The near future "is not going to be a fun time for pensioners," warned John Bogle, senior chairman and founder of the Vanguard Group of mutual funds, in the opening keynote on Thursday of the Fifth Annual Retirement Income Symposium.

Underfunded pensions, flawed "thrift plans" purporting to be retirement plans, and the difficulty of earning a decent amount of investment income will collide in a train wreck unless action is taken quickly, he predicted. Advisors with baby boomer clients in or those near retirement should focus on long-term, low-cost investments, not on trying to goose short-term yield by taking on more risk.

Prevented by health concerns from joining the symposium in Boston, Bogle, 83, spoke by Skype from a den lined with bookshelves and a model of the frigate U.S.S. Constitution.

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