How to Become a Retirement Expert

Grace Tripathy

How to become a retirement expert? That’s the question Bob Carlson, a pension fund chairman and head of the Retirement Watch investment newsletter, answered recently.


Not only does Bob Carlson cover every financial aspect of retirement through his Retirement Watch newsletter and webinars, he recommends investments and offers guidance about estate planning, annuities, Social Security, long-term care and Medicare. Retirement Watch comes in two forms: a monthly Retirement Watch 16-page newsletter, along with the monthly Retirement Watch Spotlight Series of webinars presented online by Carlson.

Trained both as an accountant and an attorney, with the intention of focusing on tax, Carlson passed the CPA exam after college and went to law school at the University of Virginia, where he began writing a tax newsletter.

How to Become a Retirement Expert? Learn What People Need to Know


Carlson said he obtains most of the ideas he uses for content in his newsletter and Spotlight Series from readers who contact him.

“I started to receive a lot of inquiries from people about retirement-related tax issues, like taking money out of their IRAs and [related topics],” Carlson said. “And I looked around and saw there were not many sources of material for them, because there weren’t that many people retiring at the time; the baby boomers were still in the savings and accumulation phase.”

How to Become a Retirement Expert? Start with the Basics

Carlson’s journey to becoming a retirement expert began with his 100-page report, “Retirement Tax Guide,” which covered basic issues about IRAs, Social Security, taxation and key issues that were unique to people in the later stages of post-career life.


“I got enough of a response that I figured I could offer a comprehensive retirement planning newsletter for people,” Carlson said. “I sent out some inquiries to see if the [buyers of the Guide] wanted to try some sample issues of a newsletter. Ever since then, I’ve been focused on the issues of retirement finances for people.”

After the launch of Carlson’s first newsletter in 1991, his initial book, “Retirement Tax Guide,” went through roughly six editions of print until it eventually turned into a key foundation of “The New Rules of Retirement” and other books. which was incorporated into other materials such as Carlson’s “The New Rules of Retirement: Strategies for a Secure Future,” and of course the regular issues of Retirement Watch and the Spotlight Series.

How to Become a Retirement Expert? Attend Seminars, Workshops and Conferences

Carlson’s drive to continue educating himself on hot topics in retirement financing includes his attendance at seminars, workshops and conferences. He also stays in touch with other leading experts who produce retirement information and guidance.

“I read and listen as much as I can; I try to expose myself to many different sources, both online and in person,” Carlson said. “I find that we deal with many different issues in Retirement Watch — all the financial aspects of retirement… so I have to be as comprehensive as possible.”


Key sources for writing Retirement Watch and preparing the Spotlight Series webinars and related PowerPoint presentations, aside from reading, include comprehensive research on laws passed by Congress, regulations from the IRS and the latest financial media reports. Carlson’s dedicated research guided him to become a retirement expert.

“I spend a lot of time just looking at the different financial websites and sources of information and just trying to get as broad of an outlook as I can, see what people are saying, what people have been doing, and try to whittle that down to the best ideas for my readers, and present that to them,” Carlson said.

How to Become a Retirement Expert? Develop and Tap Personal Relationships

However, as much as the research boosts Carlson’s career as a retirement expert, his drive to maintain interpersonal relationships with his subscribers has provided him with many valuable ideas for content within Retirement Watch.

“Over the years, my readers have been some of the best sources of information for me because they’ve told me about issues they have that they haven’t been able to find answers to,” Carlson said. “They have my email address available to them and I get emails from readers almost every day. In many cases, my readers’ issues pertain to a number of retirees, or people planning for retirement. So, I look into those and try to provide information and solutions for them.”

How to Become a Retirement Expert? Stay Current


It is very important to stay in touch with the readers and see what’s on top of their minds, Carlson said.

The reactions of readers to what is included in the Retirement Watch newsletter and in the Spotlight Series give me more insight as to how I can further help them, Carlson concluded.

Grace Tripathy is an editorial intern who writes for


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