True Wealth: Letters on Money, Life and Love by Diana Chambers
The book True Wealth by Diana Chambers is written as a series of letters – some real and some fictitious – and the author’s response to the issues raised within them. As such, it can be classified as a self-help book for people wanting to better understand their relationship with money and money issues. It also plays well into the debate about the future of financial advice/planning in the age of robo-advice.
The book is divided into three parts entitled Who am I, What is Money and How do I Choose?
Through the letters, Ms Chambers asks us to observe our behaviours around money; these behaviours in turn tell us a great deal about who we are. She talks about her own upbringing and how money was very much associated with scarcity and abundance. In many ways, she could be speaking for the feelings of most people on this planet – that we have too little or others have too much – although increasingly as a society we are now beginning to explore the concept of "enough".
Ms Chambers goes on to explores the real meaning of wealth and its components - spiritual capital, social capital, intellectual capital, human capital and financial capital. Money, she says, is just a medium of exchange. In financial services, we make use of all aspect of capital as businesses and as advisers, but in our relationships with our clients, we tend to just to just talk about financial capital.
In How do I Choose, Ms Chambers looks at how we want to live. Quoting Howard Thurman, she leaves us with a simple but important question to take away: “Don’t ask the what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
In financial services, there are few employees who come alive unless it is for the pursuit of money, or occasionally a good business model or perfection. It seems to me we would all do much better if we focused on what makes the client come alive and how we can help their pursuit of this.
This book does not provide a magic bullet or a framework for how you as an adviser could approach or deal with behavioural issues around money, but it does help you start thinking about your own money beliefs and actions and become more conscious when you come across barriers from clients.
I would recommend it; it is a easy holiday read – not groundbreaking perhaps, but definitely thought provoking.
Anna Sofat is managing director of Addidi