The Financial Planning Association of Australia The Financial Planning Association of Australia

Retirement – are the goal posts moving?

| by Chris Giaouris, CFP®


I forever count my blessings in the role I do, as I can’t help but feel lucky getting exposure to so many different people in vastly different situations, on a daily basis. One of the most satisfying aspects of the financial planng profession is getting to know people who I otherwise would never have had the pleasure of meeting. And as such, through others I get to experience things that I otherwise never would have been able to (in my own little way – I call it ‘vicarious experiences’).

Apart from the obvious things such as travel, I also get to hear what others are doing with their lives – their goals and longer term objectives. Recently, I’ve met a few people who have been talking to me about wanting to retire early. Stop the presses! Well, not really, this in itself is not an unusual thing as I dare say many of us out there would retire tomorrow if we could afford to do so. For me though, there has been a common theme around people being committed to reduce their reliance on ‘work’ by the time they reach their mid-40’s.

This concept intrigues me, not because it’s a foreign one, but because to achieve this is not easy and I find that those who have given it thought generally have neglected to consider some key issues. Some of the things I have been discussing with individuals/couples in this position are as follows:

  • What is ‘retirement’ for you and what does it look like?
  • Do you want to stop work ‘cold turkey’ on your (say) 45th birthday?
  • How much are you spending today to sustain the lifestyle you have currently?
  • Is your current lifestyle reflective of the one that you actually want?
  • Come retirement, how much do you think you need to sustain your ideal lifestyle at least until your life expectancy?
  • Once you stop earning an income, where is your cash-flow going to come from?

This list is by no means exhaustive but what has been somewhat surprising to me is that many have neglected to consider at least half of the issues above, or if they have, in nowhere near enough detail. In essence, I feel that this goal is something they are very passionate about but if I’m being honest, it’s hard to achieve and what makes it more difficult is there are so many different paths of getting there (and some may not actually get you there at all in the end).

For many, property seems to be the obvious choice when it comes to achieving an early retirement. Historically, it has certainly worked for a number of investors and I can’t help but feel those European migrants who purchased homes in suburbs like Richmond and Doncaster (to name a couple in Melbourne where I live) may fall into this bucket. But how sustainable is this level of growth and strategy moving forward? And what is the opportunity cost of putting all your eggs into the property basket versus perhaps a more diversified strategy?

I’m not here to answer the question today about property, nor am I here to give you a secret formula that will get you to an early retirement. What I am here for though is to help you make smart decisions with your money and give you the tools to put some science behind the decisions you make. Everybody is in different situations and everybody has the opportunity to go down different paths, but don’t feel like you need to do this alone. My job is so satisfying for me because I get to help people on this journey and I believe it’s even more satisfying for my clients who allow me to help them get there.

Chris Giaouris, CFP®
Shadforth Financial Group

Chris Giaouris, CFP®

Shadforth Financial Group
Shadforth Financial Group Limited (AFSL 318613)

Chris is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®  professional and has been providing personal wealth management and financial advice since 2008. Over this time he has built specialised knowledge in superannuation, retirement strategies, tax planning and portfolio management.  Chris also has extensive experience in the UK Pension sector where he has assisted a number of clients with the transfer of their UK superannuation capital to Australia.

He believes financial planning is not solely about investments or strategies, but more importantly it is about helping you (the client) make smart choices with your money so you can focus on things more important than money.


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