Wade D. Pfau

Co-Director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income

Ph.D., CFA, Retirement and Income Planning Speaker

Wade D. Pfau, Ph.D., CFA, RICP, is a retirement speaker and the curriculum director of the Retirement Income Certified Professional designation and a Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services. He is also a Principal and Director for McLean Asset Management. He holds a doctorate in economics from Princeton University.

Wade is interested in conducting research that helps to develop better tools for retirement planning. He is widely published in leading practitioner research journals in the fields of financial and retirement planning.

He is a Professor of Retirement Income at The American College of Financial Services, and works with McLean Asset Management to incorporate his research on retirement income planning into practice with clients. As a part of McLean,  he is also the director of retirement research for inStream, which is a financial planning software for advisors.

Every program Wade delivers is customized to meet his audience’s needs.

Here are a handful of topics

  • Annuities
  • Financial Planning
  • Investments
  • Life Insurance Planning
  • Life Insurance Practices
  • Portfolio Management
  • Retirement Planning
  • Reverse Mortgages

Program Title Examples

  • Best Practices for Retirement Income Planning
  • Sustainable Spending for Retirement
  • Retirement Income Showdown: Risk Premium vs. Risk Pooling
  • Reverse Mortgages: How to use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement

Wade frequently speaks at national conferences of organizations such as the CFA Institute, FPA, NAPFA, AICPA-PFP, and AFS as well as speaking for both Distribution and Broker-Dealer clients.

Wade publishes frequently in a wide variety of academic and practitioner research journals on topics related to retirement income. He hosts the Retirement Researcher website, and is a contributor to ForbesAdvisor PerspectivesJournal of Financial Planning, and an Expert Panelist for the Wall Street Journal.  He is the author of the books,

Safety-First Retirement Planning: An Integrated Approach for a Worry-Free Retirement,

How Much Can I Spend in Retirement? A Guide to Investment-Based Retirement Income Strategies,

Reverse Mortgages: How to Use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement.

Travels From:  Texas
City: Dallas / Ft. Worth
$5,001 to $10,000


Wade D. Pfau, PhD, is Professor of Retirement Income in the PhD in Financial and Retirement Planning program, Co-Director of the New York Life Center for Retirement Income, and RICP® program director at The American College of Financial Services.

Pfau is a co-editor of the Journal of Personal Finance. He has spoken at national conferences of organizations for financial professionals such as the CFA Institute, FPA, NAPFA, AICPA-PFP, and AFS. He also publishes frequently in a wide variety of academic and practitioner research journals. He hosts the Retirement Researcher blog, and is a monthly columnist for Advisor Perspectives, a RetireMentor for MarketWatch, a contributor to Forbes, and an Expert Panelist for The Wall Street Journal. His research has been discussed in outlets that include print editions of The EconomistThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and Money Magazine.

Pfau was a selectee for the InvestmentNews “Power 20” in 2013 and “40 Under 40” in 2014, the Investment Advisor 35 list for 2015, the IA 25 list for 2014, and Financial Planning magazine’s Influencer Awards. He is a two-time winner of the Journal of Financial Planning Montgomery-Warschauer Award, a two-time winner of the Academic Thought Leadership Award from the Retirement Income Industry Association, and a best paper award winner in the retirement category from the Academy of Financial Services.

Pfau holds a doctorate in economics and a master’s degree from Princeton University, and bachelor of arts and bachelor of science degrees from the University of Iowa. He is also a Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®).


As the baby boomers reach retirement, advisors must solve new problems for clients. Retirement income is different as clients shift their focus from maximizing wealth to creating sustainable income, clients face a greater range of risks, and clients increasingly must solve a complex lifetime financial problem. Key retirement risks include longevity risk, market and the newly emergent sequence of returns risk, and personal spending shock risks. Each risk requires different income tools and risk management techniques. Two distinct schools of thought have emerged within the retirement income world: probability-based approaches and safety-first approaches. This presentation considers how different retirement income tools can be combined to build more efficient retirement strategies in a many that best integrates aspects from both schools of thought.

This session will focus on the probability-based school of thought on retirement income developed by financial planners since the 1990s. The concept of safe withdrawal rates and the 4% rule developed from William Bengen’s analysis of the U.S. historical data. After explaining his approach and further refinements to the core methodology, the session shifts to consider the impacts of a number of key issues and assumptions behind the 4% rule. Ultimately, more sophisticated methods are required and described. Finally, guidance will be provided on thinking more broadly about a retirement income strategy that moves beyond studying sustainable withdrawal rates from a financial portfolio.

This presentation goes into greater depth about two retirement income tools: using an aggressive investment portfolio to seek greater returns through the risk premium, and using an income annuity with a partial annuitization strategy to seek greater returns through risk pooling. My research finds that risk pooling tends to be underappreciated as a unique source of returns that is unavailable for an investment portfolio in which the retiree aims to self-manage longevity and market risk through conservative spending. Risk pooling provides contractual guarantees for income, greater true liquidity, and the potential for a larger legacy over the long term.

In the early days, reverse mortgages were generally treated as a last resort option after other resources were depleted, or as a way to obtain quick access to a large lump-sum of assets. This is not the appropriate way to think about reverse mortgages in a retirement income plan, especially in light of recent research. The reverse mortgage option should be viewed as a method for responsible retirees to create liquidity for an otherwise illiquid asset, which in turn can create new options that potentially support a more efficient retirement income strategy (more spending and/or a greater legacy). After providing an overview of retirement income planning, which sets the context for understanding the potential role of reverse mortgages, this presentation explains the basics for how reverse mortgages work. I then provide an overview of potential uses for a reverse mortgage in a retirement income plan.

Areas of expertise

  • Annuities
  • Financial Planning
  • Investments
  • Life Insurance Planning
  • Life Insurance Practices
  • Portfolio Management
  • Retirement Planning

Related Speaking Topics

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