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People worried about market volatility in retirement should consider whole life, report finds

Insurance Forums Staff

Not having enough assets to generate income in retirement or losing assets because of market downturns are common concerns of those preparing for retirement, but whole life insurance as part of a solid retirement strategy can do more to alleviate those issues than many people might think, a recent report shows.

A recent report, “Integrating Whole Life Insurance into a Retirement Income Plan: Emphasis on Cash Value as a Volatility Buffer Asset,” by Wade D. Pfau, Ph.D., CFA, and Michael Finke, Ph.D., CFP, considers several asset scenarios of people preparing for retirement.

In each case, scenarios including cash value of life insurance policies result in more income for retirees down the road than scenarios that don’t include whole life insurance.

“This report shows that using insurance with other investments can really lay the foundation for better outcomes in retirement,” said Pfau, professor of retirement income at The American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pa. “We often hear that we don’t need life insurance in retirement because we have investments, but this research shows it’s harder for the market to beat a strategy with both life insurance and investments.”

One scenario in which life insurance can pave the way for a greater income during retirement than investments alone is by using the cash value of life insurance as a source of income in years with market downturns. This “volatility buffer” scenario uses a policy’s cash value to draw as income in the year following a market downturn, rather than deplete retirement assets faster than expected because of lower-than-anticipated investment returns.

“Most people know that whole life insurance can protect a legacy and provides for those left behind when someone dies,” said Chris Coudret, vice president, strategy and business development, OneAmerica. “But we also know that people find peace of mind in the guaranteed cash value that whole life, or permanent, insurance can provide. This report demonstrates that cash value can also help mitigate inherent market risks in an investment-based retirement strategy.”

An advantage of life insurance as part of a retirement strategy is that it provides guarantees that market-based investments can’t, said the report’s co-author.

“I prefer to incorporate life insurance cash value into an overall investment portfolio as part of a retiree’s bond allocation,” said Finke, dean and chief academic officer at The American College of Financial Services, which has helped financial services professionals realize their career goals through rigorous and practical education since 1927. “One important advantage of cash value over a traditional bond mutual fund portfolio is the protection against a decline in value if interest rates rise.”

Financial professionals can obtain the full report by contacting Tammy Lieber at [email protected].



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