I recently met with prospective clients who needed a lot of guidance. They were entering retirement with substantial assets and sources of income, but there were important health issues to consider. It was complicated.
They had not been well served in the past. They had outlived all their previous advisors as two of them in succession had retired from the business. They had been left with several accounts of investments, IRAs and annuities, and they have to deal with multiple organizations to get the answers to their questions.
No one is helping them coordinate their planning. Nobody else knows all the pieces of the puzzle.
We spoke for a while about their situation and how I could help them. After the meeting, I thought about three other strategies that I wish I had shared with them.
1) Check to make sure the entire portfolio is working well together. Consolidation of accounts can help keep paperwork organized and simplifying tax preparation, but doesn’t help the performance of the investments. All too often, we see client’s combined portfolios inadvertently skewed too aggressive or too conservative because they never stepped back and looked at the whole portfolio. There are even cases, were a client owns several mutual funds only to realize that about 10% of their underlying investments are invested in just three stocks. While they thought they were diversified, they never took the time to review the overlap that existed between the funds.
2) As a rule of thumb, we recommend that clients spend down their accounts in the following order to minimize tax consequences: Cash, Individual and joint accounts, 401(k)s and IRAs, ROTH IRAs. There are, of course, exceptions and we don’t recommend spending an account down to zero before moving on. As a client transitions into retirement, this rule of thumb may help in planning the order of tapping each account.
3) A client should go into retirement having a good idea of what their expenses have been for the last few years so we can develop an income stream to meet their expenses without taking on unnecessary risk. If a client has yearly expenses of $50k pre-tax and $30k coming in from a pension and Social Security, we know that we need a portfolio that can generate $20k plus extra for inflation. If a client has a portfolio of $600k, then a $20k withdrawal represents about 3.5% – That’s acceptable. Now, if the client had a portfolio of $200k, then a withdrawal of $20k would be 10% and would warrant some further discussion about how to bring that down to a more reasonable rate of withdrawal.
If this situation sounds familiar or if you think you can benefit from any of these strategies, we’d be happy to offer you a complimentary consultation. Please email me to get started.