Life Two Podcast

We’re in the midst of what many call a retirement crisis, with too many saving too little, too late. How do we turn this challenge into an opportunity to create financial security and personal fulfillment for millions of people? Co-hosted by retirement experts Don Ezra and Common Wealth, LIFE TWO offers in-depth, insightful conversations with the world’s best thinkers on the trends and ideas that are driving change in the retirement security field. The 10-part pilot series also features lessons from Don’s newly released book on how to plan and think about life after full-time work, helping to make this daunting topic more approachable and empowering for everyone.

Don Ezra

Don Ezra

is a former co-chair of Russell Investments global consulting and the creator of the retirement website His latest book is Life Two: How to get to and enjoy what used to be called retirement.

Alex Mazer

Alex Mazer

is a Founding Partner at Common Wealth, a mission-driven business focused on expanding access to retirement security. Common Wealth partners with associations, unions, and other groups to build and manage large-scale, collective retirement plans.

a list of episodes
  • Episode 1

    What does it mean to retire in the 21st century? Pensions and a full-stop retirement are becoming things of the past, and global retirement systems are struggling to keep up with the changing trends. In this special double-interview episode, we speak to Chris Battaglia (VP/Group Publisher, Pensions & Investments) and Jeremy Cooper (Chairman, Retirement Income, Challenger Limited) about what needs to be fixed and which countries are doing retirement right. Even as individuals are increasingly left to manage their own financial future, later in the show we explain why retirement, or what we call Life Two, is potentially the peak time of life: the most enjoyable and the most rewarding.

    Show Index

    00:00 | Opening
    01:50 | Intro to Chris Battaglia: his background
    04:50 | Global retirement challenges: longevity, what is retirement, investments, coverage
    09:40 | Crisis? Successes and desirable improvements
    20:10 | Why education hasn’t been successful
    26:20 | Technology is helping to fill the gap
    32:50 | The retirement transition, at the personal level
    40:50 | Intro to Jeremy Cooper: the Cooper Review
    47:40 | A tumultuous time in Australia
    52:30 | “My super” as a simple (if imperfect) default
    1:02:00 | Four criteria for evaluating change
    1:08:00 | People continue to save in retirement
    1:21:40 | Defaults for decumulation are manifestly more difficult
    1:31:10 | Thoughts on personal retirement
    1:35:40 | Don’s personal touch: Reframe retirement as Life Two, truly the best time of life
    1:45:40 | End

  • Episode 2

    Retirement, or what we call Life Two, is one of life’s biggest expenses, and with people working and living longer, traditional retirement planning is becoming more costly and complicated. Jonathan Clements (former personal finance columnist for The Wall Street Journal) of HumbleDollar draws on his experience and observations to tell us what goes into a good retirement plan, and later in the show, we break down an individual’s five financial stages and determine where you are in your retirement planning.

    Show Index

    00:00 | Opening
    01:30 | Intro to Jonathan Clements: his background
    04:30 | The key to financial success is great savings habits
    09:40 | Our whiny current self versus the needs of our future self
    11:50 | Put retirement first
    16:10 | The human side of money
    23:40 | Investment and financial strategy in the next stage
    26:10 | Visualize retirement, identify what matters to you
    34:40 | Financial risks in retirement: don’t over-complicate things
    43:00 | Paternalism helps retirement readiness
    46:30 | Where the financial services industry can add value
    52:10 | Personal feelings today
    54:50 | Jonathan’s website and further reading
    58:40 | Don’s personal touch: Three action steps for you to take, what to avoid, and mindsets to adopt
    1:11:12 End

  • Episode 3

    Just the thought of retirement planning can be daunting for many, so getting started is often the hardest step. Individuals not only have to overcome financial issues, but also psychological barriers. David John (Senior Strategic Policy Advisor, AARP Public Policy Institute) describes the challenges people face and the approaches for a successful retirement. Later in the show, we take you through the first stage of retirement planning, identifying the minimum, successful and exceptional standards.

    Show Index

    00:00 | Opening
    01:30 | Intro to David John: his background
    04:00 | What hinders people from starting?
    08:40 | Automatic and behavioral finance solutions
    13:30 | Specific examples: Oregon and California
    18:20 | Saving for emergencies
    22:20 | People on lower and moderate incomes
    29:00 | Personal stories!
    32:50 | Motivation to take action
    39:40 | Learn from other countries
    43:30 | You don’t need numerous savings accounts for different purposes
    47:40 | Trust (but verify)
    53:10 | Where to find David’s work
    56:10 | Don’s personal touch: the minimum standard, success and the gold standard in the early years
    1:05:50 | End

  • Episode 4

    How much do I need to save for a comfortable retirement? It’s the million dollar question – maybe even a bit more. It depends on a number of factors, making it all the more overwhelming for individuals to tackle retirement saving. We speak to author Fred Vettese (former chief actuary at Morneau Shepell) who has researched and written about what people can do. And later on the show, we discuss getting serious and building your financial base for a good Life Two.

    Show Index

    00:00 | Opening
    01:30 | Intro to Fred Vettese: his background
    04:30 | How much do you need to save for retirement?
    07:50 | How do you know if you’re on track?
    12:00 | The ant and the grasshopper
    16:30 | Learn the basics about investment
    19:20 | The balance between individual responsibility and paternalism
    24:20 | Staying on track: calculators, misleading commentary
    28:50 | Efficiency: how to get more bang for your savings buck
    35:40 | Annuities and life expectancy
    40:20 | Fred’s own experience of retirement
    47:00 | Focus on the individual’s quality of life
    58:20 | Don’s personal touch: Some of your current expenditures will stop before you retire; three phases of post-retirement spending; the minimum standard, success and the gold standard in this “get serious” stage
    1:06:35 | End

  • Episode 5

    It’s time to get in touch with our feelings because as we all know, money is deeply tied to our emotions. How does one psychologically prepare for retirement? One of the scariest aspects is how you find a sense of purpose in Life Two, how you’ll fill your time, and how you’ll coordinate activities with your partner. International best-selling author Ernie Zelinski (The Joy of Not Working and How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free) tells us how to make plans that transform your mindset from fear to eager anticipation. And later in the show, we get back to managing your finances as you approach Life Two.

    Show Index

    00:00 | Opening
    01:30 | Intro to Ernie Zelinski: his background
    09:00 | Happiness and purpose in retirement: anecdotes
    16:10 | Purpose, community, structure, friends
    21:30 | A letter from one of Ernie’s readers
    25:40 | The Get-a-Life Tree
    32:50 | Common elements leading to happiness in retirement
    38:50 | Creativity and freedom in retirement: there’s more to life than work
    46:40 | Things you can do now
    49:10 | There are two people in a marriage
    51:40 | Ernie online
    54:30 | Don’s personal touch: The Get-a-Life Tree; the minimum standard, success, and the gold standard in this “get set” stage
    1:02:46 | End

  • Episode 6

    People seek out life coaches when they’re trying to achieve more fulfillment or pursue a new career, so why not have a life coach to help with the challenging life transition of retirement? You don’t have to do it alone – setting goals and figuring out how to structure your life for greater satisfaction. We explore how Life Two coaching works and its benefits, both psychological and financial, with retirement coach Jon Glass of 64 PLUS.  Later on the show, Don shares his own experience, with its unexpected emotions, and draws lessons so others can benefit.

    Show Index

    00:00 | Opening
    01:30 | Intro to Jon Glass via his tagline “Retirement: you won’t know what it is like until you get there”
    03:30 | Busy is not always meaningful; relevance deprivation syndrome; stay-at-home syndrome; Monday morning-after syndrome
    07:20 | How a life coach helps, and the types of people who can be helped
    14:50 | Dedicate your energy to what gives you pleasure
    17:30 | Most of these principles also apply to life before retirement
    21:20 | Adjusting to being at home, in retirement
    25:40 | Your emotional legacy
    29:40 | Friends and relatives help you to avoid anxiety and loneliness
    34:20 | Your true values in life — and the role for boredom in retired life
    38:50 | Opportunities to give to society
    43:50 | There are no “right” answers
    49:30 | Don’s personal touch: Replanting your uprooted tree; even young people recognize the psychological transition; some good questions to ask yourself
    57:39 | End

  • Episode 7

    Save, save, save – that’s the retirement mantra. But then do you know how to draw down from your pot of money so that you can enjoy Life Two? Relatively little attention has been devoted to this logical conclusion, also known as decumulation. When you have no idea how long you’re going to live, how do you determine the sustainable rate at which to withdraw your money? We sit down with one of the world’s pioneers in this field, Moshe Milevsky (finance professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business), describing the sensible and the less than sensible practices he has encountered. Also, you don’t have to do this alone – later in the show, we discuss what to say with financial professionals and how to share your Life Two plans with those close to you.

    This interview was recorded in the summer of 2019.

    Show Index
    00:00 | Opening
    01:20 | Intro to Moshe Milevsky: what led him to the topic of retirement
    05:20 | Retirement is much more than a mathematical problem
    09:30 | Chronological and biological age
    16:00 | How to attract people’s attention to biological age
    18:50 | How to think if your biological age is young
    20:30 | Don’t pick an all-or-nothing retirement date
    24:10 | Put your financial life on autopilot
    29:10 | Efficient investments: annuities are important
    32:30 | When insurance is relevant
    39:50 | Lump sums and the income they generate
    44:50 | Automation (or not) in decumulation
    48:50 | How is your advisor compensated?
    51:20 | Moshe’s thoughts on his future
    53:20 | Don’s personal touch: Impact of biological age; income rather than assets; safety and growth; autopilot; professional compensation

    1:05:14 | End

  • Episode 8

    Throughout our podcast, we’ve learned about the many challenges within the retirement field, both personal and collective.  Now we hear from two acknowledged leaders who observe the global scene, each also with much hands-on experience in creating innovative practices. Ida Rademacher (Vice President, The Aspen Institute, and Executive Director, Aspen Financial Security Program) and Will Sandbrook (Executive Director, NEST Insight) discuss their Aspen-Nest Insight Transatlantic Collaboration and tell us what they see in the future to improve the retirement security of this generation and future generations.

    This interview was recorded in the summer of 2019.

    Show Index
    00:00 | Opening
    01:50 | Intro to Ida Rademacher and Will Sandbrook: why they got involved with retirement issues, and how they got together
    06:30 | What The Aspen Institute and NEST Insight do
    12:10 | Retirement as a way to build wealth for low- to moderate-income households
    16:40 | The evidence shows that people really do want to save
    21:30 | Expanding access to retirement security
    26:30 | Non-employer-centric structures
    33:50 | Innovation through technology
    40:20 | Future changes in the system
    46:30 | Innovation for the lifetime income phase
    51:50 | Don’s personal touch: Ida and Will prompt several action steps
    59:05 | End
  • Episode 9

    One voice we haven’t heard yet in our podcast series is that of the plan sponsor. What are the challenges companies are facing as they help their employees improve their retirement incomes? Cindy Deere (General Manager, U.S. Pension Plans, Shell) shares insights on how a major employer leading in global pensions provides support to about 60,000 participants.

    This interview was recorded in the summer of 2019.

    Show Index
    00:00 | Opening
    01:30 | Introduction: Cindy Deere’s background and global experience
    04:10 | Features of the Shell U.S. pension plans
    09:00 | How Shell manages its plans
    12:00 | ESG and the pension assets
    14:20 | Employee engagement and retirement preparation
    19:00 | The business case for the employer
    22:00 | Retire to, not just from, something
    24:40 | Cindy thinks about her own Life Two
    28:20 | The retirement savings challenge
    32:10 | Don’s personal touch: the value of having a regular retirement paycheck, having a plan at all, and the retirement seminar

    39:37 | End

  • Episode 10

    We end our pilot series with a conversation between Don Ezra and Common Wealth’s founding partners Alex Mazer and Jonathan Weisstub, who share how they’ve put to work some of the ideas discussed on the podcast. Founded in 2015, Common Wealth is a Toronto-based firm focused on expanding access to retirement security. It has advised pension organizations with collective assets exceeding $800 billion, as well as unions, associations, and governments, on issues of strategy, governance, regulation, and the design and implementation of retirement plans, products, and institutions.

    This interview was recorded in the summer of 2019.

    Show Index
    00:00 | Opening
    01:00 | Introducing Common Wealth’s Alex Mazer and Jonathan Weisstub
    01:30 | Creating a community for people without access to pensions
    08:40 | Trustworthy defaults
    12:00 | Fiduciary duty, alignment of incentives
    16:50 | Education
    20:10 | Partners who care about their members
    24:10 | Examples of these partners
    26:40 | Older members of the community bring wisdom
    31:00 | Employee wellbeing
    34:50 | Solutions need a variety of disciplines
    34:50 | Final thoughts: a fulfilled life
    39:40 | End