This rule was advertised by the finance industry since mid-90s, when a paper had been circulated stating that withdrawing 4 per cent from your portfolio a year will make it last for at least thirty years.
Before we look into the background and underlying assumptions lets have look at the 30 years of retirement. This is particularly important to note that healthy working life expectancy at the age of 50 years is on average 9.5 years for men and 8.5 years for women. This means that the healthy working life expectancy at age 50 years in the USA and the UK is below the remaining years to State Pension age. So out of the average life expectancy of 80 years old, last twenty are in poor health, where people are unable to enjoy the life.
Additionally, the writer asserts that the lower exposure to stocks will not provide enough growth. On the other hand, if you put more than 50% of your financial independence nest egg into stocks, higher exposure will leave you less fortunate. There were some periods where early equity market collapses resulted in huge losses having to be realised in order to generate the required drawdown, and the remaining assets failed to last 30 years.
Of course, the financial press is aiming to twist this, by claiming that: “when you retire is important. If markets have just gone pop, or inflation is raging, then you may be in trouble.” This is false, as you cannot predict the future and 30 years is a reasonable retirement time.
My nest egg is currently one hundred percent in shares. I think when I reach 50/50 or 75/25 asset allocation using just additional savings, I am financially independent. Essentially this will be $1.2 million in the current money. I think by the time this happens the house will be paid off and the kids are out of the house. $36K a year before taxes will be able to cover the expenses.
However, my view is that four percent rule is no longer
relevant. Four percent above inflation returns is in the past. Last decade or
more it is more like three percent. Furthermore, if the planning period is any other
than 30 years, the four percent rule should not be used. Three percent is more realistic.
While I was on the subject, I compared the pension benefits for the various people in the English society. I guess this will be very similar in all “developed” countries.
Pension benefits for different type of salaried employees:
- An average Joe. In the UK to buy a guaranteed pension (annuity) of $1,000 a year you need to have $20,000 in your pension savings. A twelve years ago it was just $13,000 to buy the same pension. Government in the UK mandates that everybody has to participate in a pension scheme. You and your employer contribute. If you earn $103,000 a year you will get $8,000 a year contribution with the UK auto-enrollment pension. This will buy you $400 of pension a year.
- Government official. If you work as an elected official (member of the parliament) your base pay is $103,000 a year and for every year of service s/he gets $2,600 of guaranteed pension if contributes $12,000 a year from the salary. This is excellent deal, as for a citizen the ratio is 1:20, for public servants the ratio is 1:5.
- Chief Administrator. If you are a CEO, its even better, as frequently their pension contribution is 100% of their base salary. What this means is that is CEO salary is $103,000 a year s/he gets $5,000 of a guaranteed pension. Without adding anything out of the pocket!
Pension benefits for different salaried employees, earning $103,000 a year:Even if the Joe contributed $12,000 he would get $600 in his pension. If you double it (assuming compounding interest with time) it is still only $1,200. But of course, the average Joe will never get $103 K a year and CEO base salary 10 times more (so is the pension). This is for one year of service.
Fun fact: In Australia, where the government has allowed members early access to their pension superannuation funds, the result has seen some 600,000 people — most of them under 35 — wiped out their savings altogether.
The governments around the world prevent people to invest their pension into what the governments classify as “ultra-high risk”. This prevents the capital outflow from the failing economies, enabling people to earn higher returns. At the same time in the US and the UK, the governments allowed employers to stop contributions to pension schemes, making the poor people even poorer.