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Ron and Kathy Pearce enjoying their retired years with financial security

Ron Pearce laughs that he’s enjoying his retirement so much, he doesn’t know how he even had time to go to work.

Thanks to a lifetime of proactive financial planning, Ron has already enjoyed 13 years of retirement, with plenty more plans on the horizon.

After a long and rewarding accounting career, this 76-year-old Northern Beaches resident is better versed in the world of finance than most.

Ron-and-Kathy-Pearce-CTW-Invest BlueRon & Kathy at a Birthday lunch for Kathy

But despite his expertise, he believes “There are just too many risks in personally dealing with the complexity and number of investment markets – it requires someone who is well qualified, trustworthy, lives and breathes the markets, is constantly studying and who knows what’s a good choice and what’s a bad choice.”

For Ron, that someone is Invest Blue’s Central Coast Financial Adviser, Steve Fort.

“I value word of mouth recommendations, and Steve came with glowing references.

“Steve’s been doing this his whole life, he knows his stuff, and that gives me great confidence.

“In fact, I have been so impressed with Steve that I’ve recommended contacting him to a number of my friends.”

During a career spanning almost 40 years with one of Australia’s most recognised corporations, NRMA/IAG, Ron worked in a number of challenging and rewarding positions.

“I had various roles over the years including Chief Accountant for the road service division, Manager of NRMA Travel for six years and for the last 13 years I was Manager of Country Operations,” Ron explains.

“In that role I was responsible for over 200 Country Service Centres who are both agents for NRMA Insurance and contractors for emergency road in their designated country areas.

“In that role 13 Senior Managers, all based in key country locations throughout NSW, reported to me.”

“But despite the progression, my lifetime plan was always to retire at 60, which I did.

“I decided to retire at that age after seeing a number of those who batted on working into their 60s suffering ill health and ailments.

“For me, that far outweighed any financial perks of continuing employment,” he admits.

Out shoupping - Invest BlueOut shopping

“Corporate environments can be intense – high stress, redundancy worries, performance anxiety – “I noticed that those who retired at 60 maintained their health well into their retirement far better than those who stayed on until they were 65.”

Ron’s approach to spending during his working career was ‘extremely conservative’, risk adverse with as much income directed into superannuation as possible.

“I started working for NRMA when I was 21, and a year later began contributing part of my wages into the NRMA Superannuation Plan.”

“In my last three years of work particularly, I contributed as much as possible into super – I’ve always had that worry in the back of my mind that there wouldn’t be enough.”

Working with Steve, Ron and wife Kathy have their super structured to minimise risk.

“We have a broad distribution of assets – Australian shares, international shares, term deposits, low risk investments – a diverse mix to ensure our money is going to meet our lifestyle goals and, importantly, outlast us, rather than the other way around.”

But despite retiring comfortably at 60, even the best laid plans can go awry.

“As soon as I retired I thought, oh dear, what have I done!” Ron laughs.

“Right up until my last day working I was heavily involved working on a number of important projects, then all of a sudden I didn’t have to go to work and that felt very strange.”

“I would be having coffee in a coffee shop and notice others with papers on the table having business discussions – this reminded me of the many business discussion I had over a cup of coffee and made me feel very guilty for sitting there just reading the paper!”

Fortunately, Ron was offered some casual contract work where he could choose the number of days and the hours he worked.

This arrangement lasted for three years and Ron said it was an excellent way of winding down.

If he had his time over, Ron admits he would have arranged to scale down the number of days and hours he worked, which would have led to a much less stressful transition from work to retirement.

Ron and Kathy now keep busy with DIY projects, such as a spa and gazebo they’re currently working on.

new spa - Invest BlueRon & Kathy beside their new Spa, which is inside the Gazebo that Ron has just built. The Spa was filled with water and it became operational a few days after this photo was taken.

They have travelled a little over the years, and a European trip, possibly next year, is their next goal.

The financial savvy couple meets with Steve every six months to go over their plan, reviewing their current situation and their goals, ensuring everything is working properly for them.

“The timing of expenditure for all major projects we’re working on, such as the spa, or a trip, are all taken into account and our investments are timed and structured accordingly.”

The couple lives purely on savings and investment returns and from this, draw down a monthly Allocated Pension from their superannuation plan.

Nothing ‘overzealous’, Ron admits, but enough for a comfortable lifestyle.

“If I was asked to advise anyone on planning for retirement, it would be to scale down the number of days worked for at least one year before retirement date and to invest more than the minimum required into Superannuation.”

“To be honest, if I had my time again and put even more into super than the minimum required –I could have had twice the nest egg now!” Ron says.

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These clients have agreed to share their story. Everyone’s situation is different, so their choices and outcomes will be different to yours. Consider your circumstances before deciding what’s right for you.