market dynamics

Market Dynamics Challenging Traditional Strategies

After 30 years of little to no innovation in retirement income strategies in Australia, the new world is looking positively different. And not before time: market instability in all asset classes through 2022 and continued share market volatility in 2023 is challenging traditional retirement income strategies.

Traditional strategies whereby retirees typically invest in growth assets as a major defence against longevity risk were effective in the recent past. The longest bull market in US history lasted almost exactly 11 years, coming to an end in 2020. Across that period, the S&P 500 index delivered gains of more than 400% and Australian superannuation and retirement funds experienced a similar bull market run. For that halcyon time, Australian account-based pensions with a balanced or growth investment delivered strong returns to retirees, mitigating the risk of them outliving their pension balances.

However, alongside death and taxes, another certainty is that prolonged periods of growth in financial markets are cyclical and will come to an end. The unknown here is the timing of that end, the degree of volatility that accompanies it and the duration of the bear market that follows.

The end of the most recent bull market saw heavy falls on stock and bond markets, with many super funds posting negative returns in the year to 30 June 2022. Retirees in account-based pensions were exposed to these markets, and many experienced losses across both their growth and defensive allocations.

Not only have financial markets impacted Australia’s retirees, so has the seismic shift in the inflation and interest rate environments. In 2022, the sharpest rise in inflation since the 1990s has eaten into retirees’ standard of living as their income failed to keep pace with price rises. In an effort to contain inflation, the RBA has instigated twelve consecutive rises in the cash rate, with the RBA expecting that further tightening of monetary policy will be required.

A prolonged period of low interest rates made traditional longevity products, primarily annuities, appear relatively unattractive over the last decade. Not surprisingly, retirees and their advisers were unwilling to lock in a low return on products supported by fixed-interest style investments and forgo the strong returns they could earn from growth investments.

The shift to a higher interest rate environment has changed this and provides opportunities to lock in more attractive returns. However, despite the rate rise – the ongoing rhetoric suggesting a longer term focus on lower rates – does not make annuities as attractive as they once were.

The challenging market conditions in 2022 and prospect for modest investment returns has left retirees and their advisers seeking alternative ways to secure capital, deliver income certainty and manage longevity risk.

Next Generation Retirement Solutions

While no one retirement is the same and retirees’ needs can differ substantially, this cohort has a major problem in common: the need for certainty and flexibility around the income they have to spend in retirement.

Experience in market downturns has shown that volatile markets have a larger psychological impact on retirees than any other investors. This can lead to hyper loss aversion, where retirees move to very conversative asset allocations. It can also result in retirees minimising their expenditure for fear of outliving their diminished retirement savings, emphasising the need for product innovation.

In an ideal world, advisers could access a solution that grows their clients’ retirement savings while reducing or limiting investment risk and secure the certainty of a stable and sustainable guaranteed income for life. This could transform retirement and alleviate the worry about tomorrow’s ‘what ifs’ – market volatility, inflation, or whether they’ll have enough money to meet their future needs. Loss aversion would be consigned to the past.

Unlike a traditional retirement strategy, a truly next generation strategy should:
• Offer a lifetime income stream, guaranteed for life
• Provide regular income payments that are guaranteed to never decrease
• Utilise strategies that offer exposure to market growth returns with downside protection
• Provide flexibility to access savings when needed

Allianz Guaranteed Income for Life (AGILE) is a next generation retirement income solution. AGILE comprises two key stages – the Growth Phase and the Lifetime Income Phase – and provides clients with the confidence and flexibility they need to plan for and thrive in retirement.

Its protected investment options provide your clients with exposure to market-linked returns (up to a maximum return) and gives clients the opportunity to safely grow their investment value before turning on their guaranteed lifetime income stream at a time of their choosing after the first three years of investment*.
Their lifetime income rate increases each year they delay commencing their lifetime income. Generally, the earlier they invest and the longer they remain invested in the Growth Phase, the higher their guaranteed lifetime income rate*.

And, because circumstances change and life is full of unknowns, their investment value is accessible at any time**. Most importantly, this next generation solution provides your clients with flexibility and certainty, so they can make the most of their retirement. After all, following a lifetime of work, paid and unpaid, they deserve to enjoy a worry free retirement.

To find out more about AGILE, please click here

T* Terms and conditions apply, see PDS for full information.
** Withdrawals in the first 10 years may be subject to a market value adjustment. See the PDS for further details.
This material is issued by Allianz Australia Life Insurance Limited, ABN 27 076 033 782, AFSL 296559 (Allianz Retire+). Allianz Retire+ is a registered business name of Allianz Australia Life Insurance Limited.
This information is current as at June 2023 unless otherwise specified and contains the current views of Allianz Retire+ which may change in future. This is for general information purposes only and is not comprehensive or intended to give financial product advice. Any advice provided in this material does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything contained in this material, you should speak to your financial adviser and consider the appropriateness of the information received, having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs.
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