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Thursday, 28 September 2023 08:22

Retire? Not when there’s a model to develop

The retiring type?

Yeah, well, not if you’re the retiree who created the Retiree Portfolio Model – an Excel spreadsheet that can be downloaded -- for retirees, according to

Seems as if Forum member BigFoot48, who developed the model, was onto something.

Homing in on a retiree and the lives of their spouse’s, it models their most common financial aspects. That includes pensions, Social Security benefits and living expenses. With that data, a model of their accounts over a period of one to 40 years is used.

With a feature of this model, the user can compare their normal portfolio results with that one includes alternative choices, like performing Roth IRA conversions and selecting alternative Social Security starting ages and benefits, not to mention buying a Single Premium Immediate Annuity.

And talk about visibility. Formulas and results – and that means all of them – can be viewed completely – not to mention the fact that they can be unprotected; paving the way to user customization.

Meantime, monitor the markets, you say? 

Um, among a good chunk of advisors, apparently not.

According to, in the U.S., some of the highest growth advisors are 40% more likely to leverage model portfolios in their practice. And that’s at the cost of monitoring the markets, into which they’re sinking less time.



Active fixed income is one of the fastest growing categories in terms of inflows and new issues. It’s taking market share away from mutual funds and passive fixed income ETFs. Now, Vanguard is adding to its active fixed income ETF lineup with the launch of 2 new active fixed income ETFs for later this year.


The Vanguard Core Bond ETF and Vanguard Core-Plus Bond ETF provide exposure to a diversified portfolio of bonds across sectors, credit quality, and durations. The Core Bond ETF will focus on US securities with small allocations to higher-risk areas like high-yield credit and emerging market debt. The Core-Plus Bond ETF will have greater allocations to riskier parts of the fixed income market. Each has relatively low expenses at 0.10% and 0.20%, respectively.


Each of these has a mutual fund counterpart and will be managed by the same management teams, share benchmarks, and have the same costs. Yet, they are considered distinct products. It’s simply a reflection that a portion of investors, specifically younger investors, simply prefer the intraday liquidity and ease of these products vs mutual funds.


Active fixed income is also seeing greater interest due to the current uncertainty regarding monetary policy and the economy’s trajectory. Active managers have greater latitude and more flexibility to navigate this environment in contrast to passive funds. 

Finsum: Vanguard is launching 2 active fixed income ETFs which are based upon successful mutual funds. The active fixed income category is rapidly growing in terms of inflows and new issues.


Equity and fixed income markets were battered following the September FOMC meeting where the committee left rates unchanged but the committee members’ dot plots for the future trajectory of monetary policy and Chair Powell’s press conference had a decidedly hawkish tilt. 


The message was that another rate hike is likely before year end and that rates are likely to stay elevated for longer. Thus, Fed futures markets reduced the odds of rate cuts in 2024, leading to pain for the long-end of the fixed income complex. In contrast, the short-end of the curve saw major inflows as investors look to shield their portfolio from volatility and take advantage of high rates. 


Following the Fed meeting, there was $25.3 million of inflows into the iShares Treasury Floating Rate Bond ETF which was about 40% of the total inflows in the previous month. This marks an acceleration of a trend which began last quarter of outflows from longer-term Treasury ETFs and inflows into short-duration Treasury ETFs. 


Supporting this notion is the uncertainty over the economy and monetary policy as this tends to lead to volatility for long-duration assets. Additionally, the flatness of the yield curve means that there isn’t sufficient compensation for the additional duration risk.  

Finsum: Most of the fixed income complex suffered losses following the hawkish FOMC meeting, but one exception was short-duration Treasury ETFs. 


One of the best real-time measures of the population’s interest in a subject can be gleaned through Google search data. Since the start of the year, searches for the topic are up by 50% and continue to climb with rates. In fact, there is a 0.9 correlation between search volume and longer-term rates.


According to Standard Life, interest in the topic really accelerated once rates exceeded 4%. Currently, many annuities are offering returns in the 7% to 8% range which is leading to strong demand from retirees or those close to retirement who are looking for income. 


Recent months have seen rates continue inching higher, while inflation expectations have moderated. Higher real rates are also adding to the appeal of annuities given concerns about the economic outlook and costs.


Two more contributing factors behind annuity demand are pent-up demand and demographics. For more than a decade, rates were so low that annuities simply didn’t deliver sufficient returns for investors or retirees. Instead, monetary policy was designed to push them higher up the risk curve in order to generate yield. 


Demographics also can’t be ignored. Next year, 12,000 Americans will be reaching retirement age every day. And by 2031, 70 million Americans will be above retirement age. The population is even older in Europe and Japan and will likely be interested in boosting their income during retirement. 

Finsum: Google search data shows that interest in annuities has surged since the beginning of the year. It’s not a coincidence that this happened as long-term rates were breaking out to multi decade highs. 


In an article for AdvisorHub, Lisa Fu covers a recent research report from Cerulli Associates which shows that portfolios managed by CIOs outperform those managed by advisors over multiple time frames. Over the last 3 years, model portfolios earned a 1.8% annual return which beat the 1% return of advisor-managed portfolios. The outperformance was similar on longer timeframes as well. 


Further, the outperformance was even stronger during periods of market volatility. During negative quarters over the last decade, model portfolios outperform 60% of the time. Model portfolio performance was also more consistent while advisor-led portfolios have much wider dispersion in terms of results. 


Of course, this is an indication that most advisors are better off using model portfolios which frees up more time to focus on operating a business, prospecting for new clients, and investing in client services and relationships. 


Many older advisors are resistant to giving up these responsibilities given that it was an integral part of the job for so many years. Yet, firms are encouraging younger advisors to go with model portfolios due to better outcomes for clients’ portfolios and more time and energy for tasks and actions that are more correlated with success.

Finsum: A research report from Cerulli Associates shows that model portfolios perform better than advisor-managed portfolios.


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