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How Marcel, 66, got his retirement sorted

Published 22 January 2019

Long-term strategies have laid the foundations for entrepreneur Marcel Kreis’s secure retirement, writes Sylvia Pennington.

Marcel Kreis and his wife Mimi married in 2012, and he moved to Mimi’s home town of Melbourne where they now live. They share a blended family of five adult children, three of whom live with them.

At 66, the ex-CEO of  Credit Suisse Private Banking Asia Pacific, is an investor in, and CEO of, E2 Language, a software development company that specialises in online learning, and Branded Trust Assurance Systems, a corporate sustainability platform.

While he has no plans to stop working – “I would find retiring [and] doing nothing business-wise pretty daunting; I’ll stay active and keep involved” – investments both inside and outside superannuation ensure that he’ll be able to maintain his lifestyle should he choose to call it a day.

Getting an income from super

“I’d like to generate enough of an income from superannuation to allow me to manage my outgoings,” Kreis says.

“I don’t mind drawing down on some of my capital, but for everyday requirements I’d like our superannuation to be able to generate enough money to allow us to maintain a certain standard of living.”

Kreis’s investment approach is a conservative one, suited to someone of his age and stage of life. His superannuation is invested in fixed-income instruments that allow him to take a ‘set and forget’ approach.

“They take two or three years to mature and, in the meantime, we collect the dividends and coupon payouts,” Kreis says.

“I don’t watch the capital movement of the bonds, because at the end of the day they’re good quality. As long as I’m not worried about the credit risk of the issuer, the weekly fluctuations don’t concern me all that much.”

An investment on the side

Outside super, Kreis has begun using robo-advice.

“I’m using it for our personal asset investment because I’m not a good stock picker – I’m quite the opposite,” he explains. “What I like about robo-advice is it replaces human decision making with an asset-allocation process that’s based on an algorithm.

“It absolutely cannot foresee major black-swan events like the 2008 global financial crisis, but it takes a lot more of the human element – and the possibility of human error – out of the equation.

“That’s important to me, because the money I lose now I’m not going to easily make back, and when you’re in that position your appetite and stomach for risk become rather diminished.”

Baby Boomers’ superannuation shortfall

In addition to owning their home outright, Australian couples need a minimum annual retirement income of $60,843 in order to enjoy a comfortable retirement lifestyle, according to The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s (ASFA) Retirement Standard for the September 2018 quarter. For singles, the annual figure is $43,200.

The majority of Baby Boomers have not accumulated sufficient superannuation to generate these income levels, without recourse to the age pension (either in full or in part).

The average superannuation balance for men aged 65 to 69 was $246,915 in 2015–16, according to ASFA’s research. Women in the same age bracket had an average balance of $171,227.

While the superannuation guarantee means Australians are required to begin contributing to super from the time they enter paid employment, Kreis believes that for most people retirement planning doesn’t figure until they hit their career peak – typically between the ages of 45 and 55.

 “All of a sudden you start to think ... What’s going to happen when my regular salary starts to become smaller, or starts to become irregular? What do I do to compensate for that?”

Start saving now, no matter how little

While establishing a long-term savings fund or paying extra into super from the get-go puts individuals in a stronger position two or three decades hence, it can seem an unrealistic proposition for hard-pressed younger workers still trying to establish themselves, Kreis notes. However, it’s a strategy that’s well worth implementing early.

“There are plenty of places you can put in $10,000 or $5000 and start to save, then in 15 or 20 years’ time it can be a very decent amount,” he says.

“But it’s tough with housing prices where they are, and salaries and tax rates where they are – it’s very difficult for people in their 30s who are starting a family to save money.

“If you’re in the fortunate position to be able to put an extra few per cent of your income aside for retirement, that’s fantastic.”

Marcel Kreis is hoping his super can generate enough money to allow him to maintain his standard of living.

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