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August 28, 2023

Take a Peek Behind The Scenes for Kernel’s 4th Birthday

Woohoo, it’s Kernel’s fourth birthday! In that time we’ve grown from a start-up with three New Zealand index funds to a complete wealth platform with 19 diverse funds, the Kernel KiwiSaver Plan and an online savings account — and it’s all thanks to legends like you for placing your trust in us.

To celebrate we’re looking back on the journey so far and sharing a few nifty facts about our investors (that’s you).

First we’d like to shout out the original 16

We love all of our customers the same, but we do have a soft spot for the 16 original investors who were with us on day one and are still here four years later. Thanks for sticking with us!

From a tiny office to 34 Kernels

Four years ago, when those 16 signed up, Kernel was just Dean (Kernel founder and Chief Executive), Cat (Head of Marketing and Strategy) and Stephen Upton (Chief Operating Officer) in a snug, single room office. Today there’s 34 of us plus five kids, two cats and a dog:

“The big thing is our growth has consistently prioritised the long-term outcomes and benefits for investors. As we’ve grown our staff, we’ve also built an intelligent, tax efficient, low-fee investing platform so that our customers can build long-term wealth,” Dean said.

From $1 to $11 million

Kernel is for everyone! We’ve got customers with balances as low as $1 and as high as $11 million — and an average balance of $35,200.

“Our average balance continues to grow and shows us that Kiwis see Kernel as a trusted partner to change habits, build long-term wealth and reach their goals.”

“We love to see that the majority of withdrawals are for those big life moments, like house purchases and weddings.”

Babies to boomers and beyond

One of our youngest customers is 26 days old and they’ve already got their own account. Our oldest customer is 93 and going strong.

But many of our customers are Kiwi families from their late 20s to mid 50s:

“They might have no relationship with their bank, don’t have enough capital to invest in property, or don’t want to. They know they can use Kernel to automate their investments and achieve their goals, and it won’t feel overwhelming.”

Kernel diversified

Kernel started with just three funds, but today we’re a complete wealth platform with 19 funds to choose from. We’ve got hedged, unhedged, global, local, sustainable and thematic options, plus a sweet new cash fund, which has grown from $0 to $32.5M funds under management in just 9 months.

We’re also stoked that almost a quarter of our customers are using more than one Kernel product.

We missed the inflation memo

Everything is getting more expensive in New Zealand (we’re looking at you kumara) but we bucked the trend and dropped our fees. Our core funds' annual management fees went from 0.39% to 0.25%* and we still charge no platform fee for balances under $25,000.

“We’ve removed as many barriers to entry as possible. We want investors to be able to use Kernel no matter their goals or circumstances. Everyone is getting the same great experience - no hidden costs, no transaction fees, no tax leakage,” explained Dean.

We won recognition

We’re not in this for the accolades, but we certainly don’t mind them! Over the years, our Chief Executive Dean has won the INFINZ & FSC Emerging Leader awards, and we’ve been finalists for Corporate ESG and Team of the Year (Marketing & Operations).

We’ve kept evolving

To provide the best investment outcomes possible, we’ve kept improving our platform; including launching embedded savings accounts, the Kernel KiwiSaver Plan, plus Kernel Goals. We’ve also switched from weekly, to twice weekly to daily order processing and refreshed our brand twice.

And we’re not going to stop now

Kernel has changed so much in the last four years, but we’re not done — there are some big changes coming in the near future.

We're going to tweak our brand to better reflect you (our customers). Simultaneously, we're levelling up our educational resources, elevating our platform experience, and refining how you interact with your investments and savings with us. Dean says there are also other big developments on the horizon:

“Our brand is evolving as we become the wealth platform of choice for Kiwis. We’re building a platform to deliver the best outcomes for investors over the long-term. It’s going to be all about automating your finances, making Kernel an effortless way to manage your whole family’s savings and investments across all life stages. Watch this space!”

*Excludes Kernel’s thematic funds. For full details of Kernel’s pricing, see our pricing page.

Ben Tutty

Ben Tutty

Contributing Writer | Tutty Copy



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Indices provided by: S&P Dow Jones Indices