Decumulation: There Is No Rule of Thumb

By Rich Rausser, CPC, QPA, QKA,   Senior Vice President, Pentegra Retirement Services

In most pursuits, people usually look for a “rule of thumb” when it comes to sound strategies or best practices. However, when it comes to developing a retirement plan strategy the rule of thumb is that there is no rule of thumb.

The reason for this may be obvious. As individuals, we all have our own needs, wants and concerns; many of us may be the same age, live in the same geographical area, and even make the same exact salary. Even if two people were hired on the same day by the same firm at the same salary, and made equal contributions to their 401(k) plans throughout their careers, there are still a number of variables to prevent them from taking a “one size fits all” approach to decumulation.

Are both persons married? Are their spouses/partners both working and, if so, what are their salaries and retirement savings? Do they have any children? Where are they in terms of college expenses and healthcare needs?

Unrealistic Rules

I note this because there has been some discussion of late over an industry-wide “rule of thumb” that suggests retirees should try to replace 80 percent of their income during the first year of retirement. While that may be an admirable goal, it may not be realistic for many retirees for the reasons listed above as well as others.

Another specious rule of thumb is that retirees will simply take their 401(k) savings as a lump sum distribution when they retire. While lump sum distributions are certainly a viable option, many plan participants may not even be aware that other options exist and may benefit from further education about alternative distribution options.

Alternative Distribution Options

Many 401(k) plans have numerous distribution options, thus offering a tremendous amount of flexibility in how retirees can take their money. These can include what we call an “ad hoc distribution” – whereby the retiree takes out some money whenever he or she wants; a regular, periodic distribution — $2,000 per month, for instance, or $6,000 per quarter; or structuring payouts over the retiree’s life expectancy.

There is another option that I have mentioned before: supplementing one’s retirement income by purchasing an out-of-plan annuity that can provide a guaranteed level of income to retirees for as long as they live. If a retiree puts 20 to 25 percent of their retirement savings into an annuity, with Social Security providing supplemental income and the rest of the retiree’s account balance consisting of various other pieces, the retiree is in effect “pensionizing” part of their retirement savings.

The annuity option should be available to every 401(k) plan participant, regardless of individual circumstances; it should be viewed as another tool in their retirement savings tool box.

Retirement plans should be constructed in a way that provides the best possible solutions to its plan participants in a cost-effective manner.

For additional information, watch the recent webinar, “Keys to Building Successful Retirement Outcomes.”  Or, download The Pentegra Distribution Path™  for an overview of all the options available to employees and essential tips for creating a decumulation strategy to build a lifetime income stream.

Pentegra_LogoPentegra is the NAFCU Services Preferred partner for Qualified Retirement Plans for Credit Union Employees. More educational resources and contact information are available at

Holistic Wealth Management Services

Originally posted in The Federal Credit Union magazine.

By Barry Dayley, Executive Vice President, Money Concepts

Money Concepts is the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Turnkey Financial Planning & Wealth Management Solutions

Structural changes in the banking industry initiated by consumer demand and the convergence of financial services have forever changed the credit union landscape. In the past 2½ decades, the depository institutions’ share of total U.S. household financial assets fell 44 percent, to 12.4 percent, while the share of mutual funds increased 16 times, to 11.4 percent. This fact, coupled with the ever-increasing commoditization of traditional banking products and banking services offered by non-bank competitors, poses a real threat to a credit union that is not able to address wealth management needs. Today, nearly all large financial institutions in the world offer some semblance of what they refer to as wealth management as part of their Private Banking platform.

In fact, wealth management services are reportedly being provided by 83 percent of large banks, 63 percent of medium-sized banks and 49 percent of small banks. However, many of these organizations simply offer investment products or access to online financial planning calculators and count that as wealth management services. To compete in this space, a credit union must offer real and practical solutions.

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National Financial Literacy Month is a Chance to Start Good Habits

Originally posted on

This article references a study done by Discover, the NAFCU Services Preferred Partner for Debit Card Programs and Debit Networks.

It’s no coincidence that National Financial Literacy Month falls in April, the height of tax season. It seems like there are some teachable moments to be found while scrutinizing every financial decision of the past year. Tax preparation reminds me of holiday get-togethers where the family examines every bad idea everyone has ever had. But doing your taxes shouldn’t be like judgment day at the Santos dinner table. By developing good financial habits, especially at a younger age, managing your money can be a breeze.

National Financial Literacy Month is recognized as an opportunity to promote good financial habits through savings, smart purchases, and long-term personal financial planning to meet one’s life goals. Sound familiar? This is what credit unions do every day, of every month. Credit unions have a long history of helping their members make effective financial choices by offering better service, low fees, and financial education. Tools such as, NAFCU Services’ credit union locator website, offer personal finance calculators covering topics such as home buying, saving, borrowing, retirement and auto financing (also available free of charge for NAFCU Members to use on their websites). The site also includes links to personal financial education resources.

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Credit Union Industry Experts: What’s in Store for 2013

Originally posted on

I like to say that one of a visionary leader’s most important functions is seeing over the horizon and recognizing opportunities and threats before anyone else does, and then shaping the strategy and tactics of the organization accordingly.

So for our year-end blog post I asked our Preferred Partners to tell us what they see coming over the horizon, from their perspective, that credit union executives need to be focused on and/or prepared for as we head into 2013. Looking back a year, I see some common themes—revenue issues, economic uncertainty, regulatory uncertainty, and political uncertainty. From that perspective, not much has changed as we look forward to 2013. Here is what a few of them said:

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Happy holidays and…tax reporting for IRAs, HSAs and ESAs?

Guest post written by Paul Kern, Manager of Instruction at Ascensus

It’s that time of year again! And no, I’m not talking about the holidays and gift giving. In fact, the timing has more to do with a little bit of ‘bah humbug’ in the form of 2012 IRA, HSA, and Coverdell ESA Tax Reporting. = )

Nobody likes to be the Grinch, and a little preparation today will help make the process run smoothly and let you save the Holidays!

The overall process is deceptively simple:

Get Started

First, make sure that your credit union knows the important dates for this reporting. Knowing the deadlines to report IRA/HSA/ESA information to the IRS and your IRA/HSA Owners or ESA Designated Beneficiaries will aid in planning your work load over this busy season.

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