What is the Retirement Red Zone?
The “Retirement Red Zone” is the period of time that spans the last five working years and first five years into retirement. It can be a particularly fragile period of time because investors in this phase of their lives are vulnerable to sequence of returns risk. Most of our clients are right in the middle of this time span. 

Retirement is a time when individuals should be able to enjoy the fruits of their labor and live a financially secure and stress-free life. However, a significant threat to retirement income lies in the sequence of returns risk. This risk refers to the timing of investment returns, and it can have a profound impact on retirees’ financial well-being.  

Understanding Sequence of Returns Risk 
Sequence of returns risk refers to the risk of experiencing poor investment returns early in retirement. The order in which investment returns occur can significantly impact the value of a retiree’s investment portfolio and the sustainability of their retirement income. If negative returns are encountered during the initial years of retirement, the impact can be far more detrimental compared to experiencing them during the later years. 

The Consequences of Sequence of Returns Risk 
Premature Depletion of Retirement Savings: Negative returns early in retirement, coupled with ongoing withdrawals to meet living expenses, can quickly erode the value of a retiree’s investment portfolio. This depletion may lead to a situation where retirees outlive their savings, forcing them to make significant lifestyle adjustments or rely on others for financial support. Increased Dependency on Investment Returns: Many retirees depend on investment returns to supplement their retirement income. Poor returns early in retirement can create a situation where the portfolio’s growth potential is compromised. This increases the reliance on subsequent, potentially better-performing years to recover from the losses incurred. If the recovery doesn’t happen as expected, it can significantly impact the retiree’s long-term financial security. Psychological Impact: Financial stress during retirement can take a toll on retirees’ emotional and psychological well-being. The fear of running out of money or the need to make drastic lifestyle changes due to poor investment returns can cause anxiety, stress, and a diminished sense of financial freedom. Avoiding sequence of returns risk helps alleviate these concerns and provides retirees with greater peace of mind. 

Mitigating Sequence of Returns Risk 
Diversification and Asset Allocation: A well-diversified investment portfolio can help reduce the impact of poor returns in any particular asset class. By spreading investments across different asset classes, such as stocks, treasuries, fixed and fixed indexed annuities, real estate, and cash, retirees can decrease their exposure to a single market’s performance. Strategic asset allocation aligns investments with retirement goals, risk tolerance, and time horizons. Dynamic Withdrawal Strategies: Instead of relying on fixed withdrawal amounts, retirees can adopt flexible withdrawal strategies that adjust based on market conditions and portfolio performance. This approach allows for a more sustainable income stream during periods of poor returns and helps preserve the longevity of the portfolio. Professional Financial Advice: Seeking guidance from qualified fiduciary retirement planners whose expertise is in retirement planning can provide invaluable insights and strategies to navigate sequence of returns risk. Phase 1 accumulation based advisors will just tell you to follow the 4% rule and that everything will work out in the end.  At Abich Financial we help our clients develop customized retirement income plans that take into account their unique circumstances, goals, and risk tolerance. Planning for Contingencies: Including contingencies in retirement planning can act as a buffer against sequence of returns risk. This may involve building an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses or considering insurance products that provide guaranteed income, such as annuities. These measures provide additional layers of protection against market volatility. 

Avoiding or eliminating sequence of returns risk, especially in the “retirement red zone” is crucial for retirees who aspire to enjoy a financially secure and worry-free retirement. By understanding the consequences of this risk and implementing effective strategies, retirees can mitigate the potential negative impacts on their investment portfolios and retirement income. Diversification, asset allocation, flexible withdrawal strategies, and seeking professional advice are all important steps towards safeguarding a retirement plan from the volatility, and the ups and the downs of the stock market.   
If you are concerned about being in the “Retirement Red Zone” and not having a proper retirement plan to weather recessions, high inflation and market downturns, give our office a call or reply to this email to setup a time to speak with our advisory team. (571) 577-9968

As always, any and all questions are welcome. We are here for you. 
All our best,
Abe Abich & the Abich Financial Team