Economist Wade Pfau has been thinking about retirement since he was in 20s. But not just his own retirement.
Pfau started studying Social Security for his dissertation while getting his Ph.D. at Princeton University in the early 2000s. At the time, Republicans wanted to divert part of the Social Security payroll tax into a 401(k)-style savings plan. Pfau concluded it might supply sufficient retirement income for retirees—but only if markets cooperated.
Today, Pfau is a professor of retirement income at the American College of Financial Services, a private college that trains financial professionals. His most recent book, “Retirement Planning Guidebook,” was published in September.
While many retirees are banking on a continuing rise in stocks to keep their portfolios growing, Pfau worries that markets will plunge and imperil this “overly optimistic” approach. He has embraced oft-criticized insurance products like variable annuities and whole-life insurance that will hold their value even if stocks crash, and he has done consulting work for insurers. He wrote another book, “Reverse Mortgages: How to Use Reverse Mortgages to Secure Your Retirement,” because these loans also can be used as “buffer assets” during market meltdowns.