No one likes to ponder the prospect of life’s journey veering off its projected course, but as Queenslander Dennis Robbemond reflects, it’s never too soon to start preparing for the unexpected.
The former Coca-Cola executive was at the height of his 35-year career, having risen from the ranks of ‘office boy’ to sales representative all the way through to the role of State Planning Manager when a fateful eyesight check confirmed his greatest fears.
Prompted by increasingly poor vision, a visit to an eye specialist in 2016 resulted in the diagnosis of Macular Dystrophy “Bullseye”, and a prognosis that this active family man could potentially lose his eyesight entirely.
Dennis’ central vision was impaired to the point that while driving, he could no longer see a car 20 meters ahead. Keys on the computer keyboard were blurred, colours disappeared, and depth-perception also became a consequence of the eye disease.
While Vision Australia was exceptional in its support, providing Dennis with all the tools necessary to assist in maintaining an everyday office routine, driving was still a major part of his role and there was no easy solution for this. He ultimately decided that in the interest of people’s wellbeing and safety to surrender his driver’s license.
Upon his employer’s request, he was able to provide several alternatives by which he could continue within the company at up to 90 percent capacity, however, negotiations broke down and their relationship of 35 years began to deteriorate. His employment was terminated in June 2017.
“Having had such a fantastic working history with this organisation over so many decades, I was at my lowest ebb when my position ceased – I felt I had lost my independence surrendering my license, to also lose my job was a double blow.”
Dennis and Johanna admit feelings of anxiety and stress about their future. At 60 years old he still had a mortgage plus other financial responsibilities and had anticipated working for another five years at least. His wife, Johanna, was still working, which would bring some reprieve, but not enough to meet all their financial burdens.
Yet when it felt like dominos were falling around them, Dennis and Johanna were buoyed by the fact they had been proactive in putting a strong superannuation plan in place. His previous employer had been a generous provider through a solid employment package and strong superannuation plan.
Dennis and Johanna had had the foresight to work closely with a financial planner who had encouraged salary sacrifice towards superannuation.
Upon further investigation, Dennis discovered that through his AMP Signature Super Plan, he also had access to income protection. With his planner’s help and assistance from the claims department at AMP, Dennis was offered income protection for a period of two years, through to August 2019.
“If I learnt anything from the negatives that we faced, it was the importance of ensuring strong insurance is attached to your superannuation.”
Having discovered first-hand the benefits of Income Protection and Total and Permanent Disability insurances, he believes these two along with salary sacrifice, are essential to a strong superannuation plan.
With his former adviser retiring while Dennis was still on his claim for income protection, they engaged the services of Invest Blue Financial Adviser, Tim Jones. With limited job prospects, his income protection coming to an end, and Johanna having left her job to help support Dennis function independently, their future finances were still a concern. Yet after meeting with Tim, they were armed with practical, strategic advice to set them up for life.
“It was quite the turning point, we needed a plan put in place to financially secure our future years, and Tim provided us with various comprehensive options that really put our minds at ease.”
Identifying the couple’s financial and personal goals, Tim was able to provide the Robbemonds with comprehensive information packages on new plans.
“The new plans were very detailed and comprehensive, and every time we’ve bombarded Tim with questions, he has been able to answer professionally and with good humour.”
Their current funds were restructured, and a retirement plan made and the couple now benefits from a monthly income stream. From the terrorising prospect of financial uncertainty only two short years ago, the couple now looks to the future with confidence.
“Our future seems to be secure and Tim continues to encourage us to live in the moment and enjoy our path to retirement.”
Thanks to good solid advice instigated early, such as salary sacrifice, the couple now can focus on fulfilling several personal goals. To this day, Dennis’ email address handle is ‘Tahitian dreams’, inspired back in 1995 by a long-held dream to visit the tropical oasis. Prompted by Tim, this dream will soon become a reality with a cruise through Tahiti and the Hawaiian Islands booked for 2021.
It’s a trip that Dennis and Johanna always envisaged that would become a reality. However, with Dennis’ prognosis, their priorities have been somewhat accelerated.
“Tim has been extremely encouraging of us booking in some trips and realising some of our personal goals in the next ten to fifteen years, while we can still enjoy them comfortably.”
Besides travel, the couple is also passionate about being able to financially assist their two daughters in any projects that they wish to entertain.
“Tim has really instilled the confidence in us to enjoy life, and we’re extremely happy and grateful for the knowledge that our holidays and future retirement plans can be enjoyed without excessive financial stress. It’s a great feeling to be able to lock in a long-held dream with full financial confidence”.
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