Saturday, January 19, 2013

The 4% Rule is Not Safe in a Low-Yield World

(Social Science Research Network, January 15, 2013)
The authors put what is hopefully the final nails in the coffin of the 4% Withdrawal Rule, and make a compelling argument for avoiding any "safe" withdrawal rate strategy.  They conclude that, "The success of the 4% rule in the U.S. may be an historical anomaly, and clients may wish to consider their retirement income strategies more broadly than relying solely on systematic withdrawals from a volatile portfolio."
As noted elsewhere on this website, I agree with the authors that the 4% Rule (or some other specific "safe" withdrawal rate) does a poor job of balancing the dual needs of retirees to maintain lifestyle spending and preserve financial assets.  Retirees need a spending plan that is flexible, reflects actual spending and investment experience and reflects individual circumstances (such as existence of other lifetime income through defined benefit plans or immediate or deferred annuity contracts as well as any bequest motives).  Fortunately, the actuarial approach outlined in this website can help you meet these needs.