Wade Pfauage 37

Professor of retirement income, The American College

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Trail Blazers

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I am an Idealist

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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 Wade

Ever since Wade Pfau poked holes in the 4 percent withdrawal rule, financial advisers have paid attention when this academic talks about retirement income.

Mr. Pfau, now a professor at The American College, startled the industry in 2011 when he wrote that people shouldn't be focused on how much they can safely withdraw during retirement but instead on how much income they need to save while they're working to ensure enough money when they're not.

"The research showed that even though the 4 percent rule had worked historically in the U.S., it was not as safe as we thought because it depended on a certain sequence of returns," Mr. Pfau said.

With that landmark paper, published in the Journal of Financial Planning during his 10-year stint in Japan with the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, he began presenting to financial planning groups. And his Retirement Research blog (WPfau.blogspot.com), which he launched in 2010, became a big hit with advisers interested in retirement strategy.

It seems that Mr. Pfau, who has a doctorate in economics from Princeton and holds the chartered financial analyst designation, is just starting his quest to help people retire securely.

"There needs to be more research on retirement income," he said. "The financial practitioner community is still more based on rules of thumb."

Mr. Pfau also works with McLean Asset Management, a Virginia-based registered investment adviser, and Instream Solutions, which develops adviser software tools.

Ultimately, he would like to see a tool that lets people "check" whether their retirement plan will leave them safe and secure.

— Liz Skinner

Next Profile

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Fast Facts

  • Big fan of professional wrestling
  • Living in Japan made him lose interest in bad habits like watching TV and eating junk food
  • Wanted to be a government economist when he was growing up

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