David Blanchettage 32

Head of retirement research, Morningstar

I am a Visionary

40 Under 40
40 Under 40

I am a Leader

40 Under 40

I am a Trailblazer

Trail Blazers

I am an Entrepreneur

40 Under 40

I am a Visionary

40 Under 40

I am an Idealist

40 Under 40

Meet the Leaders

Whether in their own firms or in their communities, these young people are leading the charge toward innovation in financial planning, bringing new opportunities to advisers and clients alike. Here, they share the best leadership advice they’ve received in their careers.

Meet the Trailblazers

This group doesn’t subscribe to groupthink. They are spearheading new ways of practicing and delivering financial advice — in some cases reaching populations previously considered unprofitable to serve. We ask them about the most unique and unusual ideas they’ve had.

Meet the Entrepreneurs

In addition to helping clients reach their financial goals, some in the advice industry face the challenge of running a business or a team. Others have started companies to support this pursuit. These young people are flourishing amid the balancing act — and some got an early start.

Meet the Visionaries

It’s not about what is, but what will be — and what can be — the future of the financial planning industry for this group of forward-looking advisers, educators and executives. Their insights pull the rest of the profession into the next stratum.

Meet the Idealists

Life experiences shape our ideals, especially for these young professionals who see challenges in the advice industry and the world — and set out to meet them. They also have words of wisdom for the next generation.

About David

If you were to ask a kid what he wants to be when he grows up, "financial planner" may not be the first thing that comes to mind.

But for David M. Blanchett, head of retirement research at Morningstar Investment Management, that was exactly what he wanted to be.

"Seriously, I know that sounds lame, but I've always been drawn to this field," he wrote in a questionnaire for InvestmentNews' 40 Under 40.

The Lexington, Ky., native essentially grew up in the financial planning and retirement industries: He took the CFP exam at age 21.

"I didn't go to a school that offered a CFP program; this was on my own," he said. "I completed all of these [designations] because I was incredibly curious about the profession. I had this desire to give the best advice to people and the hunger to know more."

Mr. Blanchett eventually went on to attain four other designations: the chartered financial analyst, chartered life underwriter, chartered financial consultant and accredited fiduciary investment analyst. Currently, he's working on a Ph.D. in personal financial planning at Texas Tech University.

Indeed, Mr. Blanchett's drive to help savers and investors reach their goals imbues his research at Morningstar. For instance, he measured the value of intelligent financial planning decisions during retirement — or gamma — in his 2013 paper "Alpha, Beta and Now … Gamma."

In the 2014 paper "Low Bond Yields and Efficient Retirement Income Portfolios," he studied the ideal allocation toward a group of investment options, including a variable annuity with a guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefit, amid a period of low bond yields.

These papers don't just drive conversations among financial planners and academics, they also lead to real results for investors. Mr. Blanchett's findings are incorporated into Morningstar's custom target-date models and participant services for 401(k) plans.

"It was never my dream that if I learn more I can make more," he said. "I wanted to truly help people accomplish their goals."

— Darla Mercado

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Fast Facts

  • Is a twin (the younger, to his dismay)
  • Has a pet hedgehog, and two dogs
  • Favorite quote: Nothing great is easy

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