Pre- and post-retirement asset allocation: a simulation of retirement investment strategies for agricultural producers

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Virginia Tech


This research simulates pre-retirement investment scenarios for agricultural producers. Thirty-two investment scenarios are examined, with each scenario differing with respect to retirement vehicle, investment strategy of the producer, and the use of a cash margin for reinvestment in the operation versus prepaying term debt (cash preference). The retirement vehicles included in this study are Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), Simplified Employee Pension Plans (SEPs), and 401(k) plans. Investment strategies reflect the producer's preference for investing in conservative, balanced, or aggressive assets, or a combination of these assets. Further, these scenarios are examined for three methods of capitalization: Case I- an operation with a 50 percent debt/asset ratio; Case II - an operation with a 65 percent debt/asset ratio; Case III - an operation with a 65 percent debt/asset ratio with a majority of the farm land being leased.

The analytical model simulates the annual cash flows of a commercial agricultural operation for each investment scenario over a 30-year period. Stochastic rates of return, generated using a vector-autoregressive (VAR) model, are incorporated into the simulation model. Each scenario is replicated 100 times using different vectors of stochastic rates of return.

Results show investment in retirement vehicles does not significant reduce ending farm assets, regardless of investment strategy or cash preference of the producer. Use of retirement vehicles does have a significant positive impact on ending net worth for the producer. IRAs are not significant investment tools for producers (or spouses) who are participants in another qualified retirement plan.

Investment strategy has a major impact on ending net worth. Aggressive and dynamic (aggressive to conservative as retirement approaches) investment strategies dominate conservative and balanced strategies. Use of cash margin to prepay debt has no advantage over reinvesting in the farm.

Retirement vehicles greatly improve the probability of meeting estimated family living needs during retirement, and generate greater diversity and liquidity of the retirement portfolio. Further, retirement vehicles are more important for producer with highly-leveraged operations and for producers who lease a majority of their assets.