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The Morningstar Center for Retirement & Policy Studies

About the Center

Our mission is to help improve the U.S. retirement system by arming decision-makers with unbiased and actionable data and analysis.

Since the Workplace Solutions Group was founded within Morningstar Investment Management LLC (the registered investment advisory arm of Morningstar, Inc.) in 1999, research has been the driving force behind all our products, services, and methodologies. Over the years, the group has published groundbreaking work, such as “Stocks, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation;” “No Portfolio is an Island;” and “The Impact of Guaranteed Income and Dynamic Withdrawals on Safe Initial Withdrawal Rates.” The Morningstar Center for Retirement & Policy Studies continues that legacy and expands upon it, guided by Workplace’s mission of putting people on the path to better retirement outcomes.

Our goal is simple—we want to give those who are able to change and modernize the retirement industry the information and data they need to help them make the right decisions. We value independence. We value objectivity. And we value truth.

Our Research is Holistic, Covering:

The needs of the people in them as the defined contribution system matures

The more than 600,000 retirement plans in the United States

The impacts of policy changes and proposals on retirement security

Meet the Research Team

Our researchers bring decades of experience to analyzing retirement and policy issues.

Jack VanDerhei

Director, Retirement Studies and Public Policy

Morningstar Investment Management LLC

Jack VanDerhei is the Center’s Director for Retirement Studies. Dr. VanDerhei has more than 200 publications devoted to employee benefits and insurance, but his major areas of research focus on the financial aspects of private defined benefit and defined contribution retirement plans. From 1996 until 2022, Dr. VanDerhei was the research director at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, co-authoring updates of the 401(k) universe for account balances, asset allocation and loan activity, among other work.

He received his BBA and MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Spencer Look

Associate Director, Retirement Studies and Public Policy

Morningstar Investment Management LLC

Spencer Look is an associate director for The Morningstar Center for Retirement & Policy Studies. He conducts research across many topics, but primarily focuses on annuity and life insurance products and lifetime income solutions. Before joining Morningstar in 2022, Spencer held roles as a life actuarial manager and a life-cycle advice senior analyst, specializing in goals-based financial planning, lifetime asset allocation, and retirement income.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in actuarial science and finance from Drake University in Des Moines. Spencer is also a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries.

Lia Mitchell

Senior Analyst, Policy Research

Morningstar, Inc.

Lia Mitchell is a senior analyst on Morningstar’s Policy Research team. She conducts research analyzing policy interventions leveraging Morningstar data and assists in developing and communicating Morningstar’s policy positions. Lia joined Morningstar in 2016 and previously worked as a data content specialist focusing on health savings accounts and retirement plans before joining the Policy Research team in 2019.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from Washington University in St. Louis and a master’s in Computer Science from the University of Chicago.

Aron Szapiro

Head of Government Affairs

Morningstar, Inc.

Aron Szapiro is head of government affairs for Morningstar Inc. Szapiro is responsible for developing research reports on policy matters, coordinating official responses to regulatory proposals, and providing investor-focused comments on policy issues to clients and the press. He also chairs Morningstar’s Public Policy Council. His research has been covered in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Journal of Retirement, and on National Public Radio. Follow Aron on Twitter: @AronSzapiro

Before assuming his current role in January 2023, he served as Morningstar’s head of policy research and as policy and finance expert at HelloWallet, a former subsidiary of Morningstar. Previously, he was a senior analyst at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), specializing in retirement security issues and pension plan policy. He also worked at the New Jersey General Assembly Majority Office.

Szapiro holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Grinnell College and a master’s in public policy from Johns Hopkins University.

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