FREE NEWSLETTER

How long before retirement should you dial down your portfolio’s risk?

Go to main Voices page »

Subscribe
Notify of
9 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mohan
Mohan
6 months ago

If pension and SS adequately cover expenses and then some, wouldn’t having a higher allocation of equities, say 80%, be OK? Provided, of course there are adequate reserves for unforeseen circumstances.

Edwin Belen
Edwin Belen
6 months ago

My sense is that many on this forum are more aggressive than conservative. I thought I was the same until I had the opportunity to retire at 50. After one year and many recruiter phone calls, I realized that cutting expenses back significantly wasn’t something I really wanted to do but also taking a high stress, high paying job wasn’t what I wanted either. Long story short, I started dialing back many years earlier as I’m winning the game and more assets in the future, wasn’t critical to my plan of what a successful retirement looks like. I would never have known without the year off. I’m comfortable at 70/30 for now and may dial back 5 points every five years until it’s 60/40 where I hope it will stay.

Ginger Williams
Ginger Williams
7 months ago

I agree that gradually dialing down risk about five years before retirement is reasonable. How to dial down risk is the bigger question, since most of us need our portfolios to continuing growing some to offset inflation during retirement.

I’ll have a pension worth about 40% of my annual earnings. I’m investing a bit less these last five years, because I want to save enough cash to cover 2-3 years living expenses. That cash cushion should allow me to delay social security without having to sell investments. I’m also gradually shifting from a 90% stock allocation to a 50% stock allocation, with the goal of being at 70% when I retire and at 50% when I start drawing social security, somewhere between age 67 and 70.

John Yeigh
John Yeigh
7 months ago

As long as my wife and I had jobs, we always felt we could extend working time in the event of a downturn. So my answer would be at retirement.

Sanjib Saha
Sanjib Saha
7 months ago

I feel that dialing down portfolio risk should be gradual and ongoing with age rather than making abrupt changes in the portfolio composition X years before retirement. I favor the approach taken by the target-date funds (based on retirement date or college enrollment date).

R Quinn
R Quinn
7 months ago

Depends on when you will start using the money and how much you will count on it for income. I’d say about five years in advance.

Michael1
Michael1
7 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

I agree, and also agree with Sanjib in terms of gradually dialing it down in the period rather than flipping a switch.

This assumes a dial down of risk in the portfolio is required at all. If there are income sources outside the portfolio, then maybe it isn’t.

Also, part of the question may not be accounting for losing one’s paycheck, but what else is going on. For example, is there going to be a relocation or some other life change that might require a significant one-time expense? If so, this part of the portfolio should be relatively safe, but overall risk in the portfolio could go back up once this event has passed.

johntlim
johntlim
7 months ago
Reply to  R Quinn

Five years seems about right. However, as R Quinn points out, it depends on a lot of factors, such as how much guaranteed income you will have (Social Security, pensions, annuities). The question really boils down to how susceptible are you to sequence of return risk? If you can adjust your spending in retirement when your portfolio suffers or can draw from a stable source of income in early retirement (e.g. laddered bonds, CD’s, etc.), you could start to dial down your portfolio’s risk later.

The other point is that you might want to dial back risk before retirement (say 5 years before) and then begin to add some risk back a few years into retirement if you were fortunate enough not to be hit with an unlucky sequence of returns.

Mike Zaccardi
Mike Zaccardi
7 months ago

Retirement should not be the end-all, be-all. I dialed down my risk in the last year or so since I switched from a safe full-time job that was not associated with the stock market to a freelance business that is very much tied to how the stock market does.

So, I’m about 80/20 now. I’ll likely keep it at that so long as I don’t have much higher everyday expenses. Another thing to consider is that Social Security can be seen as a bond-like asset (perhaps annuity is the better descriptor) that can take the place of the bond piece of your portfolio as you near taking it. On that note, the younger you are, the more human capital you have (which is equity-like).

Free Newsletter

SHARE