Monday , 26 September 2016

Do Lower Returns Over Next 30 Years Spell Doom For Millennials? Not Necessarily – Here’s Why

…[A study by the consulting firm McKinsey suggests that one can expect] lower market returns overretirement-planning-300x300 the next 30 years than we’ve experienced over the past 30. [Does that] automatically spell doom for Millennials who are investing their money? Not necessarily. Here’s why.
Here are the numbers from the report:Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 11.21.02 AM…Source: Bloomberg
…Plotting out economic or market assumptions over 30 years is kind of silly because it’s basically impossible. Regardless, let’s assume for the sake of argument that their forecast is correct. [That begs the question: Do lower returns over the next 30 years automatically spell doom for Millennials who are investing their money? [The answer is:] Not necessarily.The biggest problem with this line of thinking is that is fails to consider the sequence of these returns. Even if stocks do rise 6.5% per year for the next three decades, the path they take to get there will matter much more than the annual average return.Let’s look at two examples to see why this is the case.Scenario #1: A young person starts saving $5,500/year and increases that amount by 4% each year to account for inflation and salary increases. They save for 30 years and earn a steady 6.5% each and every year. After 30 years they would end up with roughly $743,000.Scenario #2: A young person starts saving the same $5,500/year and increases that amount by 4% each year to account for inflation and raises. They save for 30 years as well, but instead of earning a steady 6.5%/year they earn just 3.2%/year, with alternating annual returns of +12% and -5%, for the first 20 years. Then they earn 13.5%/year in the final 10 years. This still works out to an annual average return of 6.5% just like in the first scenario, but because these returns were so poor in the early stages of saving and higher in the latter stages, this person’s ending balance was closer to $1,000,000.

Both scenarios saw the exact same amount saved over the exact same time frame and earned the exact same annual returns but the sequence of those returns caused a huge difference in their ending balances. The second scenario was more than 30% higher than the first one.

The thing that most young investors can’t seem to wrap their heads around is the fact that you want lower returns during your early years when you are a net saver. It allows you to buy more shares in the stock market at a lower price. A decade or even two decades of poor returns would be an amazing opportunity for Millennials. Throw in a couple of market crashes in there and that’s even better.

This example illustrates the fact that luck can have a lot to do with how much money you end up with. Some people are simply born into a perfect market cycle while others have more of an uphill battle. Whatever future market returns we end up seeing, one thing is for sure — they will not exist in a steady state like you see in a simple retirement calculator. Averages never tell the entire story.

This report did have one piece of great advice for young people — it makes sense to increase their savings rates and plan for the worst. Not only does this mindset allow compound interest to do most of the heavy lifting for you, but a higher savings rates, and thus slower lifestyle creep, is a great way to give yourself a margin of safety in case things don’t go as planned in life (and they never do).

The biggest problem is that it can be difficult for young people with little financial or market experience to have the guts to continue buying when things don’t look so good and markets are falling or going nowhere. That’s probably why one of the best financial decisions you can make early in your working life is to automate your investing contributions, increase the amount you save every year and then don’t look at your statements very often

Disclosure: The original article, by Ben Carlson (, was edited ([ ]) and abridged (…) by the editorial team at (Your Key to Making Money!) to provide a fast and easy read.
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