Americans have under-saved and will need more than withdrawals from savings to survive retirement. An optimal withdrawal strategy and asset allocation, delaying Social Security, annuitizing, tapping home equity and possibly working longer need to be evaluated. Let’s take a typical American couple and evaluate which options improve retirement consumption.
Most research on retirement strategies assumes that people have saved adequately. But data on household savings shows that many households fall short, and will need to call on relatives or other sources for support. This raises questions about the best withdrawal or annuity strategies when savings are insufficient. It turns out that which strategy works best is different than for adequately funded retirements.
A strategy that combines variable withdrawals with partial annuitization using a single-premium immediate annuity maximizes the cash available for consumption.
Although the general concept of mortality credits is widely understood, the underlying math is not. Understanding the math can help with decisions such as the best age to purchase an annuity and which type of annuity to purchase. Such an understanding can debunk some popular beliefs about annuities.
Since the early 1980s, bond investors have benefitted from declining interest rates. But we may be turning to a future of rising rates and clients suffering bond losses. Advisors need to be prepared both in terms of investment strategy recommendations and communication with clients.
I’ve previously written articles about two separate techniques for improving retirement outcomes: the use of SPIAs and smoothing of year-to-year withdrawals. In this article I investigate ways to combine SPIAs and smoothing to produce even better outcomes. I’ll then broaden the discussion and briefly explain how SPIAs and smoothing fit into the wider context of ways to improve retirement outcomes.
Optimal asset allocations for variable withdrawal strategies are quite different from the research findings and rules of thumb based on fixed strategies. Indeed, the implications go beyond asset allocation and show, for example, that equity glide paths in retirement are relatively unimportant.