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By Jason Stipp | 01-20-2011 06:07 PM

The Top Headwinds Facing Retirees

Ahead of Morningstar's Retirement Portfolio Week, director of personal finance Christine Benz highlights some of the key dilemmas facing retirees today and the strategies we'll be sharing in the days ahead.

Jason Stipp: I am Jason Stipp for Morningstar.

It's Retirement Portfolio Week on Morningstar.com, and we wanted to kick off our coverage by talking about some of the headwinds that retirees are facing today.

Here with me to discuss is Morningstar's Christine Benz, director of personal finance.

Thanks for joining me, Christine.

Christine Benz: Jason, great to be here.

Stipp: So, I guess the bad news is there are a lot of headwinds that retirees are facing today. The good news is, this week we hope to get some answers, some solutions, and some tips to help investors manage through some of these.

Christine, if you had to pick out the top headwind facing retired investors right now, what would that first issue be?

Benz: Well, certainly based on comments on articles and also e-mails I have been receiving from users directly, it's rising rates. People are very worried about how their fixed-income portfolios will behave against the headwind of rising interest rates. So we're really hoping to shed some light on survival strategies in what could be a rising rate environment.

Mark Balasa, he is financial planner here in the Chicago area, will be joining us on Monday. He is going to be talking, I am sure, about some of the strategies that he is using in his client portfolios. He e-mailed me the other day and said he has never received so many questions about bonds from his clients before.

One thing we'll be interested to hear is whether rising rate worries at least in the very near term are somewhat overblown? Miriam Sjoblom, who will also be sitting down with us to discuss fixed income, will be talking about what she is hearing from some of the fund managers that she and the team interview. It will be interesting to get that institutional investor perspective on whether rising rate worries could be really overblown at this point.

Stipp: So Miriam and Mark will be joining us for two webcasts that we'll be doing; one will be live on Monday, one that will be airing on Friday.

So speaking of fixed income, I know another area of concern is the muni market, and there is a lot of worry about that financial strength of municipalities. What do you hope to learn on that front?

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