An emerging set of US financial gurus are seeking to be "gurus" in the ancient Sanskrit sense of the word: teachers who impart mystic wisdom. According to the Wall Street Journal, they are tapping into the values and teachings of Eastern-inspired traditions, claiming that they can impart a special kind of financial wisdom that allows them to stay calm in crises and make holistic financial plans for clients.
Spencer Sherman, co-founder of Abacus Wealth Partners in California, teaches his clients a breathing technique called "the Money Breath," to get through tough financial situations: clients typically inhale for three counts, hold the breath for one count, and exhale for six counts.
But it’s not just overseas that the downward dog has sniffed its way into the financial services sector.
Ammie Komel is not only an advice franchise manager, but has also taught yoga for the past four years. After recently moving to Sydney she has dropped her teaching, but she says that it makes sense to implement yoga techniques in the advice process, as it helps to make clear decisions.
“Yoga is about not reacting. Often when there are stressful situations, we react to those situations. Yoga teaches us to just take a step back and pause.”
Bodies and finances are two areas that people have sensitive personal ideas around, says Komel, and by getting more awareness into that space – learning the thoughts, ideas and belief systems around a particular area – they can open their eyes to other opportunities.
Even if you’re not a yoga guru, Komel says there are useful ways that advisers can use yoga to enhance their relationships with clients.
“Being really present either with client or with what they’re dealing with, is something that can really open someone up and really help them…whatever they’re going through, they’ve clearly come to an adviser with a need and to be able to really be present with them in what they’re dealing with without judgement – that’s the practice of yoga is non-judgement.”
She says that having access to any information about yoga will “give you a tool that can help you in any circumstance… It’s about taking a moment before reacting to really see what the best path is”.
Sherman and his Abacus partner Brent Kessel, use a financial-planning approach based on the teachings of Buddhist teacher and CFP George Kinder. They say they buy stocks and bonds based on research instead of “emotions and hot tips.” They typically prefer passive index funds to actively managed ones, and unlike panicked investors who fled equities during the financial crisis, they say they bought stocks the day the market hit its bottom in 2009, a move the firm attributes to disciplined rebalancing.