MIAMI - Target-date funds have an “implicit guarantee” to deliver a particular return by a particular time, according to CNBC “Power Lunch” co-anchor Tyler Mathisen.

Are the funds being marketed responsibly?

Yes, contends Matthew Coldren, executive vice president of Natixis Global Associates. There’s no hiding that the value of assets held in target-date funds change over time. Values go up and down – and there is no guarantee of a final result

The job is to help customers look at what funds are in the target-date funds. What are the components? Is the fund complex putting its best funds in the target group? Or small funds looking for a home? What comprises the offering?

Yes, also contends John Parkhouse, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

People want the relative certainty of a target-date fund. They want “outcome” products.

And these funds focus on delivering results over a particular time horizon.

The big benefit, according to Touchstone Investments president Steve Graziano is that the target-date funds have “helped people focus on retirement.”

They are “really good products for the long-term investor,’’ he said. “But it’s a balancing act,’’ between focusing on delivering a return at a particular future date and having the right assets that produce it.

The need for target-date funds is becoming more important as Baby Boomers age. The post-war generation is at the point of drawing down holdings and looking for income from assets they hold.

In the past, Graziano noted, the recommendation has been to have a “balanced portfolio” and drawn down 4% of the value each year.

But, Parkhouse noted, retirement ages have stayed largely the same, while lifespans have been going up.

Coldren’s parents, for instance, worked until they were 70, because they were not ready for retirement.

Which means explaining the benefits and risks of target-date funds critical. Jokingly, the panelists at the 2013 NICSA Annual Conference and Expo said, whatever you do with the literature or Web information you give them on the products: Make the fonts bigger.




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