I listened to an inspiring radio interview with Eddie Jaku who has just written a book entitled “The Happiest Man on Earth”
Eddie has just celebrated his 100th birthday which is amazing considering he survived the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. He was rescued by American soldiers after spending three months living in a cave and eating slugs and snails weighing only 28 kilos. While he was recuperating in hospital he vowed that if he survived he would be the happiest man on earth and he would be helpful and kind, everything his captors were not.
Today, looking back over his life he said he has tried his best to be kind, helpful and active and explains his three H’s have kept him going: Hope, Health and Happiness.
I think we all can all learn a lot from Eddie's approach to life especially as financial happiness should be the most important goal for everybody.
More I think about it, financial happiness is a brilliant term because it suggests that it is not so much about how much money you have but what you do with it. I know lots of people who have lots of money but are as miserable as sin and people who don’t have much money but are very happy.
So how do we people achieve financial happiness? I think the answer is to spend more time on the emotional and behavioural side of money matters.
It is easy to think that financial advice is about money matters but that is only of the equation. In my guide “Retirement advice; an art or a science?” I explain that good advice involves dealing with both the technical and emotional/behavioural factors.
Advisers place a lot of importance of the technical side of advice and are quite rightly very proud of their qualifications but many people are more concerned with the emotional side and left to their own devices may make poor decisions because of their behavioural biases.
The financial services industry does recognise the importance of the soft skills but I don’t think enough is being done to make the advice process customer friendly enough and not enough advisers feel confident enough to discuss the emotional factors with their clients.
With happiness being in short supply at the moment, this is a good time to talk to people about their financial happiness. Perhaps we can start filling the advice gap by getting more people interested in finding out how to achieve financial happiness.