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A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore.

Mar 12, 2020

It’s not unreasonable to assume that a desirable retirement equates to having the financial freedom to meet one's lifestyle and personal goals. The more efficient a person is with their assets, the higher the likelihood of this, which is why sensible retirement income planning is so necessary. Today’s guest is Wade Pfau and he is arguably one of the main thinkers in the retirement income space at present – a more readable Moshe Milevsky if you will. This podcast is usually devoted to high-level discussions about portfolio investment so it was an honour to have Wade join us and have a similar kind of conversation but rather about retirement income planning. Retirees face some unique risks when it comes to strategies for asset management, insurance, and investments, which means they require tailored strategies, and today Wade weighs in on some of the different approaches we see out there. The topic of probability versus safety-first approaches, and the potential wisdom in amalgamating the two as a means of preparing for retirement, crops up a lot in this discussion. Wade talks about the four L’s of the safety-first strategy, how it recommends building up a base of savings that act as an income to reach higher legacy in the long term. He suggests that people need to account for longevity risk more and argues for the efficiency of assuming that you will live until the average oldest age. That way you don’t end up throttling your lifestyle by saving unnecessarily during retirement. In our discussion, Wade also shares valuable insight into low interest rates versus expected returns, the ineffectiveness of the 4% rule, annuities and deferred annuities concerning mortality credits, and different types of buffer assets. Tune in for all this and much more on the topic of retirement planning from one of the greats in the field today!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Notes on Wade Pfau, a leader in retirement income planning research. [0:00:43.0]
  • Unique risks faced by retirees: longevity risk, sequence of returns risk, etc. [0:04:03.0]
  • Retirement now vs 20 years ago: low interest rates and retirement length growth. [0:05:16]
  • Safety-first retirement: build a floor and then spend more over the years. [0:06:31]
  • Contractual protections (annuities) and probability vs safety-first approaches. [0:08:25]
  • The four Ls of the safety-first method: longevity, lifestyle, legacy goals, liquidity. [0:12:18.0]
  • Why to go for stocks/equities rather than stocks/bonds. [0:12:18.0]
  • What the low interest rate environment means for expected returns. [0:16:57.0]
  • The ineffectiveness of the 4% rule when applied internationally. [0:18:47]
  • How people don’t properly account for longevity risk in retirement planning. [0:23:27]
  • A way of covering basic needs so that higher legacy can be gained later on. [0:25:05.0]
  • Strategies for buying annuities and deferred annuities at retirement. [0:28:57]
  • How mortality credits from an annuity allow you to spend more in early retirement. [0:30:43]
  • Mortality credits in relation to immediate and deferred annuities. [0:33:25]
  • Better net incomes at the end of retirement through reverse mortgages. [0:34:36]
  • Buffer assets such as reverse mortgages and permanent life insurance. [0:37:12]
  • Safe savings rates in relation to historical data, bull markets, and mean reversion. [0:44:39]
  • Asset accumulation conceptualised separately from the retirement plan. [0:44:39]
  • Wade’s idea of a successful retirement: meeting safety-first goals. [0:48:39]
  • And much more!