I get sick of hearing myself say bad stuff about my friend Wade Pfau. So, for this post, I am taking a break from that stuff and focusing on the other side of the story. This one should be easy to write.
Academic Researcher Wade Pfau is smart. He’s hard-working. He’s brave. He’s generous. He’s kind. He is a super guy.
I say Wade is smart because he recognized the power of Valuation-Informed Indexing soon after we began our e-mail correspondence in December 2010. Actually, he recognized it before that. Wade learned about me by reading my posts at the Vanguard Diehards board and at some other places. Goons were attacking me relentlessly at those places. A lot of people fell for their b.s. Wade did not. He saw through it. He knew that I was onto something and he wanted to know more. And, after we talked things over a bit, he knew what to do with the insights he picked up. He developed research proving the superiority of Valuation-Informed Indexing over Buy-and-Hold in record time.
Wade LOVED talking this stuff over. He loves his work. He is good at it. He helps people. We need more people in this world who are as good at what they do as is Wade.
Wade is ambitious. This is the first thing I said to my wife about him when he contacted me and we got to know each other a bit. I mean this 100 percent in a good way (there is a good way to be ambitious and a bad way to be ambitious — Wade is ambitious in the good way). I am ambitious. I like people who are ambitious. I have had other people show interest in my work and then see their efforts not go anywhere because they did not push hard enough. I could tell from the start that Wade was going to push if he discovered reasons to do so. There are lots of obstacles that hold back positive initiatives. We need ambitious people to break through to the other side. Wade has done that and has helped us all by having what it takes to push past obstacles.
Wade is generous. He made it a practice from my first contact with him to thank all the people who helped him with his research. I never insisted that Wade acknowledge me in his research papers. I never even asked that he do so. He ALWAYS did so.
Wade also always thanked the Bogleheads Forum community in his research. That was a super thing to do. What we most need to do is to heal the rift that has developed between Buy-and-Holders and Valuation-Informed Indexers. We are all on the same side. We all want the same things. We all believe in research-based investing strategies. Wade’s policy of thanking people on “both sides” was a great way to heal wounds. It didn’t totally achieve its intended goal. But that’s not Wade’s fault. He did his part. It SHOULD have worked. It was a smart initiative.
Wade is kind. He has said some nasty things about me in recent days (I understand that it is his view that I have said some nasty things about him). I do not believe that he ever enjoys saying those things. He wants to be friends. He does not like conflict. He didn’t go into this field to engage in battles. He wants to do his research, see it help people, and go on with his life. This is 100 percent understandable and healthy. He did nothing to create the unfortunate set of circumstances in which he has found himself.
Wade’s research is going to win a Nobel prize. I don’t know when. I hope soon. The sooner this happens, the better things will go for all of us. Few people appreciate today how important Wade’s research is. My sense is that even Wade does not fully appreciate this. His understanding of what he has done will grow over time. So will the understanding of lots of others. Lots of people who today don’t give Wade the credit he merits will one day look back embarrassed at what they overlooked when they first came across his research.
Wade is brave. I have been trying for years to get people in this field to write to the authors of the Old School safe withdrawal rate studies and DEMAND (not just ask for!) corrections. Wade was the first to actually do this. I haven’t seen the text of his e-mail. I am sure he was 100 percent polite. He probably asked rather than demanded. Fine. He’s the first person in this field to do anything along these lines. That took guts. That made a difference (it scared the Goons out of their pants, that much is for sure!).
I am proud to be able to call Wade a friend. I much enjoyed our friendship and learned much from it. I will always look back at the 16 months of our e-mail correspondence with fondness and with a good feeling about what can be accomplished in a short amount of time when the internet is used for its potential to help people with mutual interests in doing important and good work to connect with each other.
Wade Pfau is a super guy who has done super work. That is written in the books and can never be changed.
Don’t forget! If you ever do, you’ll have Old Farmer Hocus to answer to!