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Transition to retirement – your guide to accessing your superannuation while still working

11 May 2023

While many people eagerly look forward to their golden years as a time to relax and enjoy life, the transition from work to retirement needs careful planning.

In this episode, join Australia Retirement Trust’s Member Education Officer, Patrick Dunlop, and our host, Head of Advice and Guidance, Anne Fuchs, as they explore strategies you can use to transition to retirement that allow you to work less while continuing to grow your super.

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Hello and welcome to Australian Retirement Trust's Super Insider podcast series.

It's all about investments, the economy, and strategies to make sure that you can maximise

your hard-earned retirement savings.

Now, my name is Anne Fuchs,

I'm head of Advice and Guidance

at Australian Retirement Trust,

and the team and I love providing help, guidance

and advice to our members

so they can make the best possible choices

for them. So, they can relax, put their feet up,

and enjoy their retirement at the end of their working life.

Now, with me today is Patrick Dunlop,

but before I introduce him,

I will acknowledge that we're on Turrbal and Yuggera country

and I'd like to pay my respects

to Elders past, present and emerging.

Now, Patrick is part of the Advice and Guidance team,

which is very cool.

It's good to have you here.

He's been with Australian Retirement Trust

for 13 years, was a Heritage QSuper person --

-Yes, QSuper. -And spent so many years out

on the road talking to members

about all things superannuation, investments,

retirement strategies.

So, you are absolutely so welcome

to our Super Insider Club,

so we can get some knowledge out of your head.

Because today we're talking retirement,

transition to retirement.

[Patrick Dunlop] Transition to retirement.

Indeed, we are.

And, look, I know there are lots of members

thinking about whether this is a strategy

that could be good for them.

So, I'm excited to get into it.

But before we do that,

we have the good old general advice warning.

[Patrick Dunlop] General advice warning.

Yes, yes, yes.

So, off you go.

Before we jump in, I need to let everyone know

that what we're going to talk about

is general information only.

Any advice doesn't take

into account your personal situation.

You should consider your circumstances

and think about getting personal advice

before acting on anything we discuss.

You can also get a copy

of our Product Disclosure Statement from our website,

or by calling us on 13 11 84

if you have a Super Savings account

or 1300 360 750 if you have a QSuper account.

[Anne] Beautiful, Patrick,

and I have to say, you mentioned you were

a radio --

[Patrick Dunlop] Radio, back in the day,

so many lifetimes ago

back in Auckland, New Zealand,

I was on a station that played hits of the seventies,

eighties and nineties and today.

Sounds like my type of station.

[Patrick] Yes, I think it's most people's

type of station, if I'm honest, but I won't ...

We won't get ...

Anyway, it's certainly

great to have you on Super Insider.

So many of our members get to a point,

particularly members who are on their feet

who have physical jobs,

get to 60, late 50, 60,

and just are quite frankly exhausted,

and are crawling to the finish line.

Where obviously other people, retirement's

something they want to put off to never

because they can sit and just work

from their computer.

So, with that context, are you able

to explain, what are the rules around

when you're allowed to retire?

So, once you reach something

called your preservation age,

which is a term I actually don't like -

I, kind of, hate that.

So, preservation or access age,

as I like to call it,

it's based on your date of birth.

So, depending on when you were born,

that determines when you can access your Super.

Once you reach your own personal preservation age,

you can start to draw upon your super if you retire.

But something else you can do for those people

who may be thinking they're crawling

towards their retirement

is something called transition to retirement

where you can continue working

but you can start to draw down some of your super.

And a big reason behind this was just

to allow people to continue to work,

to put in their expertise into their field.

So they still had that experience

that their colleagues could draw upon,

but they were still earning an income.

So, these people might be able

to potentially reduce their working hours,

draw down some of their super,

but maintain the same lifestyle.

And that's really the main idea behind transition to retirement

Which is kind of great

if you want to surf more or look after an ageing parent,

whatever it might be.

But let's maybe go to some of the key ages.

So, in terms of eligibility for the Age Pension, Patrick,

what do our listeners need to know there?

Sure. So, one thing I do want to make clear,

because a lot of people I speak to do get this conflated.

But Age Pension access age

and super access age are completely different.

So, a lot of people don't realise that.

Preservation age determines

your super access eligibility,

whereas the Age Pension requirements determine that.

And for most people born after the 1st of January '57,

their Age Pension access age would be 67,

whereas for most Australians,

their super access age would actually be 60.

So there's a bit of discrepancy there

and, again, a lot of people don't realise that difference.

And what about this transition

to retirement strategy that we're talking about today?

What's the age access there?

Sure. So, again, have

to meet your own personal preservation age.

So, if you are born after the 1st of July 1964,

your preservation age would be 60.

So, once you hit 60, if you decide to continue to work,

you don't need to do transition to retire,

it's just an option available to you.

But once you reach that age,

you could set one up, you could start

to draw upon some funds out of that account

if you wish to maintain your lifestyle.

Like I said before,

maybe you've reduced your working hours,

whatever it might be.

So I'm still getting my take-home pay

with the less hours, and then I'm getting an income.

So, do I move out of my ...

do I get a new super account set up

and so I'm taking income

and that complements my take-home pay?

Yes. So, basically while you're working

you have your money that's receiving contribution

from your employer and yourself, potentially.

So, you'd have to move money out of that account

into a separate standalone Transition to Retirement account.

And from there, that's where you receive those payments.

And you can typically ask to be paid,

what sort of frequency you want.

It's really up to you how you structure it.

But the main thing is a lot of people, I think,

still assume that you can effectively take all

of your funds out of super; that isn't the case.

There is a limit on what you can take

and it is capped at 10 per cent of whatever balance you move

into that account.

But I think there's some really great things

about transition to retirement, tax

and also still seeing the investment earnings.

So, maybe we should talk about those two components

of why TTR is great for members to consider.

Sure. Especially if someone's preservation age was 60,

once you reach the age of 60

any lump sum withdrawal, any income stream payment

from super is 100 per cent tax free.

And I actually love telling my members,

if you're over the age of 60

and your only source of income in retirement

is from super, you never actually have

to speak to the ATO. So, a lot of people love that.

[Anne Fuchs] Woohoo, yay!

Now, of course, a lot of people love that.

But if you're still working,

you start drawing upon - if you're 60,

that would be tax-free.

So, the best aspect of that is you probably

don't have to take as much out of your TTR account

to make up that shortfall of your income,

because you don't have to account for the tax.

I think that's a really important point.

And obviously that money then, too,

it's still being invested, isn't it?

Of course, yes.

So in relation to that, you've still got investment choice.

It's really up to you how you want

that money to be invested.

I've spoken to a lot of members who,

while they were working, building up their super,

they went a bit more aggressive to try to grow it.

But when they moved some money

into their Transition to Retirement, or TTR, account,

they made it a bit more defensive.

So, you can absolutely do that;

it doesn't have to be the same investment approach.

It's really your choice,

but you still do have investment choice,

which is important to know.

There are some other products that super funds offer

where you don't have that kind of choice.

So, it's really important to understand TTR does offer

that choice for you.

And if you're thinking about the right investment choice,

we do have a podcast with Liz Kumaru,

who's from one of our investment professionals,

which gives a real deep dive

into the different investment options.

If you are listening to what Patrick's talking about

and thinking, 'Okay, what would be the right thing for me?'

So, is it easy, if you've got to the point

you're working, you're winding down your hours,

what is it about your personal situation then

that makes you then think,

'All right. Well, TTR is no longer right.

I need to just move into, say, Income,

an Income account, or that type of thing'?

You can have a TTR account up to the age of 65.

Once you hit 65, again, a lot of people don't realise this,

but you then have full access to your super.

So, even if you're still working,

you've got 100 per cent access; you can take all of it out.

So, once you hit 65, TTR doesn't apply,

it's just a standard Income account.

But to answer that question,

I'd actually have to pose that question back to the person.

So, I would say, 'Look, if you're thinking

about completely winding up,

what are you thinking of doing

in your retirement?

What is that going to look like?

How much money do you require every year?'

So, I ask these sorts of questions

when I get asked about TTR just to try

to determine what steps would be right

for the person I'm speaking to.

And I think that's spot-on

again, Patrick; everyone's situation is different.

Are they retiring with a mortgage?

Are they not?

Which is why advice comes in.

I do worry, though, a lot of members - I worry

and I see the great work our team does talking

to members about the risks of just pulling it all out

and putting it in the bank.

Or hiding it under the bed, even worse,

and the impact that has

in terms of the quality of people's retirement.

Absolutely. Again, when people come up to me

and say, 'Look, do I need a TTR account?',

my first question is, 'Do you need access to cash?'

If their answer is, no,

then it's probably not right for them.

But if they say,

'Look, I do, because I'm reducing my hours',

or 'Yes, I do, because I'm increasing my contributions in,

which reduces my take-home pay',

or 'I simply need to pay off my mortgage',

I'd say to them, 'Look, TTR could be right for you.'

But I always explain, just remember

you could be potentially robbing from your future self

to pay your current self.

Is that the right move for you?

And that, of course, is where advice and guidance comes in.

So, if they do get to that level,

'Yes, I do need some access to cash', I'd say,

'Look, get some level advice just

to make sure it is right for you.'

But I've had a lot of people who come up to me to say,

'Look, I've been told I should do TTR. Should I do it?'

And as soon as I ask that question,

'Do you need access to cash while you're working?',

as soon as they say ‘no’ it's not right.

So, I always ask that question

because, again, it really determines should they need

that type of account or not.

A lot of people are told that they need it

and they probably don't in the long run.

I know members find this very daunting.

There aren't high levels of financial literacy in Australia.

[Patrick] That's right.

And retirement is a very emotionally charged time.

Just the pure emotions associated

with the actual or perceived complexity

of having to deal with super fund, income,

potentially Centrelink, can be overwhelming.

What are your reflections, Patrick,

as someone who's spoken to members for 13 years

about actually the wellbeing part for our members

around that transitioning into retirement?

What I find is the people who do want to do a TTR account,

a lot of them just want to keep working.

So, for me, like, I always ask a question

at my seminars, 'Who loves working?'

I put my hand up because I've been doing this job

for 12 years or 13 years, but 12 years in this role.

And a lot of people just want to continue working.

But what they realise is that by giving five days a week

they're really not going to last much longer,

and that could actually impact the quality

of their retirement as well.

So, with this TTR approach, it just does allow them

to ease off the gas towards the end of their working career

so they can slowly ease into that retirement.

And for a lot of people that's the best way for them

to maintain their lifestyle.

And we do see a lot of people

who maybe pull the pin immediately.

They often feel maybe a bit disillusioned with retirement,

not quite sure it's right for them,

even jump back into work.

But by winding down those hours slowly

over a period of time, drawing upon their super,

it gives them a ‘try before you buy’ type of approach.

So, it's a really great approach if you're thinking

of retirement but you're not entirely sure,

or as I keep saying if you just need access to cash.

I know many members, they get to their sixties

and they are either embarrassed or scared to look

at their balance because they then are regretful,

'I wish I'd done more earlier.’

‘I wish I'd paid more attention earlier.’

And I guess this is, it's like,

I always use the sunscreen analogy:

it's never too late to put on sunscreen.

It's never too late to get your skin checked.

And equally, too, the choices about

how you make your retirement income last,

there's obviously take more investment risk,

work longer, pass away earlier.

No-one wants to do that.

So, therefore, this is an opportunity to extend --

[Patrick] That's right.

Extend that money, their contributions.

So, it's a nice kind of middle ...

And the other thing, too,

if they do decide to stop working,

obviously no more income from their employer,

no more contributions from their employer.

Whereas by doing that TTR approach,

still getting some income from their employer

and contributions as well.

So, it's a two-pronged approach.

It really can help that super last the distance

by simply still contributing to it

for a few more years for them, absolutely.

Well, I know that you

and the team are out in our regions.

We have these webinars on YouTube.

What's your favourite thing about your job, Patrick?

My favourite thing would be doing

what we call our Member Directs,

which are normally to about 200-300 people.

It's just because you actually see that instant reaction.

I always love to tell a story

of two couples I've met in my time in working for ART.

And one couple I met retired with about $1.3 million.

They had this approach in terms of

what they were going to do.

They were going to travel the world.

One of their cruises they were going to do was $66,000 each.

They were going to do all these sorts of things.

And then I compare that to another couple I met

who retired with $300,000.

They were going to buy a caravan, travel around Australia.

Very different approaches for retirement.

Five years later I saw both of those couples again.

The couple with $300,000 still had most of their balance,

but that couple with $1.3 million had spent every cent.

So, it really comes back

to firstly advice and guidance,

but really figuring out what your lifestyle is going to be.

So, that's why I think a TTR approach can be really good

for a lot of people,

because it simply means your super is going

to potentially last a lot longer,

because you're still contributing to it

and you're not drawing out of your super as much

compared to someone who's fully retired.

Thank you so much for all you do

and bringing that knowledge and passion here today

to Super Insider.

It's been wonderful having you on the program.

[Patrick] You're welcome. Thank you so much.

You can find us on YouTube,

on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify.

I just like saying Spotify

because I pretend I’m famous for a tic and

hopefully my kids see me one day

with their Hip Hop and Rap playlists.

Tell your family and friends about it.

We really want Super Insider to be that accessible way

for you to educate yourself about your most precious -

probably the biggest asset

or second biggest asset you'll ever own.

So, thanks for joining us

and we look forward to you joining us again soon.

Any advice given is provided by representatives of Sunsuper Financial Services Pty Ltd (ABN 50 087 154 818, AFSL 227867) or QInvest Limited (ABN 35 063 511 580, AFSL 238274), both wholly owned by the Trustee as an asset of Australian Retirement Trust. As representatives, they may recommend ART superannuation products when they are appropriate. Please refer to the relevant Financial Service Guides available at for Super Savings and at for QSuper. The content is provided for general information and educational purposes only, any personal views and opinions in this podcast are not necessarily the views of the Trustee.

This information and all products are issued by Australian Retirement Trust Pty Ltd ABN 88 010 720 840 AFSL No. 228975, the trustee of the Fund, Australian Retirement Trust ABN 60 905 115 063. Any reference to "QSuper" is a reference to the Government Division of the Fund. Information is correct at the time of publishing. This is general information only and does not take into account the investment objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. You should consider if the information is appropriate to your own circumstances before acting on it. You should also consider the relevant Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) before deciding to acquire or continue to hold any financial product and also the relevant Target Market Determination (TMD). For a copy of the PDS or TMD, please phone 13 11 84 or go to the Australian Retirement Trust website at or for QSuper products visit or call us on 1300 360 750 for a copy.