Stock up your savings now if you want to enjoy retirement

MONEY & BUSINESS: Stock up your savings now if you want to enjoy retirement



Yes, Larry Fink really stepped in it when he started messaging woke Environmental Social Governance as the savior of mankind.

But this column has always sought to put his career into the context it deserves.

Fink is one of the most knowledgeable financiers on the planet, and it’s worth paying attention to what he says on the next crisis to hit average Americans: not having enough money for retirement. 

Fink gets tarred, a bit unfairly IMHO, for proselytizing about corporate wokeism and its manifestation in so-called ESG investing, i.e. asset managers prodding companies to reduce their carbon footprint and be good citizens of the world, instead of the necessities like building shareholder value and employing people.

Truth be told, he has never been for divestiture from fossil fuels, and if you know him, he’s not that woke. 

Even so, he does a lot less of that stuff now as ESG has become so politically toxic.

Good thing because it also overshadowed his many achievements during his 40-plus-year career on Wall Street.

Recall, Fink is one of the fathers of so-called securitization that allows banks to make 30-year home loans, extending homeownership to the working class.

He created BlackRock literally from scratch because he saw promise in a business that helped average people tap the markets to build wealth.

Since BlackRock is now the world’s largest money manager with $10 trillion in AUM, when Larry Fink speaks, people should listen. 

That’s why I pay attention to his annual “Chairman’s Letter” — think-pieces he writes about everything from current events to investing trends.

His 2024 letter, released last week, provides ample evidence that the country is on the verge of a retirement crisis unless the average American makes some much-needed changes to his or her savings diet. 

Fink, of course, makes money by getting you to give yours to BlackRock, so it’s logical to ask whether he’s talking his book with his prediction and the remedies he’s calling for.

Maybe.

That said, his facts are compelling.

As Fink told me, medical advances involving cancer treatments, drugs to combat Alzheimer’s, even stuff like Ozempic, the weight-loss pill that could be effective in treating maladies stemming from obesity, will further expand the average life span beyond its current age of 77. 

Tap US capital markets 

Put simply, banking on Social Security just won’t cut it and many Americans will need more money not to end up in the poorhouse after they retire.

On average, we’re likely to live past 77, certainly more than the retirement age of 65, so we need to plan accordingly. 

One way to do so, he says, is by tapping into the US capital markets, which he says is the envy of the world and provides maybe the only place to find investment returns necessary for a comfortable retirement.

To be sure, there are scammers out there (crypto bro Sam Bankman-Fried just got 25 years for ripping off people in his crypto exchange), and lots of others all over social media selling the next get-rich-quick scheme. 

But they’re outliers.

Our markets, for the most part, are not just efficient, they often protect investors from theft.

Big firms are all highly regulated.

They also all offer low-cost and relatively seamless access to the stock market through index funds, exchange traded funds and individual blue-chip stocks. 

And, Fink says, market trends are in your favor if you start tapping them now.

Fink brushed aside concerns that the S&P and Dow — currently in record territory — are in a bubble and on the verge of popping.

There might be a correction or two or three, but Fink says advances in technology, including artificial intelligence, combined with strong corporate balance sheets have made the US economy and by extension, the markets, hyper-efficient. 

The Fed may cut rates once this year or stand pat again if the data doesn’t improve on prices (he’s predicting a June rate cut).

Yet, he still sees no significant recession in sight.

Put all that together and he’s hyper bullish on US stocks. 

“I’m a believer in our country and I’m a believer in our capitalism,” he told me last week during an interview on Fox Business.

“And I believe that in 10 years we’re going to look back and say these are good 10 years.” 

That’s why Fink, even past retirement age at 71, says he’s fully invested — “100%” — in stocks. 

Again, he is also a billionaire, so the question becomes what do we mere mortals do?

Fink says trust the record of the stock market, and “the notion of compounding,” which results when you buy shares or funds holding shares of high-quality companies.

Your money will grow exponentially as these companies power the US economy. 

But also verify.

Average folks need to expand their knowledge of markets and investing; they might also be forced to retire after 65 to build up their nest egg.

Above all they can’t think they’re going to outsmart the pros, and they need to stick to the basics — stocks of companies at the forefront of the new economic trends. 

And by all means, don’t get your information from dubious sources on social media or you will end up like all those bag-holding “meme stock” investors sitting on losses after shares fell to where they were before the irrational exuberance ­began. 

“We spend so much time on health, we spend not enough time on financial literacy,” Fink tells me.

“We need to have more people understand what I’m talking about.” 

They can start by reading his l­atest CEO letter on BlackRock.com.



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