Bustling Asian street markets, enjoying the beauty of the unspoilt Cook Islands, cultural and food experiences in Myanmar, an upcoming cruise up the Malacca Straights– for John Bliss and Elizabeth Brooks their retirement years are anything but dull.
And while this Coffs Harbour couple is enjoying a retirement of adventure, it’s a lifestyle afforded thanks to foresight and proactive, meticulous planning.
With a career that spanned over 40 years in the financial services industry, John was acutely aware of the need for a retirement plan – and the sooner the better.
As such, it was some 20 years ago when John first sat down with a financial adviser. It’s thanks to this proactive approach that the couple is now reaping the rewards.
“Retirement doesn’t creep up on you, and nor should preparations. We put a plan in place well in advance so that we had the confidence to know where we were going financially and what the future could hold.”
A lending manager at the local credit union and previously employed by the Commonwealth Bank for 17 years prior, John’s experience in the industry afforded him insight into the benefits a financial adviser afforded.
“We were able to map out our retirement priorities based on budgets and income at the time, work out what would be a comfortable retirement income and verbalise our goals.”
Yearly reviews allowed for amendments if circumstances were to change, but the couple successfully followed a customised financial plan through until John reached retirement age earlier this year.
“There were really no stumbling blocks, and if there were, we could iron them out immediately as we had a great adviser who we could call on in need.”
Superannuation formed the backbone of their plan, with another goal to be mortgage and debt-free when the time approached. John and Elizabeth needed to ensure that their contributions to their super were adequate to achieve all that they wanted during their retirement. They planned to enjoy their life after work, so they maintained a disciplined approach.
“Having worked in finance I’ve always had a budget and always lived by it, I believe living within your means is key to financial success,” John said.
A close relationship was formed with their financial advisor, Margaret, initially sourced via his credit union employer. The couple followed Margaret to a new employer DKM Financial Service, once the credit union discontinued advisory services. When DKM Financial Services became Moore Stephens, in partnership with Invest Blue, John and Elizabeth followed suit. With Margaret recently retiring, a seamless hand over with Invest Blue’s Ben Warren was undertaken.
John and Elizabeth said they were both thrilled that after the initial meeting with Ben “it felt like he had known us forever” thanks to the valuable insights about their financial goals he was able to gain from Margaret.
The complexity surrounding the sale of a property which formed a component of John’s superannuation also fast proved Ben’s worth immediately. Working closely with John’s accounting team at Moore Stephens, which is also Invest Blue’s accounting partner, the collaboration ensured a seamless and stress-free sale process.
“I’ve seen enough tax returns in my day and I’m confident handling finances, but the sale of this property to facilitate my retirement had all sorts of capital gains and superannuation repercussions – I felt it much wiser to leave it to Moore Stephens and Invest Blue to handle.”
After just one meeting in which John supplied the initial information, relief followed when Invest Blue and Moore Stephens then took full control. It also instilled in him confidence that finances from the sale would be maximised and used to work to the highest efficiency and effectiveness throughout his retirement.
“The whole process was so pain free thanks to the close relationship between my accountant at Moore Stephens and Financial Adviser at Invest Blue, the experience couldn’t have been more streamlined.”
John took six-months long service leave last year to test the retirement waters and, as he laughs, to “make sure Elizabeth wasn’t going to suggest I go back to work instead of hanging around the whole time!” But with the experiment a success, he retired fully in January 2019 upon turning 60 in December 2018.
Almost one year into retirement and life certainly is blissful in the Bliss household. Financially, the couple feels comfortable with its allocated income, and physically this is a partnership that is extremely well occupied. From volunteering at the local botanic gardens and Anglican op-shop, helping at the local school tuckshop, two games of golf a week and grandchildren’s school pick-ups, retirement certainly hasn’t slowed down John and Elizabeth. And then there are the concerts…
“We say after every concert – no more! But we always seem to find another to attend!” John laughs.
U2, Robbie Williams, Rob Thomas, Michael Bauble, The Rolling Stones and Bon Jovi “more times than you can count on one hand” have all been on the agenda, as well as numerous rugby games and one-day cricket matches.
Travel has long been a shared passion of the couple, and it’s a hobby that shows no sign of slowing down during their retirement. The intrepid globetrotters prefer exploring off the beaten track, and prior to retirement travelled extensively through places such as Canada, Alaska, Vietnam, Singapore, New Zealand, Cook Islands and within Australia. More recently they embarked on a trip to Myanmar.
John and Elizabeth find third world countries absolutely fascinating, we particularly love visiting Asian countries for the food, culture and experience. A cruise on the Malacca Straights is next on the agenda, travelling from Singapore up to Malaysia in January and later in the year a Mediterranean and Portugal river cruise. It’s these lifestyle perks that encourage John to recommend everyone engage a financial adviser.
“Our plan certainly helped us identify our goals for retirement, without it we really wouldn’t have known where we’d be financially – and a pension just wasn’t going to cut it. We’ve also been fortunate enough to make financial provisions for our grandchildren to help give them a leg up, and all this is thanks to the fact we put our plan in place early. At 40, retirement seemed a long way off, but now we’re here we’re damn glad we didn’t leave our planning any later.”
If you are planning for retirement or thinking about it speak with a financial adviser today.
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