Dr. Thomas Post

Deutsch   Nederlands

Thomas Post

Contact Information

Maastricht University
School of Business and Economics
Department of Finance  

Tongersestraat 53
6211 LM Maastricht
The Netherlands

Phone: +31 43 38 83859

Download my CV

Follow me on LinkedIn

I am Associate Professor of Finance at Maastricht University and Open University, and affiliated with Netspar. My research focuses on behavioral household finance. I am interested in (1) understanding households' financial decisions (e.g., saving, asset allocation, trading, and annuitization decisions) and (2) designing nudges and interventions to change households' financial decisions (e.g., pension communication, product design).

With this approach I aim to cover the complete financial decisions-making journey across the life cycle, starting from engagement (collecting information, planning), accumulating savings (how much and where to invest), and finally the decumulation of pension assets. Let me illustrate this approach with a few examples:


The earlier one starts planning for retirement to better – more time is available to build up a sufficient retirement nest egg. But, very few people are busy with doing so, especially in below the age of 50. To better understand this lack of engagement we fielded a survey with members of a pension plan – figuring out how cognitive and emotional factors relate to the willingness to gather pension information. Then, we used that knowledge to design email communications for two pension funds based on classical behavioral techniques – goal framing and social norms. In both cases, members of those funds receiving the new communication were twice as likely to become active and inform themselves about their expected pensions.

Accumulating savings

Many people save insufficiently for reaching an adequate life style in retirement. In several studies, we explored how individual factors such as financial literacy and knowledge, cognitive ability, subjective age identity, ability to imagine being in retirement relate to savings decisions. Then, in a series of experiments, we tested what we can do to increase the amount that people are willing to save. The intervention that finally worked was the following: We translated abstract pension income numbers into concrete example of shopping baskets. That is, we showed people what goods and services different pension incomes can buy. By doing that, those abstract numbers became concrete things that people could relate to, and they were more willing to save for retirement.

Investing savings

Investing in stocks for retirement is often recommended as in the long-term, even though stocks are volatile, they earn more return than a bank account. But, retail investors that in principle make the right decision and buy stocks then often “overdo” it. They frequently trade and turn their portfolio (wrongfully assuming they have stock picking and market timing skills). Ultimately, their net returns get hurt by the transaction fees accumulated. To better understand this behavior, we used trading data from an online brokerage that we enriched with survey data on those traders’ expectations of returns and risk over time. We then designed an intervention that changed the way that investors in an experiment saw their performance (to long term past returns). In response, investors less often changed their opinion about where the market would move to – which we belief will reduce their trading frequency.

Decumulating pension assets

When (successful) savers arrive at the end of their working careers they wonder – what to do now with this money? Shall I regularly pay me an income from those assets and what income per month can I afford to not risk running out of money too soon. This is a difficult problem to solve and economists often recommend buying an annuity. An annuity is a pension product that guarantees a lifelong income. However, in reality annuities are rarely bought. We looked into this issue by studying how people make sense of annuities, that is, how they financially value them. We figured out that for many people an annuity is too complex to do the math and also for those who do the math, they underestimate the annuity’s financial value. But, we discovered the formula that people used to do the math in our study! We then designed an intervention that gave people “the number” to use in their back-of-the-envelope formula. Their valuations became more realistic and their interest in annuities went up.

Positions Held

  • since 2023 Maastricht University, Associate Professor of Finance
  • since 2023 Director, Marketing-Finance Exchange Center of Excellence
  • since 2019 Open University, Associate Professor of Finance
  • 2009 - 2022 Maastricht University, Assistant Professor of Finance
  • since 2009 Netspar, Research Fellow
  • June 2013 University of British Columbia, Visitor
  • July 2011 University of New South Wales, Visiting Fellow
  • 2006 – 2009 Dr. Wolfgang Schieren Chair for Insurance and Risk Management, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Post-Doc (Habilitand); C.A.S.E. - Center for Applied Statistics and Economics; Collaborative Research Center 649
  • August 2006 – December 2006 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Visiting Assistant Professor of Finance
  • 2003 – 2006 Dr. Wolfgang Schieren Chair for Insurance and Risk Management, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, PhD student
  • 2002 - 2003 KPMG (Insurance Audit)


  • Habilitation, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2009
  • Dr. rer. pol., Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2006, Title of dissertation thesis: Optimale Altersvorsorgestrategien: Eine Lebenszyklusanalyse (Optimal Financial Planning Strategies: A Life-Cycle Analysis), abstract
  • Diplom-Kaufmann, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, 2001

Key Publications

Working Papers

  • Cognitive constraints, planned savings and downstream economic behaviors (with Zihan Ye, Xiaopeng Zou, and Shenglan Chen)
  • When, how and for whom evaluative labels and consumption baskets increase pension savings (with Jenna Barret, Lisa Brüggen, and Peiran Jiao)
  • Norms in Behavioral Interventions: Peer or Anchoring Effects? (with Pieter F. E. Verhallen, Lisa Brüggen, and Gaby Odekerken-Schröder)
  • Friends with Benefits: Strengthening Peer Effects through Aligning Consumer Traits with Reference Group Attributes (with Pieter F. E. Verhallen, Lisa Brüggen, and Gaby Odekerken-Schröder)
  • The U-Turn Effect in Social Norm Interventions: Individual-to-peer Behavior Gap as Endogenous Driver of Social Identification with Peers, and its Consequence on Peer Effects (with Pieter F. E. Verhallen)

Media Coverage


eXTReMe Tracker