Making Retirement Income Last a Lifetime
The Vanguard Group, Inc.
Mark J. Warshawsky
Journal of Financial Planning, December 2001
Professional retirement planning advice relies to a great extent on the determination of how much retirement income can be provided by systematic withdrawals from an investment portfolio. Because future investment returns, inflation rates, and how long a retiree will live are unknown, one cannot know, with certainty, how much income a retirement portfolio can ultimately provide. Recent research has incorporated uncertainty regarding investment returns and inflation in estimating maximum safe portfolio withdrawal rates. However, uncertainty regarding length of life has not been fully considered. The goal of this article is to explore the sustainability of investment portfolio withdrawals using two distinct methodologies - historical analysis and Monte Carlo simulations - to address the risk of extreme longevity. The article also examines whether annuitizing a portion of client assets makes it more likely that retirees can enjoy higher incomes over longer retirements. The results of the analysis may lead financial advisors to reconsider recommendations regarding the structure of their clients' investment portfolios in retirement.
Date posted: January 3, 2002