At the age of 52 I’d walked the Kokoda Track, jumped out of a plane, swum with sharks and given birth three times.
When there’s a spider in the bath, or a toad in the pool filter, I’m the one called to remove it. I’m that tough.
But when it came to seeing a financial adviser I was terrified. What if he asked why my super was such a mess?
What would I say when he asked me how many super accounts I had (I thought four but it could have been six or more – I had a lot of jobs in my 20s)?
Would he tell me to give up coffee? Would he ask to see my bank statements? Tax returns? Would he shame me for not having a budgeting app on my phone?
Would he give me that, ‘you should have done better by now’ look I get from some ‘helpful’ friends from time to time? Would he use financial language I wouldn’t understand or would bore me to the point I’d switch off completely?
Maybe he’d tell me it was all too late and I’d better develop a taste for cat food?
I made and cancelled the appointment many times.
But the niggle stayed with me like a stone in my shoe. And eventually my rational voice grew louder than the frightened one. I told myself that if, after one appointment I didn’t feel better – more in control, I wouldn’t go again. I drew parallels to going to the dentist, the doctor, the gym. None of which I loved but I knew were good for me. Life is better when I attend to that stuff.
Why, I thought, do I feel so shabby when I leave months between haircuts, but have no issue with waiting years to attend to my money? It made no sense and eventually I grew tired of the conversation with myself and fronted up to the appointment, my heart in my mouth.
And you know what happened? A conversation.
To my surprise and great relief, we didn’t speak much about what I had neglected to do but what I wanted to do. It wasn’t about numbers as much as dreams. Where did I see myself in five years? Ten years? Twenty years? We talked about what I have and what we could do with that.
The burden of finding lost super and consolidating funds shifted from my shoulders to his – what was overwhelming to me was routine to him.
And there was no mention of giving up coffee. In fact, he made me feel like I’d done pretty well.
We made a plan to meet again in a month. I needed to think more about what I wanted in retirement (even though it still feels a ridiculously long way away) and he was going to make some calls and crunch some numbers and put together a plan we could discuss.
The whole thing was simple, friendly and painless. My dentist parallel was way off.
When I left, I felt lighter, happier, back on track. If I had any regrets at all, it was the time I’d wasted putting it off.
Do you relate to Cassie’s story? Have you sought financial advice on your superannuation? Was it helpful?
*Cassie’s story is fictional Sunsuper case study developed to illustrate the concerns many Aussies have about their superannuation, and educate readers on the potential role of financial advice in helping them to overcome these worries.