Protecting your retirement cash flow

Given the wild global swings in January caused by uncertainty on inflation, interest rates and Russia sitting on the Ukraine border I write below to remind you of the protection that we have in place for clients that are in drawdown and hence needing the certainty of annual cash flow withdrawal in calm or volatile market conditions.

We continue to recommend that clients hold Institutional Structured Products as an asset class within their portfolios. In simple terms these are market-linked investments with a set maturity date. The attached graph illustrates how part of a portfolio could be invested in Structured Products with the remainder invested for long term growth.

Structured Products and why do we recommend as part of an income withdrawal strategy

  • Structured products is part of an investment strategy that offers the ability to generate positive returns from a flat or even a falling market, with a defined level of protection.
  • However, structured products are not without risk, the return from each product is contingent on the FTSE 100 Index not falling below a capital barrier. If the index is below the barrier on the day of maturity, your initial capital would be reduced by the percentage fall.
  • Whilst the structured products will not allow you to take advantage of all gains in the stock market, they will reduce your exposure to having to withdraw funds from the market in volatile times and/or falling markets .

The products held by Brewin Dolphin for clients with an income requirement are digital synthetics. These products offer a fixed maturity subject to the equity indices FTSE 100 (UK) & S&P 500 (US) both closing above predetermined levels on the maturity date of the product. The products therefore can act as a good diversifier to traditional equities as over the medium term their return will trend towards their fixed maturity values. As a result they tend to offer an attractive level of return even in environments where equity markets are flat to moderately falling.

The primary risk when holding a structured product which offers a defined return are the equity indicies closing below the set barrier levels at maturity. In this event a product would lose capital one for one with the market. Brewin Dolphin therefore set barriers at a conservative level when issuing a new product. They typically use barriers which are a minimum of 35% below the indices starting levels with a 6.5 year term. Brewin dolphin have back tested this barrier level and term through challenging markets such as the tech bubble, financial crisis and coronavirus sell off and a 6.5Y 35% product has matured with the full expected amount throughout. For example, £1 invested with Morgan Stanley today would mature at £1.30 in 2027 as long as the FTSE 100 buffer on that day was not breached.

To illustrate the current capital protection I have plotted the FTSE barrier levels of the following products commonly held by our clients against the current FTSE 100 level in the table and graph below:

We have seen some of the most severe market conditions ever experienced and the volatility in the market has been pronounced during the impact of Coronavirus – as illustrated in the graph above. However, the defensive ‘capital protection’ barriers offered by structured products means that, based on historical returns, the probability of any stock market falling sharply and not recovering during the average life of a structured product (between 5 and 7 years) is very low.  As a result short term volatility impacts you far less and allows the remaining portfolio to grow over the medium to long term.

As shown above an event much worse than Coronavirus would have to happen on the day of maturity to prevent receipt of the full proceeds.

I look forward to seeing you later this year

Kind regards




Posted in Blog, Wealth Management News.