This article is part of an ongoing initiative from RBC Wealth Management to highlight women-led insights from across the bank. The expertise featured covers a variety of topics and themes, and is in collaboration with the Financial Post, which aims to provide news and analysis in today’s competitive business environment.
This article was originally published in the Financial Post.
In my work with families who are approaching, or already in, retirement, I find one of the biggest rewards is helping them stay on track to achieve their retirement goals when markets get volatile.
We now have the good fortune of enjoying a more extended lifespan, meaning people are living longer into their retirement, which has made retirement planning more important than ever. Guaranteed income streams from defined-benefit pension plans are no longer available to most people and more and more retirees will rely on their investments to supplement the income they need.
After years of building and accumulating wealth, the focus when approaching retirement shifts to the preservation and extension of wealth. That means having a retirement portfolio with the right balance of investments that generate income, preserve capital and provide some long-term growth so the portfolio lasts as long as it needs to.
A big part of investment success is how you manage emotions during market volatility, or how you keep your eye on the big picture. Volatility—the inevitable ups and downs in the financial markets—is a normal part of investing, but keep in mind markets historically recover their losses and go on to achieve new highs over time.
It is an advisor’s job to guide clients through times of volatility and help them stick to their long-term plan to achieve their retirement goals. Here are a few strategies for retirees to consider in a volatile market environment.
1. Stick to your investment strategy when times get turbulent
Formulate a suitable investment strategy, stick to it during bad times and don’t deviate from it during good times. Emotions can drive markets to extreme highs and lows. The latest mania was in the technology sector and was fuelled by ample liquidity and ultra-low interest rates. Market bubbles eventually burst, and it is difficult to know when, so it’s best to not take a speculative mentality when investing or to try to time the markets.
2. Think long-term
Understand that market volatility is normal and maintain a long-term focus. Have a strategy that can help you navigate through a recessionary period by understanding your income requirements from investments. Consider layering your income through a combination of cash reserves, dividends and interest income as well as guaranteed income.
Stocks listed on the benchmark S&P 500 index have been able to grow dividends by six percent per annum since 1960, double the rate of inflation during the same time period. Historically, stocks are more resilient in keeping up with inflation than bonds since bond payments are fixed until maturity.
Depending on your needs, goals and risk profile, growth-oriented investments such as stocks may have an important place in your retirement portfolio because they can help you keep up with inflation and mitigate capital erosion.
There is no one-size-fits-all advice for managing retirement portfolios, but understanding the unique attributes of different investment types and having a defined income strategy can help ease your mind.
3. Communication is key
Develop a deeper appreciation of your investment objectives and remember there are always trade-offs when making investment decisions. Higher return objectives are most often associated with higher risks of uncertainty. But don’t forget to communicate your concerns with your advisors and revisit your retirement plans to better understand how market volatility impacts your objectives.
This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.