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How Should Retiring Investors Diversify in the 21st Century?

by WBI Insights

When you retire, your money is going to have to work hard. Not only do you need it to maintain your lifestyle, but in many cases we’ve found retired investors need more income. Even though we’ve had a low relative inflation rate of about 2% the last few decades, the retired person’s inflation index is dramatically higher – as much as 2.5 times the standard inflation rate – because prices of things like healthcare and other services have gone up quite a bit faster than some other areas of the economy.

Many investors using Modern Portfolio Theory to diversify their investments solely based on asset-class have struggled during the first part of the 21st century. A common question we get is how should investors allocate their portfolios to maximize their wealth for retirement.

While there are many ways to invest for retirement, we believe in two approaches to retirement planning for your serious money – the money you cannot afford to lose because you’re depending on that to generate income for the rest of your life.

Active Investing

First, we believe in utilizing an investment manager that has an active risk management approach with a focus on protecting capital. When you’re in retirement, that capital base is what generates your income, so you should avoid putting your capital base at excessive risk by chasing those headline returns of popular indexes. Through strategies that aim to limit your losses to a reasonable level, you’ll be in a better position to recover when markets bounce back.

We believe in a sophisticated, quantitative mathematical approach with a big focus on dividends and cash flow from the underlying investments. In our experience, cash flow is king in retirement. Incorporating a heavy mix of high-yielding, dividend-paying stocks can help your capital and income needs to keep pace with inflation.

Cyborg Investing

The other area that we believe will help investors achieve their retirement goals is a Cyborg investing approach by combining technology and human advice. Cy is an investing technology that uses an advanced algorithm to assist financial advisors in the portfolio allocation process.

Through client inputs, Cy calculates a benchmark for loss tolerance – the amount of wealth loss a client is willing to still stay invested with, and a benchmark for return. Each portfolio undergoes bespoke optimization to those benchmarks. Typically, the portfolios include combinations of bonds and stocks through a multi-manager approach and tests for responsiveness to market cycle changes. The underlying investments are rebalanced on a periodic basis and are recalculated on an annual basis.

We believe the role of financial advisors will be critical in helping investors achieve their retirement goals in the 21st century. Do-It-Yourself robo-advisors and low-fee trading programs are all well and good for your fun money. But a financial advisor that successfully uses technology to establish a trusting relationship, educates their clients on investment risks, manages expectations, and creates a plan within the client’s risk tolerance that they can stick to and achieve their goals will be the best way to put your serious money to work.

Investing involves risk, including the loss of principal. Neither diversification, active management, nor cyborg investing can guarantee a profit or protect against a loss.

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