Nervous Nellie Client

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Oct 16, 2008 11:37 am

I have a client that has just shy of $1MM with me, down from $1.3MM and is 2 years from retiring.  He has said he can't stomach these market moves and is afraid he "will have to work for the rest of his life".  He went so far as to ask "What if $1MM was now worth $100k?".


He says he sees things in black and white, so I don't think he really understands the loss of purchasing power over 25-30 years in retirement.


What would you guys tell to a client like this or what would you show him or have him read?


I personally think he'll be fine as he has 2 years to work, 2-3 years in cash, and $600k locked in in VA's.  He will be retiring at 59, which is early, so I'd probably recommend taking SS at 62.


Any thoughts?  Thanks.

Oct 16, 2008 12:14 pm

There's also a loss of purchasing power every year it takes to recover from a down market.


Frankly, I think retiring before 65 without having $3-$4 million is crazy. This down market has shown me that I'll work until I die. People are living longer and could easily spend as long in retirement, without any earned income, as they did in their working years.
 
Most of my retired clients who proably should still be working are driving themselves--and me--insane right now. All they do is sit at the house and worry about their money. Of course, their concerns are justified these days, but too many people think they've earned the right to stop working just because they've turned 60.
 
A lot of current retirees will be going back to work after this mess is all said and done with. 
Oct 16, 2008 12:15 pm

Tough situation Snags and I have a few of these meself.


It's a damned if I do (put you in equities in the last years heading to your retirement date)/damned if I don't scenario. They could nag at us for not giving them exposure to the upside or they could scream at us for doing so. Personally, he shouldn't even be thinking about retirement right now. How does his 401k/pension look?
 
In your case, with the cash lying around, I would have him dip out of that first and keep adding to it in the interim. Extend and defer as long as you can. Explain that the equity positions that pay dividends are buying him more shares which will build him more wealth when things eventually do turn around. When? We do not know.
 
I am also open to other angles to handle situations like this.
Oct 16, 2008 12:16 pm

Only 600k in VAs?  That's only, what, 30-40k of income guaranteed?

I don't want to sound like the VA salesman, but if he is that sick, show him his options. 

Show him Bank CDs, and find one of those nice pieces that shows the NET return of CDs over the years.  Most of the time it's negative after taxes. 

Show him more VAs, and Fixed annuities. 

You should be able to show him that he needs some money invested in equities.  But if you can't give him "guaranteed" options (even if you don't like them or recommend them), someone else will. 

Edit: On second thought, be sure to remind him what exactly his VAs are providing (if they are of the living benefit type). 

Oct 16, 2008 12:24 pm

Snags, we're missing way too much information.


$1MM is a lot of money if he can comfortably live on 1K a month.  He should be very conservative.  On the other hand, if he needs 10K a month, his only chance of retiring in 2 years is to invest very aggressively and pray.


Is it reasonable for him to retire in 2 years?  Sometimes our job is to tell our clients, "You can't do that."

Oct 16, 2008 12:41 pm

He estimates he'll need about $5,000/month.  Also, the $1MM is just with me.  He still has about $690k in his retirement plans at work.

 
Yes, the VA's are GMWB's.  He is aware of the guarantee, but still sees the contract value, although I remind him every time about the guarantee.
 
He doesn't understand the problem with CD's.  He thought he could retire on $1.5MM and put it in CD's and live off the interest.  Problem was CD's were 5% at that time, now they are like 1.5%.  So he had it in his head that he could retire and be just fine. 
Oct 16, 2008 1:14 pm

Snags, he can get CDs at 5% now.

 
CDs might do what he needs.   $1,500,000 of CDs at 5% will give him $6,000+ pre-tax.  He'll also start collecting SS.  In the future, he can start annuitizing the money. 
 
If, and this is a big if, his $5000/month figure is accurate and includes the unexpected, $1.5 million +SS should allow him to retire and take no investment risk. 
 
Just as a thought, I'd  look into a combination of CD's and a VA with a 20 year GMAB.  This would be split 50/50.  He'd have $750,000 + growth + SS to spend over then next 20 years.  After 20 years, he would still have SS, but he'd also have a guaranteed minimum of $1,500,000.
Oct 16, 2008 1:27 pm
anonymous:

Snags, he can get CDs at 5% now.

 
CDs might do what he needs.   $1,500,000 of CDs at 5% will give him $6,000+ pre-tax.  He'll also start collecting SS.  In the future, he can start annuitizing the money. 
 
If, and this is a big if, his $5000/month figure is accurate and includes the unexpected, $1.5 million +SS should allow him to retire and take no investment risk. 
 
Just as a thought, I'd  look into a combination of CD's and a VA with a 20 year GMAB.  This would be split 50/50.  He'd have $750,000 + growth + SS to spend over then next 20 years.  After 20 years, he would still have SS, but he'd also have a guaranteed minimum of $1,500,000.
 
How would he have a guaranteed mimimum of $1.5MM after 20 years if half was in a VA and half CD's?  Do you mean he would have $750k and an income stream?
 
And this isn't feasible yet because the $690k in his ESOP and 401k can't be touched until he retires.
 
And Anon, you would be ok selling here and moving mutual funds into CD's? 
Oct 16, 2008 4:11 pm
How would he have a guaranteed mimimum of $1.5MM after 20 years if half was in a VA and half CD's?  Do you mean he would have $750k and an income stream?
 
No.  He would have $1,500,000.  The 20 year GMAB is guaranteed to double.  His $750,000 would be $1,500,000 as a worst case scenario.  This is cash and carry...no need to annuitize.
 
I'm assuming that his $750,000 in CD's have been spent by that point.  So, he'll be 80 years old, still collecting SS and have $1,500,000.
 
And this isn't feasible yet because the $690k in his ESOP and 401k can't be touched until he retires.
 
Ok, just shouting out ideas for you.
 
And Anon, you would be ok selling here and moving mutual funds into CD's? 
 
Yes.  Keep in mind that I'm very comfortable in my lack of knowledge.  Yes, the market has come way down.  However, I don't have a clue as to what the future will bring.  My basic philosophy is "why take unnecessary risk?".  In other words, the fact that it was high and now it is low has no bearing on what we would do.  It's all about the amount of money that he has in relationship to his goals.  
 
I was about to say that you screwed up and had him invested too aggressively before the market downturn.  The reality, though, is that probably he way overestimated his tolerance for risk.
Oct 16, 2008 6:40 pm
anonymous:
The reality, though, is that probably he way overestimated his tolerance for risk.
 
I think a lot of people overestimated their tolerance for risk.  And probably many advisors thought what would be relatively safe, turned out to be just as bad as everything else.
 
I mean seriously, as of yesterday:
Russell Balanced 60/40 fund: -30% YTD
AllianceBernstein Balanced 60/40 fund: -33% YTD
Loomis Sayles Bond Fund: -24.66% YTD
Hartford Strategic Income Bond Fund: -16% YTD
 
The list goes on and on and it isn't pretty.
 
 
Oct 16, 2008 7:09 pm

The tough part is that going forward, there are going to be quite a few compliance departments that will have to re-evaluate the definition of "risk" and objectives.  

Oct 16, 2008 7:18 pm
gvf:

The tough part is that going forward, there are going to be quite a few compliance departments that will have to re-evaluate the definition of "risk" and objectives.  





 
Nick Murray on "risk" and objectives:  http://www.nickmurrayinteractive.com/articles/sample2008risk.html
 
There will come a point where people forget about these events.  Hopefully it doesn't scare away investors for life.
Oct 16, 2008 7:52 pm

tell him to take $1mill and place it in a 'bonus va' with guarantees. dolar cost avarage over the next 12 months.

this will keep him invested in the market and you will be compensated for good advice.
Oct 16, 2008 9:30 pm

6% of $1million from a guaranteed VA is $5k per month, gross.  Other than that, I'd look at CD's or TIPs.

Oct 17, 2008 2:00 am

OK, I want to play - but I have a couple of questions. 





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Is the $5k monthly income he wants gross or net of taxes? 

Is the 2-3 years in cash included in the $1million figure or separate?


Does this mean there is $120,000-$180,000 sitting in cash now or is it in CDs (if CDs, approximate rates/maturities)


Of the $1million, you’ve got 60% of it locked up in a VA, so there’s nothing we can change there? 


When were the VAs purchased? 


Is $600,000 the amount invested or the current value?


How is the $690k in the 401k invested?


How much is being contributed to the 401k annually, including any company match?


I’m assuming we’re incorporating the 401k into the income plan.


What tax bracket will he be in in retirement, as that will affect the net spendable from the 401(k)?




Thanks, I'm just a little unclear.