When it comes to investors, I think of them as people who experience two stages in the continuum of their financial lives. The first is the accumulation stage, when they build their assets, the second is the distribution stage, when they retire and crack open their nest egg.
What the two stages have in common is the need for a carefully thought out
As essential as an IPS is to asset building for the distribution stage, a manager and investor also need a carefully thought out rule book. That document
1. Decide the sequencing of accounts to pull from once retirement begins—after-tax accounts, IRAs, Roth IRAs, and so on. When setting up the sequence, keep in mind that the required minimum distribution rule associated with IRAs for taxpayers starting at
2. Identify the securities from which to create liquidity.
3. Decide what to do with dividends and interest income regarding taxes
4. Decide the best time to
5. Decide which account
6. Determine when to rebalance the portfolio and how often.
7. Determine which family members will
8. Decide on a method for determining the withdrawal amount necessary to account for inflation and/or unexpected expenses.
9. Decide what to do with real estate holdings. Use the asset? Do a reverse mortgage? Transfer some or all of the assets or holdings to a trust?
10. Determine the ideal amount of a cash reserve and a timetable to replenishing it. One year’s worth? Two years? Three?
11. Have a plan for down markets.
Let’s say an investor withdraws funds yearly from stock investments, but the market finishes negative for a calendar year and the bear market continues. The following year, the investor will draw from that cash reserve. Since bear markets last, on average, just under 24 months, it seems prudent to set aside two years worth of fixed living expenses. One additional essential element to a successful DPS concerns two very human elements: being flexible and realistic. For example, it is understandable that most investors are highly reluctant—even adamant—about taking anything from their principal. But the reality is this: Most investors’ accumulated asset balances will not generate enough interest income to cover their desired retirement income. So smart and flexible investors will include guidelines for accessing principal in their DPS.
The final element for a successful DPS is commitment. Think of it this way: The whole point of the IPS and DPS is readiness—that is, being prepared for the inevitable and the uncomfortable. This should ensure that though investors may sometimes
Stephen Schwartz offers advisory services as a representative of Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company (WMC), a limited purpose federal savings bank, and a subsidiary of The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, Wis. (NM). Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for NM and its subsidiaries. Stephen Schwartz is an insurance agent of NM (life and disability insurance, annuities and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and a registered representative of Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (securities), an NM subsidiary, broker-dealer, investment advisor, member FINRA, SIPC. Pioneer Financial is a marketing name used by a group of Northwestern Mutual representatives (not all of whom