Target date funds are one of the most popular investment options in retirement plans, especially within 401k plans. Target date funds, also known as life-cycle or age-based funds, are funds (generally a mutual fund) that makes an investor’s asset allocation more conservative as they get closer to a target date or age. For example, let’s say that you’re 40 years old and investing for retirement. You might choose a target date fund that is invested 60% in stocks and 40% in bonds with the idea that as you get closer to your target date (let’s say age 65) the fund will become more conservative by buying more fixed income investments and less equity investments. If the target date fund was held inside of a 401k, and this was your only account you had for retirement then this could be a feasible idea. However, if you are relying on other accounts outside of your 401k, then this strategy could be detrimental to your retirement plan and long term wealth accumulation.
Here’s why: Target date funds, by their very nature, assume that you’re an average risk investor and invest accordingly. This means putting 100% of all investors into one fund and making allocations based on the age range the fund is for. The problem with this strategy is that everyone’s financial situation is different. For example, two 40 year old individuals saving for retirement may have very different situations. One may only be investing in their 401k for retirement because paying for children’s education is the main goal, and the other may not have any kids, and all savings is geared towards retirement, meaning they can retire much sooner. These two individuals should have very different investment strategies. This means that putting everyone into one target-date fund is perfect for no one. Your asset allocation and investment strategy should be specific to your family’s goals and should take your entire balance sheet into consideration.
One of the biggest problems that can occur with target date funds is in the distribution phase just as you are retiring. When selling assets to create income in retirement, being able to strategically pick and choose which funds are sold can help navigate market conditions so that selling at a loss is limited or avoided altogether. If you have a properly asset allocated portfolio with multiple funds, for example, you could sell a fixed income fund if the large cap asset class was operating at a loss to avoid selling at a loss. With a target date fund, the fund manager will sell a piece of each investment within the fund, rather than choosing to sell only what is operating at a positive return.
Other issues that occur are with tax loss harvesting, asset location, rebalancing, and many other essential planning strategies.
Equilibrium Wealth Advisors is a registered investment advisor. The contents of this article are for educational purposes only and do not represent investment advice.
Stock markets are volatile, and the prices of equity securities fluctuate based on changes in a company’s financial condition and overall market and economic conditions. Although common stocks have historically generated higher average total returns than fixed-income securities over the long-term, common stocks also have experienced significantly more volatility in those returns and, in certain periods, have significantly underperformed relative to fixed-income securities. An adverse event, such as an unfavorable earnings report, may depress the value of a particular common stock held by the Fund. A common stock may also decline due to factors which affect a particular industry or industries, such as labor shortages or increased production costs and competitive conditions within an industry. For dividend-paying stocks, dividends are not guaranteed and may decrease without notice.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The change in investment value reflects the appreciation or depreciation due to price changes, plus any distributions and income earned during the report period, less any transaction costs, sales charges, or fees. Gain/loss and holding period information may not reflect adjustments required for tax reporting purposes. You should verify such information when calculating reportable gain or loss.
This content has been prepared for general information purposes only and is intended to provide a summary of the subject matter covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to give advice. The views expressed are the views of the writer at the time of issue and may change over time. This is not an offer document, and does not constitute an offer, invitation, investment advice or inducement to distribute or purchase securities, shares, units or other interests or to enter into an investment agreement. No person should rely on the content and/or act on the basis of any matter contained in this document. The tax and estate planning information provided is general in nature. It is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. Always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation.
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* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* The risk of loss in trading commodities and futures can be substantial. You should therefore carefully consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial condition. The high degree of leverage is often obtainable in commodity trading and can work against you as well as for you. The use of leverage can lead to large losses as well as gains.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
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