03 February, 2022

Team Spirit profile: Marie

For Sydney born and bred Superannuation Adviser, Marie, helping members achieve a better retirement is what she loves most about her job.

‘When a member comes to me confused about their super, and I can give them information and advice that could improve their financial future, that gives me a real buzz.’

Marie began working for MTAA Super almost a decade ago before transitioning to Spirit Super. In a previous life, she owned and ran a successful Sydney restaurant with her husband, George.

‘We had a bar and grill on George Street for two years in the early 90s. We had some really interesting clientele, including celebrities and big names in the corporate world. It was a lot of fun, but also very hard work. We did it all ourselves. The bookwork, paying bills, ordering, advertising, making super contributions for our staff. I now have a deep respect for anyone running their own business.’

After leaving hospitality to start a family, Marie became an admin manager for an industry association.

‘I mainly dealt with furniture manufacturers and kitchen companies. While I was there, a job came up with the Furniture Industry Super Fund. Because I knew a lot of the employers in that industry, I thought it would be a great fit for me. I began studying an Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, and then, when I heard that an adviser role had come up at MTAA Super, I thought that would be a logical next step in my career.’

Initially, Marie provided general information and advice. Since then, she has become qualified to provide personal advice to help members get the most out of their specific situation.

‘I can talk about investment options, make recommendations, do projections, provide contribution advice. I can meet with a young person who’s just starting out in the workforce and ask, ‘Can you afford to contribute $10 a week to your super? Great, now let’s do a projection to see how much you could have at age 65’. Usually, when they see the results, they can’t believe the difference.’

Marie finds that members are often surprised to learn that there’s more than one way to grow super.

‘They can arrange to salary sacrifice through their employer, or they might want to make a lump sum payment before the end of the financial year to take advantage of their annual contribution caps. Depending on their income, they might be eligible for a government co-contribution, or they might make a spouse contribution into their spouse’s super account and be eligible to claim a tax offset. The best way to contribute depends on their individual situation.’

Meeting with hundreds of members every year, Marie encounters a lot of recurring super misconceptions.

‘A lot of young members don’t realise the super guarantee is generally in addition to their wages. They think it comes out of their pay. They often don’t know they can choose their investment options too. This is important for young members and those getting close to retirement. The young ones can often benefit from being in a higher risk option because they have time on their side. There’s still time for the markets to recover if they take a dip. But for those nearing retirement, they don’t want that potential volatility. For them, it’s about protecting their life savings.’

In the lead-up to retirement, members’ concerns often turn to how long their super might last.

‘This really depends on the retirement lifestyle they want to lead. Some people are happy to lead a quiet life, but others want to do more and go travelling, or they might have a health concern and need money to pay those bills. So, I ask lots of questions to get a clear understanding of the budget they’ll need, and then I can work out how long their super will last. Based on my calculations, they might decide to retire straight away, or they might want to keep working a bit longer so they can continue to contribute to their super until they reach their goal.’

Marie strongly recommends that members get in touch with a super expert in the lead-up to retirement, not just to talk about how much they need but how they will access their super.

‘Some members retire and stop contributing, but leave their money in an accumulation account. If they haven’t been in to see us, they often don’t know about the potential tax benefits of putting their money into a pension account. In a pension account, their money can still earn returns, but they’re not paying the tax that they would in an accumulation account. Whether they’re easing into retirement or saying goodbye to working altogether, we have three pension options to meet their needs.’

When asked what her ideal retirement would look like, Marie doesn’t hesitate.

‘I just want to travel! I love LA and Disneyland! I think I’ve been six times! It’s something we love to do as a family. I first went there on my honeymoon 29 years ago. Since then, we’ve been five times as a family. We went in 2018 for our 25th wedding anniversary and renewed our vows in an Elvis Presley chapel in Las Vegas. Ideally, I’d love to get there this year for our 30th wedding anniversary, but that might have to wait.’

Would you like to chat with a super expert?

Whether you’re new to the workforce or heading towards retirement, a chat with a super expert can help you feel more confident about the decisions you’re making about your super. Give us a call on 1800 005 166.


Any advice given in this article is provided by Quadrant First Pty Ltd (ABN 78 102 167 877, AFSL 284443) (Spirit Super Advice), which is wholly owned by Motor Trades Association of Australia Superannuation Fund Pty. Limited (ABN 14 008 650 628, AFSL 238718), the trustee of Spirit Super (ABN 74 559 365 913). A copy of the Financial services guide for Spirit Super Advice is available at or by calling us on 1800 005 166. You should consider the Product disclosure statement and Target market determination available at or by calling 1800 005 166 before deciding if the fund is appropriate for you.

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