Planning Retirement

How to Retire with Safety and Security

Dr. Wade Pfau is a leading expert on the subject of retirement. He is the Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services and is also Co-Director at the New York Life Center for Retirement Income.

Dr. Pfau has made many powerful contributions in the field of retirement income planning. One is adding insights to the ‘safety-first’ school of retirement planning thought, or where a retirement plan is built on a safety-first approach.

How a Safety-First Approach Can Help with Financial Stress

In an interview with Wharton School of Business podcast knowledge@wharton, Dr. Pfau talked about how retirees can reduce the amount of financial stress that they feel after they stop working.

Here are some highlights from that interview. It’s good to keep these things in mind as we plan for our own financial futures.

Read More

Sequence of Returns Risk in Retirement

Sequence of Returns Risk in Retirement

Most people would be thrilled at the prospect of 10% average annual returns or higher in retirement. But now that folks are living longer, they face more challenges than just adequate returns. With decades of retired living on the horizon, people must ensure their portfolios last as long as they might need them.

Sequence of returns risk can affect your long-term income the most in your early-retirement years. That is the timespan just before and right after you retire. You may have heard of that period called the “retirement red zone,” or generally the 10-year spread prior to and after retirement.

It’s true that average returns (including dividends) for the S&P 500 from 1928 to 2021 have exceeded 10%. But averages can be deceiving for long-term income planning. What matters just as much is the order of returns, or the actual timing of when a portfolio grows or loses value. As we will see, losses in those early years could make or break your income goals, setting up the risk of running out of retirement money.

This potential hazard is called sequence of returns risk, or just sequence risk. To illustrate it, we will talk about it in two formats: by analogy and then through two hypothetical portfolio scenarios. Read More

A Guide to Professional Designations for Financial Advisors

professional-designations-for-financial-advisors-guide

If you are looking for someone to help you with preparing for retirement, you might have come across financial professionals with alphabet soup after their name. What those letters generally represent are professional designations.

These designations are programs in which an advisor has completed certain studies and exams in order to have professional recognition of their expertise in a certain field. For example, some designations for financial advisors cover retirement income planning.

Other designations deal with high-level knowledge and planning concepts around life insurance products. Then some designation programs recognize an advisor for high-level knowledge of overall concepts, such as around investments, retirement, taxes, financial planning, insurance, risk management, and estate planning.

Read More

Sequencing Risk and Its Challenges for Retirement Planning

Sequencing Risk and Its Challenges for Retirement Planning

If you look at any financial commentary, there is at least an article a day talking about investment risk. Investment risk, or the risk of losses due to market downs, is always something that we should be conscious of. But, for retirement investors, there is an even bigger risk than investment risk: sequencing risk.

This type of risk can be more dangerous than pure market risk because of the effects that it can have on your long-term retirement outlook. This can have a nasty impact especially if your money takes a hit in your early retirement years.

Sequencing risk looks at the order in which your portfolio returns occur. If you take losses early in your retirement, then it will impact your finances for the rest of your life. And you might well spend the rest of your retirement playing “catch-up” from those losses, especially if you were already drawing income from your portfolio and compounding the effects of those losses even further.

Sequencing risk can have strong effects on people’s financial wellness that can span years. So, it’s critical to have a strategy in place for this possibility, especially if you are in the retirement red zone (within 10 years before or after retirement). Read More

Don’t Make This Common Retirement Planning Mistake

Don't Make This Common Retirement Planning Mistake

Many Americans worry about whether they have saved enough to have a comfortable retirement. But, surprisingly, most haven’t actually crunched the numbers to estimate how much money they will need in retirement in order to live comfortably.

According to a survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, just 42% of Americans have attempted to calculate how much money they might need for retirement. In other words, almost 60% haven’t estimated how income they might require.

A Gap Between Retirement Confidence and Readiness?

In the survey, just 3 in 10 people said they have tried to estimate how much they might pay in healthcare expenses during retirement. These are sobering findings, considering that many people report they are confident in knowing how much money they need to live comfortably in retirement.

Six in 10 (67%) said they were “somewhat confident” about their understanding of their income needs. As for higher levels of assurance, two in 10 (23%) said they were “very confident.”

However, as the Employee Benefit Research Institute’s other findings show, the vast majority of retirement savers haven’t actually calculated how much money they might actually need. This could set retirement savers up for a future of unnecessary stress – and even reduced lifestyles. Read More

How to Find the Best Retirement Planning Companies

How to Find the Best Retirement Planning Companies

When you near retirement it’s an important life transition. For one, this period brings changes to money matters. Now is time to examine portfolio assets and consider how you will use them for income to sustain your retirement lifestyle. A good retirement planning company can help you plan for this transition.

Retirement Planning Companies May Have Different Specialties

However, investors have many options of financial firms in today’s industry. Different firms can vary in the unique expertise to the table. Some companies specialize in investment management and others in financial planning, for example.

While similar in some ways to financial planning and investment management, retirement planning is different. It concerns advice on the distribution of money and how people will use the money for income needs.  

Business Type Also Matters

There is also the question of business organization. Some firms are just one of many broker offices for huge financial companies, while other firms are small, local businesses. Whether they have a captive or an independent status may influence the kinds and selections of the retirement products they can offer you.

So, all of this adds up to many retirement planning options for investors. How do you choose the right partner for you? Let’s take a look at some questions to answer. Read More

How Severe Was the Market Drop Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

How Severe Was the Market Drop Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic?

The novel coronavirus pandemic has had an economic toll that has affected tens of millions of people. Everyone has felt the impact in some form or fashion.

Many people have lost their jobs. Millions of others have been furloughed. Those saving for retirement and those already retired have also had some surprises.

Equity market indexes saw record-breaking swings. Beforehand, those 1,000-point-or-more swings had taken months or even years to occur.

In the first quarter of 2020, some happened as quickly as in 24 hours. Given all this, it’s natural for us to think about how much of a toll that the early days of the pandemic had on everyone’s retirement security.

In an article by the Urban Institute, Richard W. Johnson talks about seven ways that the Covid-19 pandemic could undermine the retirement plans of many. Read More

6 Ways to Help You Weather Market Volatility

6 Ways to Help You Weather Market Volatility

After we enjoyed the sweet ride of an 11-year bull market, market volatility is back in style now. Where things will go from here is anyone’s guess. But even more importantly, what about you and your personal outlook?

How can you take steps to protect what you have accumulated over the years? Can you do anything to help you ride out this wild wave of volatility?

You can, and there are steps you can take right away. If they make sense, some tools and strategies that you might consider could add more stability, predictability, and certainty to your portfolio.

Here are six ideas that you can put to work right now. Read More

Life Expectancy and Retirement – How Can Longevity Affect Your Financial Future?

Life Expectancy and Retirement - How Can Longevity Affect Your Financial Future?

Not everyone thinks this way, but the idea of ‘living forever’ appeals to many people. Or, at least, the thought of living a longer, healthier life.

There can be many upsides to living longer. Think about how you could share more in the lives of loved ones from younger generations. You would have a front-row seat to see exciting developments in technology and medical services.

You might have the chance to witness new history-making events. At the very least, it would give you the opportunity to see the impact of your lifelong legacy.

Over the past century, life expectancy in the United States rose by over 30 years. It’s no wonder why financial researchers say that people can spend as much as one-third of their lives in retirement nowadays.

Advances in healthcare, medicine, and technology have led to better management of childhood infectious diseases as well as improvements in healthcare for adults’ quality of life. Because of this, people face the prospect of longer retirements and more years that they will have to cover financially than was so in the past.

It’s clear that increasing life expectancy has and will continue to have big effects on retirement. Among other goals, the primary challenge is figuring out how much income you will need to sustain your preferred lifestyle over many years. Read More

Heed Your Target Retirement Age When You Plan for Retirement

Heed Your Target Retirement Age When You Plan for Retirement

Several factors come into play when you plan for your retirement. Your age, longevity, and the returns that you will earn from your retirement portfolio are just a few. In some form or fashion, all of those can play into your target retirement age.

But one frequently overlooked factor is the day that you will stop working. You may think that you will keep working until you are 70. Nevertheless, this is often an overestimation of how long you will stay in the workforce.

The fact is that you will probably not continue to work for as long as you think you will. That might be due either to health factors or the need to care for parents (or maybe other elderly family members).

This factor can substantially impact your retirement plans by either forcing you to forego retirement goals such as traveling and hobbies or live a significantly diminished lifestyle. Read More

Next Steps to Consider

  • Start a Conversation About Your Retirement What-Ifs

    retirement planning services next steps

    Start a Conversation About Your Retirement What-Ifs

    Already working with someone or thinking about getting help? Ask us about what is on your mind. Learn More

  • What Independent Guidance
    Does for You

    independent vs captive advice

    What Independent Guidance
    Does for You

    See how the crucial differences between independent and captive financial professionals add up. Learn More

  • Stories from Others
    Just Like You

    safe money working with us

    Stories from Others
    Just Like You

    Hear from others who had financial challenges, were looking for answers, and how we helped them find solutions. Learn More

Proud Member