Listening a bigger factor in happiness than wealth: US author

Tahn Sharpe


March 6, 2018

The US author of the Smartest book series has spoken to private wealth clients in Sydney on the keys to a happy retirement.

The seminar, “Life, liberty, and happiness after full-time work”, was hosted by author Dan Solin and Stanford Brown adviser Andrew Griffin, and presented as an interactive fireside discussion.

A successful retirement, Griffin explained, involved growth, fun, passions, purpose, giving back, wellbeing, attitude and the importance of having a written plan for life after work. The role of financial wellbeing was acknowledged, but downplayed, by Solin, who has published seven books on personal finance, investment and retirement issues.

“Wealthier people are not happier,” Solin said. “If you have enough money to reach your basic needs, adding to that is not going to make you happier.”

Griffin also spoke to the importance of connectedness in retirement, and the benefits of fostering meaningful relationships. Here, Solin emphasised the need to practise “active listening”, as opposed to “competitive listening”.

“We need to train ourselves to stop thinking about how we’re going to respond,” he said. “People who just listen, absorb and react have much deeper relationships.”

Active listening, Solin explained to Professional Planner, is a critical skill that is also lacking in the advice industry.

“The science is very clear. People are fully engaged when they are speaking,” he said, “but when we are speaking, their brains are only about 20 per cent engaged. Few advisers understand this or its implications.”

The session, held at the Kirribilli Club, is indicative of the broader service offering that holistic financial planning firms are presenting to their clients. Initiatives Griffin announced included a retiree newsletter and Facebook group, and a study to determine “the many different pursuits and passions which are common to the individual retiree’s personality type”.

“Most firms are now providing holistic wealth-management services,” Solin said. “I don’t see a bright future for advisory firms that limit their services to providing investment advice.”

In the new era of financial planning, Solin said, firms need to go further and be more proactive in helping their clients navigate retirement. He noted that Stanford Brown was an example of a firm “pushing the envelope even further by addressing the psychological aspects of retirement and offering suggestions for how to cope with potential issues”.

Tahn Sharpe was previously an employee of Stanford Brown.

TOPICS:   financial planning and retirement

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