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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2010
Pensionize Your Nest Egg is a must-read for anyone interested in securing a stable retirement income. Like the first reviewer, I make no pretense of objectivity. I know one of the authors from the Canadian Money Forum, and she's as gracious and insightful in print as she is online. The book is split into three sections.

The first section deals with pension basics such as defined benefit vs. defined contribution plans, the looming pension crisis, and the definition of pension. This section also deals with the major risks in securing retirement income: longevity risk, sequence of returns, and inflation. In defining pension (guaranteed, lifelong income stream), the authors ask a discomfiting, but necessary, question. If your employer/pension sponsor can renege on your pension benefits by declaring bankruptcy, do you actually have a pension? The authors' emphatic answer is no. Fortunately, the authors offer solutions for all of the above in part 2.

The second section deals with products that address the above problems. The authors do not endorse any particular company but introduce the concept of product allocation. Most are familiar with asset allocation, which determines the ratio of fixed-income to equities within a portfolio. Product allocation, on the other hand, refers to choosing types of financial products that address the risks cited in part 1. The authors describe 3 silos, or types of products, to purchase with your nest egg to deal with risks. One silo is composed of traditional investments like stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Products in this silo can grow (if the market does well!) to provide inflation protection, liquidity, and a financial legacy. However, products from silo 1 may not provide sustainable lifetime income (unless you invest very well or have a large sum) and are subject to sequence of returns risk (early negative returns can reduce an investor's sustainable income). Silo 2 comprises products guaranteeing lifetime income i.e. address longevity risk. the risk of outliving your savings. CPP is an example of an annuity-type product. Defined benefit pensions are another form of lifetime income. Indexed annuities can also deal with inflation risk but at the cost of lower initial payments. These products also deal with sequence of returns risk. However, these products have disadvantages too. The annuity contract is irreversible (i.e. illiquid), and, if markets do especially well, future growth accrues to the insurance company, not you. Another problem is counterparty risk, the risk that the other party/ company won't live up to its commitments. However, that risk exists already in defined benefit plans (just ask former Nortel employees). Also, insurance companies are closely regulated in Canada. Silo 3 consists of hybrids like guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit (GLWB) products, which are mutual/ segregated funds that guarantee a minimum withdrawal rate (usually 4-5%). As expected these products provide intermediate risk protection. They provide inflation protection and growth potential, but not as much as products from silo 1 (costs are higher for GLWB products). They offer protection from longevity risk, but not as much as an annuity.

Part 3 moves from theory to practice and gives the reader a step by step guide to pensionize retirement savings. The authors introduce the concepts of Wealth to Need ratio (WtN) and retirement sustainability quotient (RSQ). The WtN ratio is simply your needed annual retirement income divided into your total nest egg. The wealthier you are (or the lower your spending), the higher your WtN is. RSQ measures the likelihood your retirement will last your lifetime and is defined as fraction of pensionized income (e.g. annuity or DB plan) + fraction non-pensionized income X (1 - risk of portfolio ruin). Portfolio ruin is the risk that your portfolio will be exhausted. The higher your RSQ is, the more sustainable your retirement income is.

If you browse the finance category, you'll see tens of thousands of books on personal finance and thousands on investing, but I can think of only one that tells Canadians how to guarantee their retirement income - all for less than the cost of an average haircut! Do yourself a favour. Quit worrying about your future. Buy this book and plan it instead.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2010
This is the first book I've read that tackles the problem so directly: How are we supposed to create reliable retirement income when market returns are so unreliable? (The answer, by the way, is to use a portion of your portfolio to purchase an annuity.)

The authors walk you through how to use annuities to create your own personal pension--guaranteed income that will last the rest of your life, just like the title says. They give you a step-by-step plan to determine how much income you need and how much of your portfolio you should annuitize in order to provide that income.

The book is very readable--hardly any jargon and no complicated math. My only complaint, if any, would be that it's a bit light on the specifics of how to choose between different annuities. (For example, which riders are worth their cost?)

Highly recommended for any soon-to-retire (or recently retired) Canadian investor.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I undertook reading this book to assess whether the sort of G.L.W.B. (guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit) plan that my financial advisor (with Investors Group of Canada) has explained and offered to start up for me from my R.R.S.P. Although I trust him, I always like to counter-check the worth and reliability (to accomplish my own ends, not alone to make his company a profit!) of financial instruments such as this with a/some relevant good and specifically Canadian book(s) on the subject, rather than just from the company's own literature. (In case the reader is curious, Investors Group offers its G.L.W.B. plan in collaboration with Great-West Life Assurance Co., one of the insurance companies mentioned in the book.

Americans and Brits, alas, do not have the comfort level that Canadians do in regard to investment/insurance products that Canadians do, since, in the unregulated (or far too insufficiently or negligently regulated) context of financial/insurance institutions (and of real estate, too, for that matter) in the U. S. of A. and in the U.K., there is a level of fraud that our Dominion of Canada simply does not tolerate or permit. (That is one of the reasons that the current, at time of writing this the year 2011, financial crisis, in the U. S. of A. and in the U.K., is occurring.) If feasible, I would urge Canadians residing in the U. S. of A. (which is on a fast track to transforming itself, through the venality and corruption of its profiteering institutions of finance and its cynical yet slothful and intentionally imprudent governance, into a mere "banana republic") or in the U.K., and even Americans themselves, really, ought to consider doing their investing through Canadian channels if that be feasible and not too arduously inconvenient for them.

The authors of "Pensioni[s]e Your Nest Egg" do make as good a case for this financial method (in Canada) for the elderly as the company literature from Investors/Great-West does, so I am persuaded! There is good advice here also for middle-aged workers as they plan ahead for retirement. It helps that the authors of the book and of investors/Great-West's promotional brochures all write very clearly, even somewhat entertainingly ("solidly by not stolidly", as it were!), and that they avoid unduly technical complexity, even in the math entailed. So, if one wants to be sure that his retirement funds last through the end of life, no matter how long that may be, rather than to aim (worriedly, if one is shrewd about it) at some particularly advanced and arbitrarily set age in the future when coverage becomes exhausted, then I advise that the reader also acquire this book and consider the advantages of a G.L.W.B. plan.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 2011
Moshe and Alexandra have brought us a unique, stimulating, and most engaging discussion in Pensionize Your Nest Egg. Its value will last longer than most books, and is highly useful for advisors & the public. Highest accolades to you!
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