One Millionaire. Three Advisors. Are they up to the challenge of generating lifetime income for our lowly millionaire?
Forget about Joe Millionaire. We've got a better idea for a show. Fox, are you listening? You'll love this one. We're calling it Joe Millionaire Sr. The guy's already got $1 million, so we're saving you a bundle from the start.
The challenge? He and his wife actually have to retire on the money and generate enough income to live on for the rest of their lives.
We put our challenge to three prominent financial advisors, who created real investment portfolios they believe will do the trick-provide Joe Millionaire Sr. with the $65,000 he and his wife will need every year to survive and thrive when he retires next year at age 62.
Joe's situation is as straightforward as can be. He's just walked in the door with $1 million in 401(k) assets, and he needs help planning for next year's retirement. In addition to a monthly Social Security benefit of $1,300 that he'll take at age 62, the $1 million is all the assets he and his wife have in the world. Can the advisors help?
As we quickly learned, there is more than one way to skin a portfolio. All three advisors-Kathy Longo, a principal with Accredited Investors Inc. in Edina, Minn.; Glenn Kautt, president of The Monitor Group in Fairfax, Va.; and Christopher J. Cordaro, a principal with RegentAtlantic in Chatham, N.J.-are CFPs, and two are CFAs. The one who isn't a CFA, Kautt, has his MBA from Harvard University. All three also suggested that Joe Millionaire Sr. roll his 401(k) money into an IRA, to ensure maximum continued tax deferral. All three expressed the opinion that, given the generally accepted and sustainable retirement withdrawal rate of 4%, Joe is tempting fate by taking 5% from his portfolio annually. They all agreed that Joe would increase his odds of success (in Joe's case defined by having sufficient funds left at death) if he shaved back his annual income needs or agreed to take on part-time employment. While Longo and Cordaro developed portfolios containing 80% equities and 20% bonds, Kautt limited Joe's portfolio to just three fixed-income mutual funds. Longo and Cordaro are including corporate junk bond funds in his portfolio in the belief that this battered asset class will rebound in recovery. Last but not least, all would charge Joe Sr. $10,000 in first-year asset-based charges to prepare his investment and financial plan and provide ongoing advice. (Although Kautt maintains that his portfolio would fix Joe's problem, so he wouldn't need ongoing investment management.)
That's all interesting advice as far as it goes, but the advisors may have more differences than similarities. For instance, Longo's firm decided last year to pull out of real estate entirely and invest in health care and utilities instead. Cordaro's firm is holding pat with its real estate fund. "We don't make tactical asset allocation decisions," says Cordaro, who chairs the firm's investment committee. "We don't get together at lunch and decide to drop REITs (real estate investment trusts) down from 10% to 5%. We have an annual investment summit where we make long-term strategic decisions, like moving our international large-cap assets, which we didn't believe were getting the diversification they needed, to a hedge fund." The firm's investment committee made that decision last year, and RegentAtlantic advisors has been using Undiscovered Managers' Multi-Discipline Fund ever since.
In stark contrast, Kautt believes that equities have entirely too much volatility to allow Joe Millionaire Sr. to meet his income needs for the next 30 years and beyond, without taking on undue risk. "For advisors to recommend aggressive equity portfolios for Joe Sr. borders on professional negligence," says Kautt, never one to mince words.
As we said at the outset, there is more than one way to build a portfolio. Each of our advisors used their own set of assumptions regarding returns and inflation. We set no parameters beyond the fairly straightforward case study presented by Joe Sr., a kind of everyman and woman when it comes to retirement planning needs.
Read on to find out how each advisor tailored his or her planning and investment recommendations to help him meet his needs over the next 30 years. The actual portfolios they built are in our sidebar "The Challenge."
Without further fanfare, let's crawl inside the minds of our advisors to find out why they did what they did and whether it will work for Joe Sr.