in local and global shares and property. This means volatility (the ups and downs, in other words) can be dramatic at times, but they tend to deliver the highest returns over the long-term. As such, they appeal to investors with a high tolerance for risk and who are in it for the long-term – i.e. more than 7 years.


Are you in the right fund?
Firstly, if you’re unsure which type of fund (or funds) you’re currently invested in, check out your account on the Lifetime Master Trust (LMT) portal: click to access. Then select ‘View investment holdings’.

If you’re having trouble accessing the Online Portal, please call us at: 0800 266 268 or email:

To make it easier, we’ve grouped the LMT funds on offer according to their risk profile. You can check out the performance over time of these funds on our website: click to view.

Fund Type

Lifetime Master Trust Fund


Lifetime Cash Fund


Lifetime Conservative Fund


Lifetime Balanced Fund


Lifetime Growth Fund

Aggressive Lifetime Active Growth Fund


Then, ask yourself:

1. How long your money will be invested? 
Workplace savings schemes are typically designed to accumulate money to spend once you retire. That means your investment horizon (i.e. your timeframe for investing) will depend on your current age and when you think you’ll leave the paid workforce.

The Sorted website indicates that aggressive funds tend to grow by around 8.3% a year on average over 13 years, while you could expect a growth fund to return 7.1% a year on average over 9-12 years. This compares to a conservative fund’s return of 4.5% a year on average over 4-5 years, and a balanced fund’s 5.9% a year on average over 6-8 years.

If you’re in your twenties or thirties you have a lot more time to ride out the short-term ups and downs of investing in shares and benefit from potentially considerably higher returns over the long-term offered by growth funds.

However, if you’re only a few years away from retirement and will be relying on your workplace pension to supplement your post-work income, you might be less inclined to risk being heavily invested in shares in case there’s a market downturn just before you retire. A lower-risk conservative or defensive fund could be more appropriate in this situation.


2. How much risk are you comfortable with?
If you’re the type of investor who checks their portfolio every day and would lose sleep if the value falls by even a few dollars, then the short-term volatility of high-growth aggressive funds, or even some growth funds, might not appeal to you.

However, if you take more of a ‘set and forget’ approach (except for yearly check ins!), or are keen to maximise your returns, you could probably accept a few short-term blips if it means potentially growing your money more over the long-term.

What type of investor are you?
If you’re not sure what kind of investor you are, you’re certainly not alone! There are many great resources around that can help you work out the best investments for your particular mindset and stage of life. Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission’s website Sorted has a free Investor Profiler tool to do exactly this.

Making a switch

If, after considering the above, you’d like to change the fund/s you’re invested in, simply click here for a switch form.

Alternatively, the team at Lifetime would be very happy to chat about your personal risk profile and the fund choices available to you.

Simply call us on: 0800 254 338 or email: to set up a time to talk.


Written by: Vanessa Glennie

Vanessa is Head of Communications at Lifetime Retirement Income. She’s an experienced investment writer, having spent more than a decade writing about financial markets in the global fund management industry.