I was introduced to some new clients recently, and the husband and wife asked what it is that we do at MSMF. My answer was simple. I smiled and said "we provide 'Solutions for a Happy Life'." The husband looked at me with a confused look on his face and said "I thought you were financial guys?". The wife laughed out loud and said "we have come to the right place!".
Let me explain what I mean. Collectively, my business partners and I and the wonderful Team at MSMF have spent thousands of hours over the last 25 years counseling and coaching individuals and corporations on all matters financial. However, many years ago, we all realized that there was much more to this than just "the money." The key in what we do is not only what the money does for our clients but how it supports what is truly important to them and how it enables them to realize their definition of Happiness. Money does not make people happy. True, the lack of money can make people unhappy, just ask my teenage daughters when I say "NO" to yet another request for a $20 bill! But money by itself does not create long-term happiness.
Our collaboration over the years with my friend and colleague, Barry LaValley, has continually reconfirmed this fact. Barry and his firm, The Retirement Lifestyle Center, have authored numerous studies surrounding how people define their "happy retirement." Not so surprisingly, money is usually one of the last items on the list. Barry's research confirms that "retirement happiness" is built primarily around a positive mindset. That positive mindset is created through strong personal and social relationships, meaningful and fulfilling work, a balanced approach to leisure, a plan for healthy aging, and financial stability (notice the word "stability").
Recently, the Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA) performed by Trinity College Dublin found that a positive attitude can have a long-term beneficial impact on mental, physical, and cognitive health. Thus, happy attitude, happy life!
Taking it one step further, Shawn Achor, one of the world's leading experts on happiness and success, explains in his book "The Happiness Advantage" that happiness actually fuels success, not the other way around. Do yourself a favor and take 12 minutes to watch Shawn's TED Talk at https://www.ted.com/talks/shawn_achor_the_happy_secret_to_better_work?language=en . It may well provide you a fresh perspective!
"Ok, so this is all sounding a little too touchy, feely for me," the husband said. "But you were complaining last week that our current advisor doesn't understand us, doesn't know us," said his wife. "Then why isn't my current advisor talking to me about this stuff?," he said. Well, in short, he and the majority of the financial community just don't get it!
Ten, fifteen, twenty years from now, you will not look back at your relationship with me, my business partners, and the Team at MSMF and judge us on whether your portfolio earned an additional .25% each year. Don't get me wrong, an effective and efficient portfolio is an important aspect of a comprehensive Wealth Management Plan. However, what is of more importance is that your portfolio and the other aspects of your financial life support what is truly important to you, what truly gives you a sense of meaning and purpose, what makes you happy.
So you can rest assured that all of the financial decisions we discuss are considered in the context of a much bigger picture. And the decisions we make together are designed to provide "Solutions for YOUR Happy Life!"
As always, thanks for "listening." And many thanks for the trust and confidence you continue to show in me and the MSMF Team. If you any or friends, family, or colleagues, would benefit from this perspective, especially the link to Shawn's TED Talk, feel free to pass this on to them
See you next month!