The Book Inspired by the RMA® Curriculum

Dana Anspach, CFP®, RMA®, founder of Sensible Money, LLC, and’s MoneyOver55 expert is publishing the second edition of her book, Control Your Retirement Destiny. Below, she describes that journey. In addition, she notes, “Thank you RIIA, and Francois, for being the inspiration behind my work, and for doing so much to increase the awareness of how important the decumulation phase is – and how we can all approach it in a better way.”

I’ve been practicing as a financial planner since 1995. I never set out to focus on the decumulation market; instead, it hooked me with its significance at a client meeting in 2003.

The CPA firm I was working with brought in a couple in their late 60’s. This couple had retired ten years prior and had about $500,000 in assets. But they weren’t confident about having sufficient assets for the rest of their retirement. We reviewed how their money had moved around over the last ten years:

At one point, after the stock market went down, they told their broker they wanted something with less risk. He moved them to bonds. Interest rates then rose and made their bond portfolio value go down. They weren’t happy and told their broker they wanted something guaranteed. He moved them to a fixed deferred annuity.

Each transaction was “suitable” based on the client’s expressed concerns. But where was the education? Why didn’t the broker explain concepts and educate the client? This couple could not go back to work. This money was all they had. Their situation made me realize how much more important the decisions are once someone is in retirement. There is no time to make up for bad advice. But, what to do?

A few years later I began writing for as their MoneyOver55 expert and I needed new quality content ideas. That’s when I found RIIA®.

The more I wrote, the more I realized most of the industry was approaching the decumulation portion of an investor’s life the wrong way, using traditional accumulation tactics and “rules of thumb”. However, retirement is not “more of the same”; the risks are far higher. When RIIA’s RMA designation came about, I jumped on it.

I had always used a balance sheet with my clients, but the curriculum took this to the next level by using the present value of all household assets and liabilities. This provided a framework for comparing retirement choices in an objective way. I loved it. I could quantify to a client why one approach looked better than another. The RMA designation provided the knowledge to assess the client’s retirement needs from a household view. And it did so in a way that helped remove biases toward certain product recommendations.

I set out to translate much of what I learned in the RMA into a book that would show how such a framework helps plan for retirement and objectively compare options – a key aspect of the new DOL Fiduciary Rule. Now, 13 years after that pivotal client meeting, the second edition of Control Your Retirement Destiny has been published.

As with the first edition, this second edition is dedicated to Francois Gadenne and the View Across the Silos℠. It is exactly this view I worked to capture. It is a process that allows a planner to analytically evaluate various investment and insurance products – a true view across the silos.


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