Advisors and their clients need to be concerned about only one retirement income issue, author Nick Murray told attendees in a keynote address at the recent 3rd Annual Financial Advisor Retirement Symposium.
"The two possible binary outcomes of this one issue are perfectly mutually exclusive," Murray told approximately 300 conference attendees at the event in Weston, Fla. "The binary issue is: Is the income going to outlive the people or are the people going to outlive the income?"
Murray, an author of 10 books who also publishes a newsletter and provides a spot coaching service, stressed that advisors and product providers who serve them must focus on this very simple issue. With 10,000 people retiring a day, running out of client prospects shouldn't be a problem for any financial advisor, he said.
The average U.S. retirement age is 62, Murray noted. If a husband and wife are both that age today, the average age at which the second one will die is 92. The older baby boomers won't understand on their own that they need to have a lifestyle-sustaining income that must last an average of 30 years, Murray said. "Unless people come to face that, which they will not do without you, there is no hope for them," he added.
Maintaining purchasing power over 30 years is the only solution to their problems, and the 10 words advisors need to stress to clients are, "Every year, everything you need to buy will cost more," he said.
Most retirees shift to fixed-income investments at the very time they need rising income to maintain purchasing power, Murray said. But equity, particularly the shares of the great companies of America and the world, is the only asset class that has always increased income more than the cost of living over every 30-year period in American history, he said.
"It always was the solution, always will be the solution. Today, equity mutual funds have been in net liquidation for five years, four months and counting. The only thing that can save my people, and they've been net liquidating it for over five years," he said, noting assets in bond funds have doubled over the same period.
What do advisors need to do to make their clients understand? "The only thing that has any chance of helping them to think clearly about equities is to force them to think about equities in a 30-year clip," Murray said.
Murray was one of many speakers at the conference on May 7 and 8 at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center and Spa. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Loomis Sayles & Co. Vice Chairman Dan Fuss were also keynote speakers. Panels explored a variety of issues, including the management of retirement income and withdrawals; longevity and long-term care insurance; women and retirement; health-care costs; and how advisors themselves can prepare for retirement.
John Diehl, a senior vice president at The Hartford, spoke at length about demographic changes that should impact how financial advisors work with their clients. One of his roles with The Hartford is to head its relationship with the Age Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has done numerous studies on aging.
Studies have shown that the United States is in a 50-year cyclical decline in trust, he said. In 1961, about 56% said "yes" when asked if they trust people, but that percentage has declined to 22% today.
"For those of us around in the 1960s, you may remember the saying, 'Don't trust anyone over 30.' Well now that we're over 30, we've just truncated it to, 'Trust no one,'" he said.
According to MIT, people trust those who are most like them. Even doctors, who work on a level of intimacy that mirrors that of financial advisors, aren't trusted the way they once were. Before going to the doctor, many patients have already made their own diagnoses after consulting the Internet. People are more likely to trust someone they know who's taking the same prescription drug they are than to trust the doctor who prescribed it in the first place, MIT said.
The most prominent demographic change that advisors must consider is the emerging dominance of the female consumer, Diehl said, and it's not because women more often outlive men.
"MIT says we have to look at the other end of the spectrum. Look at educational trends in the United States today. There's approximately three women for every two men graduating from college, 58% of all master's degrees go to women and almost half of all PhD's," he said. He added that women are responsible for 90% of all home health decisions, 85% of all home improvement decisions and even 80% of the purchases of NFL merchandise.