Planning Your Retirement Using The Monte Carlo Simulation

The city of Monte Carlo in the country of Monaco has long served as a playground for the jet set, where rich gamblers who can afford to lose huge sums of money come to play for big stakes in games of random chance where strategy and experience can provide little or no benefit. But those who are trying to plan for a secure retirement and can't afford to lose their savings don't want to take big chances with their money.

How It Works
Although naming this type of calculation after a gambling mecca may seem a bit ironic, it has come to be used in the financial arena to signify a planning technique used to calculate the percentage probability of specific scenarios that are based upon a set group of assumptions and standard deviations. This method of calculation has often been used in investment and retirement planning to project the likelihood of achieving one's financial or retirement goals and whether or not a retiree will have enough income to live on for life, given a wide range of possible outcomes in the markets. While there are no absolute parameters for this type of projection, the underlying assumptions for these calculations typically include such factors as interest rates, the client's age and projected time to retirement, the amount of the investment portfolio that is spent or withdrawn each year and the portfolio allocation. The computer model then runs hundreds or thousands of possible outcomes using actual historical financial data. The results of this analysis usually come in the form of a bell curve, where the middle part of the curve delineates the scenarios that are statistically and historically the most likely to happen while the ends, or tails measure the diminishing likelihood of the more extreme scenarios that could also occur.

Limitations
Despite its apparently thorough mathematical breakdown of possible future outcomes, recent market turbulence has served to expose a major weakness that seems to afflict this method of financial projections. While its supporters are quick to point out that Monte Carlo simulations generally provide much more realistic scenarios than simple projections that assume a given rate of return on capital, critics contend that Monte Carlo analysis cannot accurately factor infrequent but radical events, such as market crashes, into its probability analysis. Many investors and professionals who used this methodology were not shown a real possibility of market performance such as we have had over the past few years.

In his paper, The Retirement Calculator from Hell, William Bernstein clearly illustrates this shortcoming. He uses an example of a series of coin tosses to prove his point, where heads equals a market gain of 30% and tails represents a loss of 10%. If you start with a $1,000,000 portfolio and toss the coin once a year for 30 years, you will end up with an average annual total return of 8.17% over that time. That means that you could withdraw $81,700 per year for 30 years before exhausting your principal. If you were to flip tails every year for the first 15 years, however, you would only be able to withdraw $18,600 per year, while if you were lucky enough to flip heads the first 15 times you could take out a whopping $248,600. And while the odds of flipping either heads or tails 15 times in a row seems statistically remote, Bernstein further proves his point using a hypothetical illustration based on a portfolio of one million dollars that was invested in five different combinations of large and small cap stocks and five-year treasuries back in 1966. That year marked the beginning of a 17-year stretch of zero market gains when you factor in inflation. History shows that the money would have been exhausted in less than 15 years at the mathematically-based average withdrawal rate of $81,700. In fact, withdrawals had to be cut in half before the money lasted for the full 30 years.

How Can I Plan Realistically Instead?
There are a few basic adjustments that experts suggest can help remedy the shortcomings of the Monte Carlo projections. The first is to simply add on a flat increase to the possibility of financial failure that the numbers show, such as 10 or 20 percent. Another is to plot out projections that use a percentage of assets each year instead of a set dollar amount, which will greatly reduce the possibility of running out of principal.

The Bottom Line
There is no absolutely foolproof way to predict what will happen in the future. But running a Monte Carlo analysis that allows for the real possibility of disaster can give you a clearer picture of how much money you can safely withdraw from your retirement savings. For more information on Monte Carlo simulations, visit http://www.moneychimp.com/articles/volatility/retirement.htm or http://www.flexibleretirementplanner.com/wp/ or consult your financial advisor.

More From Investopedia

--

Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
Loading...
  • NTSB has yet to interview injured engineer in deadly crash
    NTSB has yet to interview injured engineer in deadly crash Associated Press - 21 minutes ago

    National Transportation Safety Board investigators held off questioning the engineer in the deadly Hoboken train crash because of his injuries Friday and struggled to lift clues from the train's black ... … More »

  • The Latest: Investigators say train crew 'very cooperative'
    The Latest: Investigators say train crew 'very cooperative' Associated Press - 27 minutes ago

    The Latest on a commuter train that crashed into a station in New Jersey, killing one person and injuring more than 100 others (all times local): 7:20 p.m. The National Transportation Safety Board says ... … More »

  • PM May orders employment law review as labour market changes
    PM May orders employment law review as labour market changes Reuters - 35 minutes ago

    British Prime Minister Theresa May ordered a review of employment practices on Saturday, saying she wanted to ensure workers' rights were protected under changing business models and a growing trend towards flexible or self-employment. The review … More »

  • Hammond says Brexit deal should not harm economy - Telegraph
    Hammond says Brexit deal should not harm economy - Telegraph Reuters - 39 minutes ago

    British controls on immigration following the country's referendum decision to leave the European Union must not be damaging for the economy, finance minister Philip Hammond was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph story on Friday. Hammond told … More »

  • China's yuan joins elite club of IMF reserve currencies Reuters - 47 minutes ago

    China's yuan joins the International Monetary Fund's basket of reserve currencies on Saturday in a milestone for the government's campaign for recognition as a global economic power. It is the first time that a currency has been added to sit … More »

  • Stocks rebound in Deutsche Bank-led volatile trading
    Stocks rebound in Deutsche Bank-led volatile trading AFP News - 55 minutes ago

    US and eurozone shares pushed higher Friday in volatile trade driven by Deutsche Bank's negotiations to settle US charges over its sale of toxic mortgage bonds before the financial crisis. News that Deutsche Bank was close to a much lower … More »

  • Accounting software maker BlackLine files for IPO Reuters - 1 hour 11 minutes ago

    Los Angeles-based BlackLine, founded in 2001 by Chief Executive Therese Tucker, counts Coca-Cola Co (KO.N), Under Armour (UA.N) and Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N) among its 1,500 customers. Reuters reported last week that the company was preparing for an … More »

  • Florida Lottery plans major expansion under huge new deal Associated Press - 1 hour 26 minutes ago

    The Florida Lottery — which just registered more than $6 billion in annual sales — is in line for a large expansion due to a massive new contract that state officials signed this month. Lottery officials, ... … More »

  • Deutsche Bank pressure eases as US fine looks smaller
    Deutsche Bank pressure eases as US fine looks smaller AFP News - 1 hour 31 minutes ago

    Heavy market pressure on Deutsche Bank eased Friday as a knowledgeable source told AFP the US fine over toxic debt it sold would be only $5.4 billion, not the $14 billion originally demanded. A person familiar with the talks between Deutsche Bank … More »

  • A Deutsche Bank settlement overshadows U.S. equities
    A Deutsche Bank settlement overshadows U.S. equities Reuters - 1 hour 39 minutes ago

    Deutsche Bank will likely cast a pall over equity markets next week as the largest German lender navigates a possible multi-billion dollar settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice over the sale of mortgage-backed bonds. Deutsche shares traded … More »

  • A Yahoo insider believes the hackers could really have stolen over 1 billion accounts
    A Yahoo insider believes the hackers could really have stolen over 1 billion accounts Business Insider - 1 hour 39 minutes ago

    REUTERS/Ruben Sprich Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer The actual … Continued The post A Yahoo insider believes the hackers could really have stolen over 1 billion accounts appeared first on Business Insider. … More »

  • IMF leader cites 'historic milestone' for China
    IMF leader cites 'historic milestone' for China Associated Press - 1 hour 46 minutes ago

    Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is calling the inclusion of China's renminbi as the fifth currency in an elite group of the world's reserve currencies an "important ... … More »

  • Chinese yuan set to join IMF's elite currency basket
    Chinese yuan set to join IMF's elite currency basket AFP News - 1 hour 49 minutes ago

    China's yuan is poised to enter the International Monetary Fund's elite SDR basket of currencies, elevating Beijing's banknotes into a family long exclusive to global reserve assets. A symbolic coup for policymakers in Beijing, the move represents … More »

  • Business Highlights Associated Press - 1 hour 52 minutes ago

    ___ Malls, stores consider new ways to protect shoppers More sophisticated cameras. Security robots. Customers feeling shaken by recent attacks at U.S. malls may not notice huge changes — but mall operators ... … More »

  • The only executive to hold a high-ranking position at both Uber and Lyft is leaving Uber
    The only executive to hold a high-ranking position at both Uber and Lyft is leaving Uber Business Insider - 1 hour 54 minutes ago

    Uber Uber’s VP of Driver Growth, Travis VanderZanden, … Continued The post The only executive to hold a high-ranking position at both Uber and Lyft is leaving Uber appeared first on Business Insider. … More »

  • Trump vs Miss Universe: White House race hits new low
    Trump vs Miss Universe: White House race hits new low AFP News - 2 hours 26 minutes ago

    Donald Trump urged voters on Friday to check out the supposed "sex tape" of a former Miss Universe backing his rival Hillary Clinton, provoking the Democrat to label him "unhinged" in a surreal new turn to the White House race. In a pre-dawn … More »

  • Data storage provider Nutanix soars in market debut
    Data storage provider Nutanix soars in market debut Reuters - 2 hours 28 minutes ago

    After getting strong encouragement from investors, the company kept nudging up the asking price for shares from the $11 to $13 range set early last week, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Dheeraj Pandey said in an interview on Friday. … More »

  • Municipal-bond week in review: Yields sag then finish strong Associated Press - 2 hours 31 minutes ago

    Yields on municipal and Treasury bonds sagged this week on concerns about the health of Germany's largest bank, before retracing their steps on Friday. The 10-year yield on the AP Municipal Bond index ... … More »

  • Nutanix exceeds expectations in upsized IPO Reuters - 3 hours ago

    San Jose, California-based Nutanix's share price exceeds the $13.40 value last placed on its shares in a 2014 funding round, an upgrade encouraging for the many unprofitable technology companies that, like Nutanix, have been weary of testing public … More »

  • US stocks rally on Deutsche Bank deal AFP - 3 hours ago

    US stocks rose strongly Friday as financial shares surged on news that Deutsche Bank was near a settlement with US regulators over its sale of toxic mortgage bonds before the financial crisis. US-traded ... … More »

  • How the Dow Jones industrial average fared on Friday Associated Press - 3 hours ago

    U.S. stocks climbed Friday as banks made a rapid recovery following a steep fall a day ago. Investors hoped Deutsche Bank and the financial system in general were in better shape than they had feared. ... … More »

  • Global stocks jump, euro edges up as Deutsche Bank rebounds
    Global stocks jump, euro edges up as Deutsche Bank rebounds Reuters - 3 hours ago

    By Richard Leong NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock prices across major markets rose on Friday, while the euro stabilized as Deutsche Bank's shares recovered from record lows on a report it is close to a deal ... … More »

  • Dutch summon Russian ambassador over MH17 comments
    Dutch summon Russian ambassador over MH17 comments AFP News - 3 hours ago

    Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders has summoned Russia's ambassador over "unacceptable" comments by Moscow criticising a report into the downing of flight MH17, officials said on Friday. "Responding to the presentation of the initial findings... … More »

  • Oil up second straight month on OPEC-fuelled rally
    Oil up second straight month on OPEC-fuelled rally Reuters - 3 hours ago

    Oil prices settled mixed on Friday while posting their second straight monthly gain on OPEC's planned output cuts, even as scepticism about the cartel's pledge grew after data suggested another record high in its production. Brent crude settled up … More »

  • Stocks jump, euro edges up as Deutsche Bank rebounds
    Stocks jump, euro edges up as Deutsche Bank rebounds Reuters - 3 hours ago

    By Richard Leong NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock prices across major markets rose on Friday, while the euro stabilized as Deutsche Bank's shares recovered from record lows on a report it is close to a deal ... … More »

 
Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
 
Sign-in to view quotes in your portfolios.

MARKET MOVERS

  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.152-0.008-5.00%
    N21.SI
    0.12+0.01+12.15%
    40F.SI
    0.115+0.003+2.68%
    40E.SI
    0.113+0.007+6.60%
    43E.SI
    3.97-0.05-1.24%
    Z74.SI
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.186+0.025+15.53%
    AWS.SI
    0.12+0.01+12.15%
    40F.SI
    0.164+0.016+10.81%
    40N.SI
    1.35+0.11+8.43%
    U19.SI
    0.475+0.035+7.95%
    NC2.SI
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    0.36-0.24-40.00%
    AWG.SI
    0.20-0.06-23.08%
    AWI.SI
    0.27-0.03-11.48%
    BQO.SI
    0.30-0.03-9.09%
    5VP.SI
    0.265-0.025-8.62%
    BKA.SI

Market Data

  • Currencies
    Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1.3618-0.0022-0.16%
    USDSGD=X
    1.5296-0.0004-0.03%
    EURSGD=X
    1.7640-0.0041-0.23%
    GBPSGD=X
    74.1220+0.051+0.07%
    SGDJPY=X
    5.6879+0.0039+0.07%
    SGDHKD=X
    3.0355+0.0126+0.42%
    SGDMYR=X
    9,608.6318+65.9189+0.69%
    SGDIDR=X
    4.8930+0.006+0.12%
    SGDCNY=X
    1.0421+0.0012+0.12%
    AUDSGD=X
  • Commodities
    Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
    1,318.80-7.20-0.54%
    GCZ16.CMX
    19.25+0.06+0.30%
    SIZ16.CMX
    94.00-1.01-1.06%
    ^XAU
    2.21+0.02+1.07%
    HGZ16.CMX
    43.85+0.41+0.94%
    CLV16.NYM
  • Bonds
    Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change
    1.16+0.04
    ^FVX
    1.61+0.05
    ^TNX
    2.34+0.06
    ^TYX