‘It’s a part of our journey’: Advisers reflect on the meaning of retirement

‘It’s a part of our journey’: Advisers reflect on the meaning of retirement

Advisers spend their days planning the retirements of clients, but to them, it means something unique.

Shadforth Financial Group private wealth adviser Shayne Sommer says shifts in working patterns due to the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted how many Australians transition to retirement, if they haven’t delayed it.

“The prominence of flexible working arrangements and more positions being offered on a part-time basis is enabling this trend,” Sommer tells Professional Planner. “In essence, for me, retirement as a concept is all about choices.”

Hewison partner and wealth adviser Chris Morcom says the transition to retirement can be a difficult time of adjustment, particularly for those whose identity was defined by their work, and professionals often fall into this definition.

“Often clients successfully wind down their work life by reducing their days as a start, then gradually increase the number of days on which they do not work,” Morcom says.

“They gradually transition themselves to a non-work-oriented life and fill their lives with other pastimes that are meaningful to them.”

After many years assisting clients to transition to a non-working life, Morcom says does not define retirement for any person. “Everyone is different and their approach to retirement will be personal and tailored,” he adds.

Sommer says retirement is a part of our life journey, not a destination all of itself.

“It’s a part of our journey where we’ve accumulated sufficient assets to be able to fund a living [income] to allow us to reduce formal working hours, and choose to either partake in paid work or not, or volunteer more of our time to causes, activities and interests of our liking,” Sommer says.

However, Plan For Your Future founder Helen (Meihua) Nan notes for clients she has close to retirement age, they rely on the three pillars of the Australian retirement system: Age Pension, superannuation and assets outside super.

ASFA suggests Australians need $68,000 p.a. to live comfortably as a couple.

“To have this level of income, they only need $640,000 in retirement savings, assuming they have 6 percent investment returns,” Nan says.

“However, everyone has their own comfort level. Having enough income to maintain a pre-retirement lifestyle means a comfortable retirement for lots of Australians.”

Exit strategy

Nan says retirement isn’t the endpoint of working, but about having options for financial freedom.

“You can start planning in your 20s, 30s, 40s to lead into your early retirement or financial freedom,” Nan says.

“The earlier you start, the better the outcome. If I want to be financially free, I need to acquire income-producing assets instead of spending all my money on lifestyle.”

Nan says when passive income from her assets exceeds her expenses she will longer rely on earnings from her business – making her financially free.

“As a business owner and financial adviser, I need an exit plan,” Nan says.

“When I started my own business, I thought about and planned my exit plan, and building income-producing assets needs to be included as a part of my exit strategy.”

Morcom says retirement essentially means working when needed, not because it is a necessity.

“If you have a plan in place to build a financial resource upon which you can rely to meet your needs, then once that pot of assets is sufficient to meet your lifestyle needs you no longer need to work to live,” Morcom says.

“You might choose to continue working because you enjoy what you do, but you could stop at any time because you have built up the financial means to support yourself without work.”




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