Sequence of Returns Risk: Impacting Your Retirement Portfolio

Sequence of Returns Risk: Impacting Your Retirement Portfolio

The sequence of returns impacts investors when they are either adding to or withdrawing money from their investments, which can create risk depending on the sequence and the market conditions at the time. If an investor is not doing either, the there is no sequence of returns risk.

However, if an investor is drawing down their portfolio and not contributing new capital, there is the risk that the timing of withdrawals will negatively impact the overall rate of return available to the investor. The sequence of the withdraws is critical to the retirement portfolio lasting the investor’s lifetime:

  • Timing is everything- the timing of the withdrawals can damage the overall return and the portfolio that may not be recoverable.
  • Withdrawals during a bear market are more damaging than during a bull market
  • If a bear market lasts more than a few months, each withdrawal is not being offset by contributions, leaving the portfolio unable to recover what was withdrawn despite future gains.
  • Market sensitive investments have the potential to be impacted by sequence of return risk
  • Diversified portfolios are less likely to be impacted by sequence of return risk

There is no way to protect against sequence of returns risk but planning for it is important. One way is by including asset protected products such as fixed-indexed annuities in your retirement portfolio:

  • Your principal is protected during a down market, and your accumulation does not deplete either.
  • The accumulation grows on a tax-deferred basis.
  • The return is based on an index (ex. The S&P 500), which grows the annuity’s value over time.
  • Provide a guaranteed lifetime income and protection against longevity risk; you receive annuity payments for life.

Additional recommendations to protect against sequence of returns risk:

  • Continue working beyond regular retirement age and continue to contribute to your retirement savings.
  • Maximize your retirement portfolio contributions to create a sequence of returns risk withdrawal buffer.

If you have concern that your retirement portfolio may be at risk for sequence of returns risk, reach out to our office anytime.


Disclosure: An annuity is intended to be a long-term, tax-deferred retirement vehicle. Earnings are taxable as ordinary income when distributed, and if withdrawn before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty. If the annuity will fund an IRA or other tax qualified plan, the tax deferral feature offers no additional value. Qualified distributions from a Roth IRA are generally excluded from gross income, but taxes and penalties may apply to non-qualified distributions. Consult a tax advisor for specific information. Fixed Index Annuities are designed to meet long-term needs for retirement income, and they provide guarantees against the loss of principal and credited interest, and offer the reassurance of a death benefit for your beneficiaries. The interest credited is limited by either placing a cap on the amount of interest that can be earned (“cap” rate) and/or requiring a specified rate that must be surpassed within the index before interest will be credited (“spread rate”).

The interest credited on your contract may be affected by the performance of an external index. However, your contract does not directly participate in the index or any equity or fixed interest investments. You are not buying shares in an index. The index value does not include the dividends paid on equity investments underlying the equity index or the interest paid on any fixed income investments underlying any bond index. These dividends and interest are not reflected in the interest credited to your contract. Interest, if any, will vary depending upon the allocation option you choose. Choosing several allocation options (“diversifying”) does not ensure that interest will be credited. No allocation option provides the most interest in all market scenarios.

1192312c-0520 The sources used to prepare this material are believed to be true, accurate and reliable, but are not guaranteed. This information is provided as general information and is not intended to be specific financial or tax guidance. When you access a link you are leaving our website and assume total responsibility for your use of the website you are linking to. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided at this website. Nor is the company liable for any direct or indirect technical or system issues or any consequences arising out of your access to or your use of third-party technologies, websites, information and programs made available through this website.

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