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Financial security for veterans

These experts say financial security post-transition is all about planning for retirement early on, taking an active interest in super, and seeking as much information as possible.

At a glance:

  • Wayne and Warren are two veterans who have made a career shift to finance advisory, and realised the importance of building financial security early on.
  • Their advice for veterans and serving members might seem surprising: have an exit strategy before you join.
  • Become familiar with salary, super contributions and any investments.
  • A superannuation expert says the information is out there – it’s a matter of asking questions to find out what you don’t know.

In response to recent RSL NSW member research, one in five veterans under 50 told us they are using or will need financial assistance.

That’s a significant number of members seeking guidance on financial matters, so there’s room for improvement and a need for quality advice and practical assistance.

To address this gap, the latest RSL NSW webinar discussion addresses head-on the issue of veterans’ finance, transition and retirement. The event, sponsored by the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC), was hosted by Nicole Hasrouni, CFO of RSL NSW, and is available to stream on-demand now.

The panel of experts included Wayne Bemet and Warren Loudon, veterans who have pivoted into the finance advisory space, and Samuel Lang, who is part of the CSC’s Member Education Team.

Wayne and Warren, who previously spoke with RSL NSW on the topic of financial independence, drew on a wealth of first-hand experience during the discussion, while Sam has spent 15 years at CSC helping clients boost their financial literacy.

Here are the top highlights from the discussion.

Basis of financial security

Wayne served 19 years in the ADF and is the Founder and Director of National Service Financial. Kicking off the webinar with a story of those decades in the military, he described his five deployments, which included time on the HMAS Melbourne.

“I got to dip my toe in quite early,” he said of his involvement in the finance advisory space. After transitioning out of the Navy, he studied financial planning, and soon realised he had an opportunity to “give something back to my veteran community in the form of financial advice”.

Similarly, Warren’s eventual pivot from Defence to finance was seeded early on in his career. After enlisting via the Special Forces Direct Recruiting Scheme, he served with what was then known as 4RAR Commando and did three tours of Afghanistan.

“I studied most of my way through that,” he told the panel. “In between missions I’d have my books there. We set up a little school room and the guys would teach me things I didn’t know, like algebra.”

Inspired to further his career in the financial space, Warren is now Co-Founder and Co-Director of Loudon & Vaughan Private Wealth.

Although not a veteran himself, Sam has a family legacy of military involvement. His father was a Defence member, one who made an intentional effort to focus on finances and retirement planning when that was not the norm.

“In my last four or five years in the Member Education Team, we’ve driven the change to more general financial literacy,” he explained.

A key insight from the discussion was that veterans should start planning to leave Defence the moment they join.

“I remember when I was going through recruitment,” said Warren. “One of the instructors said you should start planning for your exit from Defence the moment you join. I thought that was weird, but it’s sort of true – you always need to have an exit strategy.”

Retirement peace of mind

The panellists agreed that financial planning was critical not only for financial stability in the working world as a civilian, but also for peace of mind when retirement eventually comes around.

“A lot of retirement planning is actually working out how people want to live their lives,” said Warren. “It’s definitely financial, but a lot of it is also about trying to build a really high quality life.”

This sentiment was echoed by Wayne.

“Some people … get very comfortable in Defence,” he told viewers. “[There’s] great pay, rent assistance, all the good stuff – and then all of a sudden they’re confronted by a massive lifestyle change due to a … change in circumstances.”

He advised veterans and serving members to take an active interest in superannuation early on.

“A lot of people think it’s too far ahead,” he said. “I disagree. Understand the [super] fund you’re in, and know what investment profile you’re in.”

One of the most important questions Sam asks his clients is one that some are unable to answer: What’s your salary?

“A lot of them aren’t aware what their actual income is,” he said. “All they know is, there’s ‘X’ amount in their account each fortnight. Admittedly, bills are covered – that’s great – but … from a peace of mind and a retirement [perspective] that’s probably not the best mindset.”

Veterans’ top tips for financial success

To cap off an already informative session, Wayne, Warren and Sam were asked to provide their single most essential piece of advice for veterans to build financial security.

Here’s what they had to say:

  1. Wayne: “Treat transition more like an event [than] something you have to step through. You have access to $1,000 worth of financial advice – talk to someone.”
  2. Warren: “It’s never too soon to take an interest in your retirement planning. As much as everyone thinks they’re going to be [in Defence] forever, they’re probably not likely to. At least 18 months before you get out, you need to be thinking about your next move.”
  3. Sam: “A lot of the time, you don’t know what you don’t know. Finding out questions to ask definitely is a good way to go. There’s a lot of information out there, and a lot of avenues to seek this information.”

 

Missed the discussion with Wayne, Warren and Sam? Not to worry. Fill in the form below to access the on-demand webinar.

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