About - Retirement Researcher


I’m Wade Pfau, the founder of Retirement Researcher. I’m the Professor of Retirement Income at The American College, a higher education institution for financial planners. I’m also the Director of Retirement Research for McLean Asset Management and inStream.

I earned a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 2003 with a dissertation about Social Security reform, and I became a CFA charterholder in 2011.

People are finding it more and more difficult to figure out how to plan for retirement – how to save while working and how to convert their savings into sustainable income for the rest of their lives. To be sure, making the right decisions is an exceedingly complicated task, but it is not impossible.

RetirementResearcher.com exists to help guide you along the path to a successful and sustainable retirement by providing modern, sound academic research.

We exist to answer questions like:

  • Do I have enough saved to afford retirement?
  • What is the 4% rule?
  • What is the appropriate mix of stocks and bonds in retirement?
  • When should I start Social Security benefits?
  • What is the difference between fixed and variable annuities?
  • How can I build a retirement income strategy that will last?

If you have a question that you feel we haven’t answered on this site, please send it to Wade@RetirementResearcher.com and we will do our best to answer it as quickly and clearly as we can.


My objectives are to generate high quality and practical research about retirement and personal financial planning, and to help promote broader education to the public and financial planners about the importance of developing sustainable retirement income strategies. I hope to build this website into a leading source of objective and useful information about retirement planning both for financial planners and do-it-yourself retirees. I also standby as ready to help individuals seeking a professional advisory relationship to meet their retirement income planning needs.


This website is unique because I’m an active researcher and educator about retirement income strategies and I regularly discuss my latest findings here. I publish research on these topics in leading peer-reviewed practitioner-based financial planning research journals.

My research has received several awards, including:





In 2016, Wade was named as one of the Innovators in the 2016 InvestmentNews’ Icons and Innovators list of titans in the financial advice industry.





Two Montgomery-Warschauer Awards, which are awarded annually by the editors of the Journal of Financial Planning to “honor the paper that provided the most outstanding contribution for the betterment of the Journal’s readership in the preceding year.”







Two Academic Thought Leadership Awards from the Retirement Management Journal.







The 2014 best paper award in retirement planning from the Academy of Financial Services.







I was also named the fifth most prolific financial author of the last ten years, and the tenth most prolific of the last 30 years.

In addition, I’m a selectee for:

  • Investment Advisor IA 35 for 35 List for 2015
  • InvestmentNews 40 Under 40 for 2014
  • Investment Advisor IA 25 List for 2014
  • InvestmentNews Power 20 for people expected to shape the financial advisory industry in 2013
  • Financial Planning magazine’s “Portfolio Innovator Award”in 2012

I also speak at leading conferences in the financial planning and wealth management world (more on that below).

My research has been discussed in outlets including the print editions of:

And I’m a regular contributor to:



While many advisors approach retirement income questions with pre-determined answers, my research focuses on a wide range of possibilities based on the unique needs of individual households. The best approach to building a retirement income strategy involves remaining open to all the possibilities and how they can meet your specific objectives and constraints.

McLean Asset Management and I now work together to draw from a wide range of retirement income tools to create a comprehensive retirement income plan for you.

Click here to find out more.



I get a large number of requests to create whitepapers or provide quantitative analysis for topics that align with my research agenda and findings. I have also served as an expert witness in legal cases.

Feel free to contact me about potential opportunities or questions. Here are examples of my whitepapers:


“A New Approach to Retirement Income: Next-Gen vs. Traditional VAs”

A Whitepaper for Jefferson National


“The Yin and Yang of Retirement Income Philosophies”(with Jeremy Cooper)

A Whitepaper for Challenger (Australia)


“The Next Evolution in Defined Contribution Retirement Plan Design” (with Steve Vernon)


A paper for the Stanford Center for Longevity and Society Acturies


“Mitigating the Four Major Risks of Sustainable Inflation-Adjusted Retirement Income” (with Rex Voegtlin)

A Whitepaper for the Annexus Research Institute


Public Speaking

I am available to speak to groups on topics related to retirement planning and retirement income strategies.


Two Hour Sessions

  • Best Practices in Retirement Income Planning
  • Two Schools of Thought on Retirement Income
  • Asset Allocation in Retirement
  • Exploring the Underlying Assumptions of Safe Withdrawal Rates

One-Hour Sessions

  • Sequence of Returns Risk in Retirement
  • Safe Savings Rates
  • The Efficient Frontier for Retirement Income
  • Reasonable Portfolio Return Assumptions for Retirees
  • Understanding and Using Monte Carlo Analysis
  • Retirement Income Distribution Management
  • Pros and Cons of Retirement Income Tools from Fixed Annuities to Systematic Withdrawals

Book Wade for a Speaking Engagement



National Conferences

CFA Institute, Financial Planning Association, AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning, NAPFA, Academy of Financial Services, Retirement Income Industry Association

Media Events

InvestmentNews Retirement Income Summit, Financial Advisor Retirement Symposium, MarketWatch panel discussion

Company Events

CUNA Brokerage Services, LIMRA, Guardian, One America, Mercer Advisors, Northwestern Mutual

CFA, FPA & SoFSP Local Chapter Events

Albany, Central Mississippi, Des Moines, Edmonton, Ft. Lauderdale, Gulf States region, Houston, Los Angeles, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Providence, San Francisco, Seattle, Southern California, St. Louis, Washington, DC


Texas Tech University, California Lutheran University, Iowa State University, IFID Centre, Stanford Center on Longevity


Advisor Perspectives, Advisors4Advisors, First Protective Regional Study group, inStream Solutions, Watermark, McLean Asset Management, NAPFA, & Society of Financial Service Professionals (FSP)


Insider’s Forum, Retirement Management Executive Forum


Media Inquiries

I’m happy to speak with the media about retirement income planning. Feel free to contact me.

Here is further information for a couple common questions related to interviews and quotations:

Job title: Wade Pfau, Ph.D., CFA, is a Professor of Retirement Income at The American College and Director of Retirement Research at McLean Asset Management and inStream Solutions.

A short and long version of my bio. (Click here to download)

And three pictures which may be used for promotional purposes:



Third party rankings and recognition from ratings services are no guarantee of future investment success. Working with a highly rated advisor does not ensure that a client or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance or results. Ratings should not be considered an endorsement of the advisor by any client nor are they representative of any one client’s evaluation.Wade received the Montgomery-Wershauer Award from the Journal of Financial Planning in 2011 for his paper “Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Lifecycle” published in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Financial Planning. Wade received the Montgomery-Wershauer Award from the Journal of Financial Planning in 2013 for the paper “The 4% Rule is Not Safe in a Low-Yield World” written with David Blanchett and Michael Finke, and published in the June 2013 of the Journal of Financial Planning. Wade received the Academic Thought Leadership Award from Retirement Management Journal from the Retirement Income Industry Association in 2012 and 2013. The 2014 Best Paper in Retirement Planning from the Academy of Financial Services was for “Reducing Retirement Risk with a Rising Equity Glidepath” written with Michael Kitces, and published in the January 2014 issue of the Journal of Financial Planning. The InvestmentNews 40 under 40 is judged on accomplishment to date, contribution to the industry, leadership and promise. In 2014, according to InvestmentNews, there were “almost 1200 nominations. The Investment Advisor IA 25 is a list of those that are judged by the editors of the Investment Advisor Group to have been influential, are influential and likely in the future will influence the markets; how advisors invest and plan retirement for clients; and who will affect the regulatory and legislative environments in which advisors operate.