As planners confront the dubious task of helping their clients to safely withdraw income for retirement, William Bengen may very well be a luminary. His just released Conserving Client Portfolios During Retirement, a from scratch attempt to confront this dilemma, is likely to take its place in the canon of financial planning literature. Some of the MIT trained rocket scientist cum planner's research has been previously published in the Journal of Financial Planning, but those chapters have been meticulously updated, and there is plenty of new material. Using Ibbottson market data that reaches back to 1926, Bengen deflty dissects the retirement withdrawal dilemma into manageable layers. He arrives at the usual 4.15 percent "safe" withdrawal rate, but then shows how it can be adapted to any number of client profiles. The book's real magic is how Bengen weaves asset allocation, time horizon and other variables into his dynamic and thorough research to suggest formulas and methods, rather than arbitrary answers, for planning any given client's retirement withdrawal strategy. As with any good methodology, the book's findings can be used on the fly to recalibrate a withdrawal strategy for clients whose needs change mid flight. For the bulk of planners, trained more for accumulation than distribution, the book provides more than technical analysis; Bengen suggests intelligent ways to incorporate these strategies into conversations with clients facing these formidable decisions. Especially helpful is Bengen's methodology for predicting the probability of a given strategy's success. Remarkably, Bengen presents his complex findings, clever charts and all, in as tight and succinct a package as one can find in financial literature. --Marshall Eckblad, Financial Planning magazine, July 2006, p. 22
About the Author
William P. Bengen, CFP, is a sole practitioner in El Cajon, California. He is a fee-only personal financial adviser and member of NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. Bengen received a B.S. from MIT in aeronautics and astronautics. He worked for 17 years with his family-owned soft-drink-bottling franchise firm in the New York metropolitan area, during which he served tenure as president and COO. Bengen migrated with his wife and two daughters to the gentler climes of Southern California, where he began his practice, earning his CFP certification in 1990 and his master's degree in financial planning in 1993. Bengen's articles and quotations have appeared in numerous publications, including the Journal of Financial Planning, Financial Planning magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Kiplinger's, and the NAPFA Advisor. He has presented his research on conservation of client retirement portfolios at financial planning conferences and meetings. Bengen is a member of the Editorial Review Board of the Journal of Financial Planning. He is a co-author of Topics in Advanced Model Rocketry, originally published by the MIT Press in 1973, and recently republished.