If you’re a subscriber to Retirement Income Visions™, you may have noticed that, although there have been nine posts prior to this one, none of them has stayed true to the theme of this blog, i.e., Innovative strategies for creating and optimizing retirement income. This post will be no exception. As the saying goes, there’s a method to my madness. In order to understand and appreciate the strategies and apply them to your situation, it’s important to understand the origin of retirement income planning, including the limitations of the retirement asset planning approach.
As explained in The Retirement Planning Paradigm Shift – Part 2, retirement planning is undergoing a paradigm shift. Instead of relying on retirement asset planning as a solution for both the accumulation and withdrawal phases of retirement, people are beginning to recognize, understand, and appreciate the need for, and value of, employing retirement income planning strategies during the withdrawal phase. No doubt about it, per Retirement Asset Planning – The Foundation, retirement asset planning is the way to go in the accumulation stage to build a solid foundation for a successful retirement plan. However, as discussed in The Retirement Planning Shift – Part 2, as a result of the uncertainty of traditional retirement asset planning as a solution for providing a predictable income stream to match one’s financial needs in retirement, retirement income planning was born.
Is Your Retirement Plan At Risk? introduced six risks common to all retirement plans: inflation, investment, income tax, longevity, health, and Social Security benefits reduction.
Beginning with Retirement Asset Planning – The Foundation, the inadequacy of retirement asset planning during the “spend-down” phase was discussed. This begins with the process itself. Unlike most types of financial planning where you get to see the results of your plan after reaching a specified target date, this is not the case with retirement asset planning since the timeframe is undefined.
Withdrawal Drag – The Silent Killer contrasted the beauty of compound rates of return during the accumulation stage with the erosion of portfolio income and the associated benefit of compounding, otherwise known as “withdrawal drag,” in the withdrawal stage of retirement. There is yet another phenomenon that can wreak havoc on your portfolio if you only rely on a retirement asset planning strategy during your retirement years. The Sequence of Returns – The Roulette Wheel of Retirement exposed this investment phenomenon and provided an example of how “luck of the rate-of-return draw” can prematurely devastate a conservative, well-diversified portfolio.
As if all of these variables and financial phenomenon were not a wake-up call to your planning, we mustn’t forget about the “safe withdrawal rate.” Safe Withdrawal Rate – A Nice Rule of Thumb demonstrated how the widely-accepted 4% “safe” withdrawal rate doesn’t necessarily guarantee that you won’t outlive your investment portfolio. Furthermore, the withdrawal amount that is calculated using this methodology typically won’t match your retirement needs.
All of the foregoing financial risks and phenomenon contribute to the inherent uncertainty associated with the retirement asset planning process during the withdrawal phase of retirement. As pointed out in Retirement Asset Planning – The Foundation, even if you’ve done an excellent job of accumulating what appear to be sufficient assets for retirement, you generally won’t know if this is true for many years
Retirement income planning is truly the end game in financial planning. Assuming that your goal is to generate a predictable income stream to match your financial needs in retirement while minimizing your exposure to withdrawal drag, the sequence of returns, and the various risks common to all retirement plans, it generally makes sense for you to begin employing retirement income planning strategies for a portion of your assets ten years before you plan to retire. The amount of assets and the exact timing of implementation are dependent upon your particular retirement and other financial goals as well as your current and projected financial situation.
Robert Klein, CPA, PFS, CFP®, RICP®, CLTC® is the founder and president of Retirement Income Center in Newport Beach, California. Bob is also the sole proprietor of Robert Klein, CPA. Bob applies his unique background, experience, expertise, and specialization in tax-sensitive retirement income planning strategies to optimize the longevity of his clients’ after-tax retirement income and assets. He does this as an independent financial advisor using customized holistic planning solutions based on each client’s needs and personality.