Sontag Advisory & Bronfman Rothschild Back-to-School Reading List 2019
With the start of a new school year just around the corner, we thought some readers out there may be looking to replace their light summer beach reads with a little more substance. This edition of our reading recommendations covers books our advisors have found not only enjoyable, but also enriching. Enjoy!
“Wealth of Wisdom” by Tom McCullough & Keith Whitaker
Recommended by Lauren Martin, CFP®, Director
Wealth of Wisdom is one of the most relevant books I’ve read pertaining to educating the next generation. It covers everything from values to philanthropy to investing to estate planning to working with advisors and has even become the base of some family meeting agendas. Including stories and case studies from real families and experts, it covers some of the most common questions and concerns raised by wealthy families and provides guidance that can help inform decisions about growing your wealth and leaving a financial legacy. With nine sections and bite-size chapters that are short enough to consume easily, but also substantial enough to provide helpful insights, and each chapter has thought-provoking questions at the end.
For any families thinking about educating the next generation, it’s a must-read, and will hopefully be accompanied by an advisor to guide them through the “how” of these discussions. In conjunction with the advice of an advisor, the book can demonstrate to families with significant wealth how to be positive and proactive with the critical decisions they often have to make. The book even has an associated podcast for further information and engagement.
“Mastering the Market Cycle: Getting the Odds on Your Side” by Howard Marks
Recommended by John Wolff, CFP®, AIF®, Managing Director
Mastering the Market Cycle brings together some of the key points Marks has made throughout his publicly available investors letters by breaking open the market cycles—why they happen at all, why they happen the way they do, how to tell what’s happening out there, and what to do about it (or not). Helping the reader to develop a deeper understanding of the reasons behind market cycles, he creates a sense of confidence that makes it easier to embrace the ups and downs that play such a big part in shaping not only the economy, but also the investing behavior that stems from human perceptions and biases.
Marks is an eloquent writer who can take this at times complicated concept and bring it to an understandable format for anyone who follows the markets and cycles, including professionals. His extensive studies and experiences as an investor have enabled him to remind readers of some really crucial ideas and help them avoid being blindsided by sudden changes in markets or emotions. This piece provides powerful insights about the nature of patterns, timing, and the success that can result from simply being prudent and going against the crowd at times.
“The Aspirational Investor: Taming the Markets to Achieve Your Life’s Goals” by Ashvin B. Chhabra
Recommended by Zach Gering, CFP®, Director
In The Aspirational Investor, Chhabra (CIO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management) communicates why the investment strategy conversation should be about achieving one’s goals rather than beating a benchmark. His proposed framework is one that would shift the focus of investing from things like “beating” the market and seeking higher returns no matter the cost, to the people involved and their meaningful goals like funding retirement or college, supporting charitable causes and innovation, and guarding against sudden financial emergencies.
The author challenges some of the most popular theories of investing and its proponents, and identifies what he believes to be the three incompatible yet foundational objectives of a strong financial plan—a desire to continue one’s standard of living in the face of fluctuating markets, the necessity of security in an inherently risky financial environment, and the pursuit of growing financial goals. His approach, though is idealistic, is also practical and presented in a way that investors of all levels can appreciate.
“The Innovation Blind Spot: Why We Back the Wrong Ideas—and What to Do About It” by Ross Baird
Recommended by Glen Macdonald, Managing Director
The Innovation Blind Spot highlights the fact that today, investors are consistently pouring their time and energy into new products and services that benefit a small portion of the world’s people, while ignoring the age-old and continually mounting problems faced by the majority—inequities in healthcare, lack of food security, and educational gaps. Baird’s argument is that this state of neglect has prevented the innovations that can really make a difference from ever surfacing. This cycle reinforces a system of uncertainty, distrust, growing inequality, and the stunting of innovative drive.
There is no better read on the philosophical and moral underpinnings of capitalism, how we lost our way, the sources of inequity in our society, and our blindness to where we can find the kinds of innovation we truly need. All of these are results of deep-seated blind spots, the route thinking of the investment management world, and the re-circulation of capital within just a few cities. Baird provides some thought-provoking perspective, along with a detailed prescription of how to bring back the 20/20 vision our world is in desperate need of by focusing back on the people, places, and industries that we have a turned a blind eye to.
“Willing Wisdom: 7 Questions Successful Families Ask” by Thomas William Deans
Recommended by Brion Collins, CFP®, CLU, ChFC®, Managing Director
Willing Wisdom provides readers with seven important questions to ask of family, friends and charities that can help in making significant decisions about giving. If you already have a Will in place, this piece provides insightful guidance so that you can continue to confirm the giving decisions you make.
This book is best described by its subtitle—7 Questions Successful Families Ask. Deans recognizes that each of us wants to lead a life of significance and help our families do the same; however, we often don’t know the right questions to ask. Willing Wisdom provides the questions we must ask ourselves and those we love so that we can leave a profound and enduring legacy.
Back by Popular Demand
These books are so popular with our advisors, that they have also been previously recommended on our 2018 Summer Reading list!
“Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World—and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” by Hans Rosling
Recommended by Laura Barry, CFP®, Director
In Factfulness, Rosling and his co-authors outline the many instincts that can distort our perspective and points out that all of our thoughts and guesses about the world are affected by unconscious yet predictable biases. The book features a treasure trove of evidence-based reasoning, global statistics and myth busting, and guidance on how to avoid our most common thinking traps.
It goes on to show that our world, despite its flaws, is actually in a much better state than we might think. Rosling explains that replacing constant worrying with a worldview that is based on facts helps us to regain our ability to focus on the things that are truly concerns for us. These insights make this book important not only for investing, but also for understanding and evolving our world view. It empowers you to address the real threats in our world and recognize the many promising opportunities that the future holds.
“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight
Recommended by Grant Ruder, CFP®, Director
Phil Knight’s Memoir, Shoe Dog, focuses on the earlier, less glamourous days of Nike—how he started the company by selling running shoes from the trunk of his car, how Nike was on the verge of failure on so many occasions, and how, through it all, he built Nike into one of the largest companies in the world. Knight opens up about his faults, the process through which he selected his team of business partners and manufacturers, and how he eventually earned the trust of investors and athletes.
While Shoe Dog is not necessarily directly related to finance, it does highlight the inspirational, yet daunting experience of starting a business, especially one that goes on to become a powerhouse brand like Nike. Phil Knight’s insights help you realize how much there is to be learned from the disproportionate amount of “losses” (to wins) that we experience in life.