The slowing global economy will change the way advisors and individuals craft retirement plans, according to two J.P. Morgan Asset Management executives.
Presenting new material in their 2016 Guide to Retirement, David Kelly, chief global strategist, and Katherine Roy, chief retirement strategist, said that retirement investors should be more concerned with slower growth over the long term than the potential for a recession in the near term.
“I think globally and in the U.S. the economy is going to slow down,” Kelly said. “You’re going to have to expect that returns on equities will be lower than in the past and plan accordingly.”
The good news, according to Kelly, is that inflation as measured by consumer prices will remain low at around 1.5 percent this year, perhaps climbing to three percent in the next three years.
However, health care costs are rising faster than other expenses, said Roy.
“The implications are that people are going to have to save more,” Roy said. “One thing that we’ve done is to incorporate the slower projected growth into our returns and asset allocations … in a world of lower returns, how you allocate the investments that you’re purchasing is increasingly important.”
Strategies that maximize social security income and minimize tax burden are also more important in a low-return environment, Roy said. The conventional wisdom about retirement distributions centered on a 4 percent annual drawdown should still hold.
“How much you can spend is contingent on how much you invest,” Roy said. “If you are too conservative, spending levels will have to adjust.”
On the other hand, the new Guide to Retirement has also reduced the amount of income that most savers will have to replace in retirement because Social Security replaces more income now than it has in the past, Roy said.
Meanwhile, Kelly doesn’t feel the growing anxiety around a possible recession in the U.S. is warranted.
“The worries about a recession right now are overblown,” Kelly said. “The biggest piece of demand in this country is consumer spending, and it’s holding up very nicely. We have to understand that traditional brick and mortar retailers aren’t where the growth in consumer spending is occurring, it’s occurring in services and online.”
Kelly is also encouraged by positive employment numbers, and based on recent comments from members of the Federal Open Market Committee, does not believe an interest rate hike will occur this month.
He even sounded a positive note on the U.S. energy sector.
“In 2015, energy companies had to revalue their energy sources, they had to cut them and that hit their earnings very hard,” Kelly said. “They can only do that once. Low prices will still hurt energy moving forward, but they won’t cause another massive write down. Even if prices don’t move from here, we expect to see a rebound in energy earnings.”