Calm after the storm for SIPP providers?

Calm after the storm for SIPP providers?

They say time flies, but in financial services, it does so at the speed of light!

And what a difference a year can make! This time last year, the FCA introduced new capital adequacy requirements (PS14/12) for SIPP providers.

As we anticipated in our last SIPP Financial Stability Report report, not everyone made it to the other side in one piece. Some providers fell by the wayside in the run-up to September 2016 and the months after it.

  • European Pensions Management went bust in June 2016. It was then acquired by Suffolk Life, which is part of Curtis Banks Group.
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Royal London ‘Drawdown Governance Service’: the future of income drawdown?

Royal London ‘Drawdown Governance Service’: the future of income drawdown?

Since the introduction of pension freedoms, providers have talked about ‘innovation’ until they, and we, are all blue in the face. Thankfully, it appears that’s starting to change!

Royal London has put its money where its mouth is. It recently launched a new Drawdown Governance Service (DGS). And there’s a lot to like about it.

It’s not quite in the same class as Frank Whittle’s invention of the Jet Engine or Tim Berners-Lee’s invention of The Internet, as RL’s marketing brochure seems to suggest. But considering how unimaginative providers have been on the subject of retirement income till date, … More →

Lower equity allocation in retirement: reducing risk or shooting yourself in the foot?

Lower equity allocation in retirement: reducing risk or shooting yourself in the foot?

Asset allocation is a key factor when deciding sustainable withdrawal rate in a retirement income portfolio. And one of the most important decisions is what proportion of a retirement income portfolio should be allocated to equities.

The received wisdom is that allocation to equities should be lower during the retirement income stage. The rational behind this include the fact that retirees tend to have lower risk appetite and reduced risk capacity.

 

Yet, the common practice in the industry isn’t supported by cold hard empirical evidence. Indeed, in his seminal 1994 paper, Bill Bengen recommended

…a stock allocation as

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Bill Bengen: The Man Who Changed Retirement Planning

Bill Bengen: The Man Who Changed Retirement Planning

I had the honour of meeting legendary Bill Bengen of the Safe Withdrawal Rate fame last week.

Our meeting took place near his home in Palm Springs, California. Given his accomplishments, he struck me as a very humble and down-to-earth person, a rare virtue in financial services!

After the pleasantries, we sat down and ordered a drink. I asked Bill if he had any idea when he wrote his first paper in 1994, that his methodology was going to become something of a gospel on retirement planning. “Not at all. I started the research in 1993 and wrote my More →

Fixed Withdrawal: Sustainable withdrawal rate with a twist

Fixed Withdrawal: Sustainable withdrawal rate with a twist

One crucial but often forgotten point about Bengen’s Sustainable Withdrawal Rate (SWR) framework is that SWR is defined as a percentage of the capital only in the first year of retirement. Subsequent withdrawals in £ terms are adjusted for inflation, regardless of the outstanding balance in future years. So, in reality the actually current withdrawal rate in percentage terms will change from year to year as the outstanding balance and annual withdrawal changes. But the real withdrawal in £ terms remains the same as the income in the first year!

The two charts below show the nominal (left) and … More →

Busting the myth of ‘U-shaped’ retirement spending

Busting the myth of ‘U-shaped’ retirement spending

If I had a pound for every time someone in financial services talks about spending in retirement as being ‘U-shaped’, I’ll probably have enough money by now to never have to work again!U Shape-Retirement-Expenditure-Graph

You’ve probably seen this image on spending needs in retirement before. It’s a rather commonly held view (see this, this and this) that most people spend more early in retirement, when they’re active and keen to enjoy their new-found freedom. Then they go into a less active stage where spending declines, only for it to pick up dramatically in later life due to care costs.… More →

Natural yield: a totally bonkers retirement income strategy

Natural yield: a totally bonkers retirement income strategy

One of the most common questions I receive about retirement income planning is, how realistic is the idea of relying on natural yield in one’s portfolio to meet retirement income needs. The rational is that by relying on the natural yield from their portfolio, retirees can avoid drawing on their capital or selling fund units, thereby avoiding the dangers of sequence risk.

The natural yield approach contrasts with the total return approach, which essentially ignores the difference between capital growth and dividends, and instead seeks to draw income from both in a sustainable way.

The natural yield approach is bandied … More →

It ain’t volatility, stupid!

It ain’t volatility, stupid!

“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so’  – Mark Twain

The movie Big Short opens with above quote, which sums up the danger of thinking you know something that isn’t actually true. There’s only one problem. There’s little evidence that Mark Twain actually said or wrote those words, which makes the irony all the more powerful.

The point is, many practices in financial services just aren’t supported by actual observed data on how investment markets work. (Which makes you wonder, where do they come from? But … More →

Technically buggered: historical evidence of sequence risk in retirement portfolios

Technically buggered: historical evidence of sequence risk in retirement portfolios

I know, I know. I’ve been banging on about the subject for some time now…  well, ehr…  since George Osborne uttered these seemingly harmless words ‘No caps. No drawdown limits. Let me be clear. No one will have to buy an annuity.”

And the reason I keep banging on about it is because sequence risk is perhaps the most significant risk for those looking to generate a lifetime income from a pension drawdown pot.

Sequence risk is the risk that the order of investment returns is going to be unfavourable. This risk exists at accumulation stage but it’s amplified … More →

Nobody Knows Sh**

Nobody Knows Sh**

When the now famous RBS analyst cried ‘sell everything’ in January 2016, it was apparent the intent was to grab attention. And grab attention it did. It was echoed by the financial press. Never mind that it was downright reckless for any investor to do so.

As it turns out, 2016 was a good year for mainstream asset classes. It was difficult not to have made money, even if you tried. Even gilts posted double digit returns again. Gilts!!!

It was difficult not to have made money in 2016, even if you tried. Click To Tweet

Asset Class Performance 2016Basically, everythingMore →