Michael Finke Michael Finke, dean and chief academic officer, The American College of Financial Services.

Industry academics Michael Finke and Wade Pfau will help the Alliance for Lifetime Income, a Washington-based group that educates consumers about annuities, conduct retirement income research via its new Retirement Income Institute.

The new Retirement Income Institute will conduct scholarly research and “develop innovative ideas to advance the Alliance’s mission of helping to increase the number of households that are protected in retirement,” the Alliance said Tuesday.

Jean Statler, executive director of the Alliance, said that “two things will differentiate this Institute from many other great retirement research organizations: our specific focus on protected retirement income, and the ability to combine scholarly research and thinking with real-world data and the practical expertise and experience of the retirement industry.”

The Institute, Statler added, “will be focused on overcoming roadblocks to connecting protected lifetime income with the retirement needs, goals and aspirations of consumers.”

Through the Retirement Income Institute, the Alliance “will have the opportunity to identify and address barriers to delivering protected income, and build a foundation for future innovation to help our best thinkers decipher some of the intractable problems in our industry,” added Barry Stowe, co-chair of the Institute’s Retirement Industry Advisory Group, and member of the board of directors for Zurich Insurance Group. “We want to unearth solutions that help more Americans retire with less risk, more confidence and real financial security to live the life they want in retirement.”

The Institute’s 2020 research agenda will focus on:

  • New approaches to the annuity puzzle;
  • Optimizing annuities in a retirement portfolio;
  • Private-sector solutions for legal and regulatory barriers to annuities in 401(k) plans; and
  • Understanding differences in consumer behavior and decision-making.

Along with Stowe, the Institute is led by:

  • Jon Forman, co-chair; Kenneth E. McAfee Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Oklahoma College of Law.
  • Leora Friedberg, co-chair; associate professor of economics and public policy at the University of Virginia’s Department of Economics and Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy;
  • Seth Harris, senior advisor; former acting U.S. secretary and deputy secretary of labor and former professor and director of labor and employment law programs at New York Law School.

Finke, dean and chief academic officer, and Pfau, professor of retirement income at The American College of Financial Services serve as Alliance fellows along with Bill Gale, Arjay and Frances Miller Chair in Federal Economic Policy and senior fellow in the economic studies program at Brookings Institution in Washington; and Nora Super, senior director at the Milken Institute Center for the Future of Aging.