Since it opened in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been the home of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Many of you are likely familiar with the phrase “Success is where preparation and opportunity meet.” Do you know who said that? The original quote is actually attributed to Bobby Unser, the hard-driving, three-time winner of the Indy 500.

Wow! Do successful racecar drivers and race team owners know something about preparing to win and having the will to prepare? Drivers know that the will to gain a strategic advantage through perfect practice and preparation is the key to success at the Indy 500 race.

What about The Great Retirement Race? Are you prepared? Will you have enough “fuel” to go the distance? After all, we’re not just talking about 500 miles here; we’re talking about 30+ years in retirement!

And just like the Indy 500 is fraught with risk, so is the Great Retirement Race. At Indy, tire or mechanical failure can end the journey just as decisively as a miscalculation on fuel, driver error, a pit crew mishap, track debris, or the uncontrollable actions of other drivers. The goal of an Indy Team owner is to control destiny in a very tenuous, uncertain environment.

In the Great Retirement Race, we also travel at great risk. We need to be prepared for and control:

• Sequence of returns risk: A need to withdraw funds from our portfolio during periods of market downturns – a double whammy!

• Systemic risk (macro-economic events such as the Lehman Bros collapse): Can you ride it out?

• Loss of income to increased taxation (ignore this at your own peril) : Take inventory of your tax free retirement accounts.

• Future long-term healthcare needs: What is your plan to pay for this?

• Inflation or interest rate risk: Interest rates won’t stay near zero forever. Are you hedged against inflation?

• Currency devaluation: What can/should you do to add monetary insurance to your financial portfolio?

As a retirement income planner, the most important factor for those people who come into my office is this: Show me how I can go the distance in this Great Retirement Race and maintain my standard of living without fear of running out of money. People just like you tell me they want four things in particular when it comes to retirement:

1. Protect my principal or income

2. Make my money/income grow

3. Make my money last as long as I/we do

4. Maintain my lifestyle and independence

So, what if…

• Your portfolio/balance sheet included a principal protected, tax advantaged, non-correlated asset with a proven performance record during good times and times of crisis?

• Your portfolio/balance sheet included a principal protected retirement account that had demonstrated the potential to capture a 10.40% annual return during one of the most challenging 12-month financial cycles we have ever experienced?

• Your portfolio/balance sheet included an account that was automatically linked to a basket of commodities, global currencies, and interest rates and was managed to benefit from both rising and falling price trends while protecting your principal and gains from loss?

• Your portfolio/ balance sheet included an account with an Income Benefit Base guaranteed to grow at 4% annually with the potential to earn market linked interest on top of this minimum 4% guarantee, for future income guaranteed over your lifetime?

New financial products available today give my clients the tools to achieve these “what ifs” in a short period of time. One client, Vicky, is only 10 years from retirement and came to me because she was afraid to lose her savings if the market tumbled.

With a Fixed Index Annuity strategy, her principle and credited gains are protected from loss.  Based on different market scenarios from the last twenty years, Vicky knows that even the worst performing decade returned an average annual yield of 9.08%, while the best decade returned almost 13% annual percentage yield.  That’s safety AND opportunity – a winning combination!    

Make the above “what ifs” action points for your Great Retirement Race, and you’ll be ready for the green flag too.

Brian Singer is an Indiana financial and retirement planner specializing in tax-deferred and secure retirement savings. For more information about Brian and the Singer Financial Group, call (317) 852-9153 or go to www.singerfinancialgroup.com