Should anything change when investing after retirement? Are there specific investment options for after retirement? Should you change your asset allocation after you’ve retired?
For the average retiree their investment portfolio will make up a significant portion of their retirement income. Most of us will receive some government pension from CPP and OAS. Some of us may also receive retirement income from a defined benefit pension as well. But even in those situations we’re probably still creating some retirement income from an investment portfolio each year and this income is critical to help us reach our spending goals.
Given investment income is such an important part of most retirement plans, should anything change when investing after retirement?
For some people the answer might be yes. But for most of us the answer is probably no.
There are a few important factors to consider when investing after retirement and the three big ones are asset allocation, investment fees, and complexity.
These three factors are important to consider when investing after retirement. Depending on how your investment portfolio currently stands against these three factors it may warrant making some changes before entering retirement.
At some point in their life many investors are faced with deciding how to invest a large sum of money. This large sum of money could be from something like an unexpected bonus, or the proceeds from downsizing a home, or from something unfortunate like the passing of a family member.
Investing a lump-sum can be a daunting experience for even the most experienced investor. There can be a lot of fear and worry when it comes to investing a large lump-sum. Fear of what could happen if the market drops right after you invest.
Often this fear and worry can cause delays. Sometimes these delays can extend for months or even years, with large piles of cash sitting in a savings account waiting for the “right time” to invest.
These fears are understandable. There is a fairly good chance when investing a lump-sum that you could see the balance drop in the future. In the example below you’ll see that during approximately 67.3% of historical periods investing all at once is the better financial decision, but that means 32.7% of the time it is not.
There are two main methods when it comes to investing a lump-sum. Which method you choose will depend on how you’re feeling. Are you worried about what might happen if you invest a lump-sum all at once? Or are you ok with the risk because there is a good chance of higher financial gain?
When deciding how to invest a large lump-sum there are two common methods. One method is to invest the entire lump-sum all at once. This is mathematically the best option. The other is to dollar cost average smaller amounts into the market over time. This is psychologically often the best option.
Psychology is one consideration when choosing how to invest a large sum of money. Probability and expected return is another consideration. These are two important considerations when choosing how to invest a lump-sum.
When it comes to retirement planning, one of the biggest fears is often the risk of running out of money. It can be worrisome to think about what could happen if you’re unable to support your expenses in the future.
Sometimes these fears can lead to people choosing a more conservative risk profile, or holding a lot of cash, but taking these defensive measures can often increase the risk of running out of money in the future.
A more conservative asset allocation decreases market risk, the risk we take on when we invest in the stock market. But a conservative asset allocation actually increases other types of risk, like the risk of running out of money, or the risk of being impacted by high inflation rates.
A more conservative asset allocation can actually increase risk in retirement, especially for longer retirement periods. Your typical 30-40 something couple has a very good chance of either one making it to age 100+ in the future. There is a 25% chance that one of them will make it to age 98 and a 10% chance that one of them will make it to age 101!
Without making other changes, like a lower withdrawal rate, more flexibility with spending, part-time income etc, being more conservative can actually lead to a much higher probability of running out of money before age 100.
Let’s explore why this is the case and what you need to consider when creating your retirement plan…
Over the last few years the number of low-cost investment options has exploded in Canada. There are new and easy ways to create a low-cost diversified portfolio that isn’t dragged down by high investment fees.
There were always low-cost, do it yourself options, but they required a fair amount of manual work to make contributions, invest those contributions, and rebalance periodically (and let’s not forget, the stress of keeping yourself on course during a correction or recession).
But now there are new options available. In addition to a low-cost ETF portfolio or a low-cost mutual fund portfolio, there are options like low-cost “all-in-one” ETFs and low-cost robo-advisors.
These new options provide investors with new ways to invest in a low-cost portfolio without necessarily doing all the work themselves.
This has understandably put a lot of pressure on investment advisors who have historically charged extremely high fees on the investment products they sell.
The average investment fee on a mutual fund portfolio in Canada is around 2.3%. This can cause an enormous amount of drag on an investment portfolio. A $1,000,000 investment portfolio would experience a $23,000 annual drag from investment fees! That has a direct impact on how much retirement income you can create from your investment portfolio.
But switching from a high-priced mutual fund portfolio can be hard to do.
Even with the high fees, traditional investment options continue to dominate the investing landscape in Canada, but things are starting to change. For the first time ever, ETFs have outsold mutual funds. More money is flowing into ETFs than into mutual funds (bear in mind that you can also have high-priced ETFs, and low cost mutual funds, so this isn’t necessarily the best indicator).
But… if these low-cost investment options have been around for a while, why the slow change? Why aren’t more people switching?
There are three main risks people face when making a change of this kind, financial risk, emotional risk, and social risk. These risks can be difficult to overcome. Let’s understand each one and why they make breaking up with an investment advisor hard to do…
There are many different risks when it comes to retirement, but one risk that isn’t talked about very often is the risk of living a long and healthy life. It may seem odd to call this a risk, but from a financial planning perspective a long and health life increases the risk of running out of money in retirement.
According to the guidelines from the Financial Planning Standards Council of Canada, for a couple who is currently 55, there is a 25% chance that either partner in a couple will live to age 98 and there is a 10% chance that either will live to age 101.
Living a long and healthy life isn’t some obscure risk… for pre-retirees the chance of living to age 100 is around 1 in 10.
This risk becomes even greater for those aiming for early retirement in their 50’s or even 40’s. Retiring at age 55 could mean a 43+year retirement period for 1 in 4 couples and a 46+ year retirement period for 1 in 10 couples.
With such a long retirement period, and such a high possibility of reaching age 90+, we want to ensure that we’re taking steps within our financial plans to avoid the risk of a long life.
There are a few things that anyone can do to avoid this risk…
When we do our own financial planning we’re often too close to our own situation to have an objective perspective. We may focus on the wrong problems… or take a narrow view of the potential solutions… or miss potential issues entirely.
One of the benefits of working with a financial planner is that they provide a second set of eyes for your financial plan. Most people are already on the right path, but there are common issues that may end up working against you. A financial planner can help find these common mistakes that may otherwise go unnoticed.
Financial planning isn’t rocket science, it’s something that can be done on your own. The math itself isn’t terribly difficult, and there are tools available online to help, but one of the major downfalls of the DIY approach is that we can be somewhat oblivious to our own personal biases.
Basically, we’re too close to our own financial situation to be entirely unbiased (This goes for financial planners too!) There are certain financial planning mistakes that we all tend to make if we’re not careful.
These mistakes can lead to potential issues over time. These issues can create more risk, or decrease investment return, or increase taxes, or create a higher risk of running out of money in retirement.
These mistakes are quite common and identifying these potential issues is the first step to creating a stronger financial plan.