Nix the Mixed Emotions About Retirement

cook_headshotPaul Cook, AIF®, Vice President and Regional Director, Retirement Plan Services

The future holds many uncertainties, leaving us to often have mixed feelings when thinking about retirement. Even if you feel more than ready, on an emotional level, to move to the next phase of your life, you may have some uncertainty about whether you will be able to maintain the lifestyle you wish.

Last week in Roddy Marino’s Eight Signs You Are Ready to Retire, he shared some useful statistics from an Ameriprise Financial survey that address this notion of mixed emotion. Close to 50% of respondents felt they were ready to retire, but admitted that there was still some concern. 21% admitted more bluntly that they felt uncertain or not ready at all. Suffice it to say that a large portion, about 63%, of newly retired boomers said they felt stressed about retirement leading up to the decision.[1]

We’ve talked before about how your physical health can impact your retirement, but let’s take another approach and look at six financial certainties that may help to lower your stress and avoid some of the mixed emotions about retirement.

  1. You will need cash. Throughout your retirement journey, you will need quick access to your money. Typically, you will need enough liquidity to cover two years’ worth of anticipated living expenses.
  1. The quicker you spend, the shorter it will last. Your predictable expenses may total up to, for example, $2,000 a month. But how many years could you go on spending $24,000? The impact of spending on your portfolio becomes clear once you determine a spend-rate. For example, if you had $500,000 in a retirement savings account and withdrew $2,000 a month, the portfolio would last 20-29 years. A $500 reduction in spending, however, could result in 9-15 more years of longevity for the portfolio.
  1. The money not needed to cover expenses must be invested…wisely. While you can’t control the markets, you should feel confident that your investments are managed with skill and integrity. Choose an investment advisor with whom you have a trust and have a high level of confidence.
  1. Eventually, you will run out of cash and need more. One of the tricky parts of managing your money in retirement involves knowing how to create an income stream from your portfolio. You need to figure out which assets to take distributions from, and when. To ensure that each of your assets performs optimally, you must conduct a careful technical analysis and evaluate moving market trends. If you are like most retirees, you could benefit from having an expert perform this service for you so that you can have confidence that you are benefiting from all possible market and tax advantages.
  1. You’ll make more confident decisions if you know how your investment performance and expenses measure against your goals. Throughout your retirement journey, it is helpful to know where you stand against your goals. If your overall goal is to outlive your savings, then you should have a system in place that helps you contextualize your spending and its relative impact on long-term goals.
  1. Markets are volatile. When markets fluctuate, many investors feel like all semblance of control over their financial future is lost. Having a well-diversified portfolio may help to smooth the ride and reduce some of the emotions of investing.

If you approach retirement by developing an income solution that addresses each of these known facts, you can feel as if you are on more solid ground to enjoy your retirement.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

[1] Ameriprise Study: First Wave of Baby Boomers Say Health and Emotional Preparation are Keys to a Successful Retirement, February 3, 2015

Eight Signs You Are Ready to Retire

Roddy MarinoRoddy Marino, CIMA, Executive Vice President
National Accounts & Distribution

New England Patriots quarterback is famous, and infamous, for a number of things both on and off the football field. His stance on retirement, however, is a personal favorite. When asked when he will retire, the then 37-year old quarterback said, “When I suck.”

Brady has the benefit of stats, sacks and millions of armchair quarterbacks to tell him when it’s time for him to hang up his cleats, but the decision to retire isn’t as clear for most Americans.

According to a survey conducted by Ameriprise Financial, nearly half of retirees (47%) felt ready to retire, but approached it with mixed emotions. 25% of the people surveyed said they could hardly wait for retirement, but nearly as many (21%) felt uncertain or felt that they were just not ready.[1]

If you are among the group of pre-retirees who feel uncertainty, here are eight signs that will help you decide if the time is right for you to consider retirement:

  1. shutterstock_447538888You are emotionally ready. Choosing when to retire has as much to do with emotions as it does finances. The transition from a full-time job that, for many, shaped their identity, to life with less structure can be scary. According to the Ameriprise study, losing connections with colleagues (37%), getting used to a different routine (32%), and finding purposeful ways to pass the time (22%) pose the greatest challenge for the newly-retired. Despite these challenges, 65%say they fell into their new routine fairly quickly, and half (52%) report to having less time on their hands than they would have thought.
  2. You’ve paid down your debt. Debt represents a key barometer in retirement readiness. If possible, you will want to keep working until your high-interest credit card debt, personal loans or auto loans have been satisfied—or you have a plan to retire such debt.
  3. You have an emergency fund. It’s important to plan in advance for how you will address emergencies, big and small, in retirement. The same survey revealed that 90% of Americans have endured at least one setback that harmed their retirement savings. Setbacks vary from caring for adult children, to college expenses stretching over six years instead of four. Others include loss of a job, assisted living expenses, and disappointing stock performance. As the survey indicates, unexpected life events cost the retirement accounts of the respondents $117,000 on average. An emergency fund can serve to prevent you from having to resort to retirement savings during hard financial times.
  4. You know what it’s going to cost. Some people believe they will enjoy a significant decrease in post-retirement expenses; however, that may not be the case. Instead, many retirees experience trade-off in expenses. For example, instead of daily commute costs, retirees may take longer trips thereby canceling out any savings in transportation expenses. Most retirees’ expenses follow a U-shaped pattern. For the first few years, the expenses mimic pre-retirement expenses, then as the retiree settles in, expenses dip only to rise as health care costs kick in.
  5. You know how you will create income. Much of retirement planning involves asset accumulation, but it is equally important to figure out what assets to tap, and in what order. Your income plan should include a decision on when you will elect to receive Social Security benefits. It should also take into consideration all sources of income including fixed, immediate, and indexed annuity strategies, pensions, and even your house. It should also address the timing as to when and you will withdraw income from all potential sources.
  6. Your children have their financial lives in order. Family dynamics play a significant role in shaping one’s retirement experience, yet are often overlooked during the planning process. Many retirees do not anticipate or underestimate the financial toll associated with providing financial support to their adult children. If you are thinking of retiring and still have a financially dependent child, consider establishing parameters for the arrangement, set expectations, and deepen the child’s understanding and appreciation of what is at stake for you.
  7. You have prioritized your health. When it comes to determining retirement well-being, health is typically more important than wealth. Retirees in better health have the added peace of mind that comes from financial security. They tend to enjoy retirement more, feel fulfilled and are not as prone to negative emotions as their less healthy counterparts.[2] For most, health care costs top the retirement expenses charts so your ability to pay for medical care you will eventually need should be a key consideration. Healthy habits and preventive medical treatment before retirement can help to serve as a cost-containment measurement as well as a lifestyle booster.
  8. shutterstock_128132981Someone you trust can help you make your financial decisions. A trusted advisor is invaluable throughout your retirement journey. He or she can help you manage your retirement portfolio to meet your preservation and growth objectives, help you establish an income strategy matched to your spending needs, and track your spending versus assumptions. If a crisis arises, a trusted financial advisor will already know your financial history and can help make decisions that are in your best interests. Similarly, it is extremely helpful to have a trusted advisor relationship solidified in the event your cognitive abilities decline, and you need help with decisions.

[1] Ameriprise Study: First Wave of Baby Boomers Say Health and Emotional Preparation Are Keys to a Successful Retirement, 2/3/15:

[2] Health, Wealth and Happiness in Retirement, MassMutual. 3/25/15

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are not intended as investment advice or recommendation. For informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Managing Emotions During Life’s Disruptions

Sue BerginSue Bergin, President, S Bergin Communications

It seems like a new survey comes out daily revealing how ill-prepared Americans are for retirement. Well, to reference one, now there is a study that shows two-thirds of those who have saved for retirement may still fall behind.

TD Ameritrade’s 2015 Financial Disruptions Survey shows that unexpected events have cost Americans $2.5 trillion in lost savings. [1] Typical scenarios involve unemployment or having to take a lower-paying job, starting a family and/or buying a home, assuming a care-taking role, experiencing poor investment or business performance, suffering an accident/illness or disability, divorce, separation, or becoming a widow or widower.

No surprise that any one of these events would cause stress. As explained in the best-selling book, Personal Benchmark, Integrating Behavioral Finance and Investment Management, stress triggers a move away from a rational and cognitive decision-making style in favor of an effective style driven by emotions. Research also has suggested that we experience a 13% reduction in our intelligence during times of stress, as valuable psychophysiological resources are shunted away from the brain in service of our ability to fight or flee. [2]

When under stress, emotional decisions tend to be myopic. We privilege the now and forget about the future. Decisions made under stress are also reactive. Since our body is being signaled that something dangerous is imminent, we tend to react rather than reason. Reacting is great for swerving to miss a car, but not such a great impulse to follow when it comes to setting a course that will traverse the next five years.

What we learn from the study is that the average length of the disruption was five years. These weren’t one-time events or blips on a radar screen. They were prolonged periods over that necessitated several financial decisions.

84% of those who suffered from disruptions indicated that prior thereto, they had been saving $530 per month for long-term financial goals/retirement. During the “disruption” savings were reduced by almost $300, which had a cumulative adverse impact on their long-term goal, on average of over $16,200.

Interestingly, the TD study asked how they could be better prepared for the unexpected. The vast majority focused on what authors of Personal Benchmark suggest in helping to manage emotions during stressful times, which is to focus on matters within their control. The top five responses included:

  • save more (44%)
  • start saving earlier (36%)
  • better educate self on investments (26%)
  • consult with a financial advisor (19%)
  • pay closer attention to investments (15%)

There are two key takeaways from this study. Expect the unexpected by doing as much advanced planning and saving as possible. And, when life does throw you a curve ball, manage your emotions by focusing on matters with personal significance and those that are within your personal control.


[2] Dr. Greg Davies, Managing Director, Head of Behavioral and Quantitative Investment Philosophy at Barclays Wealth

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are for informational purposes only. Brinker Capital, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.

Bridging the Alternative Investment Information Gap

Sue BerginSue Bergin, President, S Bergin Communications

The groundswell of interest in alternative investments continues to build, creating a thirst for clear, comprehensive and client-facing educational materials.

According to Lipper, alternative mutual funds saw the biggest percentage growth of any fund group, with assets under management increasing 41% to $178.6 billion in 2013. A recent report by Goldman Sachs projects liquid alternatives are in the early stage of a growth trend that could produce $2 trillion in assets under management in the next 10 years. In order for this to happen, however, investors must gain a better understanding of how alternative investments work, how they function within a portfolio, and where potential benefits and risks could occur.[1]

EducateAlternative investment strategies are a separate beast than the traditional methods of investing and traditional asset classes that most investors are familiar with. From divergent performance objectives, to the use of leverage, correlation to markets, liquidity requirements and fees, a fair amount about alternatives is different from traditional investments. Understandably, investors have many questions before they can decide whether to and how much of their portfolio to dedicate to alternative investments.

The task of educating investors about alternatives is falling largely on the shoulder of the advisory community. Well over half (60%) of the high-net-worth investors recently surveyed by MainStay Investments, indicated financial advisors as the top resource for alternative investment ideas. Trailing advisors was internet-based research (41%), research papers and reports (35%), and financial service companies (30%).[2]

Historically, advisors have shied away from recommending alternative investment strategies because they are too difficult to explain. The conundrum they now face is that 70% of those advisors surveyed also acknowledge the need to use new portfolio strategies to manage volatility and still seek positive.[3]

Bridge the Education GapIt’s important that advisors start to value the use of alternatives and find ways to bridge the information gap for investors. The good news is that investors have tipped their hands in terms of what they really want to know. According to the MainStay survey, clients want more information in the following areas:


  • Explaining the risks associated with alternative investments (73%)
  • Learning about how alternatives work (71%)
  • Finding out who manages the investments (54%)
  • Charting how alternatives affect returns (46%)


 [2] “HNW Investors Turn to Advisors For Alternative Investment Guidance,” InsuranceNewsNet, April 3, 2014.

[3]Few advisers recommend alternative investments: Respondents to a Natixis survey said that they stick to strategies that can be explained to clients more easily,” InvestmentNews, October 24, 2013

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are for informational purposes only.

Investment Insights Podcast – February 28, 2014

Bill MillerBill Miller, Chief Investment Officer

On this week’s podcast (recorded February 27, 2014) we are back to the traditional format of what we like, what we don’t like, and what we’re doing about it:

  • What we like: ISI Homebuilding Survey surged this week, increasing odds that the overall economy will improve as the cold weather improves
  • What we don’t like: Investors don’t know if the recent slowdown is due to the cold weather or if there’s something greater at work beyond that
  • What we are doing about it: No major changes; view remains that markets will grind upwards all year long

Click the play icon below to launch the audio recording.

The views expressed are those of Brinker Capital and are for informational purposes only. Holdings are subject to change.

John Coyne on Bloomberg TV

Brinker Capital Vice Chairman, John Coyne, sat down with Deirdre Bolton of Bloomberg TV to discuss the results of the 3Q13 Brinker Barometer Survey.

Click the image below to view his segment.


Here is an infographic illustrating some of the key results from our Brinker Barometer that John discussed.

Financial Advisors Finally Confident in U.S. Economy, Q3 Brinker Barometer Finds

We have the results of our third quarter 2013 Brinker Barometer® survey, a gauge of financial advisor confidence and sentiment regarding the economy, retirement savings, investing and market performance.

For the full press release, please click here, but in the meantime check out the infographic below for some of the highlights:


Social Media Strategies: Yield to Client Preferences

Sue Bergin@SueBergin

Every investor has his or her unique communication and learning style.  Some prefer face-to-face meetings, while a quick text message will suffice for others.  Some investors are highly analytical and need to understand the data behind their investment philosophy while others take a “just give me the bottom line” approach.

Most successful advisors have become adept at assessing the communication and learning styles of their clients and adapting accordingly.  When it comes to a social media strategy, advisors should use a similar approach.

10.15.13_Men are From LinkedInAccording to the recent survey[1] sponsored by MassMutual and conducted by Brightwork Partners, “women are from Facebook, men are from LinkedIn,” various demographic groups are congregating around their social media channel of choice.  Consider these stats:

  • 70% of women routinely use Facebook vs. 59% of men
  • 57% of survey respondents over the age of 50 use Facebook
  • 32% of men use LinkedIn, compared to 15% of women
  • 17% of men versus 10% of women rely on Twitter as an information source
  • 36% of LinkedIn users have household incomes that exceed $100,000
  • 15% of LinkedIn users have household incomes of $50,000 or less
  • Survey respondents in their 30s are 14% more likely to use social media for retirement and investment education than their older counterparts
  • 80% of Pinterest’s 70 million users are women[2]

MassMutual’s study is the latest in a line of research that demonstrates the role social media can play in educating clients.  From a tactical perspective, it is helpful to note that a Tweet, Facebook post, LinkedIn message or Pinterest post will reach only the audience following that channel.

From a practical standpoint, you may want to synchronize your social media messages.  So, for example, if you sync your Twitter and LinkedIn files, LinkedIn contacts will see your Twitter updates and vice versa.  Keep in mind that some content is more appropriate for certain channels over others.  For example, tweets can only accommodate 140 characters but Facebook posts may be more extensive. Pinterest is most appropriate for visual content, like the inspiring image below originally pinned by ForexRin.

10.15.13_Men are From LinkedIn_1In the end, social media is about listening and engaging with your clients.  Services like Hootsuite, Tweetdeck and GoGoStat can help monitor and track your social media engagement so that you will know which channels are most valuable to your practice.

Applying Behavioral Finance To Investment Process Crucial To Financial Advisors, Brinker Barometer Finds

Earlier this week, the results of our latest Brinker Barometer advisor survey were made public. Click here to read the full press release. This particular Barometer had a focus on aspects of behavioral finance and how advisors gauge progress towards meeting their clients’ financial goals.

Check out some of the most interesting survey results in the infographic below!


You: The Key to Better Investment Returns…and More

Sue BerginSue Bergin

John Hancock’s recent Investor Sentiment Survey demonstrates that over half of investors who use an advisor are confident (56%) that doing so will lead to better investment returns.[1]

How’s that for a confidence boost?

The study also gives us tremendous insights into why clients choose to work with financial advisors and highlights the importance of three factors:

  1. Realistic assessment of one’s own investment management capabilities
  2. Confidence in advisors’ ability to generate better returns than the individual could do themselves and add value to the process
  3. Time constraints

A significant number of participants who work with advisors (47%) do so to obtain a comprehensive financial plan and for validation that their financial decisions are on track.   They tend a need to have a professional’s stamp of approval on their decisions.  This is a moderate showing of confidence in his or her own ability and reveals a willingness to seek and listen to advice.

You Are The Key37% of those working with advisors claim to do so because they lack the knowledge to manage their own investments.  43% of the respondents who do not have an advisor chose to go at it alone because they feel like they can manage comfortably on their own.

36% of the “do-it-yourself” group said that they did not think advisors provided good value for their money.

Working with An Advisor

No Advisor

56% believe working with an advisor will lead to better investment returns 43% have confidence in their own abilities and therefore do not need to work with an advisor
47% seek comprehensive financial planning advice and to validate financial decisions 40% actually enjoy the process
36% acknowledge they couldn’t manage investments on their own 36% lack confidence in advisors
24% don’t have the time

Few people think they could perform surgery on their own knee, but many investors believe they could get comparable results without a professional’s assistance. Technological innovations are only going to fuel that sentiment by making it easier and more fun than ever for the do-it-yourselfers.  The key for advisors is to focus on your unique qualification and the value you add to the relationship.

Instill confidence in your abilities, so theirs are never even considered.

[1] John Hancock Investor Sentiment Survey, January 7, 2013