William Meyer

Founder and managing principal, Social Security Solutions

Until Bill Meyer’s article about Social Security appeared in the Journal of Financial Planning in 2010, most financial advisers paid little attention to the interplay between the program’s benefits, claiming strategies and longevity. In fact, most advisers paid little attention to Social Security, period.

“Determining when to take Social Security benefits is the largest single investment decision 99% of Americans will make, it’s super-complicated, and as an industry we didn’t even think of it,” said Meyer, who founded Social Security Solutions, which offers claiming strategy software that he and Dr. William Reichenstein, a finance professor at Baylor University, created to help advisers guide their clients.

After serving as an adviser and holding marketing and strategy roles at Charles Schwab and H&R Block, Meyer began working with Reichenstein on software for retirement income drawdowns in 2008, focusing on tax minimization strategies. They figured the software should include Social Security income too, since other software did not. They also assumed that adding those numbers to the mix would be easy and involve about two months of work.

“It actually took us two years to understand the complexity of Social Security; there are 20,000 pages of rules,” he said.

The result is Social Security Analyzer, the robustness of which, Meyer contends, leads to greater retirement income for clients than what other financial planning software can deliver. Based on the software, Meyer also offers, a retirement-oriented robo that advisers can white-label.

The key to innovation “is not worrying about how you’ll make money, but really focusing on people’s needs,” he said.

— Evan Cooper