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Advisors are constantly looking for the latest tools that can help them manage their practice more efficiently without giving up returns in exchange. With the rapid developments in model portfolios, the technology is finally there to deliver the aforementioned goals in a timely manner. 


Utilizing these models helps advisors draw on institutional expertise while still customizing to address each client's unique needs, ensuring a consistent experience for all clients. This strategy combines the benefits of professional research with the advisor’s ability to manage and optimize portfolios, facilitating both improved performance and efficient firm scaling. 


By employing technology for asset research and replacement, advisors can integrate customization, allowing them to dedicate more time to client relationships and business growth.

Finsum: This efficiency gained by streamlining portfolio construction allows advisors to improve their relationships with clients. 

Saturday, 18 May 2024 12:55

Is the 4% Rule Still Relevant?

The 4% rule has become conventional wisdom when it comes to managing finances during retirement. As millions of people enter retirement over the next decade, it may be time to revise this rule, given higher inflation and longer lifespans.

Social Security benefits are typically equivalent to 40% of a retiree’s income. According to TIAA, retirees should consider pairing the 4% rule with an annuity to generate higher levels of income during retirement. This means that a retiree would convert some portion of their savings into an annuity.

In the first year, this is likely to boost income by up to 32% compared to just using the 4% rule. It also leads to more predictable income and shields retirees from market risk. More predictability can also help with more effective financial planning, leading to a more enjoyable retirement. 

Treasury Inflation Protection Securities (TIPS) are another method to increase guaranteed income, especially with a ladder across different maturities. It also protects retirees against inflation. 

Overall, the 4% rule should be reconsidered, especially in this era. It leads to less spending flexibility and should be augmented with other sources of income. It also doesn’t account for retirees’ individual circumstances, such as tax rates, risk profiles, and cash flow needs. 

Finsum: TIAA believes that the 4% rule should be reconsidered, especially for those retiring now. Retirees may need more income and should consider annuities or TIPS.

Saturday, 18 May 2024 12:54

Fixed Income ETF Flows Pick Up in April

April was marked by a mean reversion as robust inflation data and continued economic resilience dampened expectations of Fed dovishness later this year. As a result, flows into equity ETFs dropped from $106 billion in March to $41 billion in April. 

In contrast, flows surged into fixed income ETFs, increasing more than 60% to $27.4 billion. Lower-risk government bond ETFs attracted the most inflows at $10.1 billion, which was the highest since October of last year. Within the category, short and intermediate-term Treasuries captured the most inflows. 

In the US, flows into fixed-income ETFs were greater than equity ETF flows, at $15.2 billion vs. $14.1 billion. Scott Chronert, the global head of ETF research at Citi, noted “US-listed ETF flows decelerated this month against a generally risk-off backdrop. Underlying trends also pointed to more cautious positioning. Fixed income led all asset classes, but the gains were skewed towards core products, shorter durations, and Treasuries.”

Until something material changes in regard to inflation or the economy, it’s likely that investors will continue to favor ETFs that benefit from short-term rates remaining higher for longer. 

Finsum: Fixed income inflows into ETFs sharply increased in April, while equity inflows declined. This was a downstream effect of reduced expectations of Fed rate cuts in the second half of the year due to an uptick in inflation.

The U.S. Treasury Department is seeking to curtail the use of bespoke life insurance policies and annuities by wealthy individuals and families to minimize their tax obligations. The proposal is called "Limit Tax Benefits for Private Placement Life Insurance and Similar Contracts" is part of the fiscal year 2025 "Greenbook"


This proposal aims to reduce the tax advantages associated with private placement life insurance, private placement annuities, and certain variable life and annuity contracts. While few Greenbook proposals are enacted into law swiftly, their inclusion can significantly influence financial services lobbyists and advisors over time.


Issued annually as part of the president's budget proposal, the Greenbook has previously suggested limiting business-owned life insurance and similar arrangements. The new measure could potentially raise $140 million in 2025 and $6.9 billion from 2025 to 2034. Designed for high-net-worth individuals, private placement life insurance and annuities allow customization of benefits and investments, often to gain tax benefits rather than to offer mortality or longevity protection.

Finsum: This proposal could take years to come into law, if it even ever happens, but the landscape could get more progressive if Biden is re-elected. 

Investors are finding increasingly innovative ways to invest in private markets and interval funds are one of the latest trends developing in this area. Interval funds enable individual investors to commit to strategies that invest directly in private markets, while listed private equity ETFs invest in public firms offering private-market strategies. 


There has been a spike in interest for alternatives and uncorrelated assets, benefiting interval funds. High-net-worth investors now have access to private capital managers previously exclusive to pension funds and sovereign wealth funds, but accessing and managing the required capital remains a challenge. Private-market funds, including variously named private market access and opportunity funds, address this need and saw significant growth with 11 new products launched in 2022, a trend continuing in 2023. 


Although these funds offer unique advantages like access and diversification, they come with high costs, potential liquidity issues, and commitment periods that can lock up capital, necessitating careful consideration by investors.

Finsum: Liquidity lock up should be highly considered for these types of alts, and the current high rate environment can exacerbate this problem. 

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