About Wade

RetirementResearcher.com provides independent, data-driven, and research-based information about retirement income planning.

Wade D. Pfau, Ph.D., CFA Professor of Retirement Income
The American College

Director of Retirement Research
McLean Asset Management &
inStream Solutions

wadepfau @ gmail.com

Curriculum Vitae in PDF format Résumé in PDF format
Wade Pfau Picture

This is where you can find information about questions such as:
  • 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?
  • What exactly is a GLWB rider?
  • How can I build a retirement income strategy that will last?


I’m Wade Pfau, the Retirement Researcher. Please feel free to contact me, as I am available for writing, consultations, teaching, training, and speaking on retirement income strategies.

I earned a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University in 2003, and I became a CFA charterholder in 2011.



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.



As I aim to operate a website with trustworthy and reliable information on retirement planning matters, let me explain some qualifications toward this end. 

  • I don't just write about retirement income strategies, but I actively publish research on this topic in leading peer-reviewed practitioner-based financial planning research journals. I'm a recipient of two Montgomery-Warschauer Awards (2011, 2013), which is 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.”  These awards are for  “Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning over the Lifecycle,” from the May 2011 issue, and "The 4% Rule is Not Safe in a Low Yield World" (with Michael Finke and David Blanchett) from the June 2013 issue. I've also received two academic thought leadership awards from the Retirement Management Journal for published articles. 
  • I've spoken at leading conferences in the financial planning and wealth management world, including the CFA Institute's Annual Conference (2014), the Financial Planning Association's Annual Conference (2013 & 2014), the AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference (2013 & 2015), the InvestmentNews Retirement Income Summit (2013), the Financial Advisor Retirement Income Summit (2014), and two national conferences of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (Spring and Fall 2013)
  • I'm a selectee for the InvestmentNews 40 Under 40 for 2014, the Investment Advisor IA 25 List for 2014, the InvestmentNews Power 20 for people expected to shape the financial advisory industry in 2013, and for Financial Planning magazine’s “Portfolio Innovator Award” in 2012.
  • My research has been discussed in outlets including the print editions of The Economist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Money Magazine, and SmartMoney
  • I've contributed to the curriculum of the Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP) designation from the American College, and am a past curriculum director for the Retirement Management Analyst (RMA) designation program
  • I'm a regular writer for Advisor Perspectives, RetireMentors at MarketWatch, Forbes, and I'm an Expert Panelist for the Wall Street Journal’s Encore edition
All of my research articles, research columns, and media citations are included in my Curriculum Vitae.

October 2012: Making the cover of Financial Planning magazine and the Journal of Financial Planning in the same month.

Positive comments

“The highlight of this issue of the Journal, and maybe the highlight for the past several years, is an interesting variation of the Bengen research. The “Save Savings Rates” article by Wade Pfau looks, not at the safety of various distribution rates, but the safety of various savings rates under different economic conditions… As I say in the review, this is an article you will probably end up reading at some point in your career; you might as well do it now. It’s worth your expenditure of time.”  
-Bob Veres, Media Reviews for May 24-31, 2011

“Question: Whose work or research are you following today and why? Is there someone out there who really intrigues you?
Answer: Wade Pfau … I find [Pfau’s ideas] very interesting. Of course, Michael Kitces. Jonathan Guyton has done some excellent stuff. There are other people who have sometimes produced interesting material but those three I think have consistently produced some good stuff.”  
-William Bengen, December 2011 Journal of Financial Planning (page 19)
“If the author of this paper and the next two seem similar, there’s a good reason. All three papers are by Wade Pfau. In am including all three as I believe Professor Pfau’s series introduces a unique approach to retirement income planning that deserves our attention.”
-Harold Evensky, January 2012 Journal of Financial Planning (page 29)
“When you talk about important new voices in the planning literature, add Joe Tomlinson to the list right beside Wade Pfau.”  
-Bob Veres, Media Reviews for February 24-29, 2012
“Question: Who among your financial planning contemporaries are you most excited about these days in terms of the research or issue areas they are exploring?
Answer: Oh, that’s hard—there’s so many folks doing interesting work right now. Certainly, I’m a fan of a lot of the safe withdrawal rate research Wade Pfau has been doing in the Journal lately…”  
-Michael Kitces, April 2012 Journal of Financial Planning (page 18)
“Just as the Journal of Financial Planning is the primary source for withdrawal-related research, Wade Pfau is unquestionably the major, and one of the most thoughtful, individual contributors on the subject.”  
-Harold Evensky, July 2012 Journal of Financial Planning (page 21)
“Pfau has published an impressive body of work in the Journal, beginning in 2010. On Yahoo! Finance, a mere reference to one of his 2012 Journal articles, co-written with Michael Finke and Duncan Williams, caused a spike in unique visitor traffic to the Journal website. But it was during 2011 that Pfau made his greatest impact on the profession, contributing three papers to the Journal, including the seminal “Safe Savings Rates: A New Approach to Retirement Planning,” published in May—the paper chosen for this award by the editors of the Journal. That article spawned a new direction in retirement research, focusing less on withdrawal and more on the savings rate that proves sufficient to support retirement expenditures from a life-cycle perspective, including both accumulation and decumulation phases. It created ripples throughout the financial planning world, capturing the attention of such respected international publications as The Economist.”  
-Lance Ritchlin, July 2012 Journal of Financial Planning (page 9)

"It would be hard not to include a paper by Wade Pfau, because he is consistently one of the most prolific and on-target academics writing about issues of importance to practitioners...

[David Blanchett], along with Wade Pfau and Moshe Milevsky make up the triumvirate of must-read authors in the field of retirement planning."

 -Harold Evensky, July 2013 Journal of Financial Planning (page 35)


  1. http://systematicrelativestrength.com/2012/07/20/five-ways-draw-retirement-income/

    This article discusses two simple methods of drawing retirement income, both simpler than Guyton's. It would be interesting to see them compared with other methods in terms of total outcome: $ distributed over x years + remaining portfolio value.

  2. Thanks. Those are all in the programs I've written, but it's too much to include in one column. Interestingly, the IRS RMD approach gives results closer to Blanchett, and the constant percentage gives results closer to Guyton.

  3. Dr. Pfau: I enjoyed your study, "Reducing Retirement5 Risk with a Rising Equity Glidepath". Is there an interactive tool that I could use to test different withdrawal rates. I'd be interested in seeing a 3% withdrawal rate and maybe a 25 year retirement based on your rising equity glidepath strategy.

  4. Bob,

    I'm sorry that I do not have any interactive tool. Did you see the 3% withdrawal rate with 30 year tables? I can't remember if they made it into the online appendix for the article.

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