My Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant.
It’s an interesting thing. A number of women I speak with are worried about not having enough money to live comfortably in retirement and yet don’t know what their financial position is. They don’t know what is possible and whether they are under or over-estimating their fears. It’s no wonder there can be a sense of anxiety about transitioning into retirement!
My goal is primarily to support women (and men!) in preparing for retirement through structure d, action-focused planning and providing insightful resources as it relates to mindset and creating a lifestyle that is fulfilling and meaningful to them. That said, I am acutely aware that robust financial planning is critical to positioning yourself for greatest flexibility in deciding how and when you will retire.
With this in mind, I sat down with Michelle Millsom, Authorised Financial Advisor and Director at Watermark Financial Services to find out what we, as women, can be doing to set ourselves up for our most financially comfortable retirement.
If a lack of financial awareness is niggling away at the back of your mind, read on as Michelle shares some great advice.
Unsurprisingly, the worries I hear are not unique. Michelle and her team find that a key concern raised by clients is not being adequately prepared for retirement. For example they may still have a mortgage to pay off or may not recognise the impact of the ever increasing cost of living on their ability to retire when they want or how they want. With one out of two couples expected to surpass their life expectancy, the reality is that many are going to outlive their funds.
Are there worries or concerns raised that tend to be specific to women?
The data shows that on average women tend to retire with about half as much superannuation as men, most commonly due to a higher likelihood of an interrupted career to take care of family responsibilities. Further to that research indicates that around 90% of women will retire with inadequate savings to fund a comfortable retirement.
The earlier you start planning, the better, however, don’t ever think it is too late. In the years leading up to retirement, small shifts can make a significant difference.
What key advice would you offer to women preparing for retirement?
- First and foremost seek professional advice in order to take control of your own destiny.
- Maximise any strategies that meet your needs and objectives, such as a government co- contributions and salary sacrificing
- Ensure your estate planning is up to date – that you have a valid will and Enduring Power of Attorney in place, and that the beneficiaries of super funds are correct
- Consider income protection to ensure that your assets and dependents are protected should you or your partner become sick or injured
- If not already, start putting aside a small amount of savings each week or month
What would you suggest to women who may be unsure or worried about their current financial plan for retirement?
Don’t be scared to seek professional advice. Financial planners are experts - they have the tools and resources to assist you and can confirm if you are on track to reach your short, medium or long term goals.
This is a great analogy…
There is no point in saying ‘I want to lose weight starting on Monday’ but having no exercise or eating plan to get achieve that goal. It is the same with retirement planning, you need the right advice and the right plan in order to keep you accountable and to ensure you are maximising every single benefit available.
What is one great financial planning resource that you can share?
There are some great resources available on the internet. One in particular is the Australian government’s Money Smart website (www.moneysmart.gov.au) which has a great budget planner along with other calculators to support your financial goals. These are tools that you can use anytime, anywhere.
Rather than looking at that quarterly envelope from you superannuation company with dread or ignoring it completely, rip it open and find out where you stand. Until you know your numbers, it’s difficult to take meaningful action. Knowledge is power. Asking questions, educating yourself and engaging the services of a trusted financial advisor will help to increase your financial confidence, your sense of optimism about your future and your ability to achieve a fulfilling and highly satisfying life in retirement.
Michelle Millsom is an Authorised Financial Adviser and a Director/Shareholder of Watermark Financial Services. She has been in the financial planning industry since 1999. Michelle started her career in a successful financial planning practice at an early age, initially undertaking administration tasks and customer service and then proceeded to complete her Diploma of Financial Planning, thereby becoming an Authorised Representative. Michelle and her business partner Neil Oxley were presented with an opportunity in 2004 to purchase the financial planning practice Michelle had been working in since 1999. This was the start of Watermark Financial Services.
To better understand how prepared you are for retirement, why not download the Retirement Planning Questionnaire?
It's more than just a quiz, it's an action-focused tool that will help you take action today (not wait until the day you retire!) to create a retirement that you will love to live!