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Five Retirement Income Challenges and One Unique Solution

Five retirement income challenges and one unique solution.

The move from working full time to thriving in retirement can be one of life's most exhilarating - and challenging - transitions.  It requires a whole new way of thinking about your lifestyle and how to support it financially.  There's new ground to cover as you shift your focus from saving your assets to spending them, and new risks to be addressed as you revise your investment strategy.  It's not easy to know where to start.  
During the different stages of retirement, your income plan may be more or less vulnerable to certain challenges.  Five major threats are present throughout retirement.  1. Market volatility 2. Spending behavior 3. Inflation 4. Healthcare 5. Longevity.  (see further details of each challenge below.)  Early in retirement market volatility and spending behavior are the biggest challenges and threats to a successful retirement.  As retirement proceeds inflation, healthcare, and longevity become the greater risks.  For example, it is critical in the early stages of retirement to help reduce the impact to your assets from excessive market volatility.  Retiring during 2008-09 was very difficult and had a negatively large impact on the success of an investment portfolio to sustain retirement income.    

 How can you protect yourself from the five factors that affect retirement?  Most investors try to overcome these challenges by shifting to a conservative portfolio of income producing assets such as bonds and insurance products like annuities.  The pitfall of this method is it protects against shorter term risks like market volatility but not against the longer-term risks of inflation, healthcare, and longevity.  

 At Ascend Investment Partners our philosophy is simple.  We manage your money just like our own.  Our team of financial advisors personally utilize a bucket investment strategy to have a successful retirement.  Here is a brief overview.  Using this bucket method, you divide your overall portfolio into separate investment pools or "buckets" that are designed for a specific purpose.  Each pool has its own investment goals, strategies, etc.  For example, a pool of cash and short-term investments for near term spending, fixed-income investments to cover mid-term spending and a balanced stock/bond portfolio to cover long-term spending.  As time goes on, the long-term buckets refill the mid-term buckets and the mid-term buckets refill the short-term buckets.  
The bucket strategy overcomes the five challenges by separating investment into different goals. Short term income is protected by using short term investments. If there is a selloff in the stock market, see 2008-09, your income is preserved by those short-term assets and the longer-term stock investments are allowed time to recover. Thus, preventing the need to sell long term assets at a greatly reduced price. The longer-term buckets, stocks and bonds, are protecting against the extended risks of inflation, healthcare, and longevity.

Market volatility - a substantial market downturn can have a greater impact on investors who are taking withdrawals and have relatively shorter time horizons.  Market volatility can be especially damaging just before or during the early years in retirement when the size, as well as, the income demands on investment portfolios are relatively large.

Spending behavior - an essential part of retirement income planning is determining sustainable spending levels and strategies.  The spending policy that is right for you depends on your personal expenses, longevity expectations, asset levels, and income sources.

Inflation - the longer your time in retirement, the greater the potential that inflation may erode the purchasing power impacting both your lifestyle and ability to meet your long-term expenses.  A good retirement portfolio should balance the need for predictable income with income that can grow and last throughout retirement.  

Healthcare - modern medical advances mean that people are living longer.  However, with longer lives often comes a risk of health issues and the cost of care.

 Longevity - experiencing any of the aforementioned challenges becomes amplified when a retiree lives longer than expected.  Longevity, and the risk of outliving your assets, may represent the greatest threat to your retirement security and lifestyle.  

The commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the Ascend Investment Partners employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Kesler, Norman & Wride, LLC dba Ascend Investment Partners or performance returns of any Ascend Investment Partners Investments client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Ascend Investment Partners manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. 

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