Texas Tech University

Michael Finke

Director of Retirement Planning and Living
Department of Personal Financial Planning

Finke portrait

What are your research objectives and interests?

I'm interested in studying the defined contribution system in the United States to improve retirement security for workers. I have conducted research that explores how to optimally withdraw income from a 401(k) in retirement, how to improve outcomes within defined contribution plans, improving financial advice, and exploring the risks of managing investments in old age.

How do you feel your research impacts the globe?

I've done a number of studies that challenge conventional wisdom on how the industry approaches retirement income planning. Many countries are just beginning to face the prospect of using defined contribution accounts to fund retirement instead of pensions. I've presented my research on how retirees can best withdraw funds from their retirement accounts for in Australia and consulted with the financial services industry in the United Kingdom. My research on how cognitive decline affects financial decisions in old age has helped inform the policy debate about investment advice regulation and late-life income strategies.

What types of service projects have you been involved with?

I maintain a close relationship with a number of financial services companies and with policymakers interested in retirement-related topics. I recently testified at the Department of Labor about the imposition of a fiduciary standard on advisors to retirement accounts and have created white papers for Northwestern Mutual, TIAA-CREF, OneAmerica Financial, MetLife, and the Society of Actuaries on retirement and financial advice topics. I also write a monthly column for Research Magazine, a popular financial advisor publication, which discusses the academic research related to current financial planning topics.

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently studying how best to incorporate annuity products into retirement savings defaults in 401(k) plans, and how best to address the risk of long-term care expenses in retirement.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I speak at a number of industry conferences, and I get the greatest inspiration from talking with financial advisors about their challenges. They are hungry for good quality research on best practices in financial planning.

What advice do you have for new faculty members about
balancing the components of Integrated Scholarship—
teaching, research, and service—in their careers?

It's important to first become an expert on a topic, and that often takes years of hard work reading and conducting research. This is the first step to getting tenure and establishing a reputation. Once you've developed the knowledge, helping those outside of academics benefit from academic knowledge can be incredibly rewarding. I also believe that my value in the classroom is enhanced by a better understanding of the financial planning industry.

More about Michael Finke

Michael Finke, Ph.D., CFP® is Professor and Director of Retirement Planning and Living in the Department of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University. Dr. Finke served as the editor of the Journal of Personal Finance and is a contributing editor to Research Magazine. He received a doctorate in consumer economics from the Ohio State University in 1998 and in finance from the University of Missouri in 2011. He was named to the 2013 and 2014 Investment Advisor IA25 list and the 2012 Investment News Power 20, and received the Montgomery Warschauer best paper award from the Journal of Financial Planning in 2013 and 2014.