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How to invest the retirement corpus

How to Invest the Retirement Corpus? | 3 Step Investment Strategy for an Indian Retiree

Portfolio : A collection of investments owned by the same individual or organization.

Will : legal declaration of how a person wish his/her possession to be disposed after their death

Fund : An amount of money saved or collected for a particular purpose

A set of assets which an investor holds. This may contain equities, mutual funds, insurance and other cash equivalents.

It is the raise in the value of Consumer Price Index. That is the rate of increase of the price of a goods or services.

“Retirement is when you Stop living at Work and Start working at Living”. If you are already retired or close to retirement, you need to find a way of generating revenue without the need to work. The only way to earn without work is to invest your money in something that works.

There are several mandatory obligations to be satisfied with your retirement corpus. You must create an emergency fund in the first place, and then you have your day-to-day expenses, and after, all these commitments your personal desires which give the satisfaction of living.

Table of Content

Retirement life is a beautiful time to relax with peace of mind. But today, peace comes with a price. This article will unveil you about how to invest the retirement corpus in a customized way to suit your unique requirements.

But wait! What is the need for customization, when you can get a guaranteed regular income from a fixed-income scheme at the highest rate of 8% per annum?!

This article is not just about blindly showing you the ‘where’ but about educating you on ‘how’. If you can’t find a justification, we hope it is mandatory for us to enlighten you about the downsides of such investments first.

The common advice & common mistake

Retirement
A common advice that comes along with the retirement corpus is to invest the full corpus in a safe fixed-income scheme. The common mistake is taking that common advice, because when you invest the full corpus in a fixed-income scheme, you are ignoring the serious effects of inflation which is an invisible problem.

To better understand about retirement let’s take a common example throughout this article, Ajay and his retirement corpus of 1 Crore.

Ajay believes that a fixed income investment is the safe place for his hard earned money and puts it in a fixed income scheme which pays the highest interest of 8% per annum. The amount accumulated in a year will be 1.08 Crore.

Ajay takes out the interest of 8 Lakh and handles his expense for the first year after retirement. But within a few years, Ajay will not be able to compensate for his day-to-day needs with the 8 Lakh interest due to the inflation rate which is at 4% now.

If Ajay begins using the full interest for his expense it would become a habit, and eventually, the habit will turn into his lifestyle. Naturally, he would want to maintain his lifestyle and he might begin to withdraw from his capital in addition to the generated interest. To elaborate on the effect of inflation in detail look at the table below,

YearCorpus size on the beginning of the yearInterest Gained (8%)Inflation rate (in %)Rise of expense due to inflationAmount extra neededCorpus size on end of the year
11,00,00,0008,00,0004%001,00,00,000
21,00,00,0008,00,0004%8,32,00032,00099,68,000
399,68,0007,97,4404%8,65,28067,84099,00,160
499,00,1607,92,0134%8,99,8911,07,87897,92,282
597,92,2827,83,3834%9,35,8871,52,50496,39,777
696,39,7777,71,1824%9,73,3222,02,14094,37,637
794,37,6377,55,0114%10,12,2552,57,24491,80,393

Over a period of 7 years, due to inflation, he would need around 2.5 Lakh more than the interest from his corpus, to maintain his lifestyle!

So he will obviously be forced to withdraw money from his capital of 1 crore for compensating the inflation, which will reduce the return of next year which is again not sufficient and consequently break down the capital more and more. If he withdraws from the capital like this, he may end up outliving his retirement money.

To avoid such an unfortunate event like the one happened to Ajay, you have to preserve the real value of your capital and consume only what your investment earns over and above the inflation rate, which means you need to generate revenue for your expense plus the inflation rate.

One message that is clearly conveyed through this example is that you should not simply invest your full corpus in a fixed-income scheme for your living. Thus, it is preferable to create your own investment portfolio that is flexible as per your requirements.

How to create your own investment portfolio?

Our after retirement investment strategy is built in 3 basic steps. They are,

  • Configuring the Retirement corpus
  • Building a Retirement Portfolio
  • Conservative withdrawal

Now let’s begin to work out on your personalised retirement portfolio in detail.

Step 1: Configuring The Retirement Corpus


You must have come across many hardships to consistently build & protect your retirement corpus during your employment. Now is the time to consolidate all your retirement schemes and measure the full weight of your retirement corpus to create your retirement foundation.

Full size of your retirement corpus should be known before even beginning to draw your plan. Regardless of the order of priority, we need two more important figures to sketch a strong configuration for your retirement. Your life-expectancy and expense estimate.

The outline of our plan is like this. Your retirement corpus should be configured to produce a regular income to manage your essential & discretionary expense until or over your life-expectancy.

The retirement corpus configuration involves three stages –

  • Consolidating the retirement corpus
  • Estimating life-expectancy
  • Estimating Regular expenses

We will discuss in detail about how these pillars support your retirement.

Consolidating the full retirement corpus

Consolidating the corpus is the foremost work to do as discussed before. We can categorise the platforms for retirement savings into two,

    1. Employer-sponsored retirement funds
    2. Self-made retirement funds

The employer-sponsored retirement fund is partly contributed by both the employer and the employee like gratuity and provident fund. The self-made retirement funds are those you create for your retirement like shares, fixed deposits and other retirement policies.

Also, retirement is the right time to recollect the money that you’ve lent to friends/relatives.

You might be holding some investments that are underperforming for a long time like a real-estate property you bought in the outskirts. If you feel like it is right to liquidate such assets, then you can sell them and add the money to your retirement corpus.

Download the Retirement Corpus Reliability Checker for free here.

Once you reach the full size of your retirement corpus, the next task is to estimate your life expectancy.

Estimating life-expectancy:

Estimating your life-expectancy is an important factor to take into account while planning your retirement.

A person retired at the age of 60 or 65 is likely to live until 80 – 90 years or even more, with all the modern medical facilities available today.

Who would say no, if given a chance to live for an extra 5 years? Everyone would take it, wouldn’t you?

So you need a retirement plan to generate income for longevity.

Note: Don’t forget to take into account the life expectancy of your spouse or other dependents. In short – plan for a long retirement.

Estimating Regular Expense

Regular expense planning should be done with the maximum accuracy possible. Visualize your post-retirement lifestyle in mind first and then pen down your expenses from it.

You might miss some expenses in a rush, so spend at least a month of time to precisely estimate your expenses.

For your ease of estimating, categorise your expenses into daily, monthly, and yearly expenses. The daily expense includes food, transportation, etc. The monthly expense includes house rent, electricity bill, and etc. The yearly expense includes your car insurance, family vacation and things like that. In the end, sum up all the expenses to get the net annual expense value. Download the Expense Calculator for free here.

An extra 5 – 10% of the estimated expense can be added to it as a precaution.

Apart from your living expenses, it is highly recommended for retired individuals to hold Health Insurance and an Emergency Fund. A good financial planner should always expect the unexpected and be prepared for it.

Health Insurance:

In case of an unfortunate medical complaint you would be forced to break the retirement corpus. It can potentially reduce the size of your corpus which will reduce your returns simultaneously. Mostly health issues are unpredictable and now with health insurance, you have one less problem. So you must have a Health insurance plan that covers all of your family members.

Emergency Fund:

Can you predict your car breakdown in advance? Or do you know when surprise travel would call for? These are such little unexpected expenses that can alter your expense estimation. So, you must always have 4 to 6 months of expense in case of an unexpected event or expense. This fund should preferably be in the form of cash-equivalents like Liquid fund that provides high liquidity and high returns than a bank savings account.

We’re done with configuring your retirement corpus, and now time to start building your portfolio.

Step 2: Building Your Retirement Portfolio

Your risk tolerance capacity and return requirements are the important factors to consider while building a retirement investment portfolio.

I hope you remember the story of Ajay we discussed a while ago which justifies why you should not invest your full corpus in a fixed-income. What can you do to earn more income in a more safe and organised way? Go ahead, read.

Set your priority

You can create a list of the possible issues a retiree could face, and then prioritize the issues based on your expense requirements and risk-taking ability.

I’ve mentioned the general set of problems a retiree might face and prioritised it from a commoner perspective.

  • The first problem is you are not going to get a salary in the retirement life. You cannot spend for your daily needs from the retirement corpus. So you have to generate a regular income through the retirement corpus to pay for your regular expense.
  • The second problem is to protect your retirement corpus money. If you do not have any other assets to generate income, then you only have the retirement corpus for the rest of your life. There are many fraudsters who can trick you by promote schemes with high returns and loot your lifetime saving. You must be very careful of such attempts and secure your corpus through a safe investment like fixed-income.
  • The third problem is inflation, which is typically out of sight. After finding a way to generate a regular income for your daily expense, you need to find a way to defeat inflation. Even if your lifestyle hasn’t changed and got adapted to your regular income, it will not be sufficient in a few years because of inflation. So a corpus growth technique should also be implemented. You can also use it for your discretionary expenses.
  • To address these major problems for a retiree, we have designed a three-phase retirement portfolio that is shortly listed as,

      i. Income Generation in Retirement
      ii. Retirement Corpus Protection
      iii. Retirement Corpus Growth

    These are the major purposes of using the corpus, but all of them cannot be given equal priority. The level of priority given to a particular purpose varies depending upon the retiree’s financial conditions/requirements and risk taking capacity.

    i) Income Generation in Retirement:

    You have already estimated your expenses while creating the foundation. Now we have to create a regular income which should equate to your estimated expense. Essential expenses cannot be compromised at any cost and so it is highly recommended to invest the income generation funds (the sum of money specially allocated to generate a regular income) in a risk-free investment like debt.

    For example, we will take Ajay and his 1 crore retirement corpus. Assume that his net annual expense is 6 Lakh which is 6% of the corpus. It is easy to generate 8% return from the corpus through a fixed-income itself.

    We have handpicked some of the most preferred & standard fixed-income plans with satisfactory return and safety to the capital. Like all other things, they also have their plus and minus. We’ve attempted to cover all of them and tabulated it with the key features.

    FIXED INCOME SCHEMELIC Varishtha Pension Bima YojanaFixed DepositSenior Citizen Savings SchemePost office Time DepositDebt mutual funds
    Rate of interest8%6 – 8%8.5%7 – 8%7 – 8%
    Investment tenure15 years7 days – 10 years1 – 5 years1 – 5 years91 days – 5 years
    Lock-in period15 yearsSame as tenure5 yearsSame as tenureSame as tenure
    Minimum investmentRs 63,960Rs 1000Rs 1000Rs 200Rs 500
    Maximum investmentRs 6,39,610Rs 15,00,000Rs 15,00,000
    Penalty on premature withdrawal2%Interest rate is reduced by 1% from the original1-1.5%According to the scheme1 – 3%
    Tax statusTaxable for income generatedTaxable for income more than 3 lakhTaxable for income more than 1.5 lakhTaxable for income more than 50,00020% for >3years.
    As per slab for <3years
    RecommendationCan be consideredCan be avoidedCan be consideredCan be avoidedCan be considered

    The above table clearly explains that it is better to distribute your retirement savings in LIC Varishtha Pension Bima Yojana, Senior Citizens Savings Scheme & Debt Mutual Funds.

    With that, you have an investment to generate a regular income for your essential expenses and now we will discuss the necessity of securing the corpus.

    ii) Securing the Retirement Corpus:

    Your retirement corpus is the only thing that makes up for your living. So remember you should never risk your living for a little extra return.

    There are a bunch of stories of financial frauds which teach us many lessons. One such crucial lesson is not to fall for the trap of high returns. Since you are a retiree, people around you know that you have a big piece of retirement corpus and would try to drain your brain with suggestions like a hot business idea, share market, and other investment options promising huge returns. You should be very much aware of the consequences of any financial decision you make in retirement life.

    A fixed-income scheme is the only option that could give you steady returns for your living for the predefined amount of time. Don’t compromise your corpus safety for a little money.

    But we also know from the story of Ajay that you cannot invest your full corpus in a fixed-income which will defeat the purchasing power of your money.

    So, where should you invest the retirement corpus?

    You should split your retirement corpus into two pieces, and allocate one big piece to fixed-income and the other small piece to equity.

    So we will use a mix of fixed-income and equity investment in an optimal ratio to protect the real value of your corpus. Research says that the optimal ratio to secure the corpus while still in a safe zone is 70% allocation to fixed-income and 30% allocation to equity.

    The 70:30 (debt: equity) ratio is considered as the minimal risk ratio of investment to fight inflation.
    Equity investments have higher fluctuation/risk in the returns, but when you see the average return they produce, the fluctuations are easily smoothed out in a long-term. The returns are truly unmatched by any investment in the long-term.

    iii) Retirement Corpus Growth:

    The main purpose of corpus growth is to compensate for the downfall of the purchasing power of your retirement money due to inflation. The gains from equity will be added to your capital investment in fixed-income which will increase the size of your corpus.

    For better understanding, we will see how this ideology works for our friend Ajay and his 1 crore retirement corpus.

    As per the optimal ratio to protect the corpus against inflation, we will allot 70% (70 Lakh) of Ajay’s retirement corpus to a fixed-deposit scheme which can produce 8% interest, i.e. 5.6 Lakh per year.

    The balance 30% (30 Lakh) in Ajay’s retirement corpus should be invested in equity. After a period of 5 years with approximately 12% return, your 30 Lakh would have become 50 Lakh, i.e. the earning would be 20 Lakh.

    Now, we will take the gain of 20 Lakh from equity and drop it in your fixed-deposit scheme and leave the 30 Lakh in equity itself. Now the size of Ajay’s capital investment in fixed-deposit will become 90 Lakh. Simultaneously it raises Ajay’s annual income from 5.6 Lakh to 7.6 Lakh.

    This way, his corpus size will grow in-line with inflation while being conservative at the same time.

    Apart from the funds allocated to equity for corpus growth, a small portion of the corpus can be allotted to equity for discretionary expenses of the investor. You will thank yourself in the long term for choosing equity as your back-up.

    I hope you got the picture of how the corpus grows. The next step is about withdrawing your returns.

    STEP 3: Conservative Withdrawal

    The way of withdrawing your income can also affect your finances. It is something that must be planned in advance. Financial analysts have found the most efficient way of withdrawal for retirees without affecting the actual size of the capital.

    It is advisable to withdraw your returns annually for your essential expenses from the fixed-income scheme. Begin to withdraw only 4 – 5% of the capital, from the next year you can increase the withdrawal amount to 5% of the previous year’s return.

    In the case of Ajay and his 1 crore retirement corpus, the retirement portfolio has a fixed-income allocation of 70 Lakh. The first year of withdrawal should be within 5% i.e. 3.5 Lakh. By the next year, you can withdraw an extra 5% of the 3.5 Lakh which is around 3.7 Lakh. You can repeat this every year and keep increasing your withdrawal rate.

    Also, you should watch out yourself from withdrawing more than 6% of the capital at any time in a year. Because this can affect the actual size of your capital and reduce your income. Precaution is better than cure.

    Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWP)

    Is offered by Mutual fund companies gives you a more convenient and profitable way of withdrawal. It is typically designed to favour retired investors in mutual funds. It provides a convenient withdrawal option in weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual basis.

    Market value might rise and fall consequently over the years. Just as a precautious reason, you should take into account the effects of market fluctuations when deciding the amount of withdrawal. But moreover, during years of strong performance in the market, the appreciation in your capital will build sufficient backup to smooth out the variations in return.

    Key takeaways

    A good retirement plan would have these key points. Make sure you don’t miss any of these while investing for retirement.

    • Accommodate longevity in your retirement plan. At least for a minimum of 30 years.
    • Remember – Inflation is a serious problem.
    • Allocate 4 -6 months of expense as Emergency Fund.
    • Invest 70% to fixed income for expenses.
    • Invest 30% to equity for growth.
    • Withdraw in a conservative manner.

    Conclusion

    The happiest thing about retirement is that you have a 7 days weekend. To enjoy the days with financial freedom, you must pick a smart investment option. A good retirement plan should cover these two crucial objectives.

    Primarily, it must generate a regular income from the corpus and then the corpus itself should be encouraged to grow. The hitch in accomplishing the objective is inflation. The pesticide to kill inflation is none other than, equity.

    Avoiding equity in retirement is really not a wise choice. A minimum percentage of exposure to equity will be your helping hand.

    I believe that with age, comes wisdom and now the ball is on your side. The time has come to play your life the way you want.

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