Step 97: Sequence of Return

Step 97 of the 100 Steps mission to financial independence: Sequence of Return
Step 97: Sequence of Return

Sequence of return – or sequence risk -can pose a serious threat to you portfolio and is a factor to be very aware of and take measures against when you are planning your retirement. Sequence of return can hamper a secure retirement, whether you plan to retire when you are 40, 65 or 80 and it can seriously increase your chances of outliving your portfolio, meaning you might be left with no income towards the end of your retirement.

So what is sequence of return?

Sequence of return is the risk of your portfolio being hit by bad market returns early on in retirement when you start making withdrawals from your portfolio. Like for anybody a bad market return affects the value of your portfolio, but whereas you have time to recover from a few bad years if you are still building up your portfolio, once you start withdrawing you no longer have this time to recover. The value of the portfolio can be affected (i.e. decreasing) by it so much that it threatens its own chances of survival. Not only does your portfolio reduce in value from your withdrawal but also from the market drop.

Let’s have a look at how devastating this effect can be by looking at the portfolio of a retiree who is hit by this phenomenon Let’s say they have $1,000,000 and that the market returns an average of 8% over the first 20 years. This retiree takes out $40,000 (4%) in their first year and then adjust for inflation by 3% each year. Below is the chart with how well they do.

market returns start portfolio take out Total left over
-10% $              1.000.000 $           40.000 $         864.000
-15% $                  864.000 $           41.200 $         699.380
-25% $                  699.380 $           42.436 $         492.708
5% $                  492.708 $           43.709 $         471.449
0% $                  471.449 $           45.020 $         426.429
-15% $                  426.429 $           46.371 $         323.049
5% $                  323.049 $           47.762 $         289.051
20% $                  289.051 $           49.195 $         287.827
10% $                  287.827 $           50.671 $         260.872
25% $                  260.872 $           52.191 $         260.852
30% $                  260.852 $           53.757 $         269.224
15% $                  269.224 $           55.369 $         245.932
-10% $                  245.932 $           57.030 $         170.012
15% $                  170.012 $           58.741 $         127.961
25% $                  127.961 $           60.504 $           84.322
30% $                    84.322 $           62.319 $           28.604
-15% $                    28.604 $            28.604 $                     0
15% $                              0 $                     0 $                     0
30% $                              0 $                     0 $                     0
25% $                              0 $                     0 $                     0

Despite the average 8% return, as you can see, this portfolio takes a big hit at the start of retirement with big negative returns and therefore a big decrease of value early on. Unfortunately after 16 years this person has run out of money and is no longer able to draw anything out of their portfolio. Of the $1,000,000 they started with, they were only able to take out just over $806,000. Continue reading

Step 88: Annuities

Step 88 of the 100 steps mission to financial independence: Annuities
Step 88: Annuities

Let’s look at one more pension option before we round off the pension series: Annuities. Sounds like something complex (and they certainly can be when they want to be!) but this step will break down their characteristics and benefits, as well as some of their disadvantages.

What are annuities?

Annuities are a financial product somewhere between an insurance and an investment option. Like any insurance, you buy annuities – in this case it insures you against living too long. Yes, you read that right. Whereas a life insurance insures against dying too early, an annuity insures you against living too long. An annuity provides a set monthly income that you get for the rest of your life after a certain age. If you are fearful that you might outlive your pension, i.e. that you might withdraw too much from your investment and / or pension fund and end up without any money at some point in your retirement, an annuity is a good solution as it gives you a guaranteed monthly income.

How do annuities work?

There are many different types of annuities with many different characteristics. First of you normally buy an annuity from an insurance company, pension provider or broker who then reinvests your money. It very much works like a mutual fund and the company you buy the annuity from will add in a profit margin of course so your money won’t grow very much over time due to the fees you pay. You can buy an annuity with all of your pension savings just before you retire or you can buy several smaller annuities over time. Annuities differ in the way that they are set up and some of the key variables include: Continue reading