It is becoming increasingly clear that a commonly accepted precept of retirement income management is sub-optimal for many retirees. It will have to be revised.
The precept is that older people should have close to half their assets, or more, in fixed investments, and the fixed part of the portfolio should grow as people age.
Indeed, a majority of financial advisors say they usually recommend that people become more conservative in their investing when they retire. This finding came from a recent survey by Mathew Greenwald & Associates. Over half say they would recommend 65-year-olds with $500,000 in investable assets to have about half or less of their assets invested in equities.
A variety of forces are rendering that approach obsolete, including the rampant under-funding of retirement by the coming generation of retirees and the greater likelihood that new retirees will not have income from defined benefit plans.
Many people enter retirement with 3 attributes which, in combination, pose huge difficulties to financial security. These attributes are:
–A lot of remaining life expectancy.
–High lifestyle expectations.
–Relatively small levels of accumulation.
In view of those factors, having a high proportion of assets in bonds or bank certificates of deposit can reduce overall returns too much for the long retirement many can expect to have.
Retirees who have saved a minimal amount–which is most of them–simply must expose more assets to the risk of the equity markets in order to have a chance to get the returns they need.
Naturally, some difficulties are associated with this non-traditional approach, but there are potential solutions too. The difficulties center around the fact that many retirees are afraid of taking on more investment risk, and a market downturn early in retirement can severely hurt those heavily exposed to equities.
Fear of investment loss is real, according to a recent survey commissioned by NAVA, Inc., Reston, Va. This survey sampled 1,000 people ages 55 to 80 with investable assets of at least $75,000. Almost half (44%) of the older people surveyed say they are willing to take only little or no risk of investment loss. Just 57% can accept an investment loss of just 4% or more without feeling “very insecure.”