Life After United Airlines: Surviving a Bear Market in Retirement

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The recent market shift has put us in the midst of a bear market. Getting caught in a bear market early on in your retirement can really take a toll on a retiree’s assets. A number of my UAL clients have reached out to me, as they’re concerned about losing their nest egg if the market doesn’t turn around soon. It can be difficult for a retiree to make their assets last as long as they need, especially when the market downturn comes during the early years of their retirement.

Working hard and saving is only half the battle when it comes to making sure you’re taken care of in retirement. Much of it comes down to having a sound investment strategy and being able to adjust that strategy based on the market.

The key for survival for retirement assets will always be preparing for the worst case scenario. Cash flow projections and a proper asset allocation will help prepare retirees so their assets and their income streams can survive through a bear market and continue to provide needed income all the way through their 30+ year retirement. When retirees are caught in a bear market (as many are right now) or a sideways market early in their retirement, they must re-evaluate their retirement plan and make decisions on how to protect and supplement current and future income streams.

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The market is highly unpredictable and while assumptions can be made with some confidence over the long-term, there are no guarantees that they will come true. The market is even more unpredictable in the short term. No one can predict with certainty when a bear market will occur or how long it will last. Therefore, investors should look to control what they can, protect against risk and be conservative when approaching or entering retirement. “Starting with a conservative initial withdrawal amount and perhaps cutting back when encountering sustained periods of market decline can help mitigate the impact of such fluctuations on the retiree’s long-term financial success. It may also enable investors to increase withdrawals later as markets recover”.


The Retirement Group or
“Retirement Plans-Benefits & Savings.” U.S. Department of Labor, 2019,
“Generating Income That Will Last throughout Retirement.” Fidelity, 22 Jan. 2019,
UAL Summary Plan Description, 2017