New Research Turns Traditional Retirement Income Planning on its Head

Author: Brian Anderson, Editor-in-Chief

Date: 3/1/2023

View article on 401k Specialist

New research released this week authored by retirement income authorities Alex Murguia and Wade Pfau turns traditional retirement income planning on its head by first focusing on the consumer and their preferences.

This research gives us valuable and important insight into consumer behaviors and preferences that can help financial advisors develop practical retirement income strategies, customized to each individual.


RISA (Retirement Income Style Awareness), the psychology-backed, research-driven income personality assessment co-founded by Murguia and Wade Pfau, and the Retirement Income Institute of the Alliance for Lifetime Income jointly announced the release of a three-part research series that changes the conversation about retirement income strategies.

“This research gives us valuable and important insight into consumer behaviors and preferences that can help financial advisors develop practical retirement income strategies, customized to each individual,” said Jason Fichtner, a Senior Fellow and Head of the Retirement Income Institute. “Pensions have virtually disappeared and the traditional model for retirement income security may not provide sufficient, reliable and protected retirement income for Americans planning for retirement. A new framework is needed that focuses on how protected income from annuities can provide the retirement security consumers need and are looking for.”

The series, which was commissioned by the Retirement Income Institute, focuses on the critical building blocks of a consumer-first retirement income approach, including:

  • Quantifying retirement income beliefs and preferences to determine a retirement income style
  • How retirement income preferences inform retirement income
  • Identifying limitations of risk tolerance questionnaires when it comes to addressing retirement income concerns

“Throughout the research process, we were able to surface undeniable connections between retirement preferences and retirement styles, and illustrate how these styles indicate the distinct retirement income strategies that resonate most closely with how each individual wants to generate retirement income,” said Wade Pfau. “For example, we discovered that at least two-thirds of consumers are seeking protected income solutions as a significant source of their retirement income.”

The development of the RISA matrix represents the practical application of Pfau and Murguia’s research, bringing together salient psychological concepts and retirement income planning into a systematized process for individuals and advisors to find the protected income strategies that best meet unique preferences.

Unlike in the accumulation phase of their financial journey, individuals in or approaching retirement face different risks that aren’t accounted for using traditional risk tolerance questionnaires. With the RISA, advisors can capture how their clients want to account for these risks and ensure those preferences are considered within their retirement income plan.

“The RISA is changing the retirement income conversation for advisors and their clients,” Murguia said. “For the first time, advisors can accurately identify an individual’s retirement income preferences and easily point them to a solution that accommodates those preferences, empowering the consumer with the knowledge, confidence and peace of mind that this is the right strategy for their retirement goals.”

To access the three-part research series from RISA and the Alliance for Lifetime Income, click here.

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