Sound advice and wisdom often can be found tucked inside the covers of a book, and such a book can make an excellent holiday gift. Rethinking65.com recently asked advisors and other financial professionals what book would top their list of must-gives to clients, colleagues and friends. We specifically sought books that profoundly influenced their decisions about their work and personal lives.
Our respondents chose books with topics that ranged from how to confront change when making financial and personal decisions; how money needs to be seen as more than a vehicle of purchasing power; how to exploit life’s upheavals as opportunities for growth, and how to plan for your life after the sale of your business.
Healthy Relationships with Money
“The Soul of Money,’’ by Lynne Twist is the top choice of Steve Sanduski, CFP, co-founder and CEO of ROL Advisor, a digital tools and training company that serves financial advisors in 11 countries.
“It’s a great book for advisors as well as for their clients,” said Sanduski. “Twist takes readers through an exploration of our attitude toward money and the feelings that may be getting in the way of having a healthy relationship with money. She also discusses the concept of ‘sufficiency’ rather than abundance, and how by really examining our values and purpose, we can really transform our lives.’’
As an example, he shared this quote from the book about how our attitudes and feelings get in the way of having a healthy relationship with money: “Once we began to align our money decisions with these deeper core values and our highest commitments, we experienced a dramatic shift, not only in what we did with our money, but also in how we felt about money, about our life, and about ourselves. Eventually, we came to know ourselves not for what we had or owned, but for what we gave, not for what we accumulated, but for what we allocated.‘’
Sanduski applauds Twist’s notion of making the most of what one has.
“I think of abundance as a mindset that there’s plenty to go around for everybody. Meaning, it’s not about getting your piece of a fixed pie, it’s about making the pie bigger,” he said. “This opens up the opportunity to collaborate with people who you might have otherwise viewed as ‘competitors.’”
“Sufficiency is a mindset where you shift from striving to appreciating,” said Sanduski. “It’s not about ‘setting a big goal and trying to crush it.’ Rather, it’s about appreciating what you have right now and knowing that what you have is sufficient to live a meaningful life. You move forward based on what moves you and how you can best contribute, without worrying about peer pressure or conforming to society’s push for more.‘’
Because Twist’s book has altered the way Sanduski thinks about money, he’s changed the way he trains advisors. “We help advisors put their client’s life at the center of the conversation, not the performance of their money,” he said. “Twist’s book has imbued me with a deeper sense of how to think about money and that finds its way into my conversations with advisors.’’
Michael Nathanson, chair and CEO of The Colony Group, chose “Your Next Adventure: Planning for Life After the Sale of Your Business,’’ by Marshall Rowe, Jim Fitts and John Weeks.
“It offers a healthy dose of concentrated knowledge, wisdom and experience on a topic that has become especially timely this year – planning for the sale of a business and how life will change for its owners and other stakeholders after the sale,” said Nathanson. “It’s a book that all business owners, their families and their advisors need to read, whether they’re thinking about an imminent sale or one that will occur in the distant future.’’
“As a planner myself, I’ve long tended to think about exit planning from a technical perspective, focusing primarily on the financial, tax, estate planning, retirement and business-related aspects of the exit. While this book does address these matters, its primary emphasis is on impact, on working with the right team of experts, and, above all, on thinking through and experiencing the non-financial, personal and emotional aspects of a sale.’’
Nathanson praised “Your Next Adventure’’ for not indulging in easy clichés.
“The book should be of particular interest to advisors and clients not only because of what it is but also because of what it is not: yet another book about technical financial-planning techniques used in planning for liquidity events. This book offers a refreshingly different perspective by focusing on the financial and non-financial impact of a sale, ultimately addressing the need to plan for a full life and compelling legacy after the sale,’’ he said.
Change is Good
Founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth in Maryland, CFP Marguerita M. Cheng recommends Wharton School professor Katy Milkman’s “How to Change: The Science of Getting From Where You Are To Where You Want to Be.’’
“I am a member of the Next Big Idea Club and this was one of the most practical and enlightening selections.’’
Cheng said Milkman studied operations research at Princeton University, and information and technology at Harvard University.
“Operations research is a discipline that incorporates the development and application of analysis to improve decision making and outcomes. There are many books on habits, but this book includes behavioral economics. She uses data from real-life examples, such as vaccine hesitancy and exercise to understand the elements that contribute to successful outcomes,’’ Cheng said.
“Dr. Milkman shares stories of how she and her colleagues were able to take a mundane task and make it more enjoyable to create lasting change. For example, if you know that you don’t like working out, consider scheduling your workouts so you can watch a movie or listen to a book; now you look forward to doing the task,’’ Cheng said.
On Milkman’s insights into psychology and behavioral finance, Cheng said, “she is the co-founder and co-director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative, a research center with the mission of advancing the science of lasting behavior change. For clients to achieve their desired outcome, they may need to change their spending and investing patterns.’’
Maximizing the Moment
Preston D. Cherry, CFP, founder and president of Concurrent Financial Planning in Green Bay, Wis., chose “Maximize the Moment: God’s Action Plan For Your Life,’’ by T. D. Jakes.
“I’ve read ‘Maximize the Moment’ by T.D. Jakes twice now, and both times were during a time of need. The first time was a period of desperation and searching, and the second was a period of searching, reflection and confirmation. These were seasons in my life that were critical turning points that helped me maximize to this moment,’’ Cherry said.
“Mr. Jakes’ book helped me face fears, admit and process regret and shame, make a plan, align faith, put down self-inflictions, leave restrictive relationships and elevate others, uplift self-worth, and ignite a passion for aspiring and achieving,’’ Cherry said.
“The first read was for discovery. The second read was for affirmation and permission,” Cherry said. He has used the wisdom from the book to develop a financial planning philosophy that puts life before money by focusing on the steps “Align, Aspire, Achieve.”
George Kinder, founder, Kinder Institute of Life Planning, said he tends to read the classics and he reached back to ancient times for his choice: “The Analects,’’ otherwise known as the major teachings of Confucius (551-479 BCE).
“It’s one of the wisest books I know,” said Kinder, noting that he keeps copies of this tiny book by his bed and in his writer’s cabin. There are many different translations. “I’d recommend — you can probably pick a bunch of them up for free on your Kindle or your iBooks — getting a few of them because they’re so simple, just to read the difference. “
“What I get from Confucius is a reflection on our current times and what we’re going through now. He was passionate primarily about ending corruption,” said Kinder. Confucius lived in China at a time when there were multiple warring states rather than an empire, explained Kinder. “He was kind of an iconoclast — never quite got to the position that he really deserved,” he said, but occasionally the great governors would speak with him.
One of them said to Confucius, “Gosh, you know, my people, they’re all corrupt, they’re all thieving from each other and doing horrible things to each other. How can I stop that, Confucius? You’re a wise person,” said Kinder. “And Confucius looked the guy in the eye and said, ‘You know, if you stopped the thieving inside yourself that you do toward your people, if you ended your corruption and modeled that for the people, they would change almost overnight.’”
“I love that statement,” said Kinder. “And again, it brings me back to this notion that all of our institutions should be fiduciaries to all of us, to democracy and to the planet. Confucius has a lot to say about wisdom, about virtue, about relationships and healing political dilemmas.”
“It reminds me to be more truthful, to be more virtuous myself, to be more kind at times, to be more thoughtful, to be a better listener, to be willing to challenge the corruption that is there in society, to be courageous, to be more patient, to be more artful in conversation, to be more gracious. So all of those things I learned from Confucius,’’ Kinder said.
Deb Wetherby, founder and CEO, Wetherby Asset Management, went the electronic route in her choice.
“I would recommend an Audible subscription. Not only could people get books, they also get access to lots of additional content for free!”
In a previous Rethinking65 article on advisors’ favorite books, Wetherby recommended the book “Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know’’ by Adam Grant. You can read more here about why she likes it — as well as additional advisor choices.
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.