Lifecycle funds offered by retirement plan providers allocate aggressively to risky asset classes when the employee participants are young, gradually switching to more conservative asset classes as they grow older and approach retirement. This approach focuses on maximizing growth of the accumulation fund in the initial years and preserving its value in the later years. The authors simulate termil wealth outcomes based on conventiol lifecycle asset allocation rules as well as on contrarian strategies that reverse the direction of asset switching. The evidence suggests that the growth in portfolio size over time significantly impacts the asset allocation decision. Due to the portfolio size effect that is observed by the authors, the termil value of accumulation in retirement accounts is influenced more by the asset allocation strategy adopted in later years relative to that adopted in early years. By mechanistically switching to conservative assets in the later years of a plan, lifecycle strategies sacrifice significant growth opportunity and prove counterproductive to the participant's wealth accumulation objective. The authors' conclude that this sacrifice does not seem to be compensated adequately in terms of reducing the risk of potentially adverse outcomes.
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