Retirement plans should target income as the outcome

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1 Retirement plans should target income as the outcome

2 Forward-thinking plan sponsors are committed to helping their employees reach a secure retirement, and in recent years, they have made great strides in getting employees engaged in their own retirement readiness. Yet too many people are still not prepared. A number of recent surveys have found that: W 43% of Americans are concerned they won t have enough money to live comfortably in retirement. 1 W 45% of workers guess how much to save for retirement, instead of using estimates or calculators. 2 W Just 21% are planning to receive income from annuities, which generate retirement income that individuals can t outlive. 3 To measure retirement readiness, plan sponsors should focus on the ultimate outcome of their plans: the income replacement ratio, or amount of preretirement income an individual will need to live comfortably in retirement. Despite plan sponsors best efforts, many employees are still at a loss a problem that may largely come down to perspective. Traditionally, the industry standard for retirement readiness has been a large nest egg. Employees and plan sponsors alike have focused on growing savings, and retirement planning has addressed how much to save each year, what risks to assume in various investments, and how to avoid fees and other costs that chip away at employees total return. This approach has resulted in little guidance on how employees can turn their nest eggs into retirement income that may have to last for the next 25 or 30 years. Instead of measuring retirement readiness by looking at accumulated savings alone, plan sponsors should focus on the ultimate outcome of their plans: the income replacement ratio, or amount of pre-retirement income individuals will need to live comfortably in retirement. In simpler terms, measuring retirement readiness starts with determining employees expected monthly budget in retirement based on their existing pre-retirement monthly budget. With this metric in mind, plan sponsors can now take a strategic approach to plan design that can help employees meet their income or budgeting needs in retirement. This means considering the individual needs and circumstances of their employees in both the savings (accumulation) and the distribution (decumulation) phases. It starts with giving employees the tools to set the right goals for retirement. An effective plan design then helps employees meet those goals and links to products that yield retirement income streams that will last a lifetime. 1 Retirement plans should target income as the outcome

3 The savings phase How much should employees save for retirement? Experts have different estimates as to what level of pre-retirement income workers should target as a savings goal, but it is important to note that one universal number may not be appropriate for all. Income replacement rates can vary widely from one person to another: In fact, research shows that typical replacement rates can range from as low as 58% to as much as 82% 4 (see Exhibit 1). Exhibit 1: People with higher pre-retirement income have lower replacement rates Replacement rates as a percentage of gross preretirement income Total=82% Total=72% Total=62% 59% 38% 31% W Social Security W Savings Total=58% 21% 23% 34% 31% 37% < 25th < $25,870 25th 50th < $49,941 Gross Preretirement Income 50th 75th < $86,882 > 75th > $86,882 Source: Marlena Lee, The Retirement Income Equation, DC Dimensions (Summer 2012). Note: Dollar figures shown above are in 2011 dollars The projections or other information generated by Monte Carlo analysis tools regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results. Results may vary with each use and over time. These hypothetical returns are used for discussion purposes only and are not intended to represent, and should not be construed to represent, predictions of future rates of return. Retirement plans should target income as the outcome 2

4 The reality is that each individual may have a different retirement replacement rate and thus may need to save a different amount for retirement. By focusing on income replacement rates as the appropriate retirement goal, plan sponsors can help employees determine how much they need to save based on their expected income needs in retirement. Many factors play a role in determining the actual amount that someone should save: income levels, portfolio returns, number of years until retirement, and current and past savings rates, among others. The reality is that each individual may have a different retirement replacement rate and thus may need to save a different amount. Research indicates that workers on the lower end of the income spectrum will need a relatively high share of their pre-retirement income, but they will require a lower rate of savings during their pre-retirement years. A different story emerges for employees earning more than $100,000 per year; according to this study, they will likely have to save considerably more of their pre-retirement income, despite having a lower overall retirement replacement rate. 5 Due to regulatory savings limitations within defined contribution plans, high-income employees may find it difficult to meet these savings goals through their plans and may have to save outside of them. Savings options outside of the plan include individual retirement accounts (IRAs), fixed annuities and other savings and investing accounts. Plan sponsors should encourage their employees to maximize their retirement savings, with an understanding that their savings rates may fluctuate over their careers. Workers may be unemployed for a period of time, take time off to care for children or elderly parents, or experience financial emergencies that affect their ability to maintain their target savings rate. For this reason, employees need to save more aggressively when they can, to offset those periods when they are forced to save less. 3 Retirement plans should target income as the outcome

5 Plan design focused on outcomes Engaging employees with an income replacement ratio is critical, but plan design is another area where plan sponsors can use their influence to help employees reach their retirement goals. The right elements of plan design can improve participation and savings rates, investment performance and other plan metrics. Three practices that a plan sponsor might consider are the use of automatic features, offering professionally structured investment solutions, and making advice services available. 1. Automatic processes for enrollment and contribution increases: A good starting point is to automatically enroll employees in a defined contribution plan the moment they become eligible. Doing so can save employees from the negative consequences of inertia: Research shows that applying automatic enrollment (as opposed to voluntary plan enrollment) can have a big savings impact for all employees, especially those just starting out in their careers. Workers between the ages of 25 and 29 who are automatically enrolled in their plans could save as much as 2.39 times more of their final salary than their peers who are left to enroll on their own. 6 For those employees who are already enrolled in the plan but perhaps are not saving the amount necessary to reach their target income replacement ratio, dynamic autoescalation which ties savings rates to income replacement ratios can raise savings rates to the appropriate level. The combination of these two automatic processes automatic enrollment and dynamic auto-escalation can help plan sponsors create a more meaningful plan design. This outcome-oriented approach can help accelerate individuals savings at critical junctures, prevent common investor-driven errors tied to market timing and keep employees on track to meet their goals. Retirement plans should target income as the outcome 4

6 We believe the goal of a professionally structured investment solution should be sufficient income to maintain a desired standard of living in retirement. 2. Professionally structured investment solutions: The first step in designing a professionally structured investment solution is to determine a meaningful goal. Many comprehensive investment solutions focus only on inputs such as risk tolerance, performance, fees, investment style and account balances. In other words, the goal of these solutions is wealth accumulation. By contrast, we believe the goal should be sufficient income to maintain a desired standard of living in retirement. Professionally structured investment solutions take into account a wide range of elements to meet employees retirement income goals. Each of these elements is important, as even a relatively small change in performance can have a big impact. We believe an appropriate professionally structured investment solution should: Target income as the outcome. Consider an asset allocation strategy in which the goal is to meet future income needs. Provide broad market exposure that offers employees access to a wide range of asset classes, in order to diversify and target higher expected returns. Consider limiting exposure to company stock (in the case of corporate plans) in order to, among other things, potentially avoid the crowding out effect in which this option competes for an allocation over other asset classes. Use segmentation insights based on age, account balance, earnings potential and retirement funding status to help different employee groups reach their income goals. Strive for a low-cost all-in fee structure that is competitively priced; the goal is not necessarily to obtain the lowest fee for each product or service, but rather to obtain the best value for each of them. Preserve income and avoid relying too heavily on equities as an employee gets closer to retirement and his or her earnings potential is low or depleted. Provide the opportunity to convert assets to lifetime income. This could include the use of a low-cost, in-plan fixed annuity within the portfolio that gives employees the option to annuitize and create a fixed income stream. 5 Retirement plans should target income as the outcome

7 3. Advice or other financial planning services: Advice can play an important role in workers retirement readiness. It can provide employees with specific recommendations around savings rates, asset allocation, investment options and other retirement planning needs. More important, employees seeking advice tend to take action. More than half of employees (54%) who used an online advice service between February 2012 and January 2013 saved more, changed their future allocations or rebalanced their portfolios. 7 Effective advice offerings should provide actionable recommendations; be unbiased and personalized; and should recognize the importance of lifetime income. Retirement planning should also take into account an individual s complete financial picture, including the rest of the household. Many advice services and offerings designed for DC plans today don t link to other employee assets such as previous employer-sponsored plans, DB plans, outside savings, or spouses savings. An advisor or access to a financial planning service can help workers aggregate their holdings in order to understand their household balance sheet. Likewise, advisors and similar services can help employees convert accumulated assets to lifetime income. For most, the retirement phase is the most unique and complex financial time during a person s life. Often, an advisor can help coordinate an individual s total household assets along with other goals in order to achieve a desired standard of living throughout retirement. Although every employee wants to live comfortably in retirement, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to achieve that goal. Automatic features, professionally structured investment solutions and advice services are all important elements that if used appropriately, can help employees improve their financial well-being. The distribution phase Helping employees generate lifetime income A plan sponsor s role in retirement planning doesn t end once an employee retires. In fact, employees may need more help than previously as they face a daunting task: creating a secure income stream to cover retirement expenses from accumulated savings. As they do so, plan sponsors can help them navigate complex decisions: the risks they re willing to take with their accumulated assets, the rate at which they can withdraw their funds without depleting their savings, the effect of inflation, the impact of health costs, and finally, the risk that they will eventually lose the cognitive capacity to manage their financial affairs. A combination of annuitized income from fixed annuities, Social Security, and pension benefits, if available, can serve as the retirement income floor to cover essential living expenses. By providing education on safe income withdrawal rates, plan sponsors can help retirees address one of their most common fears: outliving their savings. This is a real possibility because many employees do not know enough about sustainable income withdrawal rates. A recent survey found that more than 33% of retirement plan participants had no idea how much they could safely withdraw; an additional 25% said they could withdraw 10% of their assets per year and see their retirement savings persist. 8 As a point of comparison, a 4% withdrawal rate is often used as a rough rule of thumb for how much an individual could withdraw from a retirement portfolio each year without depleting the retirement account. Retirement plans should target income as the outcome 6

8 Exhibit 2: A single-life annuity offers consistent income throughout retirement Annual retirement income W Required minimum distribution W 4% withdrawal W Single-life annuity W Self-annuity $7,000 $6,000 $5,000 $4,000 $3,000 $2,000 $1,000 $ Age This model assumes that a person has annuitized $100,000 at age 65 at a 3% interest rate. For illustration purposes only. Actual payouts may differ. Three percent nominal interest rate return assumption for all calculations. Single Life Annuity (SLA) based on 3% payout rate. Self-annuity payout (in which a person takes the needed amount out of savings rather than annuitizing) set to replicate payout amount of the SLA. Required minimum distribution payout uses Social Security unisex mortality table for remaining life expectancy. All amounts are pretax. Source: Richardson, David P. (2012) The Role of Guaranteed Income in Improving Retirement Security. TIAA-CREF Institute Working Paper. But even with a 4% withdrawal rate, retirees are still exposed to many risks such as investment, longevity and cognitive risks that could render the 4% withdrawal rule irrelevant (see Exhibit 2). In the face of so many risks, many employees need help in obtaining a steady income stream that can last a lifetime, and is not affected by the highs and lows of market performance. Fixed annuities can meet these requirements and are one of the few financial products that can guarantee lifetime income and can only be issued by an insurance company. 9 A combination of annuitized income from fixed annuities, Social Security, and pension benefits, if available, can serve as the retirement income floor to cover essential living expenses. But plan sponsors should communicate to their employees that annuitization from fixed annuities is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Employees can determine whether to fund their retirement solely with guaranteed sources of income or to maintain some flexibility and control over their retirement assets by keeping a portion in other investment products. Benefits of in-plan annuitization with fixed annuities For employees to use fixed annuity options, they must first have access to them. Some institutions offer fixed annuity products within the plan, but if they do not, then employees must find retail fixed annuities on their own when they retire. Both in-plan and out-ofplan fixed annuities are designed to deliver guaranteed lifetime income, but in-plan solutions may offer employees a number of additional benefits. In-plan fixed annuities are offered in a controlled setting, with pre-screening and education from employers. This can help employees understand how fixed annuities work and the impact of saving on future retirement income within the context of their plan: Employees can see, in dollars and cents, how a little more saved during their working years can translate to a higher retirement income. Making this connection makes employees more likely to save more effectively and regularly Retirement plans should target income as the outcome

9 Plan sponsors can generally negotiate lower costs for fixed annuities than individuals using an out-of-plan option. 11 This is important, because lower costs can contribute to higher income payouts. Research shows that individuals who contribute to fixed annuities while they are saving are more likely to annuitize a portion of their savings and receive retirement income in the form of lifetime annuity payments. Without access to an in-plan fixed annuity, employees may not save for retirement through an outside fixed annuity and therefore may be less likely to annuitize their savings upon retiring. 12 Meeting your fiduciary obligations with in-plan fixed annuities When considering an in-plan fixed annuity, plan sponsors often express concerns over the fiduciary obligations associated with selecting a fixed annuity product and provider. The reality is that the principles and processes governing the selection of a fixed annuity product and provider are in many ways similar to those used in the selection of mutual funds and other investment options. And those sponsors that already offer an annuity option at the point of distribution may not realize they may already share the same level of fiduciary obligations as sponsors that offer an in-plan fixed annuity. In general, the standard test for meeting that fiduciary responsibility comes down to following a careful process in the selection and then monitoring of the fixed annuities and any insurance companies whose fixed annuity products are made available to employees. In carrying out its duties, a fiduciary should adhere to the so-called prudent expert standard, which calls on plan sponsors to exercise the care, skill, prudence and diligence that would be employed by a prudent expert acting in a like capacity and familiar with such matters and with the same goals. The principles and processes governing the selection of a fixed annuity product and provider are in many ways similar to those used in the selection of mutual funds and other investment options. This standard therefore calls on plan sponsors to engage in a careful assessment of products and fixed annuity providers, guided by experts when needed and informed by a risk-based review of a provider s ability to honor its guarantee which may include a fixed annuity provider s ratings by insurance ratings services. For those plan sponsors seeking greater assurance that they are meeting their fiduciary obligations to a plan, they can turn to the Department of Labor s safe harbor that became effective in December This safe harbor follows the same basic principles we already mentioned, in addition to requiring plan sponsors to consider the costs versus the available benefits and administrative services of the fixed annuity. To be clear, plan sponsors may choose to follow the safe harbor to meet their fiduciary obligations, but they don t have to. Many of these issues have been tested in the courts, and the relevant rulings provide valuable guideposts for the expectations, as well as the limits of liability, for providers. Retirement plans should target income as the outcome 8

10 Fiduciary checklist Plan sponsors may find it easier to follow an established checklist to help guide the processes of selecting a fixed annuity provider and conducting due diligence. This fiduciary checklist should include a review of a fixed annuity provider s: What matters most to many retirees is not how much they have saved, but how their accumulated savings can translate into a lifetime of income. Strength and stability, which can be assessed through the insurance company s publicly available information; Ratings and financial strength; Track record and reputation as a well-known insurance company in the fixed annuity field; Costs that can reduce financial benefits to the participants through sales charges, commission, surrender fees and other expenses; Transparency to determine whether the information to be reviewed is clear and readily available; and State guarantees, which consider the availability of state guarantee insurance in the states where the plan sponsor is located (and where most plan participants reside) and the extent of guarantee coverage for fixed annuity contracts. This checklist is not intended to define the fiduciary process for selecting a fixed annuity provider but to provide a list of some best practices that will assist fiduciaries in performing their duties. In this light, the checklist should be viewed as a tool that fiduciaries may consider using in helping them fulfill their duties and documenting that they have done so. 13 Leading the way to a secure retirement Employees face a challenging road to retirement, but plan sponsors can help them down this road by focusing on what our research indicates is the right goal for most employees: an income replacement rate that will meet lifetime income needs. With this goal in mind, plan sponsors can design their plans for both the savings and distribution phases, helping employees pave the way to a secure retirement. Automatic features can address the need to save early and save more; professionally structured investment solutions can set the right risk-return strategies; and low-cost investment options can help employees make the most of their savings. However, saving the right amount for retirement may not be enough. Retirees may also need help creating a secure income stream that will last a lifetime. With all the risks facing retirees, the use of guaranteed products can form the building blocks for a secure source of retirement income. By offering fixed annuities, plan sponsors can go beyond today s requirements and set a higher standard of fiduciary responsibility. In the end, what matters most to many retirees is not how much they have saved, but how their accumulated savings can translate into a lifetime of income. Plan sponsors can help them achieve their goals by promoting active savings, smart investing, and wise choices in products that guarantee a lifetime of income. 9 Retirement plans should target income as the outcome

11 1 The findings come from TIAA-CREF s first Lifetime Income Survey, conducted by an independent research firm between January 3 and 5, Polling was among a national random sample of 1,017 adults, age 18 years and older. 2 Employee Benefit Research Institute, 23rd Annual Retirement Confidence Survey, The findings come from TIAA-CREF s first Lifetime Income Survey, conducted by an independent research firm between January 3 and 5, Polling was among a national random sample of 1,017 adults, age 18 years and older. Income from an annuity is based on the claims-paying ability and strength of the issuing company. 4 Marlena Lee, The Retirement Income Equation, DC Dimensions (Summer 2012). See Methodology Supporting Savings Rates and Replacement Rates in the disclosures. 5 Marlena Lee, The Retirement Income Equation, DC Dimensions (Summer 2012) 6 Employee Benefit Research Institute, Issue Brief No. 341, April Based on 2013 TIAA-CREF proprietary research of 17,741 TIAA-CREF participants who used TIAA-CREF Retirement Advisor (online advice) from February 2012 through January 2013 and took action within the same time period. 8 DrinkerBiddle, Lifetime Income in Defined Contribution Plans: A Fiduciary Approach. 9 Source: American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI). Guarantees based on the financial strength of the issuing company. 10 Paul J. Yakoboski, Retirees, Annuitization and Defined Contribution Plans, Trends and Issues, TIAA-CREF Institute, April TIAA-CREF, Investing for a Lifetime. Guaranteed. 12 Paul J. Yakoboski, Retirees, Annuitization and Defined Contribution Plans, Trends and Issues, TIAA-CREF Institute, April DrinkerBiddle, Lifetime Income in Defined Contribution Plans: A Fiduciary Approach. Dimensional Fund Advisors LP ( Dimensional ) is an investment advisor registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Dimensional does not issue or distribute annuities or insurance products or provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Please seek advice from appropriate counsel before taking any action. Retirement plans should target income as the outcome 10

12 This material is solely for informational purposes and shall not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation to buy securities or investment services. The opinions expressed herein represent the current, good faith views of [Dimensional] at the time of publication and are provided for limited purposes, are not definitive investment advice, and should not be relied on as such. The information presented in this article has been developed internally and/or obtained from sources believed to be reliable; however, [Dimensional] does not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy or completeness of such information. Predictions, opinions, and other information contained in this article are subject to change continually and without notice of any kind and may no longer be true after the date indicated. Any forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made, and [Dimensional] assumes no duty to and does not undertake to update forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements are subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties, which change over time. Actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in forward-looking statements. This material is directed exclusively at investment professionals. Any investments to which this material relates are available only to or will be engaged in only with investment professionals. The material is for informational purposes only and should not be regarded as a recommendation or an offer to buy or sell any product or service to which this information may relate. Certain products and services may not be available to all entities or persons. Past performance does not guarantee future results. TIAA-CREF products may be subject to market and other risk factors. See the applicable product literature, or visit tiaa-cref.org for details. Annuity account options are available through contracts issued by TIAA or CREF. These contracts are designed for retirement or other long-term goals, and offer a variety of income options, including lifetime income. Payments from the variable annuity accounts [and mutual funds] are not guaranteed and will rise or fall based on investment performance. Annuity contracts and certificates are issued by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association (TIAA) and College Retirement Equities Fund (CREF), New York, NY Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America-College Retirement Equities Fund, New York, NY Methodology Supporting Savings Rates and Replacement Rates Dimensional simulated income and portfolio paths of 10,000 households. The working years are age 25 to 65, and full retirement occurs at age 66. Final pre-retirement income matches the actual income distribution of households age 60 to 64 in i Pay raises and portfolio outcomes are jointly drawn from historical distributions of changes in real per-capita income and real stock and bond returns over the period from ii Each year, the households save a fixed fraction of their gross income in a Roth retirement vehicle. The portfolio is invested in stocks and bonds, with the percent invested in stocks equaling 100% age. We assume households with below (above) median final income want to replace 100% (90%) of preretirement spending, where pre-retirement spending equals gross income less savings, federal income taxes, and FICA taxes estimated using current tax laws and standard deductions. A household s spending is partially funded by Social Security, but any shortfall is financed using personal savings. The table below shows the savings rates needed to achieve this spending level (or more) with 75 90% probability, assuming the price of a $1 real annuity is $20. Even with a Social Security replacement rate of 59% for the lowest income quartile, savings must be about 10% to maintain at least the same level of pre-retirement spending in about 85% of the simulations. For households with annual income exceeding $25,870, a savings rate in the low teens is required to maintain spending levels with high probability. Percentage of pre-retirement income < $25th 25th 50th 50th 75th > 75th Pre-retirement income range < $25,870 < $49,941 < $86,882 more than $86,882 Median effective tax rate 8% 14% 18% 21% Savings rate 9% 11% 13% 15% 12% 14% 13% 16% Spending adjustment 0% 0% 10% 10% Replacement Rate Total 81 83% 71 73% 61 63% 57 59% Social Security 59% 38% 31% 21% Notes i. Source: US Census Bureau Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic Supplement. ii. Real changes in per-capita income obtained from Bureau of Economic Analysis. National Income and Product Accounts tables. The assumption that the household does not defer taxes allows me to complete the analysis without having to make predictions about future tax rates. The projections or other information generated by Monte Carlo analysis tools regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of future results. Results may vary with each use and over time. These hypothetical returns are used for discussion purposes only and are not intended to represent, and should not be construed to represent, predictions of future rates of return. Circumstances can cause substantial deviation from the estimates. This could result in declines in an account s value over short or even extended periods of time. Results may vary with each use and over time. C _ A14401 (06/14)

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