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The Ultimate Retirement Plan | Wade Pfau | Ep 63

[Music] welcome to the market call show where we discuss what's happening in the markets and the impact on your Investments tune in every Thursday on Apple podcast Google play Spotify or wherever you listen to podcasts hi Wade how are you doing I'm doing great thanks for having me on the show you know I'm so happy to have you here if you're in the retirement income planning business or if you're a financial advisor or a money manager somehow managing money in the space for retirement income planning everybody has heard your name you've been around in this field for a long time and as I was looking through your uh resume from various sources it's like okay well what are we going to exclude you know there's because there's so many things that you have done but I thought I would just kind of just fill in for viewers that don't know you a little bit about you um you know you're an active researcher and educator about retirement income strategies you know you do a lot of speaking I know you're going to be speaking here in Denver uh pretty soon uh you are a professor are you still a professor of retirement income at the American College of financial services I am currently yes and the director of Retirement Research for McLean asset management and in-stream uh you did your PhD in economics from Princeton and you did interestingly you did a dissertation on Social Security reform which we hopefully we'll talk a little bit about later uh you're also a fellow CFA Charter holder like myself um and you've got lots of AD you know accolades and some great books in particular one that I really like that you've done is a retirement planning guidebook uh 2021 uh and then you have that safety first retirement planning how much can I spend in retirement etc etc you've done some stuff on reverse mortgages The Unwanted stepchild that actually is a useful tool for many people yet not quite known by many so uh with that said I I was just curious tell me a little bit about your background where did you grow up so uh well I was born outside of Detroit I lived there until I was 15 moved to Iowa after that my my mother is originally from Southwest Iowa so I graduated high school in Des Moines Iowa and then went to the University of Iowa after that so pretty much midwesterner lived a number of different places afterwards including New Jersey Pennsylvania Tokyo Japan for 10 years and then now I live in Texas you live in Texas now yeah actually these pictures behind me and all are all the places I've lived over the years so it's so so you so you grew up in Detroit mostly it sounds like but moved all traveled a lot um how did you go from you know studying what did you study Finance initially when you were in college in undergrad economics and finance economics okay so how did you go from economics and finance to just being so focused it seems like you're focused on retirement income planning well yeah I mean uh financial planning as an academic field is still pretty new and even I entered the PHD program uh in 1999 and actually Texas Tech University started the First Financial Planning PhD program in the year 2000 so it wasn't even an option at that time but academic economics is very mathematical and theoretical and I was always looking for ways to apply to more real world type activities and that's ultimately how I made my way into financial planning indirectly you mentioned the my dissertation on Social Security reform that was testing how in the early 2000s there was a proposal to create personal retirement accounts to carve out part of the Social Security tax and put that into like a 401k style account and I was simulating how that might perform and ultimately that's the same sort of thing I've made my career on at this point which is just writing computer programs to test how different retirement strategies perform in looking for ways to get more efficiency out of one's asset base for retirement now that was during the bush 2 Administration if I remember correctly wasn't it and so and uh what were your findings in that what was your general thesis or not thesis but your general conclusion well at the time what I determined was that it could be made to work but it wasn't obviously a better approach and now in hindsight I realize more and more that there's so little in the way of protected lifetime income that carving out more of Social Security which is that inflation-adjusted protected lifetime income and exposing that to the market as well uh probably would lead to worse outcomes for many people than we do need some risk-fooled income and so now that traditional pensions are going away Social Security is one of the last holdouts and so it probably wouldn't be the best idea to private or not privatize but uh create personal the defined contribution 401K style accounts out of those Social Security contributions very interesting and we'll we'll touch a little bit more I have a lot a few questions on Social Security uh in general um you know from a macro perspective and also a micro perspective personally for uh people so um one of the things that I really like about what you've done is that you kind of take more of a approach that I'm kind of used to like more of an asset liability management approach when you think about funding ratios rather than the traditional way that you hear financial planners talk about it I really like your overall framework and one of the things that I I think is very helpful is your retirement income style protocol your resubm Matrix can you explain a little bit uh to the viewers about your ideas there and and what how that helps an individual determine their overall approach to how they should tackle their retirement income plan yeah absolutely and that's really one of the the confusing aspects of retirement income is there are different strategies that people can use and unfortunately just there's a lot of disagreement and arguments about one strategy is better than all the others and and by what I mean by that is you have What I Call Total return which is just a you build an Investment Portfolio and you take distributions from it throughout retirement you have different bucketing or time segmentation strategies and then you also have strategies that will focus more on having protected lifetime income through annuities or other tools to cover your Basics before you start investing on top of that and they're all viable strategies at the end of the day and that's an important point that Advocates of Investments only don't appreciate how powerful the risk pooling that annuities can do to offer more income how that is competitive with anything that the stock market might do and so people really have options about what they're most comfortable with and that's what the retirement income style awareness is about developing a questionnaire to help guide people in the direction as a starting point which of these different retirement strategies resonates best with your personal Outlook and preferences you may not ultimately choose the the strategy coming out of that but at least it gives you a starting point to say okay it seems like I might look here first as a way to build my retirement strategy and ultimately if that helps me connect to a strategy that resonates and that I can stick with through thick and thin in retirement that can help give a better outcome because they're all viable strategies but where a strategy doesn't work is if you're not comfortable with it and you don't stick with it and you you bail on it during a market downturn or something like that that that's what the retirement income style awareness is really designed to do is just provide that initial talking point on which kind of approach might work best for me to to think about as a starting point yeah I like that because what it's doing is it's basically more holistically looking at how you would can solve the problem and typically you'll find advisory firms that will will overweight if you will one over the other they're like I'm a Time segment guy or I I hate annuities it's all Total return annuities are a scam or uh you know I will never buy an annuity or uh you know Etc et cetera and risk pooling is is something that's really important but it's also very complicated and I think that's why a lot of people have shunned annuities and annuities have changed a lot over the years um and you know coming from my background you know which is more of a total return approach that's great if you have a lot of money but in in other cases you know I think that you can you can you can look at the problem from a optimal way of doing it or you can look at the problem from a way that's actually going to get implemented and work and what I like about Risa is it's practical pretty much all the stuff that you're doing is practical it's not completely theoretical one problem though with that is that you can have somebody who has a safety first for example mindset but their situation is such that if they have a Safety First with 100 of their Capital that they're very unlikely to be successful can you can you expound a little bit upon how you would think about that in terms of giving advice to people in that scenario yeah so that scenario is probably more they do have a safety first mindset but they've been pigeonholed into a total return strategy but they're ultimately not comfortable with the stock market and therefore maybe most of their Holdings are in cash or in bonds which doesn't support a whole lot of spending power and that's you kind of there's three basic ways you could fund a retirement spending goal the first is just with bonds or with cash not really offering much yield on top of that and then to try to spend more than that the um the probability base perspective is invest in the stock market and the stock should outperform bonds and that should allow you to spend more throughout retirement the safety first approach is more now let's build a floor of protected lifetime income that then brings in with an annuity the the risk pooling the the support to the long-lived helps provide more spending power than bonds alone as well and people have that option and it's when the safety first person gets pushed into a total returns probability based strategy and just doesn't invest in the stock market they're ultimately left with bonds which which is the least efficient way to fund a retirement spending goal over an unknown lifetime very true and you know I guess a lot of people did take that approach probably when I first got in this business 20 over 20 years ago there was a lot of people that were doing that who were retired back where the municipal bonds were paying it was it was conducive the market was conducive for that we had high interest rates that were in the long-term secular decline so you had capital appreciation from those bonds he also had reasonably good uh tax-free interest yields that were working for people and inflation was falling um and so now we potentially could be in the opposite inflation Rising who knows how yields are going to work themselves out but um it when you're looking at this um you you bring up this concept of some of the retirement risks and and you have like these uh longevity sequence of returns spending shocks Etc of of the risks that you're seeing out there which one would you say has had the largest impact negative impact on people that they really need to solve for you know longevity sequence of returns spending shocks and surprises well longevity in a way it's the overarching risk of retirement and it's misnamed because it's a good thing it's if you live a long time it's just as an economist will point out that the longer you live the more expensive your retirement becomes just because every year you live you have to fund your expenses for that year so the cost of retirement grows with the length of retirement and then it's when you live a long time not only is there that issue that you're having to fund your budget but then there's just more time for all those other types of risks to become a problem as well with the macroeconomic environment with changing public policy with inflation even a lower inflation rate still is slowly eating away at the purchasing power of assets and then the spending shocks are things like big Health Care bills helping adult family members having to support a long-term care need to to pay for care due to declining cognitive or physical abilities and so forth and so so it's really that longevity is if you don't have longevity there's not really time for the other risk to disrupt your retirement too much and that's why longevity usually gets listed as the primary risk of retirement interesting I hadn't thought about that so a lot of the other risks are kind of correlated to the longevity element um so so really tackling that that that could be one of the biggest parts of all the surrounding risks around that you you talk a little bit in your book a retirement planning guidebook you talk about quantifying goals and assessing preparedness and I I had mentioned before that I like that you're taking your approach more like a Alm or asset liability management type of of an approach which basically that's what it is um and uh and I don't think the average person thinks about it that way they tend to think about it as like I have so much money and I'll be able to with draw so much from it sometimes there's unrealistic expectations about it but one of the common things that I've seen is that most people are not spending the time they need to do on budgeting really to actually even come up with a number or help come up with a number of what your present value of assets need to be to be prepared do you have any kind of practical tips for people and their advisors on how they can actually think about and execute a good budget not only just you know come up with one but actually implement it well now that technology can really help with that and so if people are comfortable with some of the the different websites or software that Aggregates all of your different expenses different credit cards and so forth into one Excel spreadsheet that's a very easy way to to start budgeting now for people who mostly pay in cash that can be a lot more complicated these days I don't use a lot of cash so I just simply when in the rare case that I have an ATM withdrawal I'll just kind of call that a household expense for that time period and not worry about breaking that down much more but uh when you start having those credit cards or debit card type expenses now the the software may not categorize them in the way you desire and so I usually try to not more frequently than once a month but maybe once a month once a quarter download the expenses while I can still remember well enough if I have to change some of these categories and so forth to then be able to keep track of all my expenses and know exactly then pretty much to the scent almost what I spent that year and then to start thinking about well were there any anomalies of course there's always going to be anomalies and to make sure you budget in that sort of thing but that really once you have a few years of expenses down and once you think about bigger Big Ticket items like car purchases and things that can really give you a foundation to start projecting ahead at what your expenses may be in the future as well and then then you have a way to start thinking about well how much do I need to fund those expenses and that's the whole idea of that asset liability matching do I have the resources necessary to fund your expenses are just your liabilities and do you have the resources to be able to fund that with a level of confidence that you feel comfortable with hmm interesting so I I had a meeting with a client actually who was forced into early retirement and a former engineer and keeps meticulous records has for years and uh he gave us the actual numbers for the last three years and I I figured out what the compounded rate was and it was a lot higher than the inflation rate reported by the bl by the government so um I I think there's some disconnect there between you know how we model and reality um you know uh when you look at financial planning software and you look at the assumptions that are the number of assumptions that are involved in the financial software and you know even if you're not taking Point estimates if you're doing Monte Carlo or whatever stochastic process it's very difficult to come up with a robust plan so I'd like I'd like for you to give me some and I know this is kind of a big general question do you have any general tips to people who are doing this modeling on how and for and for clients actually for for individuals and how they can make their retirement more robust to be able to deal with all the changes that can happen in the world like you said public policy changes Market changes Etc yeah you will have to revisit things over time and and as you get new information about your spending make revisions to the budgeting but uh it's still just a matter of when you're like round up your expenses or be conservative with some of your projections there's some categories that are challenging as well like healthcare and when someone switches to MediCare at age 65 that could lead to an entirely different set of health care expenses and with all your expenses on Health Care in the past you might have to completely upend that and and and do a reset there so it is challenging but if you're trying to build in conservative projections the default is usually whatever you believe your expenses will be you just adjust that for inflation every year and most people don't really do that they tend their expenses don't tend to necessarily keep up with inflation over time now that can get complicated but the way I describe it in the retirement planning guidebook is you'll have one particular budget through ajd and then you'll have another lower expense budget after ajd but also building in what if there's a long-term care event and so forth how much additional Reserve assets would I like to have set aside for out-of-pocket expenses that sort of thing and then it's not going to be perfect and it's going to need revised over time but I think you can start to get fairly confident like I've sort of done these exercises I'm still far away from the retirement date and of course I may be wrong but I I think at this point I have a sense of what my expenditures will be or what they can be at least uh over the longer term Horizon of course subject to new technologies new inventions everything else that can happen uh that would change your expenses but at least roughly speaking I think you can start to figure these things out yeah um I guess I'm coming from a practitioner who's been doing it for you know 25 years and seeing the the the conventional wisdom by the best experts at each point in time and looking at how people have actually fared without advice and what I've found consistently is that changes in in particular with government policy has led to uh sub-optimal choices for people who are trying to optimize to the typical cfp advice so and let me let me uh back that up a little bit with with uh some some examples um education planning what was optimal has changed in my career probably four or five times um let me just put it this way I I have put more emphasis in tax diversification and diversification and stuff in how you do things now because what if you if you over optimize in these scenarios it's sub-optimal does that make sense right if like if you designed everything to handle one particular public policy and then it changes on you like right now Roth IRAs or Roth accounts are incredibly attractive to have Assets in but something could change it could just be not that they might necessarily ever tax a Roth distribution but they could add a required minimum distributions or they could count it in the modified adjusted gross income measures used to calculate taxes on Social Security benefits or to calculate higher medicare premiums and so forth and so if something like that happened and you'd been doing all these Roth conversions to get everything into the Roth account yeah that would be overdoing it and subjecting you to that particular risk so I do think tax diversification is is quite important so that you still have flexibility and options because the the uncertainty is the rules will change and we see that every couple of years we just in late December 2022 secure act 2.2.0 came out and that has changed a number of different public policy matters related to retirement income it's gonna and that will continue to happen over time so so be flexible and part of that is just not overdoing things making sure you stay Diversified with with how you're approaching planning yeah in today's environment what we see a lot is is people that have taken the advice of Max 401K uh you'll get a lot of tax deferred and and what's happening is is they're coming to retirement with a large very large 401K plans and things like that and then they just get nailed in taxes and in fact I'm finding a lot of people pay more taxes when they're retired than they did in some cases than when they were not retired um and uh and and it becomes an issue it becomes a real issue then they have estate planning issues and things like that so um uh I just I'm glad that you said that about the the tax diversification I think more than ever especially given our our current you know country's economic condition there's a lot there's we're going to have lots of changes and they could be very large changes uh in particular if you considered quote unquote rich um so I'm sorry I put my little uh two cents in there but getting back to your book uh you have this concept of the retirement income optimization map um again going back to the assets and liabilities and all of that and when you're you when you're you talk about optimizing that's that's why I brought up the the concept of optimizing I I think there's optimizing within ranges one of the concepts that I've kind of looked at and you talked about you talk about different people's retirement styles um one of the issues that you can look at is like matching the duration of your expected liabilities up for a certain period of time so let's say you have a certain percentage of your portfolios in a total return portfolio and then and then another percent that you're you're cash matching or your duration matching matching for one to five years or whatever uh I think some people call that time segmentation you can call it many different things if forget about psychology and how somebody feels if you are just a rational investor a rational person what would you say the optimal length of time is on average for somebody retiring 65 say to cash match or to duration match uh you know their near-term expenses at one year is it five years is it 10 years I know that's a a loaded question but if you forget about forget about psychology and just go pure rational mm-hmm well pure rational the the total return investing approach which has less emphasis on trying to duration match uh can work and also if you then use a an income protection or wrist wrap type strategy you you have that income floor in place that is lifetime so it's already kind of duration matched to your liability so time segmentation is certainly a viable strategy in terms of my personal preferences it's my least favorite strategy so the whole behavioral point about time segmentation is if I have five years of expenses in in cash or other fixed income assets I don't have to worry about a market downturn because I feel confident that the market will recover within five years and I'll be fine and that that story that's a behavioral story and it just doesn't resonate with me personally I I can understand it resonates with others but it doesn't resonate with me personally and therefore I don't necessarily think about what sort of like front end buffer you need in place too to somehow be rational or optimal also that's where something like a reverse mortgage can fit in in a really interesting manner because if you set up the growing line of credit on a reverse mortgage that can be the the type of contingency fund that you can draw from so that you don't necessarily need to have as much cash or other assets sitting on the sidelines to fulfill that role so I would look more at some other of course you need some some cash but I tend to say less rather than more and maybe look at some other options as well about how to have that liquid contingency fund that's great so so basically the in in the guaranteed income sources plus plus reverse mortgage could uh provide a buffer provide a floor so that you could have uh less cash and and you're generally getting a higher expected rate of return on the annuity than fixed income securities and your at at least at the present time a reverse mortgage line of credit grows at a faster rate than the cash which can be used tax-free when you need the money uh so you can see that Evolution that Carol davinsky is one of the famous planners and researchers in this area and in the 1980s he talked about the five-year Mantra which was have five years of expenses in cash now cash you create drag on you're not able to get as high of potential returns with the money you have in cash so he gradually lowered that down to two years in cash and then when he came across reverse mortgages and in subsequent research and and descriptions he talked about having six months of cash alongside a reverse mortgage growing line of credit so I think that's an example of I I think something like that sounds pretty reasonable that's that's that's that's really helpful so and I want to Circle back to reverse mortgages here but before we do if you don't mind I'd like to talk a little bit more about social security uh so we're kind of getting into the realm of the the guaranteed side of things not the total return side of things um or or I more more knowable income sources um I was just looking at the kind of the statistics right now total debt in the United States is really huge um we're running very large deficits project to be like 2 trillion we have a Pago system right now in Social Security and even if we taxed it's been argued by many people even if we taxed every billionaire 100 that would barely make a dent in our current situation so we have huge unfunded liabilities off balance sheet uh type unfunded liabilities how can we really expect Social Security to keep up with inflation and will it be there for quote unquote you know what I'm saying well it will need reforms it's very unlikely to Simply disappear for my own personal planning I I assume I'll get 75 percent of my presently legislated benefits but for people who are younger as well further away from their their 60s uh the social security statement they receive assumes the zero percent average wage growth as well as zero percent inflation and the reality is there's probably going to be a positive real wage growth over time so you're presently legislative benefit could be a lot higher than what your social security statement is implying and therefore when you offset a benefit cut with the uh the wage growth that can be expected over time you may not have that much less in terms of what you're going to plug into your financial plan but yeah I certainly we don't know how the reforms will shake out but if nothing is done sometime in the 2030s Congress would have to legislate a benefit cut and to keep the system so that enough payroll contributions are coming in to cover exist current benefits that cut would have to be somewhere in the ballpark of 20 to 25 percent so I just simply assume I'll get 75 percent of my presently legislated benefit as part of my financial plan is is it fee Is it feasible feasible to actually get Social Security in a funded situation or is it gonna is it most likely going to stay Pago in your if you had a crystal ball oh it yeah it's always been pay-as-you-go and right so the buildup of the trust fund was an effort to just build up some reserves in anticipation of the changing demographics where there's more and more retirees relative to the workers paying contributions uh they try to keep Social Security funded over the 75-year time Horizon and so it's never permanently funded but yeah with a 25 20 to 25 percent benefit cut that would be sufficient to get the system to be expected funding funded fully over the subsequent 75-year time Horizon that's that's really helpful um thinking about it that way in terms of just potentially a 25 less is a reasonable way to look at it I think um the that part of it's not so hard what's harder to understand or to get a grasp on is whether or not that's going to be what that means in real terms for for a retiree um if we continue on a certain path and inflation is is in a different scenario in the future how how do you think about scenario when or inflation when you're when you would set up a plan or a retirement plan what how would you what kind of what kind of uh of Monte Carlos if you will would you put on on your inflation expectation so I do well I tend to just try to think of everything in today's dollars so that the inflation's factored out of it but I the way I think about long-term inflation is the markets tell us what they expect inflation to be if you just look at the difference between a treasury bond and then a tips treasury inflation protected security with the same maturity uh the difference between those two is what the markets expect inflation to be in if they thought it would be different they would invest in one or the other to get that aligned inflation is coming down now and even over the next five years at this point markets are only factoring in an average inflation rate of about 2.1 to 2.3 percent so it seems like markets really expect inflation to come over to come under control even over 30 years right now the markets are building in about a 2.3 percent average inflation rate which is below historical numbers and in terms of if I'm building a Monte Carlo simulation right now I'd to be a little more conservative there I'd base it around a two and a half percent inflation rate with historical volatility and inflation is around four percent so so you're basically an average of 2.4 or 2.5 and then uh standard deviation is like four basically okay so uh that that sounds reasonable um I I guess what is interesting about that is I guess if you assume that we have typical real rates of return for different asset classes that that all works itself out if you put it in present value terms um but if that's not the case and and it should stay that way ultimately it should stay that way but you could have major moves in markets in people's uh time Horizon when they retire which leads us to sequence of returns conversation uh when people retire you can have these you can have these big shifts in markets things things are rough right when somebody retires uh we uh remember I told you about that engineer we had a conversation with forced into early retirement right when the market topped uh the good news is is he had two types of annuities that worked out perfectly for him in the sequence return can you explain sequence return risk for listeners and and what it means and how to you know strategies to mitigate that a little bit more and just one quick last comment on the inflation too like if you thought when I said these low inflation numbers that that's ridiculous inflation would be much higher well then you'd benefit from investing in tips because they'll provide you a real yield plus whatever inflation ends up being and so they'll perform better if inflation is higher and they've already discounted that that was one of the best performing uh fixed income markets uh in the last couple years so but anyhow but but yeah a sequence of returns risks so that's it whenever you have cash flows going in or out of a portfolio the order of returns matters and it's when you start spending in retirement that it matters a lot more so it's like the market could do fine on average over the next 30 Years but if the market goes down at the start of my retirement I'm not having to sell more and more shares to meet my spending needs and sell a bigger percentage of what's left to meet my spending needs such that when the market subsequently recovers my portfolio doesn't get to enjoy that recovery and so it can dig a hole for the portfolio and the the average return could be pretty high but if you get a bad sequence of market returns right at the start of retirement it can really disrupt that retirement and lead to an implied much lower average rate of return than what the overall markets were doing over your retirement Horizon yeah so and in terms of actually uh let's say you're coming up on retirement so this is a common scenario you're retiring in 10 years or five years what should an investor be thinking about doing to transition from that accumulation to distribution phase to kind of mitigate that sequence of return risk so when people start thinking about retirement I think that's where the first step take that retirement income style awareness to get a sense of what sort of retirement strategy might work for you because that's where you then have um different options if you're more of a total return investor that's the whole logic of the target date fund and so forth is just start lowering your stock allocation but still investing in a diversified portfolio as part of that transition into retirement if your time segmentation the easiest way to think about the transition is instead of holding those Bond mutual funds you start exchanging those in for holding individual bonds to maturity like if I'm 10 years before retirement every year for the next 10 years I could start buying a 10-year bond and then when I get to my retirement date I have the next 10 years of expenses covered through these maturing bonds if you have more of an income protection or risk draft strategy the the options would then to be thinking about well if I have an income gap I'm trying to fill where after I account for Social Security or any pensions I'd really like to have more reliable income to meet some basic expenses well you could start looking at purchasing annuities that would turn on income around your projected retirement date as a way to have that transition into retirement and so they're all viable options and it's just a matter of taking the the route that you feel most comfortable with very good that's really really helpful um now I I guess at least is a little bit into the what I would call the traditionally unloved unwanted stepchildren annuities and reverse mortgages uh you know they've gotten a bad a bad rap for so long but they're so useful in in as tools I would say probably the reverse mortgage is the least understood and uh and and one very helpful um tool I think maybe because of just the history of them and how they used to be structured versus how they're structured now um can you give me a sense about how to think about reverse mortgages for people is it only for people who are you know can barely get their their plan together with their assets or or does this also work for people who have a cushion but they should still do a reverse mortgage more yeah I mean the conventional wisdom a lot of times is that the reverse mortgage is a last resort consideration after everything else has failed and maybe then just a way to Kick the Can down the road a little bit but ultimately that retirement wasn't necessarily sustainable since about 2012 that really the focus of the kind of research retirement planning financial planning type research was looking at how reverse mortgages can be used as part of a responsible retirement plan and so it's not that a lot of advisors may just think the reverse mortgage is only for someone who's run out of options but but that's really not the idea it's we have different assets and it's back to that real map the retirement income optimization how do we position those assets to fund our goals and the reverse mortgage provides a lot of flexibility about how to incorporate our home equity asset to help fund our retirement plan and it can lead to a lot more efficient outcomes than just simply say leaving the home sitting on the sidelines and saying well I've got the home if I have long-term care needs I'll sell my home to fund the long-term care something like that otherwise I'll just leave the home as a legacy asset for my beneficiaries there's much more efficient ways to incorporate home equity into a retirement plan and that's what the whole discussion around reverse mortgages is how can I I use a reverse mortgage to help build a more efficient retirement plan and not as a last resort but as part of a responsible well-funded retirement plan it's just another Diversified tool to a source of source of of assets that you can use that's not just sitting there I just had a conversation with a client yesterday that is about to retire in a few years and uh that is exactly what he said that other property that I have in that other State uh I'm just gonna keep that as a that'll be my I'll sell it if I need to you know there was a conversation about health care contingency and um uh long-term care and things like that and that was his rationale um and and in discussions with clients there has been a a ton of resistance you've been really good at putting out information that shows why it makes sense to have it as a potential use so can you explain a little bit about the the line of credit portion of it and how that how use how that could be advantageous yeah and it really it goes back to this idea of sequence of returns risk and if you look at a reverse mortgage in isolation it may look expensive or whatever else but it's how does it fit into the plan and by reducing pressure on the Investments it can help lay the foundation for a better outcome and the the growing line of credit is one of the most misunderstood aspects of the reverse mortgage and I think it was partly unintentional and it may sound too good to be true in a way it probably is and we saw in in October 2017 the government put some limitations on the growing line of credits so it was incredibly powerful before then it still quite powerful not as powerful as before for new uh anyone who opened a reverse mortgage before October 2017 was protected to have those Provisions in place for the entire life alone but if you wait and then after October 2017 you still have the growing line of credit it's not as powerful but but the idea is I believe the government assumed people would open reverse mortgages because they want to tap into the funds but financial planners realized with the variable rate not with a fixed rate but with a variable rate home equity conversion mortgage you do have to keep a minimal loan balance of say 50 to 100 dollars but otherwise the rest can be left as a line of credit and that line of credit grows at the same way the loan balance would grow and so you can understand why if you borrow money the what the loan balance will grow over time well it just happens to be the case that the kind of neat planning trick is if you open the reverse mortgage and 99 of it is in the line of credit the line of credit is growing over time at the same rate that the loan balance would have been growing and ultimately this improves the odds dramatically of having a lot more access to funds over time if you open it sooner and let the line of credit grow versus just waiting to open it at the time you might actually want to start spending from it yeah how has it been limited uh limited versus the way it used to be what what are the limitations well they increased the initial mortgage insurance premium which is not directly to the line of credit but then every every so often used to be more frequently we're now getting overdue at this point with it's been over five years but they revised the tables that determine the principal limit factors of what percentage of the home value can you borrow and so as part of that 2017 change they uh lowered the the borrowing percentages and also they lowered I mean this this part's a good thing but they lowered the ongoing mortgage insurance premium that would cause the loan balance to grow at a slower rate but it also in turn caused the line of credit to grow at a slower rate so it before that change I was running simulations where if you opened a reverse mortgage at age 62 there was like a 50 chance that within 20 years the line of credit could be worth more than the home and that's no longer the case it's still there's still a probability that the line of credit could grow to be worth more than the home but it's not nearly as dramatic as what I was Finding before the rule change that's very interesting because the line of credit growth rate is tied to interest rates and home prices have somewhat of an inverse relationship to interest rates to some degree but it's basically positively skewed so it's not it's hard to know but uh uh but yeah that's that is a great planning tip and it's interesting because we have had a lot of friction with this discussion with uh clients uh mentioning to them because they just have it in their head that I'm going to lose my home and I'm going to there's all these things that can go wrong and then you have to explain it's a big education process and of course they are required to do education as well no we don't sell reverse mortgages but we always you know if we if we you know we mention it to people as a source and you know having it there makes a lot of sense uh and and the same thing with the annuities um you know I have a love hate relationship with annuities but I'm becoming to love them more and let me tell you why before it was all commission driven you know and we're fiduciaries we don't do commission stuff now with the Advent of finally the insurance companies have really gotten to the point where there's at least enough of them now doing products that make sense with the guarantees I mean there was always companies out for a long time there's companies out there like Americas Etc that had just pure plain vanilla uh va's variable annuities that had just lowered your expenses and maybe eliminated a surrender or something but the guarantees is where the real there were folks too much on tax deferral and not enough on guarantees what were the guarantees is really really what we're really looking for here uh and the only way you could even get them you guarantees would be if you did a commissionable product so we'd be handing you know we would be referring people to Insurance guys who were selling commissionable products and then sometimes you don't know what's going to happen after that happens uh with that client so now thank God we have uh we're in a scenario now where the where the financial industry has finally caught up to what needed to happen with annuities yeah the only annuities yeah yeah the only annuities and there's it still has a lot more to be done it's it's you shouldn't be overlooked and I think what happens one of the reasons that I think they're so helpful uh for people is that risk tolerance is time variant people say their risk tolerance is X and then as soon as you have a market decline then their risk tolerance is all all of a sudden why which is more conservative and and uh these annuities can help people psychologically overcome that right you can always look to something that is either staying equal or growing and you can also have growing income streams during the Gap we see that a lot there's a gap between uh when they get Social Security and when they retire and it kind of fills that Gap and it's funny when I was when I was I actually had my assistant who's also a CPA excuse about my financial planning system I had to read this book first and she uh she said it sounded like like you uh were like in the room with him uh because there's so much stuff in here that you and I agree with it's amazing uh before not even knowing you so and I think it might have to do more with the approach of taking things more from uh your academic background and your CFA background it gives you a different perspective than what kind of the traditional financial planners had who had come more from a sales background and now what's happening is is we have uh the whole industry is now moving in the I think moving in the right direction and I think you've been a big uh reason why that's happening so I I really want to thank you for that all your work is really making a difference I want to talk a little bit about Medicare if we can and health insurance this is probably one of the most the hardest part is the medical the medical discussions in some ways um people don't want to think about long-term care people don't want to think about health costs I was looking at some of the statistics you know long-term care statistics is how much it costs it's a big number how would you how would you model the contingency planning you know for let's just start with long-term care how would you model that would you model it as a present value number or would you try to put it as a as something that's over time how how would you how do you approach that yeah actually so I did try to make the retirement planning guidebook as comprehensive as possible and and so I as part of that developed a long-term care calculator and the the basic logic of it is develop a scenario that you would feel comfortable that if you could fund that scenario uh you'll feel like okay things things will work out whether that's three years in a nursing home whatever the case may be but develop that scenario where you're saying okay at age 90 I will spend the next three years in a nursing home right now in the United States the average cost for a semi-private room in a nursing home is a little bit under a hundred thousand dollars I'll say in today's dollars a hundred thousand dollars a year but then I'm gonna plug in the the math gets complicated but you've got what's the inflation rate in long-term care what's the overall inflation rate and then back to this whole idea of the asset liability matching like what's the investment return discount rate you're comfortable assuming as well and also recognizing that if I do go into a nursing home I don't have to also fund my entire budget of a like if I thought I was going to spend 80 000 a year well I'm not going to be going on any sort of trips I don't have to go to restaurants or anything uh a lot of my other expenses would reduce not not 100 but they would reduce so plug it in what I think is a reasonable reduction to the rest of my budget and then you get calculated a present value of here's how much money I'd have to have set aside as a reserve asset to feel comfortable that I would be able to fund this long-term care need and and be able to have a successful retirement and for people who are worried about and who may be paying out of pocket for long-term care that could be several hundred thousand dollars to be blunted on average that's what it comes out to I actually had a coffee with a gentleman and he said uh what is it just tell me what the number is I said well it depends on your age he says no just tell me what the number I said it's roughly about 300 000 roughly on average it could be more it could be less uh you know uh okay and and there's there's there's different ways you can fund it right you can do long-term care insurance uh traditional Standalone you could do um you know life insurance policies that have embedded features you could do if you can't like qualify for um you know you know get a policy you can maybe get it embedded in an annuity of some sort you can sell fund um so it's not an easy thing that you can uh solve it with a quick answer um but but it's important to have in a plan and I and I like the fact that that uh you've emphasized that a lot in your work um it's just it's just great that that people are thinking about it from that perspective I want to switch gears a little bit um and talk a little bit about tax efficiency uh you know taxes are such a huge part of the impact of a plan and there's so many different angles to it and and the tax rules change so much um I'll tell you one of the challenges that I have asset location the concept of balancing you know where you put a certain asset according to us is tax efficiency versus keeping an asset allocation in line right up you know operationally keeping it in line with the objectives and then as money is being spent taking it from the right place it's a challenge even with excellent software and then sometimes I'm finding that it doesn't actually work out as planned so can you can you give me some practical tips on how to deal with asset location well the the basic logic of asset location but yeah I mean in practice it gets incredibly complicated as you're spending from these accounts to think about also rebalancing and making sure you're keeping the right asset allocation between stocks and bonds and the NASA location is where do you keep these things but generally just is a basic guideline your taxable brokerage accounts of course you want some cash there for your liquidity but otherwise that's your most tax efficient stock Investments so if you own stock index funds and so forth the on a relative basis they're most likely to be best off in your taxable account because a lot more of their returns will be those long-term capital gains that get the preferential tax treatment then with like your tax deferred IRAs and 401ks that's more of a place where less tax efficiency so bonds and so forth maybe lower returning type asset classes and then for your Roth accounts the Roth IRA and so forth that's where less tax efficient but higher expected return type asset classes could go the Emerging Market funds and small cap value and that sort of thing and that does also work with distribution ordering as well because the Roth will be what you tend to spend last and so also having these uh riskier asset classes that may have more growth prospects over the long term that can be a good place to set them aside since you're not likely to be spending from those accounts until later in retirement okay yeah it I think for a lot of people it's a little bit of a daunting thing and in practice it can be with contingencies and things like that can be hard to to do correctly and keep managed and I know there's good news is there's good software now that that helps with that um as far as tax efficiency the other you mentioned the order of withdrawals I mean traditionally you know you have the you know your traditional order of withdrawal that you would you would uh do in in the past a lot a lot of recommendations has been you know you want to take from your taxable accounts first right let those tax-free tax deferred accounts grow and then and then you start taking from those other sources but you make a really good point that that's not always the best thing to draw that taxable account down too fast can you expand upon that a little bit well the yeah the the basic tax efficient distribution is spent down taxable assets than tax deferred like IRAs and then tax exempt like Roth against last but you you can do better and so the the better approach is to have a blend of taxable and tax deferred until the taxable account depletes and then a blend of tax deferred and tax exempt after that and as part of that blend you can do rock conversions to in the short term pay higher taxes if that can better position you to pay less taxes over the long term and to have a higher Legacy value from assets over the long term yeah and then getting more specific than that it's there's no you really got to run the the individual numbers on a case-by-case basis but generally there's the opportunities to sustain your assets for much longer by having a more tax efficient distribution strategy that digs into that taxable plus tax deferred and then later tax deferred plus tax exempt exactly and and that's why it's important while you when you're an accumulation phase make sure you have some tax diversification if you can yeah have Assets in all those different types of accounts yeah so that you're not nailed so bad uh later on uh and then there's a lot of complexities that can happen with happen that we see quite a bit with concentrated stock positions and things like that which is probably outside the scope what we're talking about today so um and lastly here last last topic here non-financial aspects of retirement this is a huge huge huge thing uh it's funny it was the last towards the end of your book and I'm glad that you talked about it uh because uh there's I can't tell you how many times um you know you see people think that they're going to be happy sitting on the beach and then they they do that and they're miserable uh or or spouses that wind up hating each other for some reason can you tell can you give us some ideas about um like what should people be doing like say they're five years into retiring or ten years into retirement retirement What should people be thinking about doing to kind of get their their overall lifestyle satisfactory when they actually do retire yeah and and that's this is in some ways more important than any other Financial stuff because with the finances it's easier to adapt but work does so many things in a person's life it's not just that it provides a salary and you need a way to replace all the other aspects of work such as structure to the day camaraderie feeling part of a team feeling like you're creating value for a society all these different aspects that you need to be able to replace with something that gives you motivation to wake up in the morning in retirement and so to say simply it's not the best starting scenario if you retire because you hate your job you want to be able not to retire away from something but to be able to retire to something you want to have and it gives you purpose and passion and meaning to give you the motivation to wake up and and have something be active each day because in all too many cases people just they start doing passive things like watching too much television or surfing the internet too much and that can lead to a really miserable and unsatisfactory retirement wow that's huge that's interesting have something to retire to so uh and and start figuring that out sooner rather than later right not don't wait till the very end and go yeah what am I doing uh and sitting there staring at your wife or your husband yeah that's the idea that there's all these things you you want to get done but you just think well when I retire then I'll have more time to do it well if it's something you've been holding off on doing for the past 40 years it's not likely that just having more time in retirement is what you need you may just simply either not be interested if it's a hobby like oh I want to go back to playing the guitar or something if you're waiting for retirement to do that sort of thing there you go that retiring may not be enough and then people might start feeling bad that you no longer have the excuse and that's where if that sort of bad feeling compounds it can create a spiral like a downward spiral where people just become less engaged and less positive and it can even impact Health which then in turn makes it harder to be engaged and involved and and can lead to downward spirals it's really important to try to avoid that and as part of that not waiting for retirement to to consider all these other aspects of your life outside of work but making sure you're nurturing relationships and having hobbies and having things outside of work so that it will then be easier to transition into the retirement yeah that's great so is there anything as we close here is there anything that you're really excited about that you're working on right now that you want to share or is there at all right now I am just trying to get the updates done for the retirement planning guidebook and where we're doing the best we can to build out that retirement income Styles ideas uh something that people can benefit from and uh the other main research area is with the tax planning as well that I think this will be a Hot Topic and I've already done a lot of work in that area but it is such a complicated area that just trying to push forward as well about like Roth conversion strategies and and how to best Implement those in a most of the work in that area just assumes a fixed rate of return and with the reality of not fixed rates of Returns on your Investment Portfolio that also dramatically complicates some of those tax planning decisions so I'm continuing to push ahead in those areas interesting so more stochastic modeling in your future yes stochastic modeling and now you're probably going to be uh that Technology's got to be in there somewhere too any plans uh that you want to announce or share with new technology that you're going to be coming out with or software programs or anything like that or I mean I just have this Vision in my head if I were you I'd be doing something like that but I mean I'm just saying yeah don't Envision creating tax planning software but uh the retirement income style awareness that's where I'm putting on my efforts in terms of having software and that's an easier problem than the tax planning problem definitely yeah there's a lot of changes always yeah you'll be coding to your uh blue in the face all your staff would be so uh the uh it's interesting I I I'm actually going to be diving into that that profiling software that you have um I had a conversation yesterday about that so that's very good so where would people uh would you like people to send you see learn more about you um anything that you're up to oh yeah uh so my website all one word retirement researcher and if you go there you can sign up every Saturday morning we send out an email with different articles and things and then my retirement planning guidebook is on Amazon or any other major book retailer and also I do have a podcast as well they're retire with style podcast with Alex mergia who's my a co-co-researcher and and co-founder of the retirement income style awareness excellent all right Wade thank you so much appreciate you coming on it's been a pleasure thank you the information in this podcast is informational and General in nature and does not take into consideration the listeners personal circumstances therefore it is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized Financial legal or tax advice to determine which strategies or Investments may be suitable for you consult the appropriate qualified professional prior to making a final decision wealthnet Investments is a registered investment advisor advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where wealthnet Investments and as representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure [Music] foreign

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