“The Boomer” is a column written for adults nearing retirement age and those already in their “golden years.” It will also promote reader interaction by posting e-mail responses and answering reader questions. E-mail your questions or topic ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Earlier this year, the first baby boomer turned 65, and more than 78 million other baby boomers have already entered--or are fast approaching--retirement.
Thanks to continued economic weakness stemming from the 2008 financial crisis, many boomers, especially the older ones, are rethinking how they will spend and finance their golden years. Numerous studies sadly point out that the vast majority of baby boomers have not adequately saved for retirement. Many of us lost our home equity in the housing crisis in addition to having our 401(k)s devastated when the stock market tanked.
AARP’s recent study called Baby Boomers Envision Retirement states about half of baby boomers (55%) are at least somewhat satisfied with their retirement savings, 44% feel they will not be able to afford to do the things they want to do in retirement and 36% may not be able to retire at all.
With these statistics in mind, I reached out to Kenan Kashlan, CFA and senior financial consultant at Summit Financial Resources and Summit Equities, in Summit, N.J., to get tips for boomers on what they can do today to help them be able to retire tomorrow:
1. Develop a plan. You cannot know where you are going if you do not know where you are. Many pre-retirees have not run even the most simplest of retirement models. It’s important to know your sources of guaranteed income (Social Security, pension benefits, etc…) and find out if there is an income gap between what you will receive and what you will need to spend. It is critical to know the amount that will need to be filled by retirement and other savings. If that annual number is greater than roughly 4% of your savings, further planning is required to ensure you do not outlive your retirement. There are solutions.
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2. Know your required rate of return. It is important to know what you need to earn on your investments to execute your retirement plan. Understanding this number helps us avoid getting greedy and taking unwarranted risks. Once this is known, the objective is then to achieve this return with the least risk possible.
3. Diversify. There are more asset classes than just stocks and bonds. Many people are throwing in the towel and parking much of their cash in Treasuries thinking that they are riskless assets. However, not only are Treasuries barely keeping up with inflation, but there is interest rate risk associated with these assets as well; the value of these assets can go up and down depending on the duration (interest rate risk) of the bonds, and the direction of interest rates.
Investors should look to understand and add alternative investments and strategies such as long/short market neutral, merger/arbitrage, managed futures, collaring and others strategies to their portfolio of long only stocks and bonds. Alternative investments and the above strategies can also bring about some challenges. Liquidity can be constrained or subject to redemption restrictions. In addition in some of these strategies, typically the security is subject to the performance of the underlying asset. Many of these strategies are available in simple mutual fund structures where the retail investor can now access them. Adding these strategies can help improve the risk-adjusted returns of a portfolio. These risks are outlined in the fund prospectus which can be obtained from the fund company or your advisor.
4. Fund more than one objective with the same dollar. Assets like whole life insurance serve as an investment, life insurance and as an asset protection tool. Understand how these products work, and calculate if these products make sense for you and your situation. When integrated into an overall comprehensive plan, they are quite effective.
5. Take the risk off your balance sheet. Depending on your situation, a variable annuity might be right to help fund the income gap. While these products sometimes carry a negative connotation with some people, they can be quite effective if used properly. Being that they are essentially “insured pensions” with upside, they can be used to park your more risky investment allocations while allowing you to reduce the risk exposure to you other non-insured portfolios.
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