BlackRock, one of the world’s largest financial firms, says three key moves can sharply boost retirement income. Most people focus on building up their savings when they make retirement plans. However, by also focusing on the drawdown phase, the duration of the nest egg that you have accumulated can be significantly extended, BlackRock says in a recent report.
Consider working with a financial advisor as you develop a long-term retirement plan for yourself.
Add Guaranteed Lifetime Income via an Annuity
Annuities have become a hot topic in recent years, as financial professionals have increasingly debated their pros and cons. On the upside, they hedge against longevity risk. A lifetime annuity can guarantee, aside from catastrophic failure on the part of the insurance company, that you will receive a minimum income for life. On the downside, annuities can sometimes post weaker growth than even the standard S&P 500 index fund.
BlackRock argues that the benefit of hedging against longevity risk, though, is quite powerful. By putting up to 30% of your portfolio savings into a retirement annuity, you can create a strong base for the future of your retirement income. Alongside Social Security, this gives you an income that never draws down and will not fade.
Shift to an Aggressive Asset Allocation
There’s a catch to an annuity plan, though. Perhaps the biggest risk with annuities, as noted, is their low rate of return. In fact, Fidelity says that in recent years annuities often return one-eighth the amount of a simple S&P 500 index fund. That’s a recipe for low, slow growth.
So, BlackRock suggests balancing your annuity investments with a more aggressive market portfolio. In other words, leverage the security that you have with your annuity to rebalance your portfolio toward higher-return assets like stocks, if even just a stock market index fund, like the S&P.
By doing this, you’re more protected against loss by the guaranteed income of the annuity, while also boosting your overall spending power in retirement with the projected growth of the equities. This lets you retain a strong equity portfolio later in life, when many investors would otherwise start shifting their investments in favor of more stable, fixed-income assets, like bonds or CDs.
“Adding guaranteed lifetime income combined with a more aggressive asset allocation generates 29% more annual spending ability from one’s retirement savings (excluding Social Security) and reduces downside risk by 33%,” BlackRock states in the report.
Retire (and Take Benefits) Later in Life
Finally, BlackRock recommends delaying retirement by two years. The firm suggests delaying retirement, along with Social Security benefits and annuity payouts, from age 65 until age 67. This is not, however, a delayed retirement. For anyone born after the year 1960, the goalposts have been moved back and full retirement age is set at 67.
The firm’s basic analysis still stands though. As the firm writes, “[a]mong all retirement decisions, the choice of when to retire and claim Social Security often has the single greatest impact on one’s financial security.”
Putting this off even by just two years can significantly boost your Social Security benefits. It will also give your annuities time to continue growing, making their lifetime benefits stronger, while allowing your portfolio to accumulate extra years of high-value growth as well.
BlackRock finds that pushing back retirement by two years can boost a retiree’s lifetime spending power by 16% and reduce downside risk by an additional 15%. In combination with the 29% retirement increase gained by getting an annuity and having an aggressive, stock market-based asset allocation, retirees can sharply extend the duration of their retirement income.
For many investors, the good news here is that BlackRock probably recommends a version of what you are already pursuing: diversification. This approach suggests that you should balance high-security assets, in the form of lifetime annuities, against high-return assets, such as stocks. It recommends delaying retirement as a way of boosting your lifetime Social Security benefits and maximizing your late-in-life portfolio returns. For the average investor and saver, this is all very doable.
Retirement Savings Tips
- A financial advisor can help you build a comprehensive retirement plan. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- Longevity risk is the possibility that you will live too long, and that’s a perverse way of looking at life. So start making plans right now to celebrate your hundredth birthday in style.
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Eric Reed is a freelance journalist who specializes in economics, policy and global issues, with substantial coverage of finance and personal finance. He has contributed to outlets including The Street, CNBC, Glassdoor and Consumer Reports. Eric’s work focuses on the human impact of abstract issues, emphasizing analytical journalism that helps readers more fully understand their world and their money. He has reported from more than a dozen countries, with datelines that include Sao Paolo, Brazil; Phnom Penh, Cambodia; and Athens, Greece. A former attorney, before becoming a journalist Eric worked in securities litigation and white collar criminal defense with a pro bono specialty in human trafficking issues. He graduated from the University of Michigan Law School and can be found any given Saturday in the fall cheering on his Wolverines.