Skip to main content
Category

Retirement Planning

What is Sequence of Returns Risk?

By Investments, Retirement Planning

Sequence of returns risk can put your retirement portfolio in jeopardy, but what is it, and how do you fight it?

We get it. Retirement can be scary. We know this because it’s our job to help our clients plan for and seamlessly transition into what should be one of the most rewarding times of their lives. What we often find, however, is that most are worried about retirement because of the risks that come with it. But what are some of the risks that strike fear in the hearts of retirement hopefuls? Well, the first is related to longevity—it’s the possibility of running out of money as you get older, and being unable to go back to work in order to support yourself. We also find that people getting ready to retire are concerned about inflation, the cost of health care, the possibility of needing long-term care and more.

There’s one risk, however, that hides in the shadows, waiting to rear its ugly head and throw turbulence into the lives of new retirees and those right on the edge of retirement. It’s called market risk, or the possibility that you could lose your retirement money during market crashes or downturns. How might this look? Specifically, something called sequence of returns risk can be the most dangerous aspect of market risk. And while it might sound complicated, it’s a simple concept with the potential to have major implications on your retirement dreams. Let’s go over what sequence of returns risk is, as well as a few ways you may be able to fight it!

What is Sequence of Returns Risk?

Simply put, sequence of returns risk is the risk of negative market returns occurring right before you retire and/or very early in your retirement. During this time, market downturns can have a much more significant impact on your portfolio.

Again, it might sound like some buzzword the financial industry throws around to scare consumers, but sequence of returns risk is exactly what it sounds like. It’s the sequence, or the order, in which your portfolio provides market returns. It’s key to remember that sequence of returns risk is specifically associated with money directly invested in the market. That means it could apply to vehicles like employer-sponsored retirement accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, mutual funds, brokerage accounts, variable annuities and any other assets that can lose value during market downturns.

Now, let’s think about your goals for your retirement. If you’re just starting your career, or you’re right in the middle of your working years, you may contribute to your various saving and investing vehicles with the goal of having a large pool of funds when you finally retire at, say, 65 years old. You’d hope that diligent saving and favorable returns would bring your assets to their highest total right at that point, giving you ample funds to draw from once you retire.

Sequence of returns risk is the potential of the market dipping near the end of your career, or in the first few years of your retirement, meaning those drops affect your account balances at their peak. You would then take losses on greater amounts of money, creating greater losses. While you never want to experience dips, it makes sense why you’d hope those periods of market volatility that you will likely encounter at some point during retirement occur farther down the road, especially when you’re concurrently withdrawing money to support your lifestyle.

An Example Where Both Retirees Have $1 Million Saved

Just as an example, let’s consider two retirees, and what happens during their first 10 years of retirement. Both have $1 million saved, and they both determine they need to withdraw $50,000 per year from their accounts to fund their lifestyles.

Our first retiree is lucky. They retire and then experience eight years of a bull market, growing their portfolio by 5% each year. In the next two years, however, they experience declines of 5%, bringing their balance back down.

The other retiree sees the exact opposite sequence. They immediately encounter a bear market upon entering retirement, which drops their accounts by 5% in each of the first two years. Then the market rebounds and goes up 5% each year for the next eight years.

Both retirees continued to withdraw $50,000 per year from their accounts. So, what was the result?

Even though both retirees had the same initial balance, withdrew the same amounts, experienced eight years of bull markets and two years of bear markets, the order or “sequence of returns” made a big difference.

The first retiree didn’t experience market dips at the beginning when their account balances were highest. At the end of the 10-year period, they still had $788,329 left in their account.

The other retiree, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky. They took losses during the first two years of their retirement, on their highest balances, and by the end of the 10-year period, they only had $695,226.

Please remember this example is purely hypothetical and not reflective of real scenarios or real people. We simply used a starting balance of $1 million for each person, then subtracted $50,000 in income at the beginning of each year, then multiplied the accounts’ balances by the annual positive or negative effect on the market we imagined for this example. Actual market returns are unpredictable and tend to vary far more than in the case study shown. This is strictly to display the potential effects of the aforementioned risk.

What are Some Ways to Mitigate Sequence of Returns Risk?

You can see how the sequence of your returns can affect your portfolio. The market is unpredictable and bottomless, so it’s important to try to shield yourself from, or at least mitigate the possibility of, taking those losses at the starting gate. But how can you do that when the market is completely out of your control? Well, you have a few options.

First and foremost, you can work with a financial professional to diversify your portfolio. While diversification can never guarantee any level of protection or growth, it may give you the ability to withstand dips in certain sectors of the market. It also spreads risk across different asset classes, or even different categories within the market itself. That can potentially help you avoid taking losses in your entire portfolio, even if one sector experiences headwinds.

For instance, non-correlated asset classes, which could include annuities or life insurance policies, might be a retirement diversification option for some people. Modern policy designs like fixed-indexed annuities and indexed universal life insurance policies are typically linked to a market index, while not actually participating in the market. These products can provide the upside of market gains while still protecting the principal, or the money used to fund the policy, in addition to locking in the gains.

These solutions may not match every consumer’s situation or financial objectives, however, so it’s important to speak to your advisor to explore policies and see if they make sense for your portfolio. For some people, annuities can provide a stream of retirement income that can cover lifestyle expenses, allowing retirees to leave their assets in the market during downturns rather than being forced to make withdrawals.

Be sure to speak with a financial professional who understands your circumstances, goals and tolerance for risk. The right partner can help you develop a custom withdrawal strategy and a plan to generate a reliable stream of income with your accumulated retirement assets. Your plan may include portfolio diversification, the establishment of a liquid emergency fund, the inclusion of alternative strategies and more, all with the intention of making your money last your entire life.

If you have any questions about how you can fight sequence of returns risk, give us a call today! You can reach PCIA Denver at 1800.493.6226.

This article is not to be construed as financial advice. It is provided for informational purposes only and it should not be relied upon. It is recommended that you check with your financial advisor, tax professional and legal professionals when making any investment decisions, or any changes to your retirement or estate plans. Your investments, insurance and savings vehicles should match your risk tolerance and be suitable as well as what’s best for your personal financial situation.

 

Advisory products and services offered by Investment Adviser Representatives through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC (“PCIA”), a federally registered investment adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., Suite #150, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Prime Capital Wealth Management (“PCWM”) and Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”).

052124004 JG

 

5 Things You Need to Know About Retirement

By Retirement Planning

Saving for retirement is important, but it’s also crucial to stay informed! Now that it’s Financial Literacy Month, we thought it would be the perfect time to discuss some things you need to know.

There’s an old saying that goes something like, “What you don’t know can’t hurt you.” You might have even used it, maybe when you came home past curfew without your parents finding out or poured your juice into the plant when no one was watching. And sure, no one being the wiser might have worked when you were young, but in retirement, what you don’t know actually CAN hurt you.

It’s important to stay informed about not just past trends, but also what you should expect as you make your way through that exciting phase of your life. It can give you a better chance to prepare for obstacles and implement a plan to overcome them. It can also help you take advantage of opportunities, especially as you look to make your money last for a quarter of a century or longer. Let’s go over five things you need to know about retirement.

  1. Market Downturns WILL Happen [1,2]

When you spend between 25 and 30 years or longer in retirement, it’s not a question of “if” you’ll encounter market downturn; it’s a question of “when.” These declines are typically referred to as “bear markets,” which are defined as market drops of 20% or more. If we use the S&P 500 as an indicator of bear markets, there have been 12 instances of significant market decline since the index’s inception in 1957. That means you should expect to face some adversity in the market once every five or six years. So, what are your options?

Well, historically, patience has been the best way to overcome market adversity, as long-term outlooks have always trended upward. It can also be helpful to work with a financial professional who can tailor your portfolio to your goals and tolerance for risk. If you’re more comfortable with risk or have a longer timeline to retirement, you may have more assets invested in the market, whereas those approaching retirement are usually advised to shift more of the portfolio into assets that are fixed, like bonds or bond alternatives.

Rebalancing your portfolio and creating a customized retirement plan as you approach retirement is advised, especially to mitigate sequence of returns risk. Sequence of returns risk is the risk of retirees facing market downturn in the few years prior or the first few years of retirement, meaning they take greater losses on greater asset totals. Again, working with a financial professional to find ways to mitigate sequence of returns risk can be helpful. Sometimes this is done by creating a stream of income with part of your retirement assets to cover your living expenses. This allows you to wait out bear markets with your remaining assets which might remain directly invested in the market.

  1. Decumulation is Just as Important as Accumulation

Yes, we all want to retire as multimillionaires, hitting on our investments and getting lucrative returns. That period of building your assets, investment and making growth-oriented decisions is often referred to as the “accumulation” phase. However, the fact is, it doesn’t matter how much money you accumulate if you don’t have a plan for how to spend it in the “decumulation” phase, after you retire and no longer have employment income coming in. Oftentimes, that plan includes a strategy to create income for your projected lifestyle, as well as a comprehensive budget dictating where that income will go. Additionally, many factors will play a role in decumulation, including taxation, legislation, your life expectancy, your spending habits and more.

We traditionally recommend getting a good idea of how much you plan to spend on an annual basis. That’s how much income you’ll likely need to create, along with a little bit of wiggle room giving you the freedom to cover emergencies or other unexpected expenses. The best way to do this is often by assessing your goals for retirement, then estimating the amount of money you’ll need to achieve them. Then, we can build a budget for you to strictly adhere to in retirement. It’s important to understand that if you start planning for retirement once you’re already there, it might be too late. If you’ve become accustomed to your lifestyle, it can be difficult to make cuts, especially when some retirees actually need more money in retirement than they did while they were working, leading us to our next point.

  1. It’s Never Too Early to Prepare [3,4,5]

Think about it. You reach the most exciting period of your life, your retirement accounts are as well-funded as they’ll ever be, and you have an endless list of things you want to do now that your time belongs entirely to you. Will you want to pull back? Not likely. That’s why it’s important to start preparing for retirement long before you call it a career, giving you the flexibility to course correct if you find that you haven’t saved enough to live comfortably. But how much do you need to live comfortably? Modern estimates say retirees have set that target figure at $1.3 million for a 67-year-old heading toward a 30-year retirement, but working with a financial professional may help you get a more accurate estimate for your unique situation. It might not require that much, depending on your plan.

A 2023 study found that the average person between the ages of 65 and 74 has saved a little over $600,000. Will that be enough? It depends. Working with a financial professional early in your career, developing your own personal retirement goals and consistently devoting a portion of your income to the recommended strategies in your plan can give you a better chance to reach the financial goals you have for your retirement.

  1. Social Security May Not Suffice [6,7]

Social Security figures to be one of the biggest sources of income for most American retirees. In fact, 40% of retirees rely on Social Security for more than half of their income, and 14% rely on it for 90% of their income or more. Sure, it’s a nice benefit, but it was never designed to be a primary source of funds in the first place. It was always a supplementary tool, originally created for the economic security of the elderly back in 1932, when the average life expectancy ranged from age 57 to 63. Now, relying on Social Security has never been more tenuous. Benefits are set to take a hit of more than 20% beginning in 2034 if no action is taken soon by Congress.

Still, action is where the problem lies. The choices appear to boil down to cutting payments for beneficiaries, raising the payroll tax rate or increasing the payroll tax increase limit. So far, all of those options have been met with opposition, presumably making benefits cuts the most likely solution. Granted, American taxpayers will always be contributing to the Social Security trust fund, meaning it’s unlikely the fund is drained completely, but it is running short, making it imperative to use other planning methods. Some of those methods can include saving more and creating more supplemental income streams to provide for your lifestyle.

  1. Risk Runs Rampant in Retirement [8,9,10]

Life expectancies continue to rise, which is fantastic news for anyone who plans to use their retirement years to check off bucket list items and spend time with their families. At the same time, it means spending more money, potentially for 20 years or longer. That can put you at risk of outliving your money, which is known as longevity risk. Then, even if you do save enough to provide for 20 to 30 years of a healthy retirement, you’ll start to introduce new factors that could drain your savings such as inflation, taxes, market, health care and long-term care risk.

Long-term care is one of the key factors that can quickly deplete your funds, and it’s easy to see why. On average, 70% of modern retirees will need some form of long-term care, and 20% will need it for five years or longer. Additionally, the cost for long-term care can run from $64,000 to $116,000 per year, and it’s not covered by Medicare because it’s a lifestyle expense as opposed to a medical expense.

That could mean enlisting in the help of long-term care insurance, which is historically expensive and useless for the 30% who end up not needing the care. Modern policies, however, can combine life and long-term care insurance, providing a pool of resources for long-term care if necessary and a death benefit to beneficiaries if not. But these policies aren’t right for everyone. We can help you compare your options and determine if they match your goals.

If you have any questions about how you can better prepare for retirement, give us a call today! You can reach PCIA Denver at 1800.493.6226.

 

Sources:

  1. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/investing/bear-market-history/
  2. https://www.investopedia.com/8-ways-to-survive-a-market-downturn-4773417
  3. https://www.wsj.com/buyside/personal-finance/how-much-do-i-need-to-retire-f3275fa7
  4. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/investing/the-average-retirement-savings-by-age-and-why-you-need-more
  5. https://www.cnbc.com/2023/09/08/56percent-of-americans-say-theyre-not-on-track-to-comfortably-retire.html
  6. https://www.cbpp.org/research/social-security/key-principles-for-strengthening-social-security
  7. https://www.cnbc.com/select/will-social-security-run-out-heres-what-you-need-to-know/
  8. https://www.ssa.gov/oact/population/longevity.html
  9. https://www.aplaceformom.com/senior-living-data/articles/long-term-care-statistics
  10. https://www.genworth.com/aging-and-you/finances/cost-of-care

This article is not to be construed as financial advice. It is provided for informational purposes only and it should not be relied upon. It is recommended that you check with your financial advisor, tax professional and legal professionals when making any investment decisions, or any changes to your retirement or estate plans. Your investments, insurance and savings vehicles should match your risk tolerance and be suitable as well as what’s best for your personal financial situation.

Advisory products and services offered by Investment Adviser Representatives through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC (“PCIA”), a federally registered investment adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., Suite #150, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Prime Capital Wealth Management (“PCWM”) and Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”).

041024006 JG

 

 

5 Things You Should Know if You’re Retiring in 2024

By Retirement Planning

Heads up! If you plan to retire this year, you should know these five things.

Are you planning to enter the most exciting phase of your life in 2024? A phase where you get to do what you want to do, not what you have to do? With the right planning and preparation, it’s possible, but you should be aware of the year-over-year changes that occur for retirees, especially if this is your first year. Here are five changes you should know about if you plan on entering retirement in 2024.

  1. Higher Income Tax Brackets [1,2]

Traditionally, tax brackets rise with inflation on an annual basis, and 2024 is no different. For instance, the top end of the 0% capital gains bracket is up from $44,625 to $47,025 for single filers and from $89,250 to $94,050 for those who are married and filing jointly. Retirees who expect to withdraw from accounts subject to income tax—like traditional 401(k)s—may also expect to see a bit more relief this year in their income. See below for 2024’s ordinary income tax brackets.

Rate (%) Filing Single Married Filing Jointly Married Filing Separately Head of Household
10% $0 to

$11,600

$0 to

$23,200

$0 to

$11,600

$0 to

$16,550

12% $11,601 to $47150 $23,201 to $94,300 $11,601 to $47,150 $16,551 to $63,100
22% $47,151 to $100,525 $94,301 to $201,050 $47,151 to $100,525 $63,101 to $100,500
24% $100,526 to $191,950 $201,051 to $383,900 $100,526 to $191,950 $100,501 to $191,950
32% $191,951 to $243,725 $383,901 to $487,450 $191,951 to $243,725 $191,951 to $243,700
35% $243,726 to $609,350 $487,451 to $731,200 $243,726 to $365,600 $243,701 to $609,350
37% $609,351 or

more

$731,201 or

more

$365,601 or

more

$609,350 or

more

 

  1. Higher RMD Ages [3]

As of Jan. 1, 2023, retirees must begin taking required minimum distributions at age 73 unless they’ve already started. This was part of a gradual change made by SECURE Act 2.0 that will again raise the RMD age to 75 in 2033. This change can offer more flexibility to retirees who don’t need the money from their qualified accounts and otherwise would have incurred unnecessary income taxes. It also gives them an extra year to find other sources of income or to convert those funds to tax-free money. If this will be your first year taking required minimum distributions from your qualifying accounts, those funds must be withdrawn by Apr. 1. In subsequent years, they must be withdrawn by the end of the year, or you may incur a 25% excise tax, which may be dropped to 10% if corrected in a timely manner.

  1. Elimination of RMDs for Roth 401(k)s [4]

One of the perks of the Roth IRA is that it does not come with required minimum distributions because you purchase them with already-taxed money. Roth 401(k) accounts through your employer were the same—except for the employer matching part. Before the passage of the SECURE 2.0 legislation, if your employer offered matching contributions and you chose a Roth 401(k) instead of a traditional 401(k) account, employer matching funds had to be placed into an entirely separate pre-tax traditional account which was taxable. Then, upon reaching RMD age, withdrawals were mandated for both accounts, even though taxes were only due on the matching portion.

Now, as of the passage of the SECURE 2.0 legislation, employers at their discretion can offer their matching amounts on an after-tax basis into Roth 401(k)s or Roth 403(b)s. If your employer offers this option and you choose it, you will owe income taxes on the employer match portion in the year you receive the money, but RMDs will no longer be due.

  1. Preparation for 2026 Tax Cut Sunsets [5]

Though tax cuts sunsetting at the end of 2025 won’t immediately impact 2024 retirees now, it may be crucial to begin preparing for the 2026 tax year. While the federal estate and gift tax exemption amount is currently $13.61 million per individual, it’s expected to drop back down to below $7 million in 2026. For those with larger estates, that could slice the amount of tax-free money going to beneficiaries in half. Income tax rates could also revert to what they were prior to 2018, meaning that it may be helpful to convert taxable income to tax-free income—for instance, by using Roth conversions—in the next two years. Additionally, those impacted by this change could also look to work with a financial professional to implement long-term tax strategies that give them the opportunity to pass their wealth to their beneficiaries as efficiently as possible.

  1. Higher Medicare Costs but Increased Social Security Payments [6,7]

Medicare costs are also up in 2024. Though Part A is free to beneficiaries, it does come with an annual deductible, which is up $32 from $1,600 to $1,632. Medicare Part B premiums are also up in 2024 from $164.90 to $174.40, an increase of roughly 6%. It’s important to know that those premiums are traditionally deducted from Social Security payments, which typically also rises with a cost-of-living adjustment determined by the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or the CPI-W. In 2024, that increase is 3.2%, so while the adjusted checks won’t be entirely proportionate to the higher Part B premiums, the COLA may help to offset the extra costs.

To read more about retirement topics like evolving legislation and what it takes to prepare for the next stage of your life, please contact us here at PCIA Denver by calling (303) 771-2700. 

Sources:

  1. https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/taxes/federal-income-tax-brackets
  2. https://www.bankrate.com/investing/long-term-capital-gains-tax/
  3. https://www.milliman.com/en/insight/required-minimum-distributions-secure-2
  4. https://smartasset.com/retirement/how-roth-401k-matching-works-with-your-employer
  5. https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2022/12/07/the-estate-and-gift-tax-exclusion-shrinks-in-2026-whats-an-advisor-to-do/
  6. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2024-medicare-parts-b-premiums-and-deductibles
  7. https://www.ssa.gov/cola/

This article is not to be construed as financial advice. It is provided for informational purposes only and it should not be relied upon. It is recommended that you check with your financial advisor, tax professional and legal professionals when making any investment decisions, or any changes to your retirement or estate plans. Your investments, insurance and savings vehicles should match your risk tolerance and be suitable as well as what’s best for your personal financial situation.

Advisory products and services offered by Investment Adviser Representatives through Prime Capital Investment Advisors, LLC (“PCIA”), a federally registered investment adviser. PCIA: 6201 College Blvd., Suite #150, Overland Park, KS 66211. PCIA doing business as Prime Capital Wealth Management (“PCWM”) and Qualified Plan Advisors (“QPA”). Securities are offered by Registered Representatives through Private Client Services, Member FINRA/SIPC. PCIA and Private Client Services are separate entities and are not affiliated.

#011624005 JG

 


7800 E Union Ave., Suite 940
Denver, CO 80237

1800.493.6226