Why Target Date Funds May Miss the Mark

Why Target Date Funds May Miss the Mark

You want your 401(k) to grow towards achieving your retirement goals.

Most 401(k) and other retirement plans offer Target Date Funds (TDFs) as a default choice. They have become increasingly popular for a few good reasons but are rarely the best solution once your accounts achieve some size.

Let’s look at how they work and whether they are the most efficient choice for you.

TDFs are a great choice for beginners, or when you join a new employer plan. There is usually a lineup of funds targeting retirement dates in increments of five or so years. The concept is that the fund becomes increasingly conservative as the target date approaches, but that is a one-size-fits-all approach that can’t take your unique needs into account.

So, when are TDFs not the best investment choice?

To start, all of your money is invested with one fund family, instead of getting different approaches and methodologies. These funds are also usually invested across all asset classes and industries instead of those best suited to the current economic environment. They also evenly spread bond exposure instead of actively selecting the most appropriate bond sectors.

The biggest challenge with TDFs is that you don’t want all your investments too conservative as you enter retirement.
Yes, you want to make sure that you have some conservative assets to draw from during rough patches, but you still need growth during retirement to keep pace with inflation.

Here are a few things to consider:

· Do you actively rebalance your accounts?

· Does your plan have tools to evaluate your allocation vs. your goals and timeframes?

· Do you compare what you own against what’s available?

· Have you considered the advantages of an IRA for funds in an old employer plan?

· Are you layering investment risks to match your goal timeframes?

Learn more about Integras Partners’ investment strategies.
Call us to review your investment approach at (404) 941-2800.

Factoring Inflation into your Retirement Plan

Factoring Inflation into your Retirement Plan

Inflation is one of the major risks to retirement. We’re all living longer, and the things we spend more of our money on in our older years (healthcare, senior housing) have the biggest price increases.

The recent inflationary environment is fresh in everyone’s mind, but even 2% inflation (the Fed’s current goal) is a risk to a retiree’s spending power over time. In a simple example, a $100,000 lifestyle when you initially retire would cost you over $148,000 in 20 years, assuming prices rose at a constant rate of 2%.

Investment Allocation: Investing too conservatively may mean that your investments won’t meet your spending needs long term. You want to make sure that you have enough invested for growth to keep up with inflation. This is not a static allocation. Integras Partners’ investment strategies are designed to align with anticipated inflation-adjusted spending needs over time.

Investment Selection: Investment selection within your portfolio is also a consideration. For example, there are types of investments that typically keep ahead of inflation, such as companies with a history of dividend growth and real estate.

Social Security Claiming Strategies: Delaying social security can give you higher lifetime benefits, but factors such as health and longevity must also be considered.

Strategies to Offset Healthcare Costs: Healthcare costs can be significant at older ages, and costs inflate at higher rates than other spending categories. Evaluate long-term care insurance or how to best make use of an HSA.

Withdrawal Strategies: Withdrawing too much in early retirement years, or having to sell assets to meet withdrawals during down markets are major risks to the longevity of a portfolio. We dedicate a portion of investments to near-term spending needs (spending expected to occur within 2-3 years) using relatively conservative, liquid investments. Drawing from that portion of the portfolio allows longer-term assets to remain invested for growth, with the time needed to recover from market downturns.

Learn more about Integras Partners’ investment strategies.

Age-Based Milestones for Financial Planning

Age-Based Milestones for Financial Planning

Reaching certain ages can be meaningful for financial planning. Age can affect contributions and withdrawal rules from retirement accounts, social security and pension options, and even taxes as many aspects of the tax code are linked to age.

50: Eligible to make catch-up contributions to retirement accounts

55: Eligible for penalty exceptions for certain withdrawals from employer retirement accounts

59 ½: Eligible for retirement account withdrawals without early distribution penalty; Potentially eligible to move money from an employer plan to an IRA while still working

60: Beginning in 2025, additional catch-up contributions allowed

62: Earliest age to claim social security (at a reduced benefit amount)

65: Eligible for Medicare coverage (pay attention to enrollment period, which opens prior to 65th birthday); Increase in standard deduction

67: Full retirement age for social security for most people (depends on birth year)

70: Maximum social security benefit is reached

70 ½: Eligible to make Qualified Charitable Distributions

73 or 75: Required minimum distribution age from retirement accounts (depends on birth year)

Integras Partners provides financial planning and investment management to our clients. We have a deep relationship with our clients and understand their needs and goals. The planning process is integral to investment allocation decisions.

Learn more about Integras Partners’ investment strategies.

The New FAFSA

The New FAFSA

Changes to the FAFSA form and the formula for determining a family’s need for aid are changing, effective for the 2024-2025 school year. While all the changes are beyond the scope of this post, here we highlight two from a financial planning perspective.

Parent Income:

Contributions (pre-tax salary deferrals) to employer retirement accounts are no longer added back to parent income. This could be an additional incentive for parents with employer plans to max out contributions in years that the FAFSA looks at income. The FAFSA looks at the year two years prior to the beginning of the school year. For example, the 2024-2025 school year looks at 2022 income. Note that this change only applies to contributions that come straight from a salary reduction. Contributions to IRAs that are deductible on the tax return are still added back to parent income.

Grandparent Contributions:
Up until now, while grandparent (or other non-parent) owned 529 accounts did not count towards a parent or student’s assets, withdrawals from said account counted as income to the student which had to be reported on the FAFSA. This could reduce the student’s aid eligibility. With the changes, withdrawals from a third-party owned 529 account will no longer count as student income. Grandparents can now maintain a 529 account for their grandchildren and distribute funds without impacting aid eligibility.

Because of these changes, the 2024-2025 form will not be available until December this year. You can stay up to date on announcements at https://studentaid.gov/, or through college financial aid office websites.


Call us to review your investment approach (404) 941-2800.

This Inflation Cycle is Different

This Inflation Cycle is Different

This inflation cycle has played out much differently than past cycles.

The primary challenge in tackling stubborn inflation today is that the ultra-low rates of the past several years allowed companies to assume long-term debt very cheaply.  The Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) can only change the shortest-term interest rates, primarily impacting revolving and floating debt like credit cards and bank loans. The anticipated increase in corporate demand for financing at higher rates never materialized and delinquencies have been well-managed. So, the financial system has remained resilient and provided consumers with the confidence needed to continue spending.

Entering this cycle, consumers were also flush with spending power due to government stimulus, low fixed-rate mortgages, and lower-than-average debt service costs. So, Fed rate hikes haven’t impacted consumer behavior as much as in past cycles. Equally important, companies took advantage of robust demand by raising prices – further feeding inflation – and allowing them to protect or even increase profit margins while retaining their workforce. This self-reinforcing loop has allowed the economy to avoid recession and the stock market to recover faster than virtually every economic indicator – and our own fears – otherwise suggested.

Today we are in a momentum-led rally with the market assuming interest rate cuts later this year and a renaissance of capital spending on Artificial Intelligence over the next many years. 

Momentum can carry a market a long way and we have enjoyed a period of market stability without suffering any meaningful pullback. This is rather surprising with 3 of the “Magnificent 7” having underperformed YTD, the Fed lowering projected rate cuts by half, and the past two months of inflation coming in higher than projected. The stock market has defied all but the rosiest of scenarios, with equity issuance (including IPO’s) at the highest level since 2021. This too shall change, but when it does it shouldn’t derail the bull market we are in.  Volatility will return to test the conviction of investors. There will be some rougher sledding for us all at some point (it could be sooner rather than later).

Integras Partners strategies allow our clients’ stock exposure to be insulated by time.  We don’t take meaningful market risk with money that our clients need soon. We don’t want them to change their spending decisions due to financial markets.  Our objective has always been for our clients to enjoy life and leave the worrying to us. 

Learn more about Integras Partners’ investment strategies. 
Call us to review your investment approach at (404) 941-2800.