The three questions you must answer for prospective clients (and the two questions to answer to keep them as clients)

The three questions you must answer for prospective clients (and the two questions to answer to keep them as clients)

Many will argue that “sales is sales.” I’ll contend that the financial services industry has two paths that professionals can take when approaching new client acquisition (sales): the transaction-based sales path or the consultative sales path.

In a transactional sales model, the value is found within the product and price is often the focus. The consultative approach to sales puts the value emphasis on the planning services offered, with the product and price being secondary.

The transactional relies more on emotion and solving “a problem.” In the financial services world, it tends to be very short sighted and singularly focused. People who do business with these types of financial services providers tend to be customers, not clients.

The consultative approach tends to have a much longer sales cycle, puts a heavier focus on a the relationship, and results in a relationship that is more aptly categorized as a client.

Prospective clients who follow an advisor-driven consultative approach to sales have three primary questions they want answered from an advisor:

  1. Do I like this person? It sounds simple, but a prospective client needs to like you if they plan to do business with you from a consultative standpoint. A transaction customer puts far less importance on the answer to this question. Think about it like this… when I go to buy a new stove or pair of jeans, I don’t really care that much about whether I like the salesperson. Don’t get me wrong, it helps… but it’s not the basis for my decision
  2. Do I trust this person? Trust is at the core of any relationship, especially when it has to do with money. There are plenty of things you can do to earn one’s trust. Third party validation and credibility are one. Quality time is another. Study after study suggests that you need to spend a certain number of hours with somebody before you can trust them. Translation: the one or two call close just ain’t gonna get it done.
  3. Do I think they can get me to the bright, sunny future that I hope for? This is far more important than you may realize. This is where honesty is important. You can tell them that it can happen, but if you aren’t being honest with them, they won’t remain a client for long (keep reading to find out way. Show them how to help them reach their future goals… but don’t start doing this until questions number one and two have been answered yes.

 

Once they’ve become a client… they need you to continually answer two questions:

  1. Am I still OK? 
  2. Is my bright, sunny future still in tact?

Those two questions have plenty of overlap, but those need to be the focus of every review you have with your clients if you want them to remain clients. I’ve oversimplified things a bit, but if you can put your focus on being able to continually answer these questions for prospective clients and existing clients, you’ll be in a much better spot to continue to build a referral culture within your practice. At the end of the day, a clearly defined sales process can be one of the most important marketing tools you possess.

Enjoy!

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Cutting through the noise part 2 – the best marketing email I’ve received in the past 12 months

If you haven’t had the chance to read my previous post about the best direct mail piece I’ve seen this year, I invite you do so, as it ties in closely with why I loved this email.

The subject line was as follows: Michigan State vs. the Buckeyes.. Friendly wager?

This email came from a gentleman I had never heard of, nor did I know of his company. He sent it on the Wednesday before a big football game between my alma mater (Michigan State) and Ohio State. Here was the first paragraph of his email to me:

Hey Mark,

As a lifelong Buckeyes fan, I wanted to reach out with a friendly wager. I’ll give you the Spartans to cover the spread as of game time Saturday and I’ll take the Ohio State to beat it. If you win, I’ll send you some Michigan State swag or make a donation to a charity of your choice. If I win, I’d like the chance to have a short call to introduce Tenfold.

He then shared a quick sentence about his company, and then above his signature, he signed off by saying:

Let me know if we have a bet!

Here’s what I know…  he probably sent that same email to a list of other MSU grads in a similar business/job capacity. As you can see from his email, he didn’t even go to school there… so it could have even been totally made up that he was a fan. BUT… he got my attention. I replied to him and explored what his company did. Here’s what I loved about this strategy:

  • Highly personalized. I’m an MSU alum and football fan. He did his homework (that homework isn’t that hard to do, especially with LinkedIn and all the other data sources out there).
  • It was different. It was completely outside the box and not the same old company pitch I get ALL THE TIME.
  • The subject line FORCED me to open it. Enough said. That’s the name of the game.
  • It was a win-win for him. Even if he had to send me “swag” as he put it, it was a drop in the bucket for his company to continue engagement with a potential client.
  • His signature line had a direct link where I could schedule a call with him. Highly effective use of his time and I’d betcha he got a bunch of calls scheduled as a result of it.
  • It was time sensitive and highly opportunistic – I responded to him before the game (within a day or two of his email being sent). He capitalized on a big event.
  • It gave him an immediate icebreaker conversation that wasn’t about business. Let’s face it, people prefer to do business with people they enjoy talking with (especially things that aren’t business related).
  • It’s highly repeatable. His favorite school has a dozen football games a year and even more basketball games.

So… can you get creative with something like this in your practice?

Here’s my action steps/thoughts for you:

  1. Find your team/sport/passion. It helps to be genuine with this one.
  2. Have fun with the offer/challenge/bet (and make sure your compliance folks are OK with it).
  3. Use Linkedin as a starting point for finding the people you may want to do this with. (Translation: don’t buy an email list).

If I can be of any assistance to you with your efforts, feel free to contact me.

In the meantime… GO GREEN!

All the best!

Mark

The post Cutting through the noise part 2 – the best marketing email I’ve received in the past 12 months appeared first on 16 Ways from Sunday.

Cutting through the noise part 2 – the best marketing email I’ve received in the past 12 months

If you haven’t had the chance to read my previous post about the best direct mail piece I’ve seen this year, I invite you do so, as it ties in closely with why I loved this email.

The subject line was as follows: Michigan State vs. the Buckeyes.. Friendly wager?

This email came from a gentleman I had never heard of, nor did I know of his company. He sent it on the Wednesday before a big football game between my alma mater (Michigan State) and Ohio State. Here was the first paragraph of his email to me:

Hey Mark,

As a lifelong Buckeyes fan, I wanted to reach out with a friendly wager. I’ll give you the Spartans to cover the spread as of game time Saturday and I’ll take the Ohio State to beat it. If you win, I’ll send you some Michigan State swag or make a donation to a charity of your choice. If I win, I’d like the chance to have a short call to introduce Tenfold.

He then shared a quick sentence about his company, and then above his signature, he signed off by saying:

Let me know if we have a bet!

Here’s what I know…  he probably sent that same email to a list of other MSU grads in a similar business/job capacity. As you can see from his email, he didn’t even go to school there… so it could have even been totally made up that he was a fan. BUT… he got my attention. I replied to him and explored what his company did. Here’s what I loved about this strategy:

  • Highly personalized. I’m an MSU alum and football fan. He did his homework (that homework isn’t that hard to do, especially with LinkedIn and all the other data sources out there).
  • It was different. It was completely outside the box and not the same old company pitch I get ALL THE TIME.
  • The subject line FORCED me to open it. Enough said. That’s the name of the game.
  • It was a win-win for him. Even if he had to send me “swag” as he put it, it was a drop in the bucket for his company to continue engagement with a potential client.
  • His signature line had a direct link where I could schedule a call with him. Highly effective use of his time and I’d betcha he got a bunch of calls scheduled as a result of it.
  • It was time sensitive and highly opportunistic – I responded to him before the game (within a day or two of his email being sent). He capitalized on a big event.
  • It gave him an immediate icebreaker conversation that wasn’t about business. Let’s face it, people prefer to do business with people they enjoy talking with (especially things that aren’t business related).
  • It’s highly repeatable. His favorite school has a dozen football games a year and even more basketball games.

So… can you get creative with something like this in your practice?

Here’s my action steps/thoughts for you:

  1. Find your team/sport/passion. It helps to be genuine with this one.
  2. Have fun with the offer/challenge/bet (and make sure your compliance folks are OK with it).
  3. Use Linkedin as a starting point for finding the people you may want to do this with. (Translation: don’t buy an email list).

If I can be of any assistance to you with your efforts, feel free to contact me.

In the meantime… GO GREEN!

All the best!

Mark

The post Cutting through the noise part 2 – the best marketing email I’ve received in the past 12 months appeared first on 16 Ways from Sunday.

Cutting through the noise – The best direct mail marketing I’ve received this year

At least once a week I hear expressions like “direct mail is dead” or “there is so much junk mail.”

If you know anything about me, you know I’m a fan of direct mail. If there is one thing that I focus on when it comes to direct mail (regardless of quantity or the call to action) is that a message to market match is the most critical aspect to direct response marketing. This is true whether you’re a financial advisor or an automobile dealership.

I love receiving mail and reviewing the “gut impact” it has on me (and others). Frankly, most of it sucks. And the reason why people may utter the words “direct mail is dead” is because there is a lot more noise today and far more people and things vying for our attention than there was 20 years ago (on top of the fact that we all have shorter attention spans nowadays).

So when I receive something that stands out amidst the sea of mail, it warms my marketing heart. Earlier this week I received a piece of direct mail marketing that is currently sitting atop my personal list of impactful marketing efforts for 2018.

IMG_4460

I received this in a UPS box, so it certainly made it to my desk. It came from somebody who had sent me a couple of emails previously, but I had not responded to him. My guess is that he knew that I opened them, and he may have even known that I forwarded one of his emails to a colleague of mine. This is likely what triggered in his system that I might be a somewhat interested prospect (even though I hadn’t reached out to him).

Inside the UPS box was a hand written envelope with my name on it, along with a short note to me. The gentleman is selling suite packages for concerts and sports events being held in New York City. He likely targeted me as the CMO of a financial institution that may host events where we would use suites to entertain clients and/or prospective clients.

The really cool part of this was that he included an autographed picture of Magic Johnson dunking in the NCAA championship game. What makes that particularly impactful is that I’m a Michigan State Alum and a fairly big MSU sports fan. This immediately increased the perceived value of the “gift.” He even included the certificate of authenticity.

Talk about cool. In the grand scheme of things, the autographed picture wasn’t likely that expensive (I found them online for around $50-100). But because of who I am, the value is far higher… and I certainly shared the story with colleagues of mine.

You might be asking… will we do business with him? I have no idea. To be honest, we don’t do that much in the way of suites (especially not in NYC). But I can assure you that I feel a sense of obligation to reply to his next email or call. I’m likely even going to send him a thank you note, and may even keep my eyes peeled for a way to “repay” him in some way.

I realize you won’t spend this kind of money for a big group of people, but I would encourage you to think about creative ways that can break through the noise of all the junk mail your ideal clients receive.

And since it’s football season, there’s only one fitting way to end this post… GO GREEN!

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Not All Guarantees Are Created Equal

Not All Guarantees Are Created Equal – An Independent Review of the Brighthouse Financial Shield Annuity

financial comparison

Ever since Brighthouse Financial was established by Metlife, they have been on a marketing blitz.  I’ve seen Brighthouse ads pop up several times during various sports broadcasts.  Last summer, I was walking through the Charlotte airport and felt like there was a Brighthouse banner every ten feet – granted they are headquartered directly outside of Charlotte.

Every top selling product in the financial services industry has a good story to go along with it.  The Shield VA from Brighthouse is no exception to this principle and has been one of the company’s most successful product lines.  Right on their brochure it states, “Growth is realized in up markets… Protection is provided in down markets.”  Oh, and it comes with no annual fees.  If I didn’t know any better, I would think this is a brochure for their latest Fixed Indexed Annuity.  With that in mind, I set out to compare the Shield annuity to a run-of-the-mill FIA to determine if the product is as good as the story.

The way Shield works is fairly simple – there is an 11% cap on the upside of the S&P 500.  On the downside, Brighthouse will eat the first 10% of any loss for the contract year.  Any gain beyond 11% in the market will be forfeited and any loss below 10% will have a negative effect on the account value.  The annuity offers other term lengths and protection levels as well.  However, for the best “apples to apples” comparison, I am solely looking at annual resets based on the S&P 500 for both Shield and the FIA.  I did not use a specific FIA product, rather just made some assumptions based on what is generally available in the FIA space right now.  Current participation rates on FIAs are approximately 45% of the upside and, by definition, there is no downside risk.

FIA Return Difference by Period
Starting Year 5-year 10-year 20-year
1988 -5.4% -4.3% 0.2%
1989 -4.1% 1.5% 47.3%
1990 -5.2% -1.7% 45.0%
1991 -1.5% -1.5% 38.2%
1992 -3.9% 0.8% 37.1%
1993 1.1% 19.2% 34.1%
1994 5.8% 24.6% 42.1%
1995 3.7% 19.0% 34.6%
1996 -.1% 12.6% 29.5%
1997 4.9% 9.5% 25.4%
1998 17.9% 4.7% 19.7%
1999 17.8% 45.1%
2000 14.7% 47.5%
2001 12.7% 40.3%
2002 4.5% 36.0%
2003 -11.2% 12.6%
2004 23.2% 14.0%
2005 28.6% 13.1%
2006 24.5% 15.0%
2007 30.2% 14.5%
2008 26.7% 14.3%
2009 -7.5%
2010 -12.0%
2011 -7.6%
2012 -12.1%
2013 -9.8%
Average: 5.2% 16.0% 32.1%

(Values show in each of the 5, 10 and 20-year columns are illustrative and represent the hypothetical excess return (over the Brighthouse Shield Annuity) of a Fixed Index Annuity with a 45% participation rate when applied to a rolling period of S&P 500 index performance beginning January 1 of the starting year)

Going back 30 years, I looked at all the rolling 5, 10 and 20-year periods and determined the cumulative outperformance of an FIA compared to the Shield annuity.  As you can see from the chart, there were 15 periods – only 35% of the time – where the FIA underperformed the VA.  All of those periods were within the 5-year timeframes.  Put another way, as you stretch out the time horizon, there were only a few rolling periods over a 10 or 20-year timeframe that the VA even came close.

Before I move on to an explanation for the outperformance of an FIA vs. the Shield VA, I want to address what many readers may be thinking: “Is this comparison intellectually honest?”  After all, neither of these products were available for the last 30 years.  Furthermore, I am assuming constant cap and participation rates for both products.  True enough – varying interest rates and volatility would have had a significant impact on the options pricing behind both of these products.  But that’s the key here.  I’m more interested in the comparison on a relative basis, not so much on an absolute basis.  Any swings in interest rates and volatility would have had a similar effect on both products.

Getting back to the reasoning, it seems as though the Shield annuity was designed around both recent history as well as the average return on the market.  If the S&P 500 has averaged roughly 9-10% historically, it should stand to reason that the annuity with an 11% cap rate would capture nearly all of the upside of the market.  Except that’s not even close to being accurate.  In fact, over the last 90 years, the S&P 500 returned between -10% and +11% in only 30% of the years.  For the other 70% of the time the client would have either eaten losses below -10% or forfeited gains above 11%.  More succinctly put, markets don’t move up in a straight line.

In case there are still questions about the pricing comparison of the annuities, Brighthouse initially offered a Shield annuity with 100% downside protection.  However, the trade-off is a lower cap rate of 2.8%. In essence,  this structure is  an FIA.  FIAs structured with a cap rate (as opposed to participation rate) have been in the range of 4%-6% over the last year.  Brighthouse has since stopped offering the 100% downside protection level, likely because it shed too much light on their poor competitive pricing.

As with all sales literature, it pays to dig into the numbers behind the brochure.

Disclosure:

It is important to note that there are a number of important factors used in determining and calculating an annuity’s policy values. These factors can drastically differ insurance carrier by insurance carrier and product by product.

This hypothetical index annuity example used the following assumptions:
1) FIA product returns based on the SP500 Index generally use price returns.  Since the Brighthouse annuity also uses price returns, the historical S&P500 data used in the analysis are based on price returns, which do not include dividends.  SP500 values are for illustrative purposes only, since investors cannot directly invest in the SP500 index. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. 2) Annuity performance is calculated using an annual point-to-point measurement. 3) The index annuity shown used a 0% asset fee.  4) The index annuity shown is calculated using annual participation rates on the interest that is credited, at 45%. Index annuity participation rates are based on a number of factors, including but not limited to: whether or not the policy offers any bonus, as well as the surrender charge percentage and duration of the surrender schedule.

In applying the information provided in this material, you should consider your clients’ other assets, income, and investments – such as the equity in their home, Social Security benefits, any IRAs, savings accounts, and other plans that may provide retirement income, as those other assets may not be included in this discussion, model, or estimate.

This analysis should not be interpreted as a recommendation or as investment advice. Before recommending any investment company product, please review and provide a copy of the prospectus.

DOL Fiduciary Rule Dies… Introduces a new opportunity for financial advisors.

So it’s official. The DOL Fiduciary rule is a thing of the past. For many of us in the financial industry, it consumed a lot of our time, energy and resources for the the better part of three years. You couldn’t turn anywhere in the financial news media without seeing it. Yet, its ultimate demise was rather anti-climactic. It died rather quietly compared to all of the noise it made early on.

AdobeStock_81227983.jpeg

I had written a piece for Investment News a while back titled DOL Rule: What’s wrong with the Financial Advice Industry. The point of the piece was to share a few simple thoughts about what I felt was right and wrong about the rule. I still feel the same today as I did then. Hopefully the SEC will introduce a rule that is workable for the industry while addressing the heart of the matter: do what’s best for clients.

The Heart of the Matter

Do what is best for clients. Seems simple, right?

It’s far more complex than that. It’s the reason that the DOL rule (R.I.P.) and the newly proposed SEC rule required more than 1,000 pages each as they struggled to define “best for clients.” It appears as though that definition is fuzzy. The problem is that rule makers want something black and white,  which (in my opinion) is the reason that the “lowest/cheapest fee” argument was the easiest thing for them to attach themselves to when attempting to define “best interests.” Anybody who understands the complexity of the financial industry knows how problematic this can be.

What do Groceries Have to do with this?

I frequently shop at a local grocery store around the corner from my house. We don’t do all of our grocery shopping there, but for quick trips to get many of the basics, this is where my family turns. We do this for a couple of reasons. We happen to like some of the produce there, and the convenience of it being really close to the house (with easy parking) makes it simple.

The big regional/national grocers are an extra 10 minutes away. We do some of our big shopping trips there, but it tends to be something that is planned out in advance (considering we have two little girls that need to be factored into the equation).

Once in a great while, I’m tasked with running out late to get milk or one of the household “necessities.” The gas station on the corner tends to be my “go-to” solution. It’s a quick and easy stop with the added benefit of actually being open at 11 PM.

In each of the above examples, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to purchase milk during those grocery trips. Our girls are turning into milk-junkies. The cost for a gallon of milk at each of those places varies dramatically. One could argue that the gallon that costs the most (from the gas station), may be the least fresh. But that doesn’t stop me from making that purchase when I need to.

As a consumer, I’m making those purchases based upon something other than price. I’m placing a value on convenience, flexibility, service, and the added benefit of buying local vs. a national chain. Sometimes I think about and look at the price I’ll be paying, but I’ve got enough experience and knowledge to understand that I’ll be paying more in exchange for things that are more important to me at that moment than dollars and cents.

The Opportunity

After the tax reform bill passed, my team created a seminar focused on some of the most recent changes affecting the financial lives of those 50 years and older. I wrote about the opportunity that it presented in a blog post titled 6 Ways to leverage tax reform in your marketing strategy. The focus of the seminar was on three recent law changes:

  1. The Social Security claiming strategy changes
  2. The DOL Fiduciary rule
  3. Tax reform bill

When the DOL rule officially became a thing of the past, I was immediately asked “well are we going to pull that from the presentation?” The question was a valid one that I had received from a number of advisors. I think the expectation was to simply remove that section and just go back to doing things the way we always had.

BUT…

The death of the DOL Fiduciary rule gives advisors an incredible opportunity. We’re provided with the opportunity to educate consumers about how the financial industry works. And while it’s a bizarre analogy, we can share with them the difference between the gas stations, the local grocers and markets, and the national chains. ALL of them have their place within the industry.

We simply need to do a better job of helping consumers arrive at their buying decisions logically, regardless of whether they are buying an investment or a gallon of milk.

Explain what a fiduciary is. Explain why your clients see value in doing business with you. Be transparent. Help them to understand a little bit about the industry and where you fit in. In a world that is going increasingly digital, I’m firmly convinced that there will always be a strong need and desire for financial professionals that want to build relationships with their clients, while helping to hold them accountable for the things that need to be done to help them reach their goals.

We’ll get a fiduciary rule someday. For now, we’ll have to rely on the financial professionals that can objectively explain how the different aspects of the financial industry impact to the very consumers it is there to serve.

 

 

 

 

Moving a Few Miles can be as Difficult as Going Cross-Country…

Target Readers:

  1. Advisors struggling with change in their business.
  2. Advisors who are friends with Mike.
  3. Advisors who work with USA Financial.

Talking Points:

  1. Once you begin, you might as well keep the momentum going.
  2. Short-cuts are seldom short-cuts.
  3. Pruning & purging are liberating.

Here’s the Skinny,

I apologize for my recent absence.  Very unexpectedly, we have moved homes.

My two oldest are in college (so mostly out of the house), which leaves just me, my wife, and our youngest.  We had been halfheartedly (read as lackadaisically) looking for a new home over the past two years.  We were in no rush.  But then my wife stumbled onto a home she really liked and we could “see” ourselves in for many years to come.

And if you know the Walters, once a decision is made, we hit the gas pedal and get to high gear as quickly as possible.

Bang – bang real estate conditions in our area had a bit to do with the speed of things, but in a nutshell, we bought a new home in 24 hours and sold our existing home (of 15 years) in under 48 hours.  Bang – bang – done.  And to make things even more interesting, the previous owners of the home we purchased were relocating to Hawaii, so we bought their furniture as well.  Then the buyers of our home expressed a desire to buy our furniture as they were relocating from Chicago.  Bang – bang – done.

Its like we were in college all over again, throw the cloths in the car, bang – bang – done.

Or so I thought.  We soon learned, the traditional moving companies were not interested in “our small job” as there was no furniture involved.  That left us to do all the packing (not something we had anticipated) ourselves.  But the good news is that we were able to prune & purge 15 years of accumulated clutter.  This cut the moving job in half, literally.

In the end…

  1. It turned out that once we determined we were moving, it would have been just as easy (or easier) to tackle a full-on move, including the furniture.  I think many businesses underestimate this truth in managing their projects.  Once you green light a project, often times the small to mid-sized project isn’t any easier than the big monster project.  The hardest part is just starting and gaining momentum.
  2. Getting rid of clutter is good for EVERYONE.  Its liberating.  It increases productivity.  Satisfaction skyrockets.  And efficiency becomes the norm.  Again, I think many businesses (and advisors/executives/staff) overlook the need to prune & purge in order to keep focused on what really matters.

In that vein, below is a link to a great article from John Jones, Digital Marketing & Communication Manager at USA Financial.  He shares great insight on using Facebook as a marketing & seminar tool.  May I suggest you focus on John’s article while thinking how you could revamp, streamline and enhance your seminar/event marketing?

Here is the article link from July 24, 2018, Investment News, “Why advisors are turning to Facebook ads to fill seminar seats”.

I’ll be back at it with regular blogs and podcasts in August.

That’s the Skinny, 

 

 

 

The Distribution Problem Part 2 – Sequence of (future) Returns

A few weeks ago, I wrote the first in a series of blogs dedicated to the distribution problem that advisors and retirees are facing today.  Part 1 focused on the clarifying the unique challenge that comes with the distribution stage of investing.  Indeed, as investors begin to start liquidating their accumulated assets as a replacement paycheck after they stop working, the math changes.  Inflation and sequence of returns are two key risks associated with this investor stage.  Today, I am going to zero in on sequence of returns risk and shed some light on how many advisors are inadvertently setting inappropriate expectations for their clients in retirement.

Just in case anyone is wondering how the math changes in the distribution stage, allow me to illustrate.  The first chart that you see shows the growth of $100,000 based on historical returns of the S&P 500 Index (total return) since the beginning of 2000 in blue.  The orange line represents that same $100,000 growing over the last 18 years – except the order of returns have been reversed.  So, although the accumulation path is drastically different, both scenario’s end up with the same exact value today.  In other words, the order of returns does not matter.

Growth of $100k 

Now, take that same scenario but pull out withdrawals of 5% per year (with a 3% cost of living adjustment).  The original order of returns (2000 thru Q2 2018) runs out of money 15 years into the hypothetical.  The reverse order of returns (Q2 2018 – 2000) has a positive balance of $124000 at the end.  The order of returns clearly matters in the distribution stage.  That’s what we mean by sequence of returns risk.

5% Distribution Chart

The primary way that many advisors attempt to mitigate this risk for their clients in the distribution stage is to take some risk off the table and diversify the portfolio.  Here’s what a 60/40 mix of the S&P 500 and the US Aggregate Bond Index would look like in the same distribution scenario:

MS Hypo 60-40 SP500 US Agg 5% Withdrawal

Clearly, the diversification benefits the client in this scenario.  Instead of running out of money 15 years into retirement, the client has a little over $37,000 left after the full 18 years.  The assets won’t last much longer, but at least this is an improvement.  The problem I have with an advisor presenting this as a solution to a client for their income needs is that it’s all based on historical returns.  Yes, I get it – no one knows how stocks will perform over the next 10-20 years, so the next best thing is to use a long historical time period as a reference point.  I don’t have any better idea than the next person as to the performance of stocks going forward.  We could continue to see significant corporate earnings growth and valuation expansion that underpin high returns over the next 10 years,  or we could see a significant downturn due to any number of reasons.

The 40% allocated to fixed income is a different story.  We do have a better understanding of bond returns going forward relative to the past 15-20 years.  Either rates will continue to stay low and bonds will earn the yield they are paying.  On the flip-side, if rates increase that will increase the yield return, but will be partially offset by the decrease in the price of bonds that investors are currently holding.  In either scenario, it’s hard to imagine that the US Aggregrate Bond Index will average the 5% annualized return over the next 18 years that it has since 2000.  A more appropriate rate of return for the 40% fixed income allocation might be 3% going forward.  If we adjust to those expectations for “future” sequence of returns risk, here’s what that impact on the portfolio looks like:

MS Hypo 60-40 SP500 Cash 5% Withdrawal

As you can see, lower interest rates going forward will make it more difficult for portfolios to last through retirement compared to previous generations.  Here’s a quick read from FS Investments that I came across outlining the difficulty of the traditional 60/40 portfolio going forward.

History is a useful guide to the future when examining potential market cycles.  However, when it comes to conservative asset classes, advisors and investors should be careful to not expect the next 20 years to look like the previous 20 years.  Next time, in the final installment of this series, I will discuss some of the prevailing distribution strategies and present a viable alternative that income oriented investors should consider.