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Makeover Matures Younger Retiree's Portfolio

By Christine Benz, (Morningstar)

CHICAGO (Morningstar) -- Susan, a retired finance executive, has put together an enviable portfolio. She has chosen her investments with care, and it shows. Rather than opting for a portfolio of funds run by household-name firms (though there's not necessarily anything wrong with that), her holdings largely consist of mutual funds overseen by top-notch boutique investment managers such as Royce, Wasatch and Amana. And even more important, she has been an avid saver and a successful investor, amassing a total of more than $2.8 million as of early May. Given her reasonable living expenses, she's in a good spot, even though she could be funding 30 or more years of retirement.

So what's the problem? Simply put, Susan's portfolio is out of sync with her life stage. Although she is 55 and recently retired, she has a minuscule bond position (2% of her total portfolio) and an only slightly larger cash stake (13% of assets). Susan is cognizant that her asset mix is more appropriate for someone in accumulation mode than a person actively tapping her portfolio to meet living expenses. "I recognize the need to reduce the volatility of my portfolio as well as to create a steady stream of income to live off of," she wrote.

At 55, single and already retired, a retired finance executive can have an enviable portfolio but still not be best positioned to pay for another 30 or more years of leisure.

As a single woman without kids, Susan has the freedom to enjoy the fruits of her years of hard work. "I want to spend retirement enjoying all the money I have saved," she wrote. "My goal is to die with one penny left in the bank!" In addition to making sure her portfolio can fund her living expenses and cover travel and other leisure pursuits, Susan would like to buy a new townhome within the next year, with an expected purchase price of $400,000 to $500,000.

More from Morningstar
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The before portfolio
Apart from its equity-heavy stance, Susan's portfolio has a lot to recommend it. It consists of three separate components: a rollover IRA, Roth IRA and taxable brokerage account that is her largest pool of assets (more than $2 million). In aggregate, her portfolio leans slightly toward small- and midsize firms and growth stocks over value, but is generally very diversified by investment style, company size, and geography.

Among Susan's anchor holdings are Meridian Growth (MERDX) , Harbor International (HAINX) , Amana Trust Growth (AMAGX) and Amana Trust Income (AMANX) and T. Rowe Price Small Cap Value (PRSVX). Susan acknowledges that she put a considerable amount of time and effort into selecting her investments, noting that she built her portfolio based on "diversification, allocation, asset location, risk factors, manager tenure, fees, tax efficiency, turnover and performance against the relevant index and category." Phew!

At the same time, her portfolio is arguably more busy than it needs to be, with more than 20 separate fund holdings, some of them relatively small positions. Susan also has about 20% of her assets riding on a single manager -- Nick Kaiser at Amana Growth and Amana Income. Kaiser has done a phenomenal job at his two charges. His shop is a small one, though, and the two funds may have similar biases because both are run in accordance with Muslim principles.

Last but not least, though she has ample cash to draw upon to meet living expenses as well as significant equity exposure to provide long-term growth, her portfolio doesn't include an intermediate portion, which should include core bond funds or even conservative- and moderate-allocation funds melding growth with stability.

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