Retirement Planning

Blockchain Can Usher In Community-Driven Retirement Planning

A founder of a blockchain-based retirement planning platform says this is a good time to start.

It is understandable why today’s retirement savers, whether they are millennials or baby boomers, want to have more control over their savings.

The need for trusted, yet affordable financial advice and information has never been greater. However, retirement savers are often left out of decision making, and they may feel inadequately addressed or disenfranchised.

It makes sense why someone would turn to a robot-advisor and put their trust in algorithms, with the goal of making the right decisions. The question is, what technology will people turn to next?

Just as savers are excellent at adapting, financial planners will also soon have to adapt to the decentralized world of blockchain (essentially one giant, distributed ledger) and smart contracts, which will give more ownership and empowerment to the global community of retirement savers.

Community-driven platforms are changing virtually every industry, not just financial planning. And, automated platforms and community-driven platforms are not necessarily the same thing. In a community-driven platform, how good behavior and good performance are incentivized and rewarded is redefined. Simply put, the advent of blockchain will turn the financial industry into a financial community.

Insecurities everywhere are causing people to seek control over their lives across the board, from how they generate income to how they take care of their health and how they can educate themselves. For example, where the traditional career ladder has faded away, the gig economy has risen.

Where university tuition costs have gone out of reach, alternative online education platforms have risen. This has all been made possible by community-driven platforms, or marketplaces that come together without middlemen, and without centralized verification.

Financial planners have been adapting to robot-advisors, and blockchain and cryptocurrency will be coming next. According to a recent survey by my company, Auctus.org, 6% of respondents said that they would consider using cryptocurrencies as an investment option for their retirement plan, and 14% said that they were unsure about the idea but interested. In a $36 trillion global retirement assets market, these results could mean that many people are open to trying blockchain-based systems and that the era of use of blockchain and cryptocurrency in retirement planning has only just begun.

Furthermore, according to our survey, 49% of respondents said that they did not feel like they had control over their retirement plan, and 48% of respondents said that they did not feel as if they had a transparent view of all taxes and performance results of their retirement investments.

While robot-advisors have exploded in popularity, the most popular robot-advisors have centralized platforms, without the involvement of the community. This is where decentralization may bridge the gap. Blockchain and smart contracts can bring more efficiency to contract execution and transaction settlement, provide more secure record keeping, and provide a permanent track record of all suggested allocations and predictions. The global community of retirement savers will not only benefit from automation, but it will benefit from an unprecedented level of visibility, access, and involvement.

For example, smart contracts can be programmed so that advisement fee structures are goal-based. Meaning, fee structures could be based on actual results that are openly visible and accessible on the blockchain. Therefore, community-driven retirement planning could prevent people from paying for bad advice, without the need for a centralized verification mechanism.

Finally, the reasons why people are open to mixing cryptocurrency into their retirement plans may surprise you and might debunk some myths and stereotypes about the crypto-economy.

When survey respondents were asked why they would use cryptocurrency as an investment, the potential for high returns was not at the top of the list, contrary to popular belief. While 26% said that they would use cryptocurrency as an alternative form of investment, 19% said they would use cryptocurrency for diversification purposes, compared with 18% who said they would use it for the potential of getting high returns. This shows that people may mix cryptocurrency into their retirement plan more for practical reasons, for stability and security, and not necessarily in an attempt to get rich quick.

At the same time, a study by Signal Plot that calculated the correlation between 1,400 ETFs vs. Bitcoin calculated a correlation between Bitcoin and other financial assets of -0.1 and +0.1. This is extremely low. This is a strong argument for including Bitcoin, and other cryptocurrencies with similar correlations, as a significant part of a portfolio of risky assets. Finding and adding an uncorrelated asset to a portfolio can act as a powerful source of diversification by increasing the portfolio’s Sharpe ratio.

In my view, with the advent of blockchain upon us, it would be wise for financial advisors to start re-imagining the nature of what they do as less of an industry and more of a community.

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Consider Retirement Options

Consider Retirement Options

When it comes to planning your retirement you will find that there are many options available to the savvy investor. The problem isn't necessarily in investment opportunities but the knowledge that is needed in order to turn those opportunities into wild successes. For this reason alone, I recommend that your first stop along the path to financial retirement investment be at the door of a competent financial planner.

Most of are more than willing to go to the experts for advice when problems arise and yet for some reason have major problems seeking the services of those who are trained to assist us in our financial planning endeavors. You should consider your options carefully and decide what is in your best interest. The best way to do this is with the information that a good financial planner can provide and by listening to his or her guidance.

One thing you will probably be told is the importance of diversity in your investment portfolio. We all have been told many times never to put all of our eggs in one basket and the same holds true when it comes to investing your retirement. All investments are a gamble; some carry more risks than others. You must keep in mind that every penny you invest is subject to loss however and make your investment decisions by how much of a risk the particular investment presents and how much you are willing to lose if the investment doesn't pan out.

Perhaps the most common investment choice for retirement funds is mutual funds. These offer the ability to invest long-term with lower risk than many other investment options you will come across. These funds present a higher risk than other investments but are a good moderate risk investment for those who have little knowledge of how the market actually works. There is a fund manager that is in charge of making the actual investment decision for the collective pool of the fund and his or her job to decide where to put the money for which they have been entrusted. This leaves the critical decisions out of your hands and off your mind.

If mutual funds seem boring to you, there are other higher risk investment opportunities in the form of stocks. I seriously recommend studying the market carefully and completely before making the leap into stock trading but this can be quite the short-term quick profit rush that you are looking for if you are willing to risk your retirement investment for the sake of increasing your net worth. If you do choose to invest in the stock market please take the time to learn the proper procedures, the risks, and the process before diving in. If you have a financial planner (and you definitely should) then he or she may prove to be an exceptional resource when it comes to the practice of 'playing' the stock market.

Securities are a very complicated process that many of us would feel better never needing to understand. If you need a little more adrenaline pumping, heart clutching moments when it comes to you financial retirement and are willing to risk the need to work for the rest of your life in the process you may find that this is just the boost for you. Be sure however, not to rest all of your hopes and dreams for retirement on the allure of securities trading as this is a very high risk field for those who do know what they are doing. For those who have little experience it can prove to be a financially fatal flaw.

Learning the ins and outs of the investment process in addition to the options that are available to you through the course of your own financial retirement planning is like going to war with the proper weapons and armor rather than a slingshot and a rock. The problem is that while there are some financial Goliath's out there that are simply waiting to be tamed, most investment strategies present their own unique needs that should be understood and monitored.

 

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