How should I invest when I want to retire soon?

02 July 2020

Question by Richard

I have been paying into Vanguard Lifestrategy for a few months now, despite losses during the peak of the coronavirus outbreak I am now making gains again now. I regret not putting more money into the market at the very bottom in March, but I thought things were going to get a lot worse and I'm quite a cautious investor, but instead the recovery took me by surprise. I still would like to put more money in but but not all in one go, but feel time is against me. I'm 50 now and hope to retire at 60. This gives me just 9.5 years to pay in and grow, do you think this is a long enough period to invest in or am I now stuck with low interest bank accounts? I also read your weekly blog today that was sent to me, it mentions that if we experience higher inflation this could hit shares and particularly bonds. Now this is somewhat concerning, but it may be years away and I can't afford to sit on the sidelines waiting for the dips to arrive. I have my money split between Vanguard LS 60 & 80 with slightly more in 60. So basically my question to you is - with only a ten year timeframe, am I coming to the end of my investing life and should now stick with cash if shares and bonds are likely to take a hit in a few years? But where else is there to go for a health return?

Answered by Holly Mackay

First up Richard, I can't give you financial advice. I'm not a qualified adviser and also I don't know your full financial picture. So I am just sharing some food for thought here - hope it helps you to make the best decision for you.

Yours is a really common question and a very hard one at that.

It is a bit like asking me if you should go ski-ing again aged 50. The odds suggest that you will be fine. But the older you get the riskier it gets, and the greater the chances of any broken bones doing more damage and taking longer to heal. But would you say to any 50 year old friends that they shouldn't go ski-ing? Probably not. But if they break a bone, they'd be bloody unlucky and you'd feel guilty. Welcome to my world!

Loads to say.

First up:
Your timeframes. You are only 50. And there is no rule to say that when you hit 60 you need to take all your money out of the stock market.

In retirement we have 2 basic choices. We take our retirement savings and trade them in for a guaranteed and fixed annual income till the lights turn out. (An annuity). OR we keep invested in the stock markets, typically taking a lump sum on retirement and then drawing down a regular chunk every month or year to supplement our income (Drawdown).

Annuities are certain. But right now with interest rates so low, you don't get much and you prevent any potential upside (and of course downside) from markets. As a rule of thumb, take your pension savings and divide by about 20 or 25. That's a rough guide to how much you'd get a year if you buy an annuity.

However, if you live to 90, for example, 30 years from 60 to 90 is quite a long time to lock yourself out of the stock market. So don't assume that these next 10 years are all you have left to be in the markets. You may of course take some of your pension savings as cash when you're 60 (25% is tax free), keep some invested in a 'drawdown' pension and then trade it all in for an annuity when you're older. So maybe revisit your assumed timeframes for continuing your relationship with the stock market?

Answered by

Holly Mackay

Founder and CEO of Boring Money

I’ve worked in investment markets for over 20 years. I started out at Merrill Lynch Investment Management and worked at a few big names before setting up my first business in 2008.