Advisors’ Favorite Books on the Second Half of Life

Six well-known financial advisors recommend these books on the topic.

By Eleanor O'Sullivan

“What’s your favorite book on new approaches to the second half of life, the one book that you’d recommend to others? Please tell us why you think this book is useful to advisors, and how it helped you in your practice.’’

Rethinking65 posed this question to six well-known financial advisors via email. Their answers follow.

Getting Priorities Straight

Advisor Ross Levin, founder and CEO of Accredited Wealth Management in Minneapolis, reached back to a treatise written in the first century by a philosopher born into slavery in the Roman Empire.

“There are a lot of financial planning books for the second half of life, but I would consider ‘The Art of Living’ by Epictetus (Sharon Lebell’s interpretation). I like this because it is a Stoic version of what is really important and the second half of life is often about reflection in this area,’’ responded Levin.

“I recommend it to a variety of people, but especially those who desire external rather than internal validation,” said Levin. “One of my favorite quotes from the book is ‘Our desires and aversions are mercurial rulers. They demand to be pleased.’”

“I have found the book to be very helpful for clients who wonder what is next, get nervous about volatility, and for those who struggle with paying too much attention to the things out of their control and too little to that which is in their control,’’ Levin said.

“The Art of Living: The Classical Manual on Virtue, Happiness and Effectiveness,’’ in a new interpretation by Lebell, is published by HarperOne.

Leading With Significance

Catherine M. Seeber, a financial advisor and CAPTRUST vice president based in Lewes, Del., chose a 1995 release, “Halftime,’’ by Bob Buford. A colleague of Peter Drucker, “the founder of modern (business) management,’’ Buford was founder of the Christian teaching/coaching/publishing company Halftime Institute in Texas.

“Hands down, ‘Halftime’ by Buford. The mindset of a great advisor is that of significance. Significance in that they will make an impact on someone’s life because of the profound technical and emotional support that they provide. It’s less about success and revenue. If you lead with significance, success follows,’’ Seeber said about the book.

“The book addresses an enormous need in our society — how to find meaning and fulfillment in the second half of our lives,” added Seeber.

“I remember vividly my first interview at CAPTRUST in 2017. I was asked why I wanted to leave my prior firm after 16 successful years. I shared that I wanted to find a place where I could provide more help/significance in the direction of wealth planning services. That success was not my main driving force. The managing director and head of the advisor group pulled out a copy of the book ‘Halftime’ and suggested I read it. He would give me his copy but it had dog-eared pages and highlights special to him.

“A few hours later, while in another meeting, the CEO and co-founder of CAPTRUST walked in the conference room and handed me a brand new copy of the book. I finished the book on my flight home and knew immediately that CAPTRUST was where I wanted to spend the rest of my career.

“The book challenges us to stop and think about the directions and priorities of our lives. As an advisor, you have to put on your oxygen mask first before you can help others. My conversations with clients are now more centered around crucial choices between success and fruitfulness, death and life, fear and love. And how money can help fulfill those values. The book is unique, inspiring and practical.’’

End-of-Life Guidance

Dr. Carolyn McClanahan, founder of Life Planning Partners Inc., in Jacksonville, Fla., gives her clients a book she believes in.

“I don’t know any books on new approaches to the second half of life. I do know a good book on better approaches at the end of life. ‘The Art of Dying Well’ is great at helping people understand the last years of life through each life stage — beginning of aging, frailty, serious diagnosis, dementia, etc. It provides very practical nuts and bolts steps of how people need to plan in their later years. It is also easy to read by sections that are appropriate for your loved one’s situation,’’ McClanahan said

“Not only do I recommend it, I keep a stack in the office. This especially comes in handy for clients with aging parents starting to run into trouble. People have really appreciated the guidance it gives,’’ said McClanahan, M.D., CFP.

A Simon & Schuster book, “The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life’’ was written by Katy Butler, also the author of “Knocking on Heaven’s Door.’’

Life Beyond Career

Ric Edelman, founder of the RIA Digital Assets Council in Virginia (, was unambiguous in his choice.

“Mine – ‘Discover The Wealth Within You: A Financial Plan for Creating a Rich and Fulfilling Life,’ ‘’ Edelman said. It’s been almost 20 years since this book by Edelman, a New York Times bestselling author, was first published by Harper Business.

“Its focus is entirely on helping you envision your life beyond career. It was hugely impactful in helping our firm attract clients and serve them in more impactful ways.”

“Too many books focus solely on creating wealth. ‘DWWY’ focuses on the point of creating wealth — to enjoy a fulfilling life.”

Staying Connected and Active

Robert Laura, a chartered retirement professional speaker and president of Wealth & Wellness Group based in Michigan, recommended a couple of books by others, as well as one of his own.

“I think there are a lot of good books out there on the topic. My personal favorite and the one I recommend the most is my book, ‘Naked Retirement.’ The biggest benefit is that it functions more like a workbook and results in an actual, concrete written plan that helps people replace their work identity, fill their time, stay relevant and connected, and keep mentally and physically active.

“All clients get a copy and we discuss the various exercises,” said Laura. He noted that clients really enjoy the Curious List and the No Regrets Retirement Plan exercises, and that the Friends List is also popular.

“It’s a game-changing resource and tool for advisors because they can use the book to differentiate themselves, prove they are interested in helping clients beyond their money and connect on a deeper, more personal level. It’s the new narrative in retirement planning,’’ Laura said.

Laura, founder of the, added, “I also run the Certified Professional Retirement Coach (CPRC) Designation and train advisors and other professionals on how to help people plan for the non-financial aspects of life after work. The first module is free and eye-opening for people — shocks their system.’’

He recommended books by members of the Retirement Coaches Association: “‘The Retirement Challenge’’ and ‘‘Thriving Throughout Your Retirement Transition,’’ published by the RCA.

Learning To Think Again

Deb Wetherby, founder and CEO of Wetherby Asset Management in San Francisco, recommended the book “Think Again” by Adam Grant. The New York Times bestseller was published earlier this year by Viking.

“There is so much thought provoking information that I found helpful as a person, as a manager, as an advisor and as a leader,” Wetherby said. “Learning to think again, whether it’s questioning old ways and ideas, or breaking through biases and stereotypes is so valuable.

“And, the idea of creating more psychological safety for people in the workplace made so much sense to me. I think anyone would find this book worthwhile reading.”

In a four-decade career in journalism, Eleanor O’Sullivan has reviewed many books on best practices for financial advisors, has written for Financial Advisor and the USA Today network, and was movie critic for the Asbury Park Press.

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