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4 Things Retirement Savers Should Know in 2021

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What we'll cover

  • Savers may want to watch for new retirement-related legislation  
  • Investors can draw on some lessons from last year about the value of staying the course 
  • The early part of the year could be a good time to do a risk tolerance assessment 

Everyone has a different vision of retirement. It could mean time spent on the beach, crisscrossing the country in an RV or just cozied up at home with a good book. But no matter what you envision (or how close or far away you are from your second act), there are steps you can take along the way to make sure that your retirement goals remain within reach. 

And reflecting on the past year may provide some guidance. One lesson from 2020 was that doing nothing can actually be one of the best moves for investors. That’s according to Michael Moran, pension strategist with Goldman Sachs Asset Management. In addition to market dynamics that could affect corporate pension and retirement accounts, Moran outlined his recommendations for what should be top of mind for retirement savers for the remainder of 2021, discussing them in an episode of The Daily Check-In earlier this year. Here are some of his main takeaways from that chat.

Watch for more retirement-related legislation

Investors may have more options to save for retirement, Moran says, if Washington uses 2021 to build on 2019’s SECURE Act. That legislation made it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans and increased retirement plan eligibility to many part-time workers, affecting savers in various ways. He says a potential “SECURE Act 2.0” might expand the avenues that workers have to save for retirement. 

Stay invested

Those who rode out the tumultuous period in 2020’s first quarter were rewarded when the markets bounced back in the final nine months of the year. That proved to be a valuable lesson, as Moran says investors who stayed the course, continued to invest and stayed with their strategic asset allocation, were able to reap the benefits.

Regularly checking in and assessing on your risk tolerance could also prompt a bigger change.

The value of staying invested is a good reminder for 2021 (and beyond), especially for retirement investors and people with defined contribution plans, like a 401(k). “It’ll be another case of staying the course and being in it for the long haul,” Moran said.

Reassess your risk tolerance

After last year’s market volatility, Moran said some people may have realized they had too much risk in their portfolio, while younger investors may have realized they too little risk. And these young investors, who didn’t have enough risk exposure, may have missed out when the markets rebounded in 2020. 

Regularly checking in and assessing on your risk tolerance could also prompt a bigger change, according to Moran: Some investors may realize they need additional help to manage their defined contribution plan portfolio – and, if their retirement plan sponsor offers it, take advantage of a managed account offering (this is when a professional money manager makes investment decisions on your behalf). 

Think about sources of income for retirement 

Even if your golden years are still more dream than reality right now, it’s a good idea to think about what will be on the menu for generating income in retirement, Moran said.

“Every year, more and more participants are retiring that are not covered by defined benefit programs, so they’re relying on their defined contribution program and Social Security,” Moran said. What this means is that retirees may not be fully covered by something like a pension for their income needs, so they’ll need to supplement with the money they contributed to a 401(k), IRA, along with Social Security benefits. The SECURE Act tried to address this issue by making it easier for plan sponsors to include annuities in workplace retirement plans. But it’s still a good idea to think about where your money will come from as you plan for retirement

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.