Affordable financial advice, Megan Marshall

Meet Megan Marshall: Reducing the fear factor

Megan Marshall has been working in financial services for her entire career. Initially in a work experience role, Megan soon worked part-time, then as a full-time employee with a national financial practice. Along the way she has enjoyed a lot of exposure to many different clients with very different money challenges.

It’s the problem solving aspect that engages her the most.

“I enjoy helping people understand how different rules affect them and how you can use most of these rules to their advantage.

Being able to show people how long their money will last and, sometimes, how much earlier they can step back from full-time work, is particularly satisfying.

Megan joined the advice team at Retirement Essentials earlier this year and has since been busy helping many of our members.

We asked her to explain some of the more rewarding solutions she has shared in this time.

Bob and Susie, now $40,000 better off

“Today I worked with Bob and Susie. Bob had recently been made redundant. To me, as they were both over the Age Pension eligibility age, it was pretty straightforward. They were concerned about how to fund a move from Western Australia where they currently live to Queensland, where Susie’s older parents reside. Both parents are frail and in need of frequent health checks. Bob and Susie just didn’t understand how to fund the necessary travel and living expenses while they offered this necessary care. Once I understood their situation, it became clear that they would immediately qualify for an Age Pension and so Susie felt that it was okay for her to resign and head to Queensland. They were really relieved and confident that a full Age Pension and Bob’s payout will be sufficient. They are now $40,000 better off.  We also discussed what will happen if they do go back to work, which meant talking through the Work Bonus as well. At the end of our appointment, Susie said, ‘Now I realise I can work as much as I want to, rather than feel that have to!’”

Trevor wants to help out his daughter 

“Trevor is in his late 70s, divorced and on a part-Age Pension. He is desperately keen to gift money to his adult daughter, but really nervous about this being against Centrelink rules. His daughter has suffered some major setbacks and is now keen to get back on her feet. First step is for her to buy a car, but she can’t afford this on her own.  Trevor said that he just wants to help her. When I understood he was concerned about gifting rules, I was able to say that he can help her as much as he wants with his own money. Regardless of how much he gives her, it won’t make his pension entitlement any worse off however to be aware that amounts above the allowable limits will continue to be an asset for the next 5 years, which did not concern him. And his fear of being penalised was ill-founded. There is often a fear with Age Pension recipients that there will be a catch in what they do, so it is great to be able to explain the rules – in this case how gifting works – so they can see for themselves that they have more flexibility than they realised.” 

Helen and Rob and the need for updates 

“Some things you really do have to reveal. 

There may be times when your situation changes and it’s really important to understand that the onus is on you to update Centrelink, not vice versa. This came up in a call with Helen and Rob. They had received an Age Pension based on $400 per fortnight income and modest assets, and more recently were earning a combined total of $580 per fortnight. We ran the sums, and along with deemed income on their assets, their pension entitlements would now need to be reduced. I advised them to tell Centrelink as soon as possible. They were surprised as they thought Centrelink would find out and let them know about the change. This is not the way it works. It is their obligation to update Centrelink on any changes within 14 days. Having delayed this for a couple of months, they were concerned they would need to pay back any overpayments straight away, but again I was able to soothe their fears as you can pay such amounts in manageable increments. It’s all a case of reporting and then negotiating the outstanding amount.”

“At heart, I think that many of the people I have met with have been very reluctant to deal with Centrelink directly. It’s not an honesty issue, but more the fear that they’ll make an error and will maybe lose entitlements because they do not fully understand how things work. I get this.

Whether it’s Age Pension benefits or superannuation or investment questions from self-funded retirees, reducing the worry about how to apply for,  or report, retirement savings and income is key to peace of mind.”

In particular, Megan has enjoyed the opportunity to guide our members through their own personal ‘potential’ retirement journeys by using the Retirement Essentials Age Pension Entitlements Calculator tool. Using this calculator, she is easily able to change the inputs to show retirees what their entitlements might be, depending upon different scenarios (adjusting work income,  levels of savings, moving savings to younger spouse super or paying off some of their mortgage etc) so they can more easily understand what their options are. And more importantly help provide guidance and information about the potential benefits and or consequences of such important decisions

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