New York Times: Volatile Stock Market Hits Retirees Hardest

A turbulent stock market is already stressful for investors, but that stress can easily increase for older investors that are on the cusp of retirement. This is according to an article in the New York Times, written by personal finance reporter Tara Siegel Bernard with contributions by Dr. Wade Pfau of the Funding Longevity Task Force at the American College of Financial Services.

The activity of the market in the early days of retirement investing can have a pronounced impact on the health of an investor’s portfolio, Bernard writes. A requirement to sell investments when they are worth less will require an investor to sell more shares in order to accrue additional cash, which can cause major ramifications in the future.

“That can really start digging a hole in your portfolio that becomes harder to dig out of,” added Dr. Pfau. “It is really the first 10 years of the market performance in retirement that are going to drive your outcome.”

In order to try and avoid some of the ramifications to a portfolio that often accompany market volatility, Bernard makes a series of recommendations, the first of which being for people to work longer, or to pick up a part-time job.

“Those aren’t feasible for people with health problems, or those who were laid off by their employers a few years shy of when they intended to retire,” Bernard says. “But they tend to be the most effective ways to help your money last.”

Other strategies posited by Bernard is a portfolio check to make sure there’s enough diversity in investments, a mindful spending strategy that holds it steady as opposed to using “the 4 percent rule” that often comes with an annual account for inflation in spending habits. The finally recommendation is for older investors to limit their investing significantly earlier on before jumping back into the market as an investor ages.

That final idea is to increase stock holdings over time, which has been studied by Dr. Pfau and Michael Kitces, the director of wealth management at Pinnacle Advisory Group based in Columbia, Md.

“Portfolios that started with about 20 to 40 percent in stocks at retirement, and then gradually increased to about 50 or 60 percent, lasted longer than those with static mixes or those that shed stocks, according to their analysis,” Bernard writes of the strategy.

Read the article at the New York Times for a fuller look at these and other investment strategies geared toward retirement funding.

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