As the name implies, asset management refers to the management of investments offered by financial planners and other financial institutions such as investment banks and university endowments. The goal of asset management is to increase a client’s assets over time while managing risk. Asset management utilizes both fundamental and technical analysis. Asset managers may use fundamental analysis to study anything that can impact an asset’s value. For example, any economic or political news can have an impact on the value of a security or asset. Technical analysis, on the other hand, relies on previous price and volume. In other words, asset managers may look at historical date, along with mathematical patterns, known as technical indicators, to fine tune their investment entry and exit points.
Alternative investment strategies
An alternative investment strategy includes a set of alternative asset classes that do not fall into the traditional investment assets that include stocks, bonds, and cash. Some examples of alternative asset classes include real estate, private equity, hedge funds, annuities, mutual funds, and ETFs. Alternative investments have long been used by university endowments with great success. For example, Yale University’s endowment was valued at $1 billion in 1985. Under David Swensen’s leadership as the fund’s manager, Yale’s Endowment ballooned to $31 billion in 2020.1 Over the past several years, alternative investments have become available to retail investors.2 Please be advised that alternative investments are speculative by nature and have various risks including possible lack of liquidity, lack of control, changes in business conditions and devaluation based on the investment, the economy and or regulatory changes. As a result, the values of alternative investments do fluctuate resulting in the value at sale being more or less than the original price paid, if a liquid market for the securities is found.
Before I offer specific retirement advice, let me repeat a mantra that I tell all my clients: The earlier you prepare for retirement, the better off you will be. Retirement often creeps up on us and we often find ourselves saying, “where did all the years ago.” Below are some concrete steps that in my opinion will help you prepare for retirement:
- Monitor your investments prior to retirement and avoid overspending.
- You need to account for inflation as an inevitable fact of life. When planning for retirement, it’s advisable to plan for inflation as part of your strategy.
- While this is not an easy conversation to have, you need to talk with your spouse or significant other about retirement spending. During pre-retirement, it is critical that you both cut out any unnecessary spending.
- Not everything about retirement planning is about money. You need to focus on your physical health. As we get older, our physical health declines, which increases health costs. If you want to avoid sudden health costs that can potentially undermine your retirement planning, make sure you take care of your health.
- Create a budget and stick with it.
- Most importantly is that you need to sit down with a qualified and experienced professional advisor who will help you become fiscally healthy.
- Watch travel expenses during retirement. Many people dream of traveling when they retire, but that only eats away at your retirement goals. It is best to do much of your travelling prior to retirement.
- If you can work longer, you will increase your chances of having a more comfortable retirement. For example, people who retire at 70 years will get a larger Social security check than those who retire at age 66. That’s extra money for life in your pocket.
Targeted Retirement Advice
Retirement is one of those life events that many of us procrastinate about. Statistics show that an overwhelming number of Americans are ill prepared for retirement. This is why you need to begin to ask the right questions and then sit down with a qualified and experienced financial planner to develop a strategy that is unique to your specific situation. Below are five factors that contribute to financial uncertainty:
- When should you retire?
- How much will I need for my retirement years?
- How much can I safely withdraw each year without depleting my investment portfolio?
- How do I provide a legacy for my loved ones?
- Will I be able to rely on Social Security benefits?
- Will my pension be able to take care of me?
- Should I plan for retirement on my own or get targeted retirement advice from a qualified and experienced financial planner?
Prepare for retirement
- One rule of thumb is that the earlier you prepare for retirement, the more comfortable you will be during retirement.
- Start saving at an early age, keep saving, and stick to your goals.
- Get to know your retirement needs.
- Some experts maintain that you will need 70 to 90 percent of your preretirement income to maintain your standard of living when you stop working.
- Contribute to your employer’s retirement savings plan such as a 40(k) plan.
- Learn about your employer’s pension plan. Make sure you are covered by the plan and understand how it works.
- Learn about how your pension is being invested.
- Most importantly is that you do not touch your retirement savings.
There are several financial literacy books available. My first book, Redefining Financial Literacy, is an excellent book to read. My book walks you through the various retirement stages you go through and will offer you advice on the steps you need to take to help you prepare for a comfortable retirement. Financial literacy is also about understanding the macro, big picture forces that impact your financial decisions. One of the things I do in my book is break down these hidden political, historical, economic, psychological, and social media forces that influence not only your investment strategy, but also your investment outcome. There are, of course, other books and articles on retirement. Simply Google retirement books or go to Amazon and type in retirement books. One advice I would give you is that you need to actually read these books and articles and not simply skim for information.
1 Juliet Chung & Dawn Lim, “David Swensen, Yale Endowment Chief who Changed the Course of Institutional Investing, Dies at 67,” wsj.com, May 6, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/david-swensen-yale-endowment-chief-who-changed-the-course-of-institutional-investing-dies-at-67-11620305438
2 Cabot Lodge Securities, “What you Need to Know about Alternative Investments,” clsecurities.com, Retrieved June 25, 2021. http://www.clsecurities.com/alternativeinvestments.html