RIIA® Awards

RIIA’s Thought Leadership Awards program recognizes authors of papers who demonstrate excellence in original thinking and industry leadership. It consists of two categories:

Practitioner Thought Leadership Award: Practitioner authors may range from financial advisors to product development managers to marketing communications experts.

Academic Thought Leadership Award: Scholars may include academics from across the realm of educational institutions.

RIIAs Excellence Awards:  RIIA promotes a number of awards to showcase excellence and achievement “Across the Silos.” Recognizing innovation, excellence and thought leadership across the retirement income landscape, as the sponsor of these prestigious awards you will join the media partners in honoring the significant endeavors of the recipients of these awards during the conference.

Highly-regarded industry editors and publishers organize and sponsor the selection for “excellence in retirement income communications” which includes brochures, advertising, websites and other marketing programs and materials that make a real impact on the millions of people who look to our industry for guidance and expertise. These awards are:

  • Retail Retirement Income Communications Award (presented by Investment News)
  • Retirement Income Best Advertising Award (presented by Investment News)
  • Retirement Income Digital Communications Award (presented by Investment News)
  • Innovation in Retirement Income Product Award (presented by the Retirement Income Journal)
  • Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award (presented by Research Magazine)

Contact Francois Gadenne for more information at [email protected]

Award Winners


Amy Finkelstein, Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, received RIIA’s 2017 Achievement in Applied Retirement Research award, in conjunction with Research on Wealth Magazine.  

Kelli Hueler, founder and CEO of Hueler Companies, received the 2017 Award for Innovation, presented by Kerry Pechter, editor of the Retirement Income Journal in recognition of Income Solutions, a rollover platform where retirees can purchase income annuities from participating life insurers at institutional prices.

2015 – RIIA’s 10th Anniversary

Research Magazine awarded Brigitte Madrian, Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, RIIA’s Achievement in Applied Retirement Research Award.

CANNEX was the winner of the 2015 Retirement Income Journal Award for “Innovation in Retirement Income Planning Products.” The award, presented by Kerry Pechter, editor and publisher, was given to CANNEX for its Product Allocation for Retirement Income process (also known as PrARI™).

Financial planner Dirk Cotton, author of The Retirement Café blog and founder of JDC Planning, LLC, won the 2015 RIIA Practitioner Thought Leadership Award.  The award recognizes his new paper, “Sequence of Return Risks: A New Way of Looking at Spending or Saving Scenarios with Path Dependence,” contributions to retirement thought leadership and RIIA’s Body of Knowledge.

RIIA’s Wall of Achievement recognized individual contributions to RIIA’s first decade of work in the retirement space:

Dan Amodeo – Nationwide

Dana Anspach – Sensible Money LLC

Lowell Aronoff – CANNEX

Gary Baker – CANNEX USA

Andrew Blumberg – The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation

Joan Boros – Stradley, Ronon, Stevens, and Young, LLP

Adam Bryan – The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation

Deb Burkholder – RIIA

Chip Castille – BlackRock

Bill Hunter – Bank of America / Merrill Lynch

Nicholas Lance – OneAmerica

Stephen Langlois – LPL

Mike Lonier, RMA® – Lonier Financial Advisory LLC

David Macchia – Wealth2K

Ron Mastrogiovanni – HealthView Services

Tom McDonough – RIIA

Kim McSheridan, RMA – RIIA

Duane Meek – Nationwide

Matt O’Hara – BlackRock

Bob Powell – RIIA, Retirement Management Journal®

Anand Rao – PwC

Pallav Ray – PwC

Sri Reddy – Prudential

Chuck Robinson – Sensible Money, LLC

Steve Saxon – Groom Law Group, Chartered

Lenny Schmitt – The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation

Al Turco – McElroy, Deutsh, Mulvaney & Carpenter / PH, LLP

Elvin Turner – Turner Consulting LLC

Bruce Wolfe – BlackRock


The winners of RIIA’s third annual Retirement Management Journal® (RMJ®) Academic Thought Leadership Award were Michael E. Kitces, a partner and director of research for the Pinnacle Advisory Group and publisher of the Kitces Report and Nerd’s Eye View, and, Wade D. Pfau, a professor of retirement income at the American College. Kitces’ and Pfau’s award-winning paper, “The True Impact Of Immediate Annuities On Retirement Sustainability: A Total Wealth Perspective,” was featured in the Spring 2014 issue of the Retirement Management Journal.


Anna M. Rappaport, FSA, MAAA, Chair of the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Committee on Post Retirement Needs and internationally recognized expert on retirement systems and workforce issues, was chosen for her paper “Insights to Support Better Retirement Planning: Implications of and Key Findings from Recent Society of Actuaries Research.”

The winning paper includes the findings of two new SOA co-sponsored studies, “Running Out of Money” and “The New American Family”. It offers insights for financial advisors who want to better serve the post-retirement needs of the middle income market.


The 2012 Academic Thought Leadership Award was shared by Wade Pfau, Ph.D., an Associate Professor of Economics at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo, Japan for his paper, “Choosing a Retirement-Income Strategy: Outcome Measures and Best Practices,” and a team of authors comprising David Blanchett, CFA, Head of Retirement Research; Maciej Kowara, Ph.D., CFA; Senior Research Consultant; and Peng Chen, Ph.D., CFA, President, from Morningstar Investment Management for their paper “Optimal Withdrawal Strategy for Retirement-Income Portfolios.”

Sherrie Grabot, CEO of GuidedChoice and Harry Markowitz, Ph. D., Chief Architect of Investment Solutions for GuidedChoice and professor of finance at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego, who is best known for his pioneering work in Modern Portfolio Theory, as well as Ming Wang, CIO, GuidedChoice Chief Architect of investment solutions for GuidedChoice and and Ganlin Xu, CTO, GuidedChoice, received the 2012 Practitioner Thought Leadership Award for their paper “Financial Guidance Theory, developed by Harry Markowitz, Ph.D.”.

Dylan Huang, Corporate Vice President, New York Life Insurance Company; Matthew Grove, Vice President, New York Life Insurance Company; and, Todd Taylor, Senior Actuarial Assistant, New York Life Insurance Company also received the Practitioner Thought Leadership Award for their paper “The Efficient Income Frontier: A Product Allocation Framework for Retirement.”


The winners of the 2011 Academic Thought Leadership Award were Duncan Williams, CFP, Doctoral Candidate and Graduate Instructor in the Personal Financial Planning Division of Texas Tech University, and his advisor, Michael S. Finke, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Personal Financial Planning Division, for their paper “Determining Optimal Withdrawal Rates: An Economic Approach.”

Zachary S. Parker, CFP, Director of Annuities and Insurance, and Paul R. Lofties, CFP, ChFC, Vice President of Wealth Management and Acquisitions for Securities America, received the 2011 Practitioner Thought Leadership Award for their paper “Capturing the Income Distribution Opportunity: A Historical Analysis of Distribution Philosophies and a Solution for Today.”