If you have spent any time researching retirement planning online, you have heard of the 4% rule. If you haven’t heard of it, the 4% rule suggests that if you spend 4% of your assets in your initial year of retirement, and then adjust for inflation each year going forward, you will be unlikely to run out of money. To put some numbers to it, if you wanted to retire and spend $40,000 per year, adjusted for inflation, from your portfolio, you would need to retire with one million dollars to adhere to the four percent rule. This rule is alternatively described as the requirement to have 25 years worth of spending in your portfolio to afford retirement. 1/25 equals 4% – it’s the same rule. While it is simple and elegant, the 4% rule is probably not the best way to plan for retirement, especially if you plan on retiring early. I’m Ben Felix, Associate Portfolio Manager at PWL Capital. In this episode of Common Sense Investing, I’m going to tell you why the 4% rule is not a rule to live by.
The 4% rule originated in William Bengen’s October 1994 study, published in the Journal of Financial Planning. Bengen was a financial planner. He wanted to find a realistic safe withdrawal rate to recommend to his retired clients. Bengan’s breakthrough in determining a safe withdrawal rate came from modelling spending over 30-year periods in US market history rather than the common practice of simply using average historical returns. Using data for a hypothetical portfolio consisting of 50% S&P 500 index and 50% intermediate-term US government bonds he looked at rolling 30-year periods starting in 1926, ending with 1992. So, 1926 – 1955, followed by 1927 – 1956 etc., ending with 1963 – 1992. The maximum safe withdrawal rate in the worst 30-year period ended up being just over 4%. From this simple but innovative analysis, the 4% rule was born. More recently Bengen has adjusted his spending rule to 4.5% based on the inclusion of small cap stocks in the hypothetical historical portfolio.
While the 4% (and the 4.5% rule) may have basis in historical US data, there are substantial problems with these rules in general, and specifically in the case of a retirement period longer than 30 years. In his 2017 book How Much Can I Spend in Retirement, Wade Pfau, Ph.D, CFA, looked at 30-year safe withdrawal rates in both US and non-US markets using the Dimson-Marsh-Staunton Global Returns Dataset, and assuming a portfolio of 50% stocks and 50% bills. He found that the US at 3.9%, Canada at 4.0%, New Zealand at 3.8%, and Denmark at 3.7% were the only countries in the dataset that would have historically supported something close to the 4% rule. The aggregate global portfolio of stocks and bills had a much lower 30-year safe withdrawal rate of 3.5%. Considering returns other that US historical returns is important, but, in my opinion, one of the most important assumptions to be aware of in the 4% rule is the 30-year retirement period used by Bengen. People are living longer, and many of the bloggers citing the 4% rule are focused on FIRE, financial independence retire early.
In Bengen’s study the 4% rule with a 50% stock 50% bond portfolio was shown to have a 0% chance of failure over 30-year historical periods in the US. That chance of failure increases to around 15% over 40-year periods, and closer to 30% over 50-year periods. FIRE likely means a retirement period longer than 30 years. Modelling longer time periods using historical sampling becomes problematic because we have data for a limited number of historical 50-year periods.
One way to address this issue is with Monte Carlo simulation. Monte Carlo is a technique where an unlimited number of sample data sets can be simulated to model uncertainty without relying on historical periods. Even with Monte Carlo simulation, there is an obvious risk to using historical data to build expectations about the future. The world today is different than it was in the past. Interest rates are low, and stock prices are high. While it may be reasonable to expect relative outcomes to persist, such as stocks outperforming bonds, small stocks outperforming large stocks, and value stocks outperforming growth stocks, the magnitude of future returns are unknown and unknowable. To address this for financial planning, PWL Capital uses a combination of equilibrium cost of capital and current market conditions to build an estimate for expected future returns for use in financial planning. This process is outlined in the 2016 paper Great Expectations.
Using the December 2017 PWL Capital expected returns for a 50% stock 50% bond portfolio we are able to model the safe withdrawal rate for varying durations of retirement using Monte Carlo simulation. We will assume that a 95% success rate over 1,000 trials is sufficient to be called a safe withdrawal rate. For a 30-year retirement period, our Monte Carlo simulation gives us a 3.5% safe withdrawal rate. Pretty close to the original 4% rule, and spot on with Wade Pfau’s global revision of Bengen’s analysis. Now let’s say a 40-year old wants to retire today and assume life until age 95. That’s a 55-year retirement period. The safe withdrawal rate? 2.2%. I think that this is such an important message. The 4% rule falls apart over longer retirement periods. So far we have talked about spending a consistent inflation adjusted amount each year in retirement. One way to increase the amount that you can spend overall is allowing for variable spending. In general this means spending more when markets are good, and spending less when markets are bad. The result is more spending overall with a lower probability of running out of money. The catch is that you have to live with a variable income or have the ability to generate additional income from, say, working, to fill in the gaps when markets are not doing well.
We also need to talk about fees. Fees reduce returns. Fees may be negligible if you are using low-cost ETFs, but they become extremely important if you are using high-fee mutual funds, or if you are paying for financial advice. The safe withdrawal rate in the worst 30-year period in the US drops to 3.56% with a 1% fee, making the 4% rule the more like the 3.5% rule after a 1% fee.
Adding a 1% fee to the Monte Carlo simulation reduces the safe withdrawal rates by around 0.50% on average. In both cases this is a meaningful reduction in spending. Of course, fees need to be considered alongside the value being received in exchange for the fee. This value should be heavily tied to behavioural coaching and financial decision making. There have been two well-known attempts to quantify the value of financial advice, one by Vanguard and one by Morningstar. Vanguard estimated that between building a customized investment plan, minimizing risks and tax impacts, and behavioural coaching, good financial advice can add an average of 3% per year to returns. Morningstar looked at withdrawal strategies, asset allocation, tax efficiency, liability relative optimization, annuity allocation, and timing of social security (CPP in Canada), to arrive at a value-add of 2.34% per year.
PWL Capital’s Raymond Kerzerho has also written on this topic, finding an estimated value-add of just over 3% per year. Based on these analyses, one could argue that paying 1% for good financial advice could even increase your safe withdrawal rate. I would not go that far, but the point is that while fees are a consideration, they may be worthwhile in exchange for good advice.
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what revenue does it take to be in the top one percent of all retired people you'' d believe that ' d be a reasonably basic project to research study transforms out it wasn'' t so stay and gain from the work that I did to uncover these tough to find numbers allow'' s go for a walk as well as discuss it and also you know the very first point I wish to observe is that the majority of us most likely would not recognize could not inform by the lifestyle folks that are in the top 10 percent of all retiree income when I reach the numbers I I assume you'' ll you ' ll say fine I believe I would have the ability to identify people that are in the leading one percent I'' ll offer you a tip it'' s a it ' s a much larger number than than I believed it was going to be okay as well as therefore why is that you recognize why wouldn'' t we recognize uh the people that are in the leading 10 percent as well as it'' s because like a great deal of things in life you recognize if you look at Millionaires as well as millionaires way of living you understand 70 of millionaires in America are self-made made as well as as well as many of them the majority of us uh arrived by being you know uh cautious with our cash and also and as well as being great Savers is as much as uh being privileged and also and obtaining an excellent salary along the method all right so I'' m going to begin with what these numbers appear like for all Americans and this is from a large data set they say it'' s the biggest population information establish uh worldwide and the company is called ipums and also this is for all Americans not just senior citizens so to be in the top well initial let'' s begin with median and as well as this is house this is home income the median home earnings uh in the United States for for everyone any ages is is seventy thousand bucks to be in the top 25 you'' ve reached make regarding a hundred as well as thirty thousand bucks to be in the leading 10 you'' re making a little over two hundred thousand bucks that the family income a little over two hundred thousand it'' s 2 hundred as well as twelve thousand and also to be in the top one percent you ' re making over five hundred thousand bucks a year now um and also the number is 5 hundred and also seventy thousand what was fascinating is each of those teams from um 2021 to 2022 so this is an information collection uh that they released the results of at the end of 2022.
each of those teams obtained a raising in between 2021 and 2022. From the average as well as Below on a rising cost of living readjusted basis people that are at the average below uh are actually making less on an inflation-adjusted basis people that are over the typical are making a lot more in 2022 as well as we'' ve heard this play out in the press fine so so those are the earnings levels currently allow'' s chat regarding savings'and also there ' s a really interesting factor I wan na I wan na share with you below okay to be in the um to be in the leading one percent of Savers in the United States this is the leading one percent if you'' re between 65 and 69 75 as well as 79 or over 80. it'' s to be in the leading one percent you ' ve got to have 2.7 million dollars'in what ' s called web worth as well as internet well worth is just take all of your properties all of your savings accounts the worth if you own a house the value of your residence as well as subtract from it the the the financial obligation that you have on that essentially so you just take every one of your assets and also you deduct all your obligations your car alone your your home mortgage your credit score card debt with any luck you wear'' t have as well numerous of the last two uh and also that'' s your internet well worth so uh if you have a total assets of 2.7 million bucks a home total assets uh in the United States you ' re in the leading one percent what I intend to direct out is you recognize if you look at the revenue child that revenue is really shocking right I mean the top one percent of revenue is 570 000 or higher and you know some people will certainly say well you understand that number seemed a little reduced I was expecting that leading one percent earnings to be higher as well as I I concur however that'' s like the last individual that made it right into the top one percent so there'' s lots of individuals because group that are making a great deal more money however think of this you recognize the the most affordable income in the top one percent is almost 6 hundred thousand dollars right it'' s five hundred as well as seventy thousand bucks yet to be the top one percent in cost savings you simply require two factor seven million bucks or more and also what that tells me is you called a society as a country it'' s no shock we'' re not conserving sufficient cash and also so um it'' s inadequate to make a terrific salary you'' ve reached have the ability to to save it however to me that was simply staggering that you understand basically that top one percent you recognize if they were the Savers they essentially have conserved um what five years worth of income uh and also many of us could not retire if we had actually simply saved five years worth of earnings right to ensure that simply reveals just the the value of living below your means and and saving as long as you can alright allow'' s maintain going currently I'' m mosting likely to damage it out by decile and also once again this is house this is according to the Legislative research solution so the the reduced quintile so there'' s five groups the reduced one-fifth the reduced 20 percent of Americans are making under twenty two thousand dollars a year after that the next group up from that are making you recognize in between that twenty 2 thousand as well as forty thousand the next group as much as that is is making between forty thousand as well as sixty 5 thousand um so you can see that you know eighty percent of Americans homes are making much less than sixty five thousand bucks a year now I place'' t reached retirement that'' s showing up right here really quickly um allow me obtain to the leading quintile the top quintile homes in America are a little over a hundred and ten thousand bucks let'' s call it a hundred as well as eleven thousand bucks fine so currently let'' s obtain to what I ultimately was able to locate out so I'' ve shared a great deal of details details below and I assume most of you are paying attention to this this uh these numbers and claiming you know what I'' m doing okay you recognize it'' s hard to obtain that high high income yet if you'' re conserving and if if you ' re uh investing much less than you make if you'' re conserving that and after that importantly if you'' re investing that remember it'' s inadequate to simply conserve you have to spend it you have to obtain worsening functioning for you so a great deal of you I believe are checking out the at the very least the savings number as well as stating yeah we'' re doing okay'we ' re doing okay as well as I wish you are I wish you are fine so currently hopping on to the uh uh the the leading earnings in retirement uh as well as prior to I get there if you'' re enjoying this video clip take a quick second as well as struck the like button it actually does aid the formula uh locate other individuals that this this video clip uh and my videos can help all right so um I'' m gon na break this out the leading 10 percent the leading 5 percent and the leading one percent so people 65 to 69.
Currently this is people that are working and not functioning leading 10 percent is 2 hundred thousand top 5 percent is two hundred and sixty thousand top one percent is essentially one million dollars okay to make sure that'' s 65 to 69 and currently for people 70 to 74 numbers boiled down a little bit leading 10 percent is a hundred and also seventy thousand dollars leading 5 percent uh is 260. is that best yeah 265 000 and and the last number is a million dollars so senior citizens to be in the top one percent of all people 65 and also older you need to be making a million bucks a year simply to put that in perspective that regulation of 25. if that'' s what the uh if that'' s what the income is then they'had they ' d have to have 25 million bucks in cost savings by the the policy of 4 percent I hope you discovered this video clip valuable if you did I know you'' re mosting likely to like this video up here that talks concerning typical earnings for senior citizens in America in this video clip down right here that discuss five reasons to retire as quickly as you can thanks for watching bye byeRead More