Baby boomers are the first generation of a new retirement era with the burden of saving the bulk of their retirement income and making those savings last 20 to 30 years. This responsibility is due to the decline in company pensions which shifted saving and investment responsibilities to employees, as well as an increase in life expectancy after attaining adulthood (almost 20% since 1950). The challenge of investing has been particularly difficult in the last five years; a study by Thornburg Investment Management calculated the annual “real return” for many classes of investment during the period as being negative.
The possibility of a future investment environment where inflation remains low and interest rates rise (the opposite of the 1960s to 1980s) producing slower economic growth, projected healthcare expenses not covered by insurance, and the uncertainty of program changes in Social Security and Medicare will result in people continuing to work as long as possible, accelerating their savings in their later years, and seeking maximum returns in their portfolios.
According to Chris Brightman, head of investment management at Research Affiliates, “Baby Boomers are going to work longer than they originally expected. They’re going to have to save more than they planned. And they’re going to have to consume more modestly in retirement.”
Your Investment Options for Retirement
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of different investment vehicles available. The following list describes the most popular choices, while some investments (such as gold and collectibles) are not listed because, according to Warren Buffett, they are difficult to analyze, lack any productive use, and their future price depends solely on the hope that the next buyer will pay more for the item than the owner paid.
This article first appeared on the WallStreetSelector.com website on June 2, 2013.
Various academic studies have indicated that asset allocation is more important than security selection, especially in times of greater volatility in the markets. However, according to Roger Ibbotson, writing about the importance of asset allocation in the March/April 2010 publication of the Financial Analyst Journal, about three-quarters of market gains or losses come from general (broad) market moves, rather than asset allocation or security selection. As a consequence, individual investors are turning more and more to index-based and/or sector-specific exchange traded funds (ETFs), rather than managed mutual funds or individual securities.
According to ETF Database, there are currently more than 1,400 exchange traded funds available, ranging from broad general market funds to highly specialized funds representing a single industry, country, commodity, or investment goal. You can pick ETFs which seek high dividends and/or interest payments, those focused solely on share appreciation, or those which seek both objectives. ETFs are available for bonds, commodities, real estate, or currencies. They are structured to move in concert with the index they track, exceed the index’s moves, or move in the opposite direction. The industry follows the advice popularized in the movie Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” And they have – to the tune of more than one million shares per day on average.
For years, investors, fund managers, and stock analysts have sought reliable indicators to project the future return and risk of owning an individual stock, bond, or a portfolio of securities. The underlying assumptions are as follows:
All investments have inherent risk which is assumed upon ownership.
Returns and risk can be objectively quantified by mathematical analysis of historical results.
The correlation of potential return and underlying risk constantly varies, providing opportunities to acquire investments with maximum potential return and minimal risk.
These assumptions exemplify modern portfolio management and are the basis for the widely used capital asset pricing model (CAPM) developed in the 1960s, which led to a Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for its creators. Enabled by technology, Wall Street wonks amass and analyze massive amounts of historical data searching for hidden, often arcane relationships to identify undiscovered opportunities for gain without risk. The results of their analysis are often publicly available for use by private investors.