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A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore.

Sep 2, 2021

The evergreen subject of retirement planning is something that we prioritize here at the Rational Reminder Podcast, and today we have a very interesting conversation in which we explore the topic from a slightly different perspective. We are joined by Gordon Irlam, who is a notable researcher with a wealth of experience from the world of tech and beyond. We have the chance to ask Gordon about bonds, annuities, and optimal allocations for different outlooks, and also get his perspective on charitable giving, effective altruism, and different spending plans. Gordon has conducted some amazing research and even developed his own tools to help investors calculate the variables of their situations. This episode is a great gateway for listeners to explore these concepts, as well as make use of Gordon's resources. Our guest's personal story is equally fascinating, after working with Google early on, and subsequently starting a company that was then acquired by Google, Gordon has leveraged his experience and finances in order to continue asking questions that interest him and will definitely interest our listeners. So for this standout conversation with a great mind, be sure to take a listen.


Key Points From This Episode:

  • Looking back on the Google equity that Gordon sold and how he feels about the decision now. [0:03:00.8]
  • Google’s acquisition of a company that Gordon started and the impact of this financial windfall. [0:04:33.1]
  • Gordon's explanation of effective altruism and how he utilizes the idea. [0:06:25.3]
  • Approaches to asset allocation for foundations and how this differs from personal funds. [0:10:28.7]
  • Comparing practitioner and economist approaches to financial planning. [0:15:59.7]
  • An explanation of stochastic dynamic programming and its strengths. [0:17:45.5]
  • Why Gordon now favors reinforcement learning over stochastic dynamic programming. [0:20:12.6]
  • Considering the role of annuities in Gordon's optimal model for retirement planning. [0:25:05.3]
  • Constant spending versus variable spending in the optimal retirement plan. [0:27:55.2]
  • Gordon's practical advice for entering retirement and tracking spending. [0:29:35.8]
  • Exploring mean reversion in stock returns for tactical planning. [0:32:16.6]
  • A message from Gordon about fixed guaranteed income and the value of long-duration inflation index bonds. [0:35:18.7]
  • Advice to younger individuals and investors; the importance of saving. [0:36:18.9]
  • Thoughts on possible future innovations for the problem of better portfolio building. [0:37:45.3]
  • Gordon's definition of success: the ability to work on interesting and important problems. [0:40:26.2]