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Tax-Efficient Decumulation Strategies for Retirement

June 8, 2022 Steve Zuschin By Steve Zuschin

The success of a retiree’s financial plan turns on first accumulating enough to fund a comfortable and worry-free retirement and then on executing withdrawals in the most tax-efficient way. The latter process is known as decumulation, and it’s one that LifeYield technology, integrated with a firm’s financial planning and trading platforms, helps produce better results for clients, advisors, and firms.

Goals of a Personalized Decumulation Strategy

The goal during the decumulation phase is to provide clients with the most after-tax retirement income. LifeYield approaches this goal through a set of functional objectives to:

LifeYield can help advisors and firms navigate these stages and steps through its technology that helps clients achieve “tax alpha” and enables:

Any single activity can prove fruitful for an investor. Working in harmony and coordinating can have an outsized effect on what an investor can save for retirement and the money available for income after an investor stops working. An EY study affirmed that this could improve investor outcomes by 33% or more during retirement (download the study).

Conventional Decumulation Strategies – Descriptions and Problems

There is a common rule of thumb for the sequence of withdrawals during decumulation. It is to distribute assets first from taxable accounts, then tax-deferred accounts, and finally tax-exempt accounts. Clients can enjoy reduced taxes on long-term capital gains by tapping taxable accounts first. In contrast, tax-deferred accounts treat long-term gains as ordinary income and impose required minimum distributions (RMDs) at age 72.

Another famous convention is the “4% Rule,” suggesting retirees withdraw 4% of their assets each year.

The conventional wisdom approaches suffer from several shortcomings, starting with that they are “one size fits all” – when that is rarely true. People have different assets, account types, risk tolerances, investment horizons, life expectancies, intentions for legacies to family or charity, etc. No, decumulation planning must be personalized.

Some other problems with conventional approaches include:

And, there’s more! Decumulation strategies that lower current tax liabilities may lead to higher tax rates later on – a tax-inefficient outcome. Higher-income individuals must also make choices cognizant of the effects of their income on their Medicare premiums (through Medicare income-related monthly adjustments) and the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax.

LifeYield’s Approach to Tax-Efficient Decumulation

LifeYield technology available to financial services firms integrates multiple features to maximize tax-efficient decumulation, evaluating and outlining the financial consequences on income and taxation for:

Benefits of LifeYield’s Decumulation Technology

Advisors and firms benefit from happier clients, including those with higher retirement income that can result from maximizing tax efficiency.

LifeYield can be a beneficial partner to platform builders at financial enterprises by helping them automate processes so financial advisors can:

All with zero disruption to current technology. LifeYield delivers its capabilities through modern, stateless APIs that lets firms advance their capabilities (without ripping up advisor desktops) to produce better outcomes through tax efficiency.

LifeYield connects the output of a client’s financial plan to the actions that optimize after-tax outcomes during retirement. By minimizing taxes during the decumulation phase, LifeYield increases firms’ assets under management (AUM), revenues, and client satisfaction.


Most retired investors, especially ones with significant resources, have little chance of adequately managing investment taxes on their own and simultaneously maximizing their after-tax income. They are looking for expert guidance, sometimes without even realizing it! Adding LifeYield’s Retirement Income Sourcing to your firm’s current methodology delivers the best decumulation solution available, benefiting clients, firms, and advisors’ practices.

Steve is the EVP of Advisor Success at LifeYield. He's responsible for leading our Direct-to-Advisor channel and always keeps up on the latest advisor technology. Steve writes about how advisors can grow their business by building stronger relationships with clients and adopting new technology.