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By Geoffrey Vanderpal, Full-Time Faculty, Kaplan University Published April 2014
In 2013, the S&P 500 and Dow 30 made their biggest gains in 16 years and 18 years respectively with 29 percent and 26 percent gains. These gains were due to stronger consumer confidence and the explosion of multinational corporate profits.
Saving for retirement, especially when nearing retirement, can be daunting and nerve-racking for many individuals and families. As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional and advisor over the past 20 years, the most common question asked was, "Will I have enough for retirement?" This is a difficult question to answer based on mortality, spending patterns, investment performance, inflation, and various economic risks. The industry disclaimer of "past performance is not an indicator of future performance" is a mantra that many investors now realize after the technology bubble of 2000-2002 and the extended housing and economic crisis of 2007-2012. The technology bubble and the housing and economic crisis has potently reminded all of us that risk is everywhere and occurs when many least expect it. So what can one do to better prepare for retirement and mitigate risk?
Lower risk in your retirement plans. Generally, you cannot take tax deductions in tax deductible retirement plans, so losses do not serve as a tax write off. Treat your retirement assets as your child and treat it with care. Don't invest all or a large portion of your 401K or retirement plan in a single stock or one mutual funds. Diversification into various asset classes is necessary. With the advent of the Roth 401K, this has opened the door for tax free withdrawals at retirement in lieu of the immediate tax deduction like ordinary 401k plans, where you are taxed at retirement upon withdrawal for future tax advantages. Many employers today are expanding the options available to their employee retirement plans.
As you age and get closer to retirement, it is important to place more of your assets into short-term bond and cash oriented investments. A general rule is one minus your current age should be your allocation into equity and the remainder into cash and short to intermediate bond type investments, along with international exposure. For the more conservative, there are specialty index oriented investment like index bank certificates of deposits (FDIC insured) and index annuities from insurance carriers. Another option is using Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) which generally have low fees and trade like stocks so stop-loss orders can be placed to limit downside losses and can be readjusted periodically to lock in past returns.
Generally, company retirements plans use mutual funds and have limitations of investing options. However, some firms are now setting up open style retirement plans and of course individual retirement plans offer a great deal of flexibility for investing beyond many traditional 401k plans. Using both an employer sponsored plan that provides a match and contributing to an individual retirement account can provide flexibility and various advantages.
Geoffry Vanderpal is a full-time faculty member at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM, and certification marks, which are awarded to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.
Kaplan University does not certify individuals to use CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM, and marks. CFP certification is granted solely by Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. to individuals who, in addition to completing an educational requirement, have met its ethics, experience, and examination requirements.
By Cynthia Waddell, PhD, CPA, CFE
By Jerry Taylor
By Geoffrey Vanderpal
By Dr. Denise Schoenherr
By Stanley W. Self, CFE
By Rachel Byers, Full-Time Faculty, School of Business
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