Even with some concerns over low yields and rising rates, bonds are still attractive, said Benz.

“We’ve heard so much about how correlations between equity and bond markets have risen, but our data doesn’t support that,” said Benz. “Over the past year, they have declined. Investors may be overdoing their fears of interest rate sensitivity.”

Benz argued that a high-quality, intermediate-term bond fund is a great starting point for a fixed-income portfolio. Investors might want to add inflation-protected securities and short-term bonds to their core allocation, then use their non-core positions for very long-term issues.

Lee recommended international bonds, hedged back to the U.S. dollar, which currently result in yields close to what investors can get in the U.S. Lee also likes short-term TIPS and emerging market corporate bonds.

“I’m not sure that investors get all these pieces,” said Lee. “Investors just don’t do bonds anymore. They toggle between cash and equity because they don’t understand how bonds work, but simplistically they kind of get stocks.”

Annuities, often berated as an income option, should remain in the advisor’s toolkit, said Norton, who added that advisors should be “agnostic” to how a client’s income needs are met because “uncertainty is the dark cloud over retirement.”

Lee agreed, noting that for some investors the income security provided by certain annuities trumps the costs and complicated structures.

“Annuities encompass such a broad basket of products, some don’t have high costs at all,” said Benz, mentioning immediate annuities as a relatively low-cost retirement income option. “A lot of investors have a skull and crossbones on the annuity shelf, but it might be helpful to educate them on how many varieties of annuities there are out there.”

Benz also advocates for a bucket approach to retirement planning, which segments portfolios by time horizon or function. A short-term bucket may hold more cash or short-term debt instruments, while a middle-term bucket would have more intermediate-term fixed income and highly liquid equity investments, and a third long-term bucket concentrated mostly in equities would serve as the growth engine of the portfolio.

Such an approach can help clients think about what constitutes a reasonable allocation to income-generating investments, said Benz.