Price drop in oil could affect future retirement

Money manager: Impact of price drop could be felt in 1-2 years

HOUSTON – As oil prices continue to drop right now, people say they are happy they're paying less at the pump. But the price drop could be impacting your life in the future -- your retirement.

"I came here in '65 to play with the Astros," said William Heath, the CEO of Barrington Financial Advisors.

Heath wasn't just a major league ball player. In the off season he was an auditor and public accountant. Now he's a big time Houston money manager, keeping his eye on oil.

"The price is down now, but the impact won't be felt for a little while," Heath said. He added, "We may have a year or two before we feel the real impact of it."

His company represents people like teachers, lawyers and business owners like Scott Leidolf, whose family loves the low oil prices.

"One way, personally, I love it," Liedolf said. "It doesn't cost $60 to fill up a car anymore. Now it only costs about $40."

But as a small business owner he said he knows in the long run low prices could hurt his retirement and even the community.

"As far as the business climate, the economics in Houston, it's horrifying," said Leidolf.

Leidolf said he knows that more than 20 percent of his retirement plan depends on energy.

But Heath said most people are not like Leidolf -- they do not know what's in their portfolio.

"Most people have no idea, and that's the problem," Heath said.

Most 401Ks or 403Bs are made up of mutual funds. Those funds invest in many areas of the markets like technology, health or energy.

Ben Dickey, a financial advisor at Barrington, warned that many mutual funds mirror the S&P 500, heavily tied to energy.

"The energy is 18 percent of the value of the S&P 500," he said.

So what are Heath and Dickey's plan of action for Leidolf and their other clients?

"Most all of our clients were out of energy back in the late 2014," Heath said. "We started getting out of it. We're waiting for the oil and gas to start back up and when it does, we'll buy a bunch."

If oil continues to fall what can you do to protect your retirement?

"If they haven't done anything there's a good chance they shouldn't do anything," Heath said. "If oil prices are down and you're down on that equity, why sell it right now? We feel in the next couple of years it's going to come back."

What if you're like Leidolf and close to retirement?

"What are your needs going to be, your cash needs per month in retirement and how are you going to fulfill them? Where you going to go to get the money? Is your 401k your only source? Then you may be limited," said Heath.

Heath said he suggests if you're close to retirement, hold onto energy stocks like EOG, Whiting, Continental Resources and KMI. They will very likely recover.