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DPL’s annual RIA Retirement Planning Survey finds many advisors struggle with new interest rate realities

July 30, 2020

LOUISVILLE, KY. (July 30, 2020) – DPL Financial Partners, the leading insurance network for registered investment advisors (RIAs), today released findings from its third annual survey of financial advisors that suggest many are finding it challenging to evolve investment strategies to meet client needs for secure, predictable retirement income and protection from market volatility. Based on responses from more than 200 advisors, the study measured their retirement planning attitudes and practices, their understanding of clients’ retirement income concerns and priorities, and their strategies to meet clients’ income needs.

“Taking a step back and looking at the responses as a whole, it appears that advisors still largely rely on traditional, investment-only strategies to generate income for clients, and that’s getting harder and harder to do in today’s interest rate environment,” said DPL Founder and CEO David Lau.  “Advisors have generally done a great job helping clients accumulate and grow wealth for retirement, but with the low interest rate environment, traditional safe assets like cash and bonds can’t fund retirement income any longer, leading many advisors to add riskier assets to retirement portfolios.”  

Lau noted that advisors said they sell equity positions to generate cash (44%) and allocate more heavily to dividend paying stocks (45%) to bridge the shortfall in retirement income brought about by low interest rates.  Many also indicated they have invested client assets in riskier fixed income instruments in a search for yield. 

“Due to our prolonged interest rate environment, advisors feel the need to dial up investment risk to meet income needs, thereby exposing clients to sequence of returns risk, which can be devastating for those nearing retirement or recently retired,” Lau said.  “We are working hard to educate advisors about no-load annuity products, built expressly to help RIAs solve the income problem while reducing, rather than increasing, risk for clients. We continue to bring more products to market for RIAs all the time.” 

Among other findings from the survey:

  • Despite many economists’ predictions of a long-term period of low interest rates, 71% of respondents said they expect fixed income returns to be higher than 2.51% going forward.
  • 58% of advisors say they have had to increase the risk in clients’ retirement portfolios over the last 10 years to generate the same amount of income.
  • Advisor awareness of the academic research in support of annuities for guaranteed income increased by 11% over last year.
  • To manage longevity risk, almost half of respondents said they primarily rely upon a “safe withdrawal rate”, followed by “manage client spending.” However, the use of annuities has doubled year over year with 17% saying they use an annuity, up from only 8% in 2019.

The RIA Retirement Planning Survey Executive Summary and Key Findings is available on DPL’s website at

About DPL Financial Partners
DPL Financial Partners is the first and leading RIA turnkey insurance management platform that brings commission-free insurance solutions from a variety of the nation's top carriers to RIA practices. DPL has created a marketplace of commission-free insurance products that enables RIAs to incorporate insurance and annuities into their practices to more holistically serve their clients. Clients benefit from products that offer competitive pricing and fiduciary implementation rather than commissioned, sales-driven ones.


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