Meet Steven Sadler

We call Steven our Retirement Essentials’ Guru for many reasons. We recently interviewed him so you can understand why he got this name. It’s the first of four interviews with our advisers Megan, Nicole and Sharon and Steven, who is Head of Customer Services. They all work ‘at the coalface’ so to speak. This means that each and every day they are helping our members in video meetings, phone calls or replies to website questions and feedback. We asked Steven five quick questions about the work he does and how it helps customers maximise their Age Pension income.

1. What is your role at Retirement Essentials?

‘I head up the Customer Services Team which means that I do anything and everything to help our members qualify and maximise their entitlements. This can include processing a Centrelink application, chasing up the progress in 4-5 weeks, verifying the customers’ documents and checking all detail on their applications. If their needs are more complex, I usually introduce them to one of our advisers.’ 

2. What do you like most about what you do?

‘Of all the work I’ve done, this is the only job that offers a natural sense of fulfillment. That’s because we are genuinely helping people. Many customers are so forthcoming with their thanks, a lot saying, ‘I would have been lost without you’.

3. What was your biggest win in 2023?

‘The biggest win that comes to mind was actually averting a problem. I keep thinking of how wrong things could have gone. It happened during one of our 45-minute phone application consultations. The customer who was applying for an Age Pension had so many misconceptions and misunderstandings that, had they just tried to apply online, they would have been knocked back and probably never understood why. I had a great conversation with this customer and they said the call was the best $150 they had ever spent. Things subsequently went smoothly with their application and resulted in part-Age Pension entitlement. The problems they would have encountered were associated with a company loan. This loan was showing up as an asset so the company needed to be closed down and the loan written off before they got started. This took them a couple of months but was well worth the effort. It’s another case of people ‘not knowing what they don’t know’. That’s what we’re here for. To help them understand all the rules that affect them.’

4. Which problem reoccurs the most?

‘The most frequent issue standing between most people and their Centrelink entitlement is the supply of incorrect supporting documents. We’ve mentioned this before. A bank statement is just that – the actual PDF statement. Not a screen shot of transactions which Centrelink won’t accept. Furnishing incorrect statements can lead to a two-month delay by the time Centrelink comes back to you, points out the problem and you start over with the upload of these documents.’ 

5. Do you have any hints or wishes for 2024?

‘Again, like the customer above, if you have any concerns or questions, it’s important to speak to somebody first. Test your knowledge and assumptions. If you ask all the questions up front you can save so much to and fro-ing. Our aim is to support our customers to get their applications right the first time, so they get their benefits as expeditiously as possible.

And as we discussed last week, if you do need to contact Centrelink over the festive break (or any other time, for that matter), then hop on the phone early in the day!’

Retirement Essentials has three main ways of assisting those who are seeking Age Pension entitlement:

A 30-minute phone consult ($75 ) during which you can ask any questions you like to help determine eligibility for the Age Pension and Commonwealth Seniors Health Card.

A 45-minute phone application support consult ($150) where we guide you through the application and help complete it over the phone or by video.

Maximising your entitlements advice consultations ($330) where we assess any changes you might be able to make to maximise your Centrelink entitlements).

Do you have any tips as well?
Maybe you’ve had a chat to Steven this year? If so we’d love to learn how he helped you.