Sometimes we make life more complicated than it has to be, says Nick Britton, head of training at the AIC.
The basic human need for sustainable income in retirement has spawned countless products, solutions, tools and theories, from annuities to multi-asset portfolios.
We are often told that 4% represents a safe withdrawal rate - though this has been challenged.
One solution to this intractable problem is staring us right in the face, according to London-based chartered financial planners Master Adviser.
The firm has conducted research into investment trusts going back 50 years. They cover 29 mainstream trusts, including the likes of City of London and JPMorgan Claverhouse in the UK Equity Income sector, and Bankers and Alliance Trust in the Global sector.
These trusts have long records of increasing dividends year after year. City of London, for example, has a 52-year track record of increasing annual dividends - meaning you could have been invested since the Moon landing without ever experiencing a cut or a freeze in your annual payout.
How is this consistency possible? It is a mixture of skill and a certain built-in advantage. Skill, because investment trusts like City of London have had the sense to pick companies that have themselves increased their dividends.
The built-in advantage comes because investment trusts don't need to pay out all the income they receive every year. They can reserve up to 15% to pay out in a future year.
Given this ability, it is possible for investment trusts to tuck away income when dividends from the market are plentiful. Then, when dividends fall (as they inevitably do from time to time) some of the reserved income can be used as a top-up.
In total, there are 20 investment trusts that have raised dividends for 20 consecutive years or more.
At the AIC, we regularly release research on these 'dividend heroes'. Where Master Adviser goes further is in applying it to the situation a pension saver might face.
The firm figured out how long you would have had to hold these investment trusts (starting in 1967) in order for the yield, based on the original cost, to rise above 4% and stay there. The answers range from six years (for Perpetual Income and Growth) to 18 years (for Foreign & Colonial).
The research also shows that income from a portfolio of these companies has more than kept pace with inflation.
The implication is clear: start saving early enough into a portfolio of these companies, and by the time you retire you will have an attractive and sustainable income stream.
If you have got the financial planning bit right, there is no need to dig into capital. Sequencing risk evaporates. Safe withdrawal rates become irrelevant.
The 50-year scope of Master Adviser's research encompasses the hyper-inflation of 1975, 15% interest rates of 1976 and the biggest market crashes since The Great Depression.