The Retirement Income Industry Association this week announced that Duncan Williams, a graduate instructor in the personal financial planning division at Texas Tech University, and his advisor, Michael Finke, an associate professor and coordinator at the university, will receive the first Academic Thought Leadership Award at the association's Fall Conference & Awards Gala in Boston in October.

Bruce Wolfe, the managing director at Allianz Global Investors, will present the duo with the award and a $5,000 prize for their award-winning paper titled "Determining Optimal Withdrawal Rates: An Economic Approach."

In addition, the paper will be featured in the fall issue of Retirement Management Journal. The publication, along with the Thought Leadership Award program, are both sponsored by Allianz. Allianz officials describe RMJ is the first peer-reviewed publication serving financial advisors, practitioners, executives, and scholars who are interested in all topics relating to retirement-income planning and management.

The award-winning article by Williams and Finke documents a different approach to optimal withdrawal rates from retirement accounts. The authors consider not only the risk of running out of assets in retirement, but also the loss that occurs when retirees spend too little money and die with larger bequests than they intended.

"If a retiree can tolerate a certain amount of risk, then it may make more sense to spend at a higher rate than commonly assumed," Finke said.

The Thought Leadership Awards were designed to promote research, scholarship and innovative thinking on retirement-income planning and management topics that contribute to the industry’s body of knowledge as well as RIIA’s Retirement Management Analyst designation curriculum.

"Allianz Global Investors is proud to be leading the industry effort in recognizing thought leadership in the area of retirement from both the academic and practitioner points of view," Wolfe said in a statement. "We believe that new research and forward thinking in retirement income and investment strategies will help millions of Americans and their financial advisors prepare for a more secure retirement."

Zachary Parker, director of annuities and insurance at Securities America and Paul Lofties, vice president of wealth management and acquisitions at Securities America, were presented with the organization's first Practitioner Thought Leadership Award during RIIA's Spring 2011 Conference.