Podcast: Episode 7
How will you pay yourself in retirement?
Learn how to optimize your income sources in retirement to create tax-efficient income you can’t outlive.
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TIAA Perspectives Podcast Episode 7: Make the most of what you already own Hosted by Jim Daniello, CFP®, wealth management director for TIAA. Joined by Dan Keady, CFP®, Chief Planning Strategist with TIAA and Benny Goodman, TIAA Annuity Expert and Actuary. - [Jim] Hi, everyone. I'm Jim Daniello, a wealth management director for TIAA. Thank you for joining me for another installment of TIAA's of Perspectives Podcast, where we'll talk about financial planning strategies, money management tips, and steps you can take now to remain on track towards your goals. Today, we're talking about Guaranteed Income in Retirement and how to make the most of what you already own. Joining me are my colleagues, Dan Keady, and Benny Goodman. Dan is a Chief Planning Strategist and a Certified Financial Planner Professional. And Benny, is a TIAA Annuity Expert and Actuary. Great to have you both with us. - [Dan] Thanks Jim. - [Benny] Thanks for having us. - [Jim] Now today, we'll be talking about the different ways you can optimize your income in retirement beginning with, one, how to pay yourself when you're no longer working. Two, tax efficient strategies for drawing income in retirement. And three, ways to turn savings into a regular income stream. Dan, Benny, I'm sure you've seen this as well. Clients are often unsure of what they own in their different accounts or how to put those assets to work for them as efficiently as possible in retirement. So to our listeners, if this sounds like you stay tuned. Our goal today is to help you understand what you own, and how to best optimize your various assets, to provide a highly tax efficient income stream in retirement. Let's start at the beginning. How will you pay yourself when you're no longer working? Dan, Why is it so important to be able to answer this question well before you pull the plug on work? - [Dan] Jim, income is used to pay for first, needs essential expenses, like housing, food, clothing, transportation, healthcare. And once those things that can make you happy, but you could if you had to cut back or perhaps even eliminate them. And then finally, wishes. Those things that can really make and encompass your vision for an ideal retirement. Remember your income needs, have to last as long as you do. And that could be 2030, or even more years. - [Jim] Dan, that's such an important point. A lot can change over several decades in retirement. That makes it really important to understand where your income will come from, and how long it may last. Now, Dan, can you provide our listeners with a brief refresher on the typical sources of income in retirement? - [Dan] Yeah, Jim. Typical sources people use to structure their retirement income, is Social Security first. And that could cover perhaps 30, 40% of the income need in retirement. And retirement savings and employer plans. For example, 403 b plan, 401 s, IRAs and pensions. But pensions, those traditional check for life pensions, are not as common anymore. And you may have additional sources of income such as rental income or even income from a trust or a business interest. - [Jim] I wanna bring Benny into our discussion as well. Benny, as you're meeting with clients, what are people most concerned about when it comes to their income in retirement? - [Benny] I think Dan hit on it. It's about outliving savings. Nobody wants to be alive without money. And very often you have these models that say, "You probably won't run out of money". "There's an 80% chance of success". To me, that means there's a 20% chance of failure, which is about 20% too high. So it's all about not outliving your money. Now, why might people outlive money? The number one risk, get them an Actuary. So I think about this a lot, which is longevity. People are living a lot longer than they used to live, which is a good thing. It's a good thing, right? 80 is the new 60. But it comes with the risk of outliving savings. You live too long and your money runs out. Other risks might include, a recession, low interest rates. Might be easy enough to live off a bond portfolio when interest rates are five or 6%. That's doable. But when rates are one to 2%, not as doable anymore. Inflation is obviously a problem. There are costs that go up in retirement. They do vary by retirees. So does that depend. And not all inflation is the same. Over the last 20 years, the average inflation across the United States has been about 2%. But if you look just at healthcare, it might be close to the 6%. So that also drives things, taxes. I hope we'll talk more about that later. Maybe I spend too much too soon. You thought you had more than you did. And the next thing you don't have much. And lastly of course, is the impact of a downmarket, especially early in retirement that could blow up your plan. - [Jim] Those are great points, Benny. Let's stay on that last one. The impact of a down or volatile market when you're taking income in retirement. Many of our listeners have likely heard about the 4% rule, which is a really oversimplified approach, to taking income in retirement. Dan, can you explain for our listeners, why a strategy that relies on withdrawing a fixed percentage from your portfolio each year, could result in outliving your assets? - [Dan] Sure, Jim. First, the 4% rule, what does that mean? So if somebody had a $1 million and they took out 4%, that would be $40,000. They would then grow that by inflation each and every year annually. Now the core point here, Jim, is that relies on, systematic withdrawals over time. We just talked about market volatility and inflation. They can have an adverse impact. You may have to sell assets in a declining market for income. And that could cause your portfolio to run out of money earlier. This is called "Sequence of returns risk". Inflation is not stagnant either. It goes up and down over time. So the so-called 4% rule, may not really give you the flexibility you need to meet your spending needs over time, Jim. - [Jim] Dan, I'm really glad you mentioned flexibility. That's something many of our listeners have expressed concern about in recent months as market values continue to fluctuate. I know we've all spoken with clients who are concerned about the uncertainty that we're seeing and what that means for those who are taking income from their portfolios to support their needs in retirement. Many are concerned about locking in losses in their stock portfolios. And aren't seeing the level of return they need from their bond portfolios in the current low interest rate environment. As a result, a lot of people who aren't really focused on guaranteed income during the course of the recent 10 year bull market, are really thinking about it right now. Dan, you touched on that a few minutes ago, when you talked about income sources in retirement. What can people do, who don't have a pension, but are seeking more dependable income in retirement? - [Dan] Jim, years ago, many people had pensions and Social Security, which formed an income floor or a base to build on. Now most don't have those pension or checks for life. The retirement income review tool, which can be used by your advisor to help you take a look at maximizing your Social Security benefit first. How much will it provide or cover of your expenses? Can you wait longer to begin taking benefits and get a bigger check? If you're married, work with your advisor to ensure your claiming strategy maximizes both your benefits. Now, there's a gap. Consider using a portion of your savings to fill it with payments from an annuity. A fixed or guaranteed annuity, can provide regular income very similar to a pension. It's an effective strategy for ensuring your essential needs, will be covered in retirement. - [Benny] Yeah, I agree with that, Dan. Knowing you won't run out of money, it's not only effective, it inspires confidence, maybe allows you to have, more fully enjoy life. And annuity is the easiest way to do that. - [Jim] It's an excellent point, Benny. And for those listening who may not be familiar with annuities, can you level set us, explain to us what an annuity is and how it works? - [Benny] Okay. I would like to talk about the payout side first, cause that's what people understand. Annuity at it's heart, it's a contract between you and an insurance company. So let's talk about what that means in payout. You give the insurance company a lump sum of money and they will give you back monthly income, no matter how long you live. I think people understand that about annuities. But annuities also come in the accumulation phase while you're saving. You can save an annuity by having contributions into the annuity product while you're working as a way to save for retirement. So from start to finish, then it could provide you the opportunity to save all your working and then give you the security of income, after you retired to get a check. Now the earnings of annuity get tax deferred. There's some tax advantages to it. But of course when you take out the money you got to pay tax sooner or later. I should clarify. There are two kinds of annuities. So it's very important to understand difference. The fixed annuity. In that case, the word means what it means. The accumulation is absolutely guaranteed and they will usually have a fixed guaranteed growth rate, which means every single day, your account is getting bigger. It can never go down. Whatever's happening out there in the stock and bond market, your accumulation is gonna grow every day. Every time you add money, it grows more. Plus it earns interest every single day. Once you start income, the income is guaranteed for life. Now you have the other side, which is a variable annuity, which you could put money in again, while you're saving for retirement, and get income on the back end after you retire. But then that annuity can increase or decrease in value and it's pure and sense the income in retirement. It could go up or down. So it's very different. And of course, I have to point out that any guarantee of an annuity, it's backed by the annuity issuer. This is not FDIC or government backed products. These are products backed by the insurance company you're buying it from. - [Dan] Benny, people often think of annuities as being complicated or confusing. I know you have a different perspective when it comes to the question of complexity. Can you share some of your insight to help our listeners understand the difference between, a fixed and a variable annuity, and why they might choose one over the other based on their needs? - [Benny] Okay, yeah. I have a different perspective. I don't think they're complicated at all. Certainly let's start with a fixed annuity. In my mind, it's the simplest easiest product to understand. You give the insurance company money and they send you a check back every month for the rest of your life. For example, low rates where we are today roughly. You give the insurance company $100,000 at retirement and they pay you back $500 a month for life. That to me, that's pretty simple, pretty easy to understand, straight... Yes, I know this complexities behind the scenes where there's math involved and I could go to my office and pull on my advocates and figure this stuff out. But for the buyer, pretty straightforward. Pure variable annuity. As I said, "That goes up and down". That also is not that complex in its purest sense which is, you give the insurance company money, they'll put you in a variable annuity. Let's assume they got to assume some investment return. Let's say 4%. That means they gonna give you back around $6,500, if you give them $100,000. Why 65? 4% is the interest. That's 4,000. There is a return of principle, the mortality element. So you get $6,500. Now you're in a variable annuity. You're in a fund. If the funds are more than 4%, right, then your income will go up. If the fund earns less than 4%, your income will go down. So to me that's also pretty straightforward, pretty easy to understand. Why people think is a complex, is there are products, that add features. The reason they add features is to make these products more likable. Nobody wants an annuity where their income goes down, or I shouldn't say that. Some people don't want annuity with income goes down. So the company will put in a feature that says, guess what? "Your income will never go down". Of course, in exchange for that, you might have to pay a fee, maybe there'll be a cap on how much your income could go up. And now we start to talk about the complexities of that annuity product. But it really does depend on the issuers on the product you're buying. So to me in my mind, annuities can help you manage the major retirement risk, which again to me is longevity. You wanna live a long time, but you don't wanna outlive income. And yet, depending on the kind of product you buy, yet it could also help solve market volatility and inflation. I think so, wait, you also asked me, right? Which one would people be interested and why? The fixed annuity. You're getting the same checks every month. So that offers steady, reliable income. So you might wanna say, okay, that's what I'll use for my electric bill, my phone bill, the kind of costs that are very steady. The variable annuity, it was designed to keep pace with inflation. Yes have a market risk, but over long periods of time, the market does well, not year to year. So those payments fluctuate. So you can not have an income floor, using that as an income floor where payments could go up or down. So maybe that's the Social Security, and the fixed annuity, is what you absolutely need. I guess I'd call the Social Security the income floor, and the fixed annuity, is the mattress on top of the floor. Then you have the variable annuity, that becomes my pillows and blankets. Because the income could fluctuate. That's the kind of money I use for my other stuff. For me, let's say it's Yankee games, right? So the variability does well, I'll buy season tickets. It doesn't do so well, I'll go to a few games, right? For me again, it's all about not outliving income. And I wanna know that in addition to Social Security, I've got more than that. And here's what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna have some fixed annuity and some variable annuity. - [Jim] Benny, let's talk about longevity. I know a lot of people underestimate how long they will actually need to receive income in retirement. - [Benny] Okay, It's actually like my favorite question as, Benny, when am I gonna die? I cannot tell any person when they're gonna die. But we can't talk about averages. So, Social Security Administration, puts the average 65 year old retiree. They believe on average, that person will live till 85. I wanna be very clear what that means. It does not mean that on your 85th birthday, you blow out the candles on the cake and die of a heart attack. What it means is on average. So let's say for example, there's 1,065 year olds, 500 of them will be alive at 85, and 500 won't be. Which is a problem, if using average for your own personal planning, because you might be one of the 50% of people who outlive life expectancy. I hope I am. So that's number one, looking at averages is always a problem. The second one is Social Security, is looking at the average American. Our universe, the one you and I live in Dan and Jim, right? We're dealing with above average people. They have above average pay, better than average education, better than average access to medical care. And therefore you cannot use those averages. And our averages here in our universe are probably closer to age, 89, not 85. And again, 50% of people are living longer than that. Furthermore, we like to study groups of people by annuities. And in general, people who buy annuities, live longer than those who don't on average. Why? Because if you're gonna take out people with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, they're not buying annuities. So we're already dealing with an above average group. And the other theories, why people will buy annuities live longer. One of them is, you have a reason to live, which is to stick to the insurance company. Because every month you live, you get another check. Me that's a reason you live longer. But I have my own theory which is, "You're taking stress out of people's lives". And when you take stress out of people's lives, they tend to live longer. And by stress I mean, the market went down. I don't care. My check is coming next month anyway. How much should I spend this month? I don't know what to do. You know what? Spend your check because there's another one coming in another 30 days. Taking stress out of people's lives. And there you go. That might be another reason to live longer. - [Jim] Thanks, Benny. Your perspective is really helpful for helping people understand how annuities can be used as tools, for generating the income they need to cover essential expenses, and the growth they need to combat Some of the risk factors we talked about earlier, such as longevity, inflation and market risk. Now, Dan, can you tell our listeners why tax efficiency is so important when you're drawing income in retirement? - [Dan] If you think about it Jim, taxes are a big expense. So managing taxes in retirement is different. It's different because now you're drawing on your savings and investments. For example, if you contributed to your 403 b plan or other plans on a pretax basis, the distributions are likely fully taxable. Also you may be receiving Social Security and part of those benefits could be taxable also. Tax exposure really can erode your income in retirement. The more you pay in taxes, the more money you need to take out of your accounts to meet those needs. Now, clearly, taxes are complicated, which is why we build in taxes into our planning tools. So you can take a look at how that relates to social security and went to annuitize. - [Jim] Thanks, Dan. Your last point is when we really can't emphasize enough. You wanna make sure that you manage your tax bill and retirement, so that you're not paying more than you have to. I wanna talk more about that in a minute, but I also wanna make sure we mention a recent change under the SECURE Act, which was signed into law back in December of 2019. Now, Benny, can you tell our listeners how the elimination of the stretch IRA provision, may impact certain annuity holders in retirement? - [Benny] Okay. The SECURE Act, it was created to strengthen retirement savings. It allows now employers to more safely offer annuities in their retirement plan, but it did come with some things that may change things for the worst in certain ways. One of them I like to talk about, we always talk about people who take annuities with their children. So I'll have a joint annuity with me and my kids so that after my death, my kids could get a monthly check for the rest of their lives. It lowers my check every month, but it allows me to know that they'll have a check every month, as long as they live, instead of me living them a lump sum. For example, they'll just get a check every month. The problem is under the SECURE Act. I can't do that anymore. The money's got to come out over 10 years after my death. It's gonna be done. And therefore you cannot have a life annuity with a child. Now there are exceptions, for example, the special needs child. So for example, we do get this question asked often. Which is someone with a special needs kid, some with autism, yes, you can still allow a joint annuity with a parent with this son with autism, so that after the parent's death, the child can continue getting payments for life. But it's not for everyone. And they're all limits and rules. And again, I wanna get back to what Dan said. "That's why you should meet with someone, work with an advisor to figure this stuff out". I should point out that it's important to know that, old annuities issued before 2002 are grandfathered. So people out there don't worry about your old annuities, but certainly for the new ones, you gonna watch what you're doing, and speak to an advisor if you're unclear. - [Jim] Benny, that really speaks to knowing what you own and understanding how to use your assets to your best advantage now, and in retirement. One of the ways we do that at TIAA, is through an asset location review. This is something that's really unique to our planning process. Dan talked about taxes in retirement a few minutes ago. One of the ways your advisor can help you manage taxes in retirement, is by using our asset location worksheet to review the location of each account that you own. This helps ensure you have the right kind of asset in the right account type. You're using smart strategies to help reduce the impact of taxes and market volatility. And each asset has a clear purpose in your overall financial plan. The ability to identify all of your potential sources of income and ways that you may be able to avoid locking in losses on longterm investment holdings can be critical, especially when dealing with periods of ongoing turbulence in the markets. As Dan talked about, this can also help identify your sources of lifetime income or determine if you need additional sources of guaranteed income. Another area where an asset location review can prove helpful is in understanding what you already own. Often, people don't realize what they hold in their retirement plans. TIAA Traditional is a good example of that. Benny, can you shed some light on what TIAA Traditional is, and how it works for those who may not be familiar with it? - [Benny] Alright, TIAA, we about a fixed annuity, TIAA a fixed annuity. Like other fixed annuities, it helps market proof your retirement because you have the guaranteed growth and accumulation, no matter what's happening. And the ability to have guaranteed monthly income for life. And again, any guarantees of TIAA, they're backed by TIAA claim paying abilities. So when you're working, you have the guaranteed growth. Again, every day your account is growing. And when you retire, you have a check for life. Of course, I believe TIAA offers some advantages, other fixed annuities offer, and that's why, again, we always suggest our clients talk to one of the advisors to make sure they understand the advantages TIAA offers. - [Jim] So, let's talk about those advantages. Can you give me some examples? - [Benny] Okay. I'd like to talk about our charter first. The charter says, "We operate without profit to the corporation". To be clear, we don't have shareholders that have to take a piece of the profit. We don't have any owners. This isn't the Benny Goodman house of retirement planning, where I have to buy myself a new car every year. We are in effect and it's owned by our participants, but any profits we make will be shared with our participants. Alright, so that's for example, we talk about our contract. Most people have contracts with us with guarantees, very often that it might be a 3% guarantee. Other contracts of other guarantees. But we have paid more than the guarantee and the contracts for more than 70 straight years. Why is that? If we earn more, we'll credit more. That's a way we share the profits. Again, we only guarantee the guarantee, but we have a 70 plus year history of being proud that we've done more than that. We also have something and you're not gonna see my hands because you're not seeing me, some making air quotes around the word loyalty bonus. We have what we call a loyalty bonus. What it means is that when it comes to retirement, I may have said early, the example, someone walks in today with $100,000. We're interested in where they are today. You get about 500 bucks a month. If someone has been with TIAA for decades, saving in TIAA, when they wanna come and take some of their money and annuitize it and turn it to lifetime income, that same $100,000 might buy them $600 a month. And we could explain why that would be, not really that important but it's the concept of what we call again, "The sort of loyalty bonus". Furthermore, fixed annuities as I said earlier, you get the same check every month for life. That's what it means. It's not really true at TIAA. Again, don't guarantee anything other than the guarantee. But we do have a history of giving raises even to our people in the annuity phase. We have given 16 raises in the last 25 years. I know it's called a fixed annuity. What's fixed is the guarantee, but we have given raises because again, we are sharing profits with the TIAA retirement annuity owners. They in fact become the owners of TIAA to get the profits. Again, additional amounts are not guaranteed. These things... The guarantee is the guarantee. But we have a history of sharing profits with our participants, whether it means in the accumulation phase, giving interest rates higher than the guarantee, in the payout giving that, increased loyalty bonus at retirement, or post retirement, giving raises. Now, please note, I'm not suggesting here that everyone take all your money and buy a TIAA annuity. I'm a big believer in annuities, but not that big. So again, I'm a fan of some of everything, which is some fixed annuity, some variable annuity, some money you don't annuitize at all. I think they say the three most important words in real estate are, "Location, location, location". For me, the three most important words when it comes to retirement income are, "Diversify, diversify, diversify". - [Dan] That's a great point Benny. People often assume that annuities are a binary choice. For most, we believe that an optimal diversified income plan consists of covering approximately two thirds of your retirement income needs with lifetime sources. Those include Social Security, which could be 30 to 40%. And if you have pensions that would be included there. But again, if you have a gap, consider fixed and variable lifetime income to fill that gap. Note, that you should keep a large amount in your investment portfolio for needed flexibility and possible growth. Again, that's a key component of a diversified income plan. And ultimately having annuities may enable you to draw less from your remaining investment portfolio over time. That equates, to leaving more money for your legacy goals if you're long lived. - [Jim] Dan, that's a really important point to note. Fixed annuities, not only provide you with a dependable income in retirement, but can also help protect other assets that may be subject to market fluctuations. If you have access to enough income to meet your expenses, you don't need to draw down on longterm assets that are subject to market fluctuations. Benny, let's talk about a worst case scenario. What happens if markets perform exceptionally poorly during your retirement? How does that impact your overall income if you still hold a portion of your assets in stocks and bonds? - [Benny] Yeah, that's exactly what this diversified portfolio this strategy is created for. If you could tell me that the market for the next 20 years is gonna behave like the market of the eighties and nineties, you don't really need much protection to market a double digits for year after year. The problem is what if the market doesn't do well? So your portfolio is shrinking and meanwhile, if you are withdrawing money from it, so it's shrinking cause you've taken out money. Now it's shrinking because the market is crashing. And one day you might look up and there's no money left. And all you've got is Social Security, which is not gonna cover your expenses. The whole point of a diversified strategy is, if you have a fixed annuity and you have a variable annuity, in addition to your Social Security, even if the rest of your portfolio gets wiped out, you still have three income sources. The Social Security check, the fixed annuity check and the variable annuity check. Now it's true the variable annuity check may go down, if the market's performing poorly, but it doesn't go away. And then when the market recovers, that check will increase again. I should note that, if you are taking some money off the table and buying an annuity and buying in these cases the fixed and variable annuities, and you die young, you will leave you're a smaller estate. But I like to think about trying to protect the retiree, and not so much about the estate for his kids. It's more about him. And this is the way to do that. Have these different income streams coming in all the time, no matter what. - [Jim] So let's touch on that for a minute. I often hear people say, guaranteed income is great, but if I die earlier than planned, my heirs won't benefit. Now, Dan, can you explain the type of flexibility annuities offer for those concerned about supporting a spouse in retirement or even leaving a legacy? - [Dan] Yeah, first, until your annuity assets are converted into lifetime income they're yours. And they can be directed to your beneficiaries, just like any other accounts. Now, if you've converted your balance to lifetime income stream, any remaining payments may go to your beneficiaries upon death if you selected that type of option. You have the choice to add different options to help you protect your loved ones by specifying, the length of time to receive benefits if you were to pass away early. In exchange for this type of benefit, your initial income payment would be lower. Keep in mind that income options may vary by issuer and contract in for in plan annuities, may be subject to plan restrictions. So carefully consider your options before making a decision. - [Jim] So again, that speaks to the flexibility annuities offer based on individual's needs and circumstances. They're not a one size fits all approach. Now, finally, let's spend a minute talking about expenses. A common misconception is that a annuities are expensive. But that's not always the case. Is it Benny? - [Benny] Yeah. I'm happy to use the word misconception. And I will be very clear. Some annuities are expensive. However, annuities within your workplace set up by your retirement plan, are almost certainly gonna be a lower cost than those you gonna find in the retail space. Secondly, even some of the retail space, there are some that are not expensive. So you can't just say annuities are expensive. You could say some are, and the idea is the try to find the ones that aren't. As far as expenses, I wanna get back to fixed annuities and this is my favorite topic. I think the entire concept of an expense of a fixed annuity just makes no sense at all. You give the company $100,000, they give you back $500 a month. It doesn't make much sense to ask about the expenses are. There're telling you upfront what they're giving you. It would be like asking a bank that has a CD in a window. It says 2% CD, and ask them, what is the expense of the CD? It doesn't make sense. They're telling you what they're giving you. So fixed annuities are the same thing. It's in variable annuities where that's where the expense starts rearing its head, cause you have to be careful. Cause the larger the fees, the less you're gonna get. So you have to be careful about the fees and you gonna watch the sales loads, maybe to surrender fees. Those are the kinds of things you wanna do a comparison. So again, what I would tell you is, yeah, read the product literature, and if you don't understand it, ask someone who knows more. Ask an expert, reach out, get yourself an advisor, call our number. - [Jim] Thank you, Benny, and thank you, Dan. We've covered a lot of information today. To recap for our listeners, if you're seeking a dependable income stream in retirement, think about building an income floor with fixed income payments to cover your needs and wants in retirement. Schedule time with your advisor to evaluate your lifetime income options, including Social Security, a pension, and any lifetime income options that may be available through your employer savings plan. And finally, consider a combination of fixed and variable annuities to diversify your income sources, to provide income that you cannot outlive. If you have questions about any of the information we've covered today, be sure to contact TIAA, to schedule time, to talk about your needs. Thank you for listening in and for spending a few minutes of your time with us today. Have a great day, everyone. [END] Jim Daniello is a Registered Representative of TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC. This material is for informational or educational purposes only and does not constitute fiduciary investment advice under ERISA, a securities recommendation under all securities laws, or an insurance product recommendation under state insurance laws or regulations. This material does not take into account any specific objectives or circumstances of any particular investor, or suggest any specific course of action. Investment decisions should be made based on the investor’s own objectives and circumstances. ©2020 and prior years. Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America College Retirement Equities Fund. New York, NY 10017 1227998
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