Optimal asset allocation in retirement planning: threshold-based utility maximization

Bär M, Gatzert N, Russ J (2021)

Publication Type: Journal article

Publication year: 2021


DOI: 10.1108/JRF-04-2021-0060


Purpose The aim of this paper is to modify the shape of utility functions traditionally used in expected utility theory (EUT) to derive optimal retirement saving decisions. Inspired by current reference point based approaches, the authors argue that utility functions with jumps or kinks at certain threshold points might very well be rational. Design/methodology/approach The authors suggest an alternative to typical utility functions used in EUT, to be applied in the context of retirement saving decisions. The authors argue that certain elements that are used to model biases in behavioral models should-in the context of optimal retirement saving decisions-be considered "rational" and hence be included in a normative setting as well. The authors compare the optimal asset allocation derived under such utility functions with results under traditional power utility. Findings The authors find that the considered threshold levels can have a significant impact on the optimal investment decision for some individuals. In particular, the authors show that a much riskier investment than under EUT can become optimal if some level of income is secured by a social security and a significant portion of the distribution of terminal wealth lies below this level. Originality/value Contrary to previous work, this model is especially designed to assess the question of optimal product choice/asset allocation in the specific setting of retirement planning and from a normative point of view. In this regard, the authors first motivate the use of several thresholds and then apply this approach in a capital market model with stochastic stocks and stochastic interest rates to two illustrative investment alternatives.

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Bär, M., Gatzert, N., & Russ, J. (2021). Optimal asset allocation in retirement planning: threshold-based utility maximization. The Journal of Risk Finance. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRF-04-2021-0060


Bär, Maximilian, Nadine Gatzert, and Jochen Russ. "Optimal asset allocation in retirement planning: threshold-based utility maximization." The Journal of Risk Finance (2021).

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