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Gladys Tan

Financial Consultant

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4 Books That Have Helped Me Grow As a Financial Consultant (+ Better Human!)

Taking the space to jot down some of my learnings from recent books I read!

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari

It must have been easily a few years ago when I was first introduced to The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma but I only read it a while back.

The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari is a story about a lawyer who realises he could be facing his imminent death. Julien goes in search of a better meaning of life. He comes across a monk who narrates stories with hidden messages and many, many lessons to be learned.

This simple narration between a simple monk and a high-flying lawyer is set in a simple, conversational tone. It takes you through the turmoils of one's life and explains how happiness can be derived through understanding and embracing the simplest of things.

Here are seven things I took away from this bestselling book:

  1. Positive thoughts lead to positive outcomes. Remember the philosophy of 'garbage in, garbage out'.

  2. Know your goals and work towards it. Follow the path that's right for you.

  3. 'Kaizen' - continuous learning and improvement is necessary for growth.

  4. Have self control and discipline. A little goes a long way!

  5. Rich or poor, we all have 24 hours in a day. Utilise them well, find ways to balance work and play.

  6. Help others. Share the fragrance of flowers with others by helping others selflessly. This will give you little bouts of happiness!

  7. Enjoy the small happy moments. Be present in special moments with loved ones.

Did you come across anything else from this book that made you go 'wow'?

Let me know!

The Psychology of Money

If you ever feel that wealth requires luck or brain, Morgan Housel's The Psychology of Money tells you that it is far from the truth.

A genius who loses control of their emotions can be a financial disaster.

Doing well has little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave. And behaviour is hard to teach.

"Financial success is not a hard science. It's a soft skill, where how you behave is more important than than what you know." ― Morgan Housel

Instead, let’s rely on our thought process to guide our behaviours. Here are my takeaways from The Psychology of Money:

  1. Pay the price - Want to purchase something? You need to exchange money for its worth. If you want returns on your investment, you need to pay the price of volatility. Are you willing to pay the price?

  2. Never enough - Capitalism has created wealth and envy. This envy leads people to do unwise things like leveraging their portfolios to the teeth, just to lose it when the markets turn. One question we can ask is: Am I acting in my best interest?

  3. Play your own money game - By acknowledging that we are all different, we are less tempted to be like others. You don’t have to buy a new car because your neighbour did. Ask: What works best for me?

  4. To prevent financial ruin, watch out for Outliers - Focus less on specific individuals and case studies and more on broad patterns, which offer directional insights. Question: How can I build my safety net?

  5. Don’t be seduced by Pessimism - “Tell someone that everything will be great and they’re likely to either shrug you off or offer a skeptical eye. Tell someone they’re in danger and you have their undivided attention.” Be mindful of what information you consume.

If you’ve read the book as well, what are your takeaways?

The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

We all love choices. We like the idea of having options. But does having choices help us make better decisions in life?

According to the author, Barry Schwartz, the fewer the choices, the easier life is. We feel less anxious, we waste less time, we are happier.

If you haven't read this book, think of it as the Marie Kondo of your life and the choices you're faced with. With Marie, she teaches us to keep things that brings us joy and get rid of things that have no use for us. A similar approach is needed when you have to make choices, too.

This book was definitely a refreshing take on how we live life and how the consumeristic world around us operates.

"We are free to be the authors of our own lives, but we don't know what kind of lives we want to write." ― Barry Schwartz, The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less

Here are the lessons I've taken away from this book:

Lesson 1: More options, more difficult to decide

Why do your favourite fast food joints have only a few choices of burgers? To reduce the decision making process for you.. With too many choices, your decision may make you feel more like you may have a mistake.

With financial planning, there are many options for you to choose from. But asking an advisor will help you narrow down your choices and make a decision that's more suitable to your needs.

Lesson 2: What is your personality type?

What is the optimal choice for you? Some need to think harder to make a choice only to regret their decision later. Some don't take much time making or reflection on an action and are simply, satisfied.

Say if you're presented with three options, immediately pick the one that you already know you like (e.g. you know you like chocolate over strawberries - so why waste your time thinking about it?). You'll be satisfied!

Lesson 3: Are you okay with "good enough"?

People who stick to what they know are good are happier, according to Barry Schwartz. Find something that works for you instead of struggling to always achieve "the best".

Accepting the good enough option for you, e.g. basic health insurance coverage that you can afford right now, versus a package that protects you overseas when you don't even travel that often?

Have you read this?

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

If you look closely, you’ll realise that we use persuasion in our day-to-day lives.

A mother is seen persuading her child to have food.

A child is heard persuading his friend to join him at the park.

Me, trying to persuade myself to get off the couch and get some exercise.

You get the point.

In my line of work, I often play the role of a lead. I lead the discussion, lead my client and guide them in the area of their finance. And in leading, persuasion naturally forms part of the process.

"A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do." ― Robert B. Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

I found six very interesting principles when I read this book:

  1. Reciprocation - Why do businesses like to GIVE a special price for first-time customers? Simply because prospects are able to “taste” what real value looks like. No prizes for guess what happens most of the time after the trial?

  2. Commitment & Consistency - Have you ever engaged in a behaviour just because you said before that you will? If you said yes, you probably did so because you want to avoid feeling unsettled. And that’s because people want their beliefs and behaviours to be consistent with their values and self-image.

  3. Consensus - Ever wonder why businesses love collecting testimonials? This is because our actions tend to be influenced by the experience of another. My sister, for example, swears by Google Reviews. Even though she hasn’t been to a place, she insist it’s good because it has a 4.8 star rating!

  4. Liking - We are more likely to agree with people that are similar to us, people that we know and like. The most widely used example of this principle is celebrity endorsement. Here’s another classic example - another sister of mine uses the same perfume that her K-pop idol uses. Oh boy.

  5. Authority - Titles, clothes, material possessions, aura even - these are ways authority can be communicated. People in authority are typically more persuasive than others. Why do you think that’s the case?

  6. Scarcity - Most of us think we have time. So when we feel we are running out of time, we tend to make decisions faster. Similarly, when you believe something is in short supply… You want it more! Because scarcity is the perception that products are more attractive when their availability is limited.

What are your thoughts on these takeaways?

I'll be sharing more of my favourite reads on my Instagram. Do follow if you're keen to learn along with me.

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