Life Cycle Goal Achievement or Portfolio Volatility Reduction?
34 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2015 Last revised: 8 Oct 2015
Date Written: March 30, 2015
This paper is concerned with the use of currently available technology to provide individuals, financial advisors and pension fund financial planners with detailed prospective financial plans tailored to an individual's financial goals and obligations. By taking account of all prospective cash flows of an individual, including servicing current liabilities, and simultaneously optimizing prospective spending, saving, asset allocation, tax, insurance, etc. using dynamic stochastic optimization, the paper addresses the question of the title by comparing the results of such a goal-based fully dynamic strategy with representative current best practices of the financial advisory industry. These include piecemeal fixed allocation portfolios for specific goals, target-date retirement funds and fixed real income post-retirement financial products, all using Markowitz mean variance optimization based on the very general goal of minimizing portfolio volatility for a specific portfolio expected return over a finite horizon. Making use of the same data and market calibrated Monte Carlo stochastic simulation for all the alternative portfolio strategies, we find that flexibility turns out to be of key importance to individuals for both portfolio and spending decisions. The performance of the adaptive dynamic goal-based portfolio strategy is found to be far superior to all the industry’s Markowitz-based approaches. Superiority is measured here by the certainty equivalent increase in expected utility of individual lifetime consumption (gamma) and the extra initial capital required by an individual to put the dominated strategy on the same expected utility footing as the optimal dynamic strategy (initial capital gap). These empirical results should put paid to the commonly held view amongst finance professionals that the extra complexity of holistic dynamic stochastic models is not worth the marginal extra value obtained from their employment. We hope that such approaches implemented in currently available technologies will rapidly find acceptance by individuals, financial advisors and pension funds to the genuine benefit of individual investors.
Keywords: Decision support system, Dynamic stochastic programming, Financial planning, Financial advice, Goals,Life cycle model, Retirement, Sustainable wealth, Risk management
JEL Classification: C61, D10, D91, G23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation