Evidence-Based Answers to the Question:

"Will my money last me in retirement?"

View Our Brief Introduction

A sweeping view of market history

The Big Picture® reconstructs the investment experience of nearly one thousand retirees, each retiring on the first of the month from January 1926 onward. Stress-test portfolios against hundreds of actual market environments, and tell investors whether their income goals are realistic.

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Appeal to current and future retirees alike

The Big Picture will help you:
Attract clients through an interface that has been described as, "Fun and easy to use".
Show them the way on safe withdrawal rates, safe saving rates, asset allocation, and more.
Keep them engaged with the help of summary reports and follow-up conversations.

Build trust through understanding

Enhance your credibility by evaluating investors’ down-market preparedness, and illustrating the tradeoffs associated with different portfolio compositions, withdrawal rates, and lengths of retirement.

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"Besides illustrating very quickly the effect of assumption changes on withdrawal rates, it’s a lot of fun to use. I wish I’d had access to it in the early 1990’s, when I began my research on the so-called ‘4% rule.’"

William P. Bengen

Financial Advisor

"I can picture a time when most financial planners routinely use the Big Picture to explore portfolio choices with their clients."

Bob Veres

Financial Advisor

"There is a lot to like about this software."

Joel Bruckenstein

Fintech expert
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“Will my money last me in retirement?”

It’s the question that haunts every retiree… and that financial advisors like you are trusted to answer.

Introducing The Big Picture: A Safe Withdrawal Rate Calculator that will take you a big step closer to answering that question confidently.

Remember William Bengen’s groundbreaking “4% Rule”?

The Big Picture is the evolution of Bengen’s insights, revealing safe withdrawal rates across an array of portfolios. Tapping into data from the Center for Research in Security Prices at the University of Chicago, it traces the trajectory of nearly a thousand retirements since 1926.

Visualize the real-life ramifications of different asset allocations, withdrawal rates, and retirement durations. Test the resilience of portfolios against turbulent times, like 1970s “stagflation”, or see if they would falter even in prosperous eras like the stock market booms of the 80s and 90s.

It’s easy to navigate. Simply craft a portfolio from any of a dozen asset classes, input a few details, and the software shows how much spending that portfolio would have sustained through every market scenario we've encountered to date.

While other tools pivot on predictions, The Big Picture takes us back through time. It’s not about speculating on the future; it's about understanding the past to chart a clear course forward. And that’s what your clients truly value.

So, the next time you're asked, “Will my money last me in retirement?”, look to The Big Picture for perspective. Sign up for free at BigPicApp.co and show your clients The Big Picture today!

Big Picture Pricing:

  • Free Version: Access to basic functionality at no cost.
  • Premium Version: Enhanced features, additional charts, and other exclusive benefits available for $20/month. Includes a 14-day free trial.

Sign up now and you can cancel anytime.

The Big Picture is rooted in William Bengen's pioneering research that gave rise to the "4% Rule." Specifically, it hinges on the concept of consistent inflation-adjusted portfolio distributions throughout retirement. (However, by periodically updating inputs, The Big Picture effectively allows for an adaptive, “ratcheting” approach to safe spending).

While some advisors might be inclined to anticipate changes in spending based on projected needs in the distant future, or to adopt a "rules-based" approach, caution is advised.

Why? Sequence-of-returns research underscores a pivotal truth: a portfolio's performance in the initial years of retirement largely determines the long-term outcome. In contrast, performances in later years have less bearing. It’s of little value to model changes in spending based on future speculations when the early years carry such weight.

The "variable" spending strategy is not without these additional drawbacks:

  • Certain spending rules call for unrealistic reductions in spending.
  • Research on retirement spending patterns is inconclusive. Some studies indicate a decline as retirees embrace a laid-back lifestyle, while others point to increased medical expenses as age advances. A few even depict a U-shaped trend, blending both perspectives.

Predicting broad trends is challenging enough; pinpointing future changes to an individual retiree's spending is even more so. Unforeseeable market dynamics, life events, and random chance will shape a retiree's journey.

Given these constraints, Bengen's original fixed spending model stands validated. It's more pragmatic to occasionally recalibrate The Big Picture with current data than to adhere to a strategy based on outdated spending projections.

As experts like Michael Kitces have outlined, the “ratcheting” method allows retirees to adjust their spending—either granting themselves a “raise” when their portfolio appreciates or cutting spending if it declines. The Big Picture facilitates this methodology if revisited periodically with updated inputs.

So, here's our advice:

Kick off with a simulation for foundational insights on withdrawal sustainability. Return to The Big Picture semi-annually, annually, or post significant shifts in your client's portfolio or spending. Input your client’s latest parameters, recalibrate the retirement horizon based on the elapsed time since your previous analysis, and rerun the simulation. This iterative approach ensures alignment with ever-evolving reality.

The Big Picture adopts a historical approach, which stands in contrast to the "Monte Carlo" forecasts prevalent in conventional tools.

  • Monte Carlo Forecasting:
    • Relies on assumptions about future returns, volatilities, and correlations of the asset classes in a portfolio.
    • Uses these assumptions to randomly generate hypothetical portfolio trajectories.
    • Though valuable, it remains at its core a theoretical exercise.
  • The Big Picture's Historical Approach:
    • Presents the actual historical performance of asset classes.
    • Offers a tangible glimpse into how portfolios have fared in the past.
    The future is unknown, and neither the historical approach nor the Monte Carlo method offers definitive predictions. Instead, they serve as guides, hinting at strategies that might be sensible for the road ahead.