As average life expectancy has increased over time, so too has the importance for retirees to ensure that they have sufficient income to cover their needs throughout what could be a 30-year (or longer) retirement. While some advisors may rely on a single ‘favorite’ income strategy to recommend to clients, recognizing that retirees actually have a range of preferences on how to source their retirement income can help advisors better develop sensible strategies that clients may be more inclined to follow. And the starting point for understanding a client’s income preferences to help them choose the right retirement income strategy is to identify the client’s retirement income style.
In this guest post, Retirement Researcher CEO Alejandro Murguía and Founder Wade Pfau share their recent research examining different retirement income styles that can be determined by assessing an individual’s preferences for growing and using their retirement assets. Their study identifies the two strongest constructs that help to determine a client’s income preference style, consisting of Probability (depending on market returns) versus Safety (sources of income less reliant on market returns), and Optionality (having flexibility to respond to economic developments or changing personal situation) versus Commitment (being dedicated to one retirement income solution). Together, these constructs were used to create a framework that can be used to identify an individual’s Retirement Income Style Awareness (RISA) profile.
For advisors, the RISA framework can be used to determine a prospect’s or client’s preferences, which can then help them design an appropriate and practical retirement income strategy. For example, an individual who expresses a preference for Probability and Optionality would likely appreciate the potential upside from strong market returns and the option to change course as necessary that are offered by a Total Return income strategy. Those who prefer Safety and Commitment may align better with an Income Protection approach, which would involve building a lifetime income floor with simple income annuities. And for those favoring Probability and Commitment, a Risk Wrap strategy (i.e., building a lifetime income floor with deferred annuities offering lifetime withdrawal benefits) could be more appropriate. Finally, those with preferences rooted in Safety and Optionality would likely appreciate a Time Segmentation strategy (e.g., bucketing strategies that use less volatile assets for shorter-term expenses, and more volatile assets offering higher growth potential for future expenses).
Ultimately, the key point is that by having a structured process around assessing retirement income preferences (whether by using a standardized RISA Matrix assessment or informally assessing where a prospect or client will be on the Matrix), an advisor can begin to develop a retirement income strategy that will most likely appeal to a particular prospect or client. By doing so, advisors can not only add value to current clients by ensuring that the client’s retirement income strategy matches their preferences, but can also attract new clients by offering a more personalized approach to generating retirement income!