Retirement corpus structuring – A Reader query

From time to time I get queries from my Blog readers that will resonate with the larger investor community. One such query was sent by a reader recently after he read my recent posts on retirement corpus structuring. I wanted to address it as a post here.

His query was as follows:-

Taking portfolio 1 as the base, if a person retiring this year from a private firm, has a house to live and corpus of around 2 crore in the following manner –
Debt portfolio – 50 lakhs in EPF, 10 lakhs gratuity, 20 lakhs PPF, 25 lakhs from LIC (maturing in 2022, premiums paid) and 10 lakhs in liquid funds/FDs for emergencies.
equity – 60 lakhs in Mutual funds and 25 lakhs in Shares. How should the corpus be structured to provide regular income in retirement, taking care of inflation?
Let me only try to do a structuring of corpus here as I have already explained the broad principles in the earlier posts. The assumptions are a current annual expenditure of 7 lacs per year, life expectancy is another 30 years and expenditure being double and 4 times in the next 2 decades respectively.
Without further ado, let me give my suggestions now :-
  • Take the 60 lacs from PF and gratuity and put in in Vaya Vandana Yojana and Senior Citizen Saving Scheme. This will have to be done by the investor and his spouse separately. This will give 4.8 lacs per year as interest.
  • Use 20 lacs PPF to withdraw 2.2 lacs every year for the first 10 years. Along with the interest, this will take care of the 7 lacs needed in the first decade.
  • When the LIC money becomes available, invest it in equity balanced funds. This will amount to 50 lacs by 2028, assuming a return of 12 % annually.
  • In decade 2 the average expenses will be 14 lacs. This will be funded through:-
    • 4.8 lacs will be available as before.
    • 50 lacs from Balanced fund will be redeemed @ 5 lacs per year.
    • 60 lacs MF will become 1.8 crores in 10 years with a return of 12 % annually. Take 40 lacs and put it in some hybrid fund such as MIP or Equity Savings Funds. 4.2 lacs each year can be used for the remainder of 14 lac expenditure.
  • In deccade 3 the average expenses will be 28 lacs. This will be funded through:-
    • Stocks which will reach a value of 1.93 crores in 20 years
    • MF which will reach a value of 4.34 crores in 10 years from 1.4 crores base.

So at the end of 3 decades the couple will still have some amount left, which can last them a few more years. It is highly improbable that they will live beyond 95 years, so it is a very safe plan.

I hope the plan addresses the issue at hand. In case there are any queries on this, I will be happy to address the same.


Some real life portfolios in retirement

In the several posts I have written on retirement here, I have tried to give both my personal examples as well as those of others. Many readers who are considering retirement want to know if the money they have as corpus will be enough. Some think they have adequate money but are not sure of how to deploy it optimally. In this post let me give 3 examples of real life portfolios from retired people.

Before getting into the actual portfolios, it will be important to understand the pre-requisites, in order to be able to go for retirement in financial terms. These are :-

  • You should have a place to live in. This can be either your own house or a rented one where you are covering the rent from what you get as rent of your house elsewhere. This is important as rent is inflationary and must be taken care of.
  • All your major life goals should be over. Even if some goals such as children’s marriage are pending, you have separate funds for those.
  • You have an ongoing Health insurance that you will continue with. Get this before you and your wife cross 50 years, they get very expensive afterwards.
  • Your children are taking care of themselves in terms of financial expenses.
  • You may still be earning some active income through use of your time but that is not considered in these portfolios.

Portfolio # 1:

This is the simplest portfolio I have seen with hardly any real risk and yet catering to almost any future eventuality.

  • Tax free bonds of 1 crore invested in 2013 with an interest rate of 9 %. This yields an income of 9 lacs every year till 2028.
  • PPF corpus of 40 lacs and contribution of 1.5 lacs every year till 2028. This will grow to more than 1 crore in 2028.
  • Emergency funds of 10 lacs in Liquid funds.
  • MF portfolio of 20 lacs and stock portfolio of 10 lacs now.

The couple have expenses of about 7 lacs per year and stay at their own home. They put 1.5 lacs in PPF every year and pay no taxes. In 2028 they can use the money from Tax free bond principal to invest in Debt or hybrid funds. At this time they will start using the PPF amount for the next 10 years. Note that this is also tax free. By 2038 their MF and stock portfolio should grow to 2 crores plus even with a modest return of 11 % or so. With another 2 crores from Debt funds they should have enough for the last phase of their life.

Portfolio #2:

This is slightly more complex as equity and debt are both used. Let us first see the deployment here and we will then look at withdrawal.

  • 1 crore in PPF as the couple were not salaried people and invested in PPF regularly over a long period.
  • 50 lacs in various types of Debt funds at current market value.
  • 40 lacs in equity MF and 10 lacs in stocks at current market value.

Assuming 30 years of retired life and an expense of 8 lacs per year in the first decade, this is how the couple have decided to go about it.

  • Withdraw from PPF to the tune of 10 lacs for the first 10 years. This will still leave enough money after 10 years in the account.
  • The 50 lacs Debt fund will grow to about 1.1 crores in 10 years. This along with the remaining amount in PPF will serve expenses of second decade.
  • The Equity portfolio of 50 lacs will grow to 3.36 crores in 20 years. This should see the couple through the third decade, even though the expenses by now are about 32 lacs per year.

Portfolio #3:

As a final portfolio, let us look into a more complex situation. Here, the resource base is larger and the expenses are also significantly higher. 

  • Two PPF accounts of 50 lacs and 10 lacs in current value.
  • Tax free bonds of 24 lacs, maturing in 2028
  • Equity Mutual funds of 50 lacs paying dividend of 3 lacs a year
  • Equity Mutual funds of 50 lacs with growth option
  • Stock portfolio of 1 crore with annual dividend of 3 lacs
  • Debt funds of 1 crore with LTCG of 8 lacs every year

Assuming the current decade expenses will be 12 lacs at an average, 15 lacs in the next decade and 25 lacs in the last one, how should things be structured?

  • Current passive income from interest and Dividends is 8 lacs. Another 8 lacs is from LTCG of Debt funds maturing every year.
  • In the first decade the PPF accounts will be funded to the tune of 3 lacs every year.
  • In decade 2, PPF can be used for withdrawal. The two accounts will suffice for these 10 years even without any fresh contributions.
  • For the last decade stocks and MF can be redeemed to fund expenses.

So there you have it – while 1.5 crores plus is quite enough for expenses of 8-9 lacs in a year, if you want to spend more then you should look at higher corpus. But the real lesson is in the deployment of corpus and withdrawal strategies.

Will be happy to answer questions on this.

Deploying Retirement corpus – a case study

This post is inspired through a discussion I had some time ago with a long time friend. He was considering to get out of his current corporate job and wanted to set up a passive income stream that would take care of his regular expenses. When I pointed him to my posts on this topic he said that, while he had read those posts and understood the situation from my context, he needed to set this up from scratch.

The discussion set me thinking and I wanted to look at a situation which many people may be facing when they are nearing retirement or are considering an early retirement. While generalization is always difficult, a typical situation of such a person may be as follows.

  • The person has an own home which is fully paid for by now.
  • He has a PPF account for a long time but has not contributed the maximum in a regular manner. Current balance in the account is 24 lacs (say).
  • His children are either independent or in college. In the latter case he has made arrangements for the remainder of their education expenses through FD etc. This is not linked to the passive income that he wants to have.
  • Fixed deposit amount is 20 lacs, PO MIS is 9 lacs in a joint account.
  • PF and gratuity will come to 1 crore when he withdraws it.
  • MF portfolio is 20 lacs and stock portfolio is 6 lacs.

Based on this, how should the money be deployed so as to get a passive income of about 7 lacs a year? There may be many ways but the framework suggested below is a good one:-

  • Keep the current MF and stock portfolio intact for the long term. You may need it for situations such as long term care, beyond the age of 80.
  • New investments in PPF are not needed but keep the account active by paying a small subscription every year. This is your fall back mechanism if you suddenly need money for some unforeseen event. Also the interest of 1.8 lacs a year is tax free.
  • 9 lacs of PO MIS will give an interest of 68400 every year. Use this for your income.
  • FD of 15 lacs can be put in Senior citizen scheme if you are eligible. The interest from this will be about 1.25 lacs.
  • Divide the 1 crore obtained from PF and gratuity as follows:
    • 30 lacs in tax free bonds. This will give you an income of 2.3 lacs per year.
    • 30 lacs in some dividend paying debt scheme such as Monthly Income Plan or Balanced funds. This will give you an income of 2.4 lacs odd.
    • 10 lacs in a Liquid fund. Income from this will be about 70000 a year.
    • Rest 30 lacs can be put in FMP or other Debt MF (short term) in the Growth option. After 3 years you can use the capital gain for consumption and reinvest the principal amount. This is mainly for discretionary expenses such as a vacation abroad etc.

What about inflation? Well, you have enough hedges in the plan for that. PPF can be drawn into, LTCG from FMP or debt funds are there and equity part will hopefully grow. Also over a period of time the 7 lacs needed in current terms may not suffer as much from inflation as we think. However, even if it does, the plan above is likely to cover it.

Note that the above is a low risk plan where your passive income is pretty much assured. Other options where you put more money into equity are possible but they come with a higher risk. You do want peace of mind when you are at this stage in life!!

So with an overall asset base of 1.79 crore (plus house), you can comfortably generate a passive income of 7 lacs and take care of the future also. I hope this convinces people that you do not necessarily need 5-6 crores to have a decent retired life. More importantly, you can lead the life you need to lead at the right time for yourself and your family.

An asset base of even 1.5 crores, deployed creatively, may well be enough for this person to retire. Take this framework as a reference and arrive at your own plans for that.

Cash flows in retirement – A personal perspective

In a previous post, I had outlined about the 3 decades in retirement and how one could have a simple framework to explain the dynamics of how they will be lived. The first one is the Go-Go decade where you try to fulfil many aspirations you had over the years gone by, the second is the Slow-Go decade where you still do many of your activities but on a significantly reduced scale and the final one is the No-Go decade where you are virtually winding down and kind of waiting for the inevitable end. Of course, this is assuming you are retiring in your 50’s and will need to be expanded in case you retire earlier. 

In the Indian context, however, this framework will work quite well as most people do retire in their 50’s and, despite medical advances, few live to be beyond 90. Once you have understood the framework, it will be fairly easy to outline how these decades will go in terms of your life activities and plan out your cash flows for the same. Understand that this is an individual exercise and cannot be reduced to formulae and calculators !!

When I started to look at my situation in the Go-Go decade in terms of my life, this is what I came up with. Some of it is, of course, not completely certain but it seems very likely to me that things are very likely to pan out as I write them here:-

  • I will still be actively engaged in professional activities in the first half of the decade but it will taper down over the next part.
  • Both my children will be relatively settled in their careers at the start of the decade and are likely to get married within it.
  • I am fortunate that my parents are living and in reasonably good health. However, another 10 years will be probably too much to hope for.
  • We will definitely shift from Hyderabad to Kolkata in this period, quite possibly in the next year or so. It is possible we will buy an apartment in Kolkata unless we get very good renting option.
  • As both Lipi and I love travel and we have time now, this decade is likely to see a lot of it. I estimate 1 trip out of India annually apart from another 3 within the country.  Most of these will have the two of us, hopefully there will be some family vacations too.
  • Our other lifestyle choices like entertainment, dining out, engaging in our hobbies will probably remain the same as it is now.
  • Both Lipi and I will probably engage in some non-commercial activities which are beneficial to the society at large.

What will be the cash flow impact of the above? I looked at my present context and tried to look at all categories of cash outflow at current prices. I am assuming that the first decade starts in 2019 and ends in 2028 – calendar years both, for simplicity. I will estimate cash flows in terms of Retirement Units ( RU ), as I am not very comfortable providing actual numbers. Intelligent readers should have no difficulty in figuring out the Rupee value of each RU !!

Here is how I divided up my cash outflow categories and estimates of amounts:-

  • Monthly recurring costs : This head includes everything that happens monthly namely food, groceries, eating out, entertainment, parental support, utility bills, subscriptions and maintenance etc. In the present context we spend about 5000 RU annually here and it will remain the same.
  • Accommodation : Presently our rent in Hyderabad is annually at 2500 RU. This gets taken care by the rent we receive from our Chennai apartment. We may buy something in Kolkata if we sell that.
  • Travel : in 2017 our spending on this was about 4000 RU. With increased travel I am estimating this to be 5000 RU annually for the first decade.
  • Emergency kitty : I am estimating this to be 2500 RU annually.

So in the first decade we are looking at annual cash outflow of 14000 RU. As long as our passive income generates this kind of cash inflow we should be fine. Let us then take a look at the same. My idea here is to generate these amounts from the Debt side as I want my equity investments to grow for the next decade. Of course, dividends are welcome. I am expecting cash inflow from these avenues :-

  • Rent from Chennai Apartment – 3000 RU
  • Interest from tax free bonds and InvIT – 2500 RU
  • Dividends from MF schemes – 2000 RU
  • Capital gains from FMP – 5000 RU
  • Dividends from stocks – 1500 RU

So with the above inflows I should be able to meet the needs without really having to redeem the principal amounts in most cases. From a financial asset standpoint there are a few things I am not using in this plan. They are as follows:-

  • Entire stock and MF portfolio which is 60 % of my net worth.
  • PPF interest – currently it will have an annual value of 3500 RU
  • POMIS interest – it is only 600 RU and can be used for minor emergencies
  • Any active income – difficult to put a value but for the next few years it should be in the range of 10000 RU and more. The plan is to use it for children’s marriage cost.

Based on all of these, I feel quite well covered for the next decade. Yes, we do not know what all can happen but so far so good. What about the next 2 decades? Well, with my equity portfolio growing at a faster pace that inflation, I do not think there is really a need to worry about them. 

If you are in retirement or are going to be retired shortly, try to work out your figures based on this post. You will gain a lot of confidence from it, assuming of course you are invested in the right manner.

Investment themes in 2018 you must look at

Investors who bet on equity in the last year have been exceptionally rewarded. The returns from equity asset class were stellar and there were no real corrections of note during the period. On the other hand debt returns were rather muted for almost all categories. One interesting note is that the bond yields have been rising steadily in the latter part of the year and is now at 7.33 % for the 10 year. Gold and Real estate did not fare well too and crypto-currencies were spectacular though a tad dubious.

Before getting into the themes for 2018, let us look at some basic numbers for 2017 :-

  • SIP in MF have gone from strength to strength during the year, rising by 50 %, and is now at nearly 6000 crores per month. This has amply compensated for the lack of FII buying and has ensured great liquidity at all times.
  • Equity returns in different categories were as below:
    • Sensex rose by 27.9 % during the year.
    • BSE 500 rose by 35.9 % during the year.
    • Large cap funds rose by 32.5 % during the year.
    • Mid cap funds rose by 45.6 % during the year.
    • Small cap funds rose by 57.9 % during the year.
  • Debt returns were muted and a prospect of hardening interest rates loomed:
    • Fixed deposit returns were in the 7 % range at the maximum.
    • PPF was at 7.8 %
    • Short term debt funds were at 6.4 %
    • Medium term debt funds were at 5.2 %
    • Long term Gilt funds did the worst at 2.5 %
  • Gold returns were poor too. Gold bonds were at 6.04 %, Gold ETF’s at 3.76 % and Gold funds even lower at 3.08 %. Buying physical Gold would be better as it rose by 7.13 % during the year.
  • Real Estate prices were disappointing with Bangalore being the best at 8 % and Delhi/NCR the worst at a negative 6 %. Most other cities were in the range of 2-3 %.

With this backdrop, what should be the themes of investment in 2018? Let us look at the prospects of different asset classes and that will help us to frame our themes.

  • Equity will have a significantly muted year as compared to the previous one. However, it is expected to be around 10 % returns and this will push Nifty to about 11500 or so by the end of 2018.
  • Long term bond funds gave very poor returns in 2017, but current high yields mean 2018 could be better. If the bond yields go up to 7.5 % then getting returns of around 9 % in some debt funds could be a reality.
  • Gold can go up somewhat in 2018 as compared to the past few years, where it had clearly under-performed. Expect a return of about 8 % if things go normally.
  • RERA, note ban and oversupply in the popular markets will mean that realty will again do badly in 2018. Prices are likely to remain stable with very low returns.

So with all of these in place, what should be your investment themes in 2018? Follow the guidelines below to arrive at your own decisions :-

  • Asset allocation – look at equity once more with probably 60-70 %, Debt can form the rest of it, Gold only for own needs and RE to be avoided.
  • Within equity, look at large cap MF more as the returns from mid and small cap funds can only go down from last year.
  • Multi cap funds and Dynamic asset allocation funds can be good choices this year.
  • Invest in short term debt schemes with low duration if you can hold for 3 years.
  • Arbitrage funds and Dynamic bond funds could be an option too.
  • If you must invest in Gold then do it through Gold bonds.
  • Avoid Bitcoins and the like, they are wholly speculative.

With the above themes in place what are some of the specifics that most investors will be interested in? I will cover those in the next post.

A real life financial planning case study

It always surprises me a little to see the reactions of people in Facebook groups when a group member asks a simple query. Some members assume that the questioner needs to get knowledge by reading blog posts of some other members first, others advise him to go to a fee only financial planner and even give him a list, yet others tell him that one should just keep working and not think of retiring.

To come back to the recent query, here are the salient facts shared by the person who wanted advice on whether he will be able to gain Financial independence in 6 years:-

  • He has 1.2 crores in FD and another 30 lacs in equity etc
  • Can invest 20000 per month for next 6 years
  • Has a child in class 7, who should be going to college in 6 years
  • Has his own house and loans will be paid for by the time he is 50.
  • Current costs are 1 lac per month, 15000 for child and includes loan repayments.

Let me come to the question as to whether he will be able to be financially independent by the time he is 50. For this we will calculate his Financial Independence Number (FIN) in the following manner.

  • His base cost at 50 will be lower than 1 lac as child cost will be gone and so will the loan repayment. However, let us take it at 1 lac to take care of inflation etc.
  • For retirement of 30 years his cost will be 3.6 crores at zero real rate of return
  • For child higher education we can take 20 lacs
  • For asset replacement etc we can take 20 lacs
  • Total FIN therefore comes to 4 crores.

Fortunately, in real life we do not need to go with financial planner and/or calculators blindly and can use some experience and common sense. It is difficult to tell others what to do as they will have their own goals and ways. However, if I were in his place, I would be doing the following:-

  • As his child’s college education is 6 years away, I will put 10 lacs in an Aggressive Balanced fund like HDFC Prudence. This amount will take care of the 20 lacs that will be required for the child’s graduation.
  • I will redeploy the 1.1 crore left in FD to different types of Debt funds. Assuming a CAGR of 8 % this will grow to an amount of 1.75 crores.
  • His current equity investment will grow to 60 lacs if we take 12 % CAGR over 6 years.
  • 20000 SIP @ 12 % returns will grow to about 21 lacs in 6 years.
  • So at 50 years he will have 1.75 crores in Debt and 81 lacs in equity

Let us now look at deployment of corpus. In the first 10 years of retirement, his strategy can be the following:-

  • Interest from Debt portion will be to the tune of 14 lacs @ 8 % returns. This is definitely possible if he is into good quality Debt instruments.
  • As his child is in college and he is still relatively young, I will not reinvest this 2 lacs but spend it in discretionary expenditure such as travel or asset replacement.
  • At the end of 10 years, he will be 60 so the activities will reduce and on the balance his medical expenses may grow. I think an annual expense of 18 lacs will be enough. There is no need to calculate this by inflation formula – makes no sense at all to do so.
  • Assuming a 12 % return on equity his equity corpus will be 2.51 crores.

In the next decade his deployment can be as follows:-

  • Keep using the interest from Debt instruments and take out the remaining required amount from redeeming the principal.
  • Even after you finish the decade you will have some amount left in Debt instruments. I suggest you donate it to a charity of your choice.
  • Your equity investments would have grown to more than 7 crores by now and will be more than enough to last your life as well as live a legacy.

So to come back to the basic query – will you have enough to retire at 50? You bet you will. Now just shut out all the negative people with negative comments from your mind and go ahead with the plan. Honestly, if you are able to get the selection of instruments done on your own, you do not even need a Financial planner.

Will be happy to receive comments, feedback and criticism on the post.

How I use Mutual funds for my financial planning

Mutual funds are great instruments, not only because they let you invest in equity with reduced risk, but also due to the flexibility that they offer you in terms of all the aspects of your financial life. You can use them for goal based investments, as backup for goals, as emergency fund and also for regular income.

Over the years, I have probably used in all types of MF for taking care of the different needs in my financial life. I thought it will be a good idea to outline in a post as to what types of MF I have invested in and why. To keep the post short and sweet I will only outline the main issues and not go into the features of the MF types.

  • Equity MF Growth option: I have mainly used these for growing my portfolio. I do not really invest for specific goals, it is more like accumulating a pool of money that can be dipped into, as and when needed for a goal or some other emergency.
  • Equity MF Dividend option: I have invested in these mainly to get some regular tax free income. This forms part of my passive income base, helping my financial independence, without an active income. Most of these are close ended MF I have invested in the last 3-4 years. 
  • Balanced Funds: These provide some hedge against volatility of the markets and can be redeemed if I need money during a poor market situation.
  • Arbitrage Funds: I use this as an Emergency fund as the tax treatment is similar to that of an equity fund. Returns are low but better than FD and tax free.
  • Equity Income Funds: Similar logic as Balanced funds, helps me diversify risks. Can be redeemed if needed in a down cycle of the markets.
  • Monthly Income Plans : I have invested in the Growth option here as I am not depending on regular income from here. At the same time, I can redeem these if needed for some purpose. All of these investments are more than 3 years, so the tax incidence will be minimal.
  • Debt Funds: I have small investment in other Debt funds, mainly to lower the risks.
  • Fixed Maturity Plans: These provide stable returns and I get regular redemption from different schemes every 2-3 months. I use the capital gains as my passive income and reinvest the principal in some debt oriented instrument. With the declining rates Dual Advantage funds have been my choice of late.

As you can see from here, it is possible to invest entirely in different MF types and achieve both passive income as well as growth in your FI state. In my case, I do get some interest from tax free bonds and POMIS but that is strictly not needed. 

Are you using the versatility of different types of MF? If not, it is time you did it. I will do the next few posts on how retirement corpus can be deployed using MF.