A Wharton School professor emeritus says women may be wise to ignore advisors who tell them to cope with long lifespans by loading up on stocks and stock funds.
David Babbel, who was a fellow at the Wharton Financial Institutions Center at the University of Pennsylvania and a founder of the pension and insurance department at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York, comes to that conclusion in a paper released by the center.
Babbel received some of the funding for his work from New York Life Insurance Company, New York.
Conventional wisdom suggests that women should protect against the risk of outliving their retirement savings by accepting a higher level of investment risk in exchange for higher anticipated returns, Babbel writes in the paper.
One problem with keeping retirement savings in ordinary stock, bond or mutual fund arrangements is that “the temptation is always there for you or your spendthrift spouse to spend extra, or to get hit up by a grandchild that needs a new boat, or sought by others that know that your money is sitting there and available,” Babbel writes.
If the stock market and bond market do poorly, then the retirement savings might run out early even if a retiree is careful with her money, Babbel writes.
Recent studies have shown that, “contrary to conventional wisdom, when there is uncertainty about the long-term expected returns in stocks (which there certainly is), longer investment horizons, such as those for retiring individuals, imply substantially lower allocations to stocks than those usually suggested,” Babbel writes. “Those studies also show that most investors, even professional money managers, substantially under-perform the stock indices upon which many advisors base their recommendations for taking greater financial risk.”
Buying immediate income annuities from solid insurers with relatively low costs can result in returns that are much higher than the returns from bonds or bank certificates of deposit with a much lower level of risk, Babbel contends.
Babbel writes that the main barriers to increasing sales of immediate annuities seem to be the bad publicity that deferred annuities have received over the years and consumers’ tendency to want to hold on to lump sums of cash.
The solution is for consumers to look for income annuities that offer holders features such as death benefits and the ability to withdraw lump sums to cope with genuine emergencies, Babbel writes.