UBC psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn recently told advisors in attendance at the annual fall conference of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors that they should think of their primary goal as focused on creating wealth for clients but just as a means to an end.
Dunn and her UBC colleagues surveyed 2,000 millionaires and found that those with more than $10 million in assets were generally happier than those with less, but it wasn’t just because of the money but what experiences they’d been able to amass because of it.
“Experiences make better stories. Experiences connect us with other people. They tend to be social and shared … with people we care about,” Dunn, co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Smarter Spending,
told the conference for fee-only planners. “People who think money can't buy happiness might not be spending it right.”
In essence, those super rich investors appear to have spent more time enjoying life rather than enduring it. In very practical terms, if a client, for example, hates cleaning the house perhaps they’ll be happier hiring a person to come in once a week to take care of it. That takes money and that’s where advisors come in as facilitators of “happiness” says Dunn.
“People who use their money to buy time are significantly happier when they outsource unpleasant tasks,” said Dunn. “Money can buy happier time.”
But it’s not just about a happier time for the client.
In late August WP spoke with Giv3 founder John Hallward about the positives stemming from advisors having a talk with clients about charitable giving. Dunn is echoing his comments.
"People who donate money to charity are happier in poor and rich countries alike," Dunn told a conference in early September. "You don't have to have a lot to experience the emotional benefits of giving."