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The Bucket Investor’s Guide to Setting Retirement Asset Allocation

Off-the-shelf asset-allocation guidance doesn’t vary significantly for people who are still accumulating assets for retirement. Sure, there are human capital considerations: A worker with a more-volatile earnings trajectory, such as a commissioned salesperson, ought to have more safe assets than a tenured college professor. Similarly, the worker with a pension should be investing more aggressively than the investor who will rely exclusively on her own savings, plus Social Security, in retirement.


Beyond variations like those, however, glide paths for accumulators should look pretty similar: stock-heavy at the outset and well into middle age, transitioning to more bonds and cash as retirement approaches.


When closing in on retirement, however, one-size-fits-all retirement asset-allocation recommendations won’t cut it. Some retirees should have 50% (or even less) of their portfolios in stocks, while others should hold portfolios that are much more aggressive.


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