Caught in an extraordinary convergence of unhinged stock market volatility and historically low interest rates on savings, many people are rethinking their plans and their vision for the future, especially as they consider the prospect of having to stretch their retirement income over 25 or 30 years. A study conducted in 2015 by the Employee Benefit Research Institute found workers of all ages are continuing to lose confidence in their ability to afford a comfortable retirement. But instead of adjusting their investment strategies to confront the challenge, many are simply retreating into a “winning by not losing” mentality and avoiding the stock market altogether. That can be the biggest mistake anyone can make in their retirement planning.
One of the biggest decisions many of our clients face is what to do with their 401k plan when they leave their employer. There is no clear cut answer as to whether you should roll over your 401k plan to an IRA, another employer’s 401k plan, or simply to leave it where it is, because it involves several different factors, including long term investment costs and the availability of investment options within the plans. Both can impact the long term performance of your retirement plan. However, the most critical factor that can have a big impact, both short and long term, are the tax implications of a rollover. Understanding these implications is essential before making any decision regarding your 401k plan.
In the realm of investment advice, value is defined by what you receive from your advisory relationship that meets or exceeds your expectations. For most clients, it has much less to do with pricing or investment performance, than it has to do with the fulfillment of promises and commitments made at the outset of the relationship. But the commitments will only have value if they are based on your stated needs and expectations.
You should expect your financial advisor to have in place a clearly defined process for working with you to develop and implement your investment strategy. You know you’ve found the right financial advisor when that process includes, at a minimum, these five elements:
Until recently, many retirees have been able to rely upon the three-legged stool of retirement income sources: A defined benefit pension plan that guarantees a lifetime income, their own savings, and Social Security. Within the last couple of decades, the first leg of the stool has all but disappeared as many defined benefit plans have been replaced with defined contribution plans such as a 401(k) plan. This has shifted the responsibility for creating a retirement income source to the individual. With expanding life spans and increasing retirement costs, it will require serious retirement planning to ensure that your income will last a lifetime. Here are the four essential elements of a sound retirement plan:
For anyone approaching retirement you’ve probably got a checklist for your countdown to the big day.
Do I have enough saved for a long, financially secure retirement? Check.
Did I file the right paperwork at the office? Check.
Is my professional exit strategy in place and ready? Check.
Is my estate plan prepared so that I don’t have to worry about my legacy once I stop working? Check
Seems like a good check list. What is missing?
Most people are aware that they can begin collecting their Social Security retirement payout at age 62, and, in doing so, they are informed that they will be collecting a reduced benefit. And most people also know that, the longer they wait to collect benefits, they will receive a higher monthly benefit. When they do the math, some people figure they are better off by collecting a smaller benefit for a longer period of time. Of course, some people may not have a choice but to collect early if they are forced out of work or they simply don’t have sufficient resources. But, to the extent anyone can, they should delay retirement in order to collect as high a Social Security retirement payout as they can. The difference can be substantial.