Simplifying the complex math of retirement to help retirees select the income path that’s right for them. For the millions of Americans entering retirement today, it’s time to focus on lifestyle goals instead of failure.

The IncomePath Story

Michael Finke, Ph.D.

In 2019, I met with Bill Sharpe at his home in Carmel, CA, and he showed me some simulations he’d been working on to help understand a complex financial product offered by his investment company. Economists like Bill view investment risk as a tradeoff between taking little risk and achieving greater spending certainty, versus taking greater risk and accepting the possibility of spending more or spending less.

Bill showed me on his computer how he modeled outcomes in a range of different economic environments to understand how different products affected a retiree’s spending. Each simulated lifestyle was its own income path that began at retirement and rose or fell over time.

Our conversation reminded me of an article I co-wrote a few years earlier on the potential benefits of adjusting retirement spending up or down in response to investment risk.

Spending adjustments can allow a retiree to initially spend significantly more than the traditional 4% rule if they are willing to make course corrections. This flexibility can also be viewed as a range of possible income paths that reflect the adjustments retirees make in response to good and bad investment returns.

This raised a question:

  • What if a retiree could visualize how their initial withdrawal rate and investment risk impact the range of retirement lifestyles they could experience?

  • How might a financial product like an annuity, which allows a retiree to transfer the risk of an unknown time horizon, impact the range of spending paths?

  • How does a blend of annuitization and investment risk change the shape of the path and the sacrifices a retiree might have to make in old age?

This is my Goal for IncomePath

More than a decade of lessons learned conducting retirement income simulations will help people easily understand the most important decisions they can make when designing a retirement lifestyle.

By simplifying investment, spending, and product choices, people will build their own retirement income plan, gaining clarity in an era of increasing complexity and greater responsibility for planning our future.

What is IncomePath?

IncomePath is a new way to envision retirement decisions as choices about lifestyle. It takes into account an individual’s flexibility in retirement spending and other factors, creating an individual IncomePath that shows the risks and tradeoffs at different stages of retirement. This framework helps people make decisions about whether they want guaranteed income within their retirement plan, and the appropriate amount of investment risk needed to reach their goals.

IncomePath goes beyond the “4% rule” to incorporate realistic spending adjustments when faced with fluctuations in market performance.

IncomePath is a tool to help financial professionals monitor retirement income planning during annual check-ins with clients. It allows users to establish a maximum acceptable annual spending change, guiding income adjustments over time.

Modeling how the purchase of an annuity alters the shape of possible spending paths is a better way to demonstrate financial products designed to transfer longevity or market risks. My IncomePath is an interactive tool designed to demystify complex product features and investment decisions–and empower people to choose their own lifestyle goals.

The IncomePath process and tool will help financial professionals design a simpler, clearer retirement income plan for the people they serve.

when IncomePath is available

How IncomePath works

IncomePath uses a goal-based planning process to create an income plan designed around a lifestyle, rather than a portfolio. It allows for a step-by-step conversation about the most important decisions a client needs to make so they can design their own retirement income plan.

On its own, the process frames the tradeoffs in a way that helps clients understand the process, and move confidently toward retirement.

To hear when IncomePath is available.

The process:

Defines legacy and lifestyle objectives

Starts a discussion around desired lifestyle goals

Allows the financial professional and the client to choose inputs for My IncomePath

Establishes IncomePath’s core concepts of spending flexibility and asset allocation as key drivers of a retirement income lifestyle

My IncomePath

My IncomePath uses intuitive visualizations and interactive levers to explain the tradeoffs that come with creating income in retirement from savings. It also demonstrates the benefits of including a product that helps reduce longevity risk and investment risk.

IncomePath’s approach aligns a retirement income plan with a client’s spending and legacy goals. My IncomePath translates expected variability in market returns, producing easily understood potential lifestyle paths. And even though this model is complex, clients will see images that clearly communicate the range of possible results. This innovative design helps people make informed choices and eases the stress that can sometimes accompany retirement planning..

Not only that, but IncomePath helps people feel confident in the plan they’ve created, knowing they can easily adjust when inevitable changes come their way.


Financial Firms

Learn more about incorporating IncomePath to help you guide your clients and help them build their retirement income plan.

We provide a customized offering that complements your existing planning tools, products, and strategy. IncomePath helps you better illustrate how annuities affect lifestyle when leading people in their retirement conversations.

Let us show you what we’ve built!

Financial Professionals

IncomePath will be available for subscription by individual financial professionals in early 2024

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IncomePath is creating educational tools for people to help explain our approach to retirement income planning. Your financial professional or retirement advisor may be interested in learning more about IncomePath.

IncomePath will soon be available for financial professionals. Feel free to share this site with your advisor and tell them you want to envision your own retirement path.

Contact Us

Learn more about incorporating IncomePath to help you guide your clients and help them build their retirement income plan.

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