Retirement Planning Process
We believe managing your wealth to produce an income during retirement is fundamentally different from managing your wealth while accumulating assets for retirement. This is why we have developed a clear and disciplined process to efficiently manage those distributions for a long and prosperous retirement.
What to consider
If you are near retirement — or have already retired — many complex issues may be on your mind including:
- Decisions relating to managing distributions from your retirement savings, social security and managing health care expenses;
- Understanding the effects market performance may have on your assets — as well as the impact inflation has on your spending power; and
- Balancing your current income needs with the risk of running out of money tomorrow.
What you can expect
Your financial advisor will guide you through our five-step process designed exclusively for retirement income planning and help you through the risks and choices all retirees face. Together, you can implement strategies customized for your specific financial objectives — using our broad range of world-class investment and cash management products and solutions.
Step one: analyze your retirement needs
The purpose of the first step is gaining a thorough understanding of what makes your retirement and financial life unique. And the pay off is having the information necessary to plan effectively.
Identify what you envision
Retirement may mean many things
to you; time for favorite hobbies,
leisure pursuits, travel and personal enrichment; to support causes important to you; to spend with the people you care about and to create the legacy by which you will someday be remembered.
Your financial advisor will help you prioritize your personal lifestyle goals and set realistic expectations about how you may achieve them financially.
Determine the parameters of your retirement
While we must explore a variety of important questions related to your ability to create income in retirement, we can help make finding the relevant answers a manageable experience for you.
We’ll work with you to document your resources:
- What investments do you currently have?
- How much will your Social Security benefit be and when is the best time to begin taking it?
- Do you have other sources of income (pension, rental income, inheritance, reverse mortgage, etc.)?We also will help you identify your retirement income needs by categorizing your expenses into:
- Living expenses — Basic living expenses that must be covered such as food, clothing, shelter, health care and utilities; and
- Lifestyle expenses — Expenses
that may be considered above and beyond your basic living expenses. Perhaps these are the “wants” of your retirement years, such as travel and entertainment.
In addition you should plan for unexpected expenses that may arise and/or wealth transfer goals.
A key consideration: sustainability
An important factor in determining your success in retirement is your withdrawal rate, which is the percentage of income withdrawn from your portfolio. For example, if you have a $1 million portfolio, and you withdraw $40,000, your withdrawal rate is 4% ($40,000 divided by $1 million).
In retirement, you want to increase
the probability of not running out of money or more importantly, income. So, it is critical to choose a sustainable withdrawal rate. You will need to determine what length of time you want to plan for, 15, 20, 30, 35, 40 years and what probability of success you are comfortable with.
There have been numerous studies done on this subject using either Monte Carlo simulation or historical returns. They generally point to a 4% initial withdrawal rate if you are planning for
a 30-year retirement and want a 90%+ chance of success. Shorter horizons and lower probabilities can increase the initial withdrawal rate.
The following table summarizes the results of an influential paper written by professors at Trinity University: full results can be found in our fact sheet and white paper “Choosing a sustainable withdrawal rate.”
Part of determining a sustainable withdrawal rate is striking a balance between short-term and long-term needs. Drawing too heavily — especially in the early years, during periods of market volatility or when investments have lost value — could put you at risk of running out too soon. Take too little, and you run the risk of needlessly denying yourself the ability to enjoy your money. Which is why we minimize these risks by making yearly adjustments based on inflation and your portfolio.
Retirement needs analyzed
By listening to you and answering
your questions, your financial advisor can help you gather the information required to make prudent and practical recommendations about the choices available. This includes helping you evaluate the retirement planning concerns, as well as defining the expenses you see as living and those expenses that are more lifestyle.
Together, we will use the information from your personal retirement analysis to understand your income needs during retirement. From there we can calculate a withdrawal rate to illustrate your probability of success.
Step two: build a foundation
The purpose of the second step is creating an assured income base. The pay off is having a dependable income stream to cover some or all of your living expenses, no matter how long you live.
Build your foundation
Think of this as creating your own personal pension — an assured income to fund your unique retirement needs, no matter how long you may live. Our goal is to complement your existing assured income sources like Social Security and perhaps a pension or annuity. This can help protect against longevity risk, market risk and depending on the product you use, inflation risk.
Your financial advisor will help you determine the gap, if any, between your living expenses, determined in step one, and your assured income sources. We will then determine how much of this gap you want to cover — all, a portion or none of it, balancing your desire for assured income versus the potential of creating more income through higher returns or higher yields. With the understanding that taking additional risk may also increase the chance of losses in your portfolio.
Some factors to consider in determining the amount of assets you want to dedicate to a foundation:
• Withdrawal rate — The lower your withdrawal rate, the smaller the foundation you may need.
• Risk tolerance — Conservative investors prefer certainty and products that offer downside protection and assured income. The more conservative you are, the larger the foundation you may want.
• Life expectancy — The longer you think you will live past the averages, the more assured income you should consider.
When building a foundation you will want to use investment solutions that are insured or risk-free.
- High quality fixed-income instruments such as Treasuries, Certificates of Deposit, Zero Coupon Bonds, Treasury Inflation Protected securities.
- Insured products include Single Premium Immediate Annuities, Variable Annuities, Fixed Index Annuities and Deferred Income Annuities. These products can assure a predictable lifetime income.Your financial advisor can discuss the cost of these options along with the advantages and disadvantages based on the current market environment.Consider a hypothetical exampleLet’s say we’ve determined you need $100,000 a year in retirement and of that $60,000 is needed to cover your living expenses. Let’s also say you will receive $30,000 a year in Social Security and $10,000 from a pension indicating a gap of $20,000. If your retirement assets were to be depleted, you would still have these assured income streams, but would that be enough? We will determine how much of the $20,000 gap you want to cover and what type of investment solution fits best based on your individual circumstances.The outcome: a solid financialfoundation for your retirementOur goal is to create a foundation you are comfortable with and that will continue as long as you live, regardless of what happens in the market.You’ll gain peace of mind and greater confidence knowing you have created a foundation for your financial independence while guarding against the financial risks commonly faced by retirees.
Step three: establish a withdrawal strategy
The purpose of the third step is to determine how you will create your retirement income from your lifestyle portfolio that will supplement the assured income from your foundation. The pay off is having a source of income for your lifestyle and unexpected expenses, as well as protecting assets for your wealth transfer goals.
Four facts to keep in mind
1. The first two steps of our retirement income planning process helped us analyze your income needs and build a foundation of assured income for your living expenses.
2. For your assets not allocated to your foundation, we will help you choose a withdrawal strategy for distributions from your “lifestyle portfolio.”
3. There are numerous withdrawal strategies we can use, some with more assurances than others.
4. It is important to use a withdrawal strategy that is suitable for your goals, feelings about risk, time horizon, current market conditions and
your retirement income and wealth transfer goals.
Choosing a withdrawal strategy for your lifestyle portfolio requires careful decision-making. No two investors are alike, and the strategy and portfolio allocation that works for your relatives, friends, and colleagues may not be appropriate for your unique needs.
Strategies to explore
While enjoying retirement, timing can be critical because you are liquidating assets to support expenses and not reinvesting. A key goal with your withdrawal strategy is how to prevent being in a position of having to sell your retirement assets when they are down. You and your financial advisor may want to compare the relative merits of several withdrawal strategies before choosing the one that is most suitable for your goals and circumstances:
• Income only — Withdrawing only interest and dividends from investments and leaving principal alone;
• “Bucket” approach — Setting aside cash and/or bonds for a few years of income to creating specific portfolios dedicated to short, intermediate and long-term needs;
• Systematic withdrawal — Taking a pre-determined percentage or dollar amount during each time period from a diversified portfolio.
Just like you did in step two, you should consider the following factors when evaluating which withdrawal strategy best fits your needs:
- Withdrawal rate — The lower your withdrawal rate the more options you have, e.g. in a low interest rate environment, it’s difficult to use an income only strategy if your withdrawal rate is too high.
- Risk tolerance — If you are an aggressive investor, the income only strategy may not appeal to you.
- Life expectancy — The shorter your time horizon, the more options you have available.Harvesting strategiesIn a paper published in the Journal
of Financial Planning (March 2006), Jonathon Guyton describes guidelines he developed on how best to harvest assets from a portfolio to generate retirement income. In general he found that it’s important to try and avoid selling assets that are down in value and when possible to harvest in the following order:1. Income from interest and dividends distributed first2. Asset classes with positive returns• Begin with equities
• Then fixed income3. Cash holdings
4. Assets with negative returns
- Begin with fixed income
- Then equities
Mr. Guyton’s work did not take into account the affect of taxes, so in some cases it may make sense to sell assets
at a loss to help off set gains. Every situation is different, so in some cases harvesting from one or several accounts in this particular order may not be the most efficient way of generating the income needed. For more information on managing tax liabilities in retirement, ask your advisor for a copy of “Tax considerations for retirement income planning.”
Step four: implement products & solutions
The purpose of the fourth step is to build a portfolio that creates the income you need for today and the growth you desire in the future. There are fundamental differences between constructing a portfolio to help grow your wealth (accumulation) as compared to building a portfolio that will help create your retirement income (distribution).
The major differences are sequence of returns and volatility. Having to create income by selling assets that have experienced loses can prematurely deplete a portfolio.
The withdrawal strategy you chose in Step 3 will help determine how your portfolio should be structured. By building a portfolio that generates most or all of the income needed, it can help minimize the affects of having to sell assets, but it will also need to balance the growth needed to offset inflation.
Your portfolio, and the investments within your portfolio will need to change over time as you age and as markets shift from low interest rates to high and bear markets to bull. Your financial advisor can help make recommendations that are most suitable for your circumstances in all market environments.
Based on the strategy you select, your financial advisor can recommend a wide variety of asset allocations and investment products and solutions such as:
• Stocks / dividend paying investments • Fixed income
• Alternative investments
• Mutual funds
• Closed-end funds
• Professional money managers • Annuities
The outcome: a well-diversifiedsource of retirement income
By supplementing your assured income with income from your lifestyle portfolio, you will enjoy the flexibility of allocating money toward lifestyle and unexpected expenses, as well as your wealth transfer goals.
You’ll gain peace of mind and greater confidence knowing you have the opportunity to create both assured income that you cannot outlive and lifestyle income that helps you guard against the effects of inflation and other risks commonly faced by retirees.
Step five: review and monitor yourprogress
The final step in our process is to make adjustments to help preserve your portfolio throughout your retirement. The pay off is having the ability to correct your retirement income plan when it gets off track, as well as to adapt to new income needs you may encounter in retirement.
Flexibility for strength
As we review your retirement income plan we know that you will either be ahead of plan or behind plan. We
will review where you are today then illustrate where the plan estimates you will be a year from now based on the assumptions we made:
• Retirement goals and expectations —Has there been a change in your retirement goals and expectations?
• Assets — Are your assets higher or lower than the projection?
• Income — Were your income estimates correct? Did you receive any unexpected cash inflows?
• Spending — Is your spending, including taxes, what you anticipated?
• Portfolio — Was the return on the portfolio higher or lower than we estimated? Does your portfolio need adjusting based on the current market environment?
• Withdrawal rate — Does your actual withdrawal rate fall in a level of success you are comfortable with based on your time horizon? (Use Trinity Study)
• Inflation — Do you need to increase your spending for inflation (CPI)?
• Foundation — Is your foundation covering the expenses you need it to?
• Withdrawal strategy — Does your strategy still fit your situation and the current market?
Your spending needs may change from year to year due to factors like lifestyle changes, and inflation. To help balance your changing needs with the importance of preserving your portfolio, we will incorporate two spending rules developed and back-tested by Jonathon Guyton:
- If the return on your portfolio is positive, we can increase your income based on inflation (CPI) from the previous year, with a maximum increase of 6%; but
- If your portfolio return is negative, your income for the upcoming year will not be increased.
Spending and harvesting rules —study results
By utilizing the two spending rules along with the harvesting strategies, Jonathon Guyton found that over
40 year rolling periods (1928-2004)
a retiree could increase their initial withdrawal rate by 1.00% to 1.30%, with a 95% confidence level.
The outcome: a retirement incomeplan offering a greater sense ofcontrol
“Some people make things happen. Some people let things happen. And some people wonder what happened.” There may be some truth to this popular adage. While some things are beyond our control as individuals, if you see yourself as a “make things happen” kind of person, when it comes to your retirement you may appreciate the ability to both identify what you can control and take appropriate action that is offered by this step of our retirement income planning process.
You’ll gain peace of mind and greater confidence knowing you have defined your retirement income goals, implemented an appropriate plan
to achieve them and are taking a systematic approach to reviewing and monitoring your progress.
Take steps toward financialfreedom during retirement
While you are enjoying a long, happy retirement, we’ll repeat the review and monitor step on a regular basis. Should we determine that changes may help you be even more successful at building, preserving, enjoying and sharing your wealth, it will be relatively easy for us
to repeat other steps of our retirement income planning processes, as required.
Your retirement is too important to prepare for only once in a lifetime. It is worthy of a customized retirement income plan, periodically measured, thoughtfully evaluated and methodically revised as your life and your needs evolve, grow and mature. Contact your financial advisor today for help creating the financial future you want.
You may find that a particular investment philosophy can work well over time — and yet, during periods of market turmoil, you might be able to take advantage of opportunities by following an approach that complements — but doesn’t replace — your tried-and-true strategy.
Liberty Partners We recognize the importance of selecting and designing the most appropriate retirement plan for you and your employees. Employers who provide a solid retirement plan are better positioned to recruit, retain and reward quality people needed to keep a...read more
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