Why Bonds May Not Be A Retiree’s Best Option

It is time to evaluate your bonds’ performance and consider whether an alternative may suit you better. Long ago, it was recommended that investors who are nearing or already in retirement change the majority of their financial funds from equities to bonds.

The concept is straightforward (and you’ve undoubtedly heard this advice several times):

You purchase stocks when ready or able to accept volatility in return for the possibility of a greater profit. You invest in bonds when you desire safety and dependability in your portfolio.

The ratio between these two assets is frequently modified to reflect the investor’s risk tolerance. A common rule of thumb indicates, for instance, that the proportion of bonds in your portfolio should closely correspond to your age. To better secure his or her nest egg, a 70-year-old investor who is retiring or already retired may adopt a 30/70 portfolio split (consisting of 30% equities and 70% bonds).

Here’s the Catch

The issue, of course, is that we presently live in an inflationary atmosphere with increasing interest rates, which means that investors might lose money in two ways on their “stable” bonds.

Increasing Prices 

Increasing prices can diminish the buying power of each bond’s interest payment. If you retain your bond to maturity, inflation might eat away your funds for five, ten, or more years. When dealing with inflation, duration is important. And a nibble might turn into a substantial mouthful.

Escalating Interest Rates 

When interest rates increase, bond prices tend to decline. Older bonds with lower interest rates become less desirable to buyers when new bonds begin to pay greater interest rates. If you decide to sell your bonds, the price may need to be discounted to compensate for the lower yield.

Because the media and most investors prefer to pay more attention to the ups and downs of the Dow, Nasdaq, and S&P 500, it is simple to let the bonds in your portfolio do their thing. However, with inflation reaching 8.3% in August, it is risky to see bonds as “set it and forget it” assets.

How Poor Are Your Bonds?

When analyzing the performance of your investments, divide your bonds and equities. You may be astonished by the low performance of your so-called safe investments. As of October 12, the Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG) is down 15.7% YTD. And you may want to reconsider your allocation, especially if a significant portion of your retirement income is dependent on bonds.

Security and growth can still be achieved without bonds.

Some Substitutes for Bonds

Although you may not be as acquainted with choices like buffer ETFs, multi-year guaranteed annuities, and indexing methods inside indexed annuities as you are with bonds, these products are neither novel, untested, nor particularly sophisticated. And with each, there is both upward possibility and downside protection.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs) with the name “Buffer” are so-called because they protect investors against market losses. However, in exchange, the investor accepts a cap on market gains. Here is an illustration of how this works: You may establish an S&P 500-based ETF with a 30% cushion. In this case, the market would have to decline by more than 30 percent for the number of accounts to fall. There is no limit to the ETF’s potential decline. There is a 25% loss buffer, and clients are liable for the first 5.85% of losses before covering up to 25%. As previously stated, there is a limit to how much you may acquire; as of September, the buffers were 25%, and the limit was 16.98%.

A multi-year guaranteed annuity (MYGA) provides a fixed interest rate that is guaranteed for a particular number of years. At the time of this writing, a five-year MYGA with Nationwide pays 4.95 percent compounded, while Barclays’ five-year CD rate as of October 12 is 3.65 percent.

Indexing tactics inside a fixed-indexed annuity might also be a viable alternative. These annuities are indexed to the S&P 500. A fixed-indexed annuity has a maximum yearly return, such as 8%. If the market performs well, you gain up to that limit, but if it declines or crashes, you incur no losses.

Much like bonds, each of these alternatives has advantages and disadvantages. (Unfortunately, there is no perfect investment.) Regarding these and other bond options, it is prudent to consult a Certified Financial Fiduciary who is legally obligated to look out for your best interests. 

There are various options accessible, and now is unquestionably the time to investigate all of them. You do not have to accept low bond performance simply because you need retirement security.