You saved your pennies and squirreled away $150,000 for retirement. Now, how do you invest the money?
We asked three financial advisers what they believe is the best use of those savings. (For the purposes of this article, they're investing cash.)
Certified financial planner Jocelyn D. Wright, an assistant professor at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, sketched out a scenario for a younger person, say, 45 years old.
Pay off your high-interest debts before investing, Wright urged.
"Paying down debt first makes sense," she said.
Then, she advised, address any cash needs by putting aside a three-month reserve, and invest over a three- to six-month period.
To live comfortably in retirement, Wright said, "$150,000 will not be enough." She advised continuing to save and work, as Social Security should account for 50 percent of income, conservatively.
She generally places clients in a 60-40 stocks-and-bonds allocation, mainly using low-cost exchange-traded funds.
A financial planner who is a fiduciary has an obligation to look at your whole financial picture and not rush you into securities or lock up assets for many years, she said.
"As planners, we can't just do a one-off. We have to look at the big picture," Wright said. "We might not manage all your money, but we are still fiduciaries."
One place to find a fee-only fiduciary financial planner is the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (www.napfa.org).
If you already have an adviser, ask how he or she is compensated, whether you will pay a flat fee or commissions, and whether he or she is reimbursed by sales of certain products. Ask that he or she disclose any conflicts of interest in writing as part of your contract.
Most people "make decisions in isolation," said Dave Littell, professor of taxation at the American College. Instead, "look at your whole balance sheet. If you have a pension or your job's secure, then take more risk in your investments. If you're a salesperson on commission, take less risk. No decision should be made in isolation; it should be part of a plan."
As CEO of Adviser Investments and editor of the Independent Adviser for Vanguard Investors, Dan Wiener publishes a newsletter recommending actively managed mutual funds.
What does Wiener own personally? At age 60, he can tolerate more risk than most of his clients and invests almost exclusively in equities.
For older clients, he invests more conservatively. "Especially if someone is older, the range is 60 percent to 80 percent in equities," he said.
In his individual retirement account, Wiener's personal retirement portfolio includes the following mutual funds:
Fidelity Low-Priced Stock fund (14.4 percent); Vanguard Short-Term Investment Grade (1.9 percent); Fidelity International Growth (13.8 percent); Fidelity Mega Cap Stock (12 percent); Hartford HealthCare (4.1 percent); Primecap Odyssey Aggressive Growth (20.2 percent); Primecap Odyssey Stock (10.1 percent); Vanguard Intermediate-Term Investment-Grade bond fund (5.9 percent), Artisan High Income Fund (3.1 percent); and Vanguard Dividend Growth (14.6 percent). Numbers are not exact due to rounding.
"We think there are better values overseas, so we added to the Fidelity International Growth fund. The manager, Jed Weiss, is exceptional," Wiener said.
He notes that $150,000 is "not enough to retire on. Don't retire. Get a job. Or move in with your kids and be very, very nice."
Gerald Levin, a financial adviser in Huntingdon Valley, said someone with only $150,000 in assets should be extremely careful investing in stocks.
"First, they don't have enough to retire. If that's all they have, I would not put that money in stocks and risk a bear market, where you could lose 20 percent of your assets or more."
Instead, he said, he would invest $50,000 in a Philadelphia Federal Credit Union five-year CD, with a 2.15 percent APY ($10,000 minimum deposit). That compares with the 1.1 percent paid by U.S. Treasury securities with five years left until maturity.
He'd also recommend putting assets in mutual funds he's liked for many years, such as Franklin Mutual Global Discovery Fund (MDISX).
"There are two no-load share classes of Mutual Global Discovery Fund, which only registered investment advisers can buy for their clients, and class R6, which is available in some employer-sponsored retirement accounts," he said. "The other share classes charge sales commissions. Under no circumstances should your readers buy a load mutual fund" that charges a commission.