Moshe A. Milevsky, a rabbi’s son, loves to give advice. But he himself has consistently refused to take any — at least conventional-wisdom career advice.
And therein lies the key to his success. As a Yeshiva University undergrad, he was urged to forget his fascination with high-level algebra and physics — courses he loved taking — and instead start studying accounting. “You’ll be unemployed in the real world! Become a CPA.!” many told him. Later, after he earned a Ph.D., fellow academics warned: “No! Don’t write a book at this stage of your career! Wait 10 years! Now you should focus on writing articles!”
“I hate to sound like Frank Sinatra — but I did my way,” explains Milevsky, associate professor of finance at the Schulich School of Business, York University, in Toronto. His work at York has Milevsky, who speaks in the snappy rhythm of a stand-up comic and has a sly, self-deprecating wit, teaching folks about all things financial. The Toronto native, 38, is also founder and executive director of the Individual Finance and Insurance Decisions, at York, which produces research on specific decision-centric financial issues (www.ifid.ca).
As a consultant to insurance firms and brokerages, Milevsky is a leading expert on the vast — oft-maligned — universe of annuities.
Apart from publishing more than 40 scholarly research articles, he is the author of several mass market books, including the Canadian bestseller, “Money Logic” (Stoddart 1999), plus “Wealth Logic” (Captus 2002) and “Insurance Logic” (Captus 2004).
“Moshe is that rare academic who has blended academic rigor with practical knowledge and common sense. It makes his work approachable and usable by practitioners like me,” says Harold Evensky, of financial advisors Evensky & Katz, in Coral Gables, Fla. Milevsky has contributed chapters to books penned by Evensky and partner Deena Katz.
Now available is Milevsky’s own brand-new book, “The Calculus of Retirement Income: Financial Models for Pension Annuities and Life Insurance” (Cambridge University Press). As you might guess, it wasn’t written for the average consumer.
“This isn’t something to breeze through before you go to bed,” cracks the author. However, most advisors will find much information — some of it quite chatty — and many statistical tables enlightening. To be sure, the book’s premise, how to avoid retirement ruin, is tantalizing and well-timed, given that baby boomers now find themselves eligible now for senior discounts.
Milevsky bluntly defines “retirement ruin” as “running out of money while you’re still alive.” To prevent this disastrous scenario, he recommends determining one’s retirement ruin number about a decade prior to retiring. “The last thing you want to do is wake up in retirement to find out that you have a high retirement ruin number,” he says. “This is the number you want to become more and more aware of as you approach retirement so you can start saving more or protecting your portfolio or thinking about getting a pension.”