Grab your highlighters and sticky notes. It’s time to dive into some wealth management books.
The world of personal finance/financial planning/wealth management can be, well, a bit daunting or confusing — even for those with some financial literacy under their belt. Compounding this is the fact that almost everything to do with money is heavily wrapped up in a not-insignificant amount of emotion.
To be clear, the importance of independent advice with respect to wealth management cannot be understated. Simply put, a wealth manager with fiduciary responsibilities ensures you your money is well taken care of.
How to choose a financial planning or wealth management book
When it comes to brushing up on financial literacy, books remain a classic resource. Browse any bookstore and you’ll find a wide range of personal finance, financial planning, investment, and wealth management books from a diverse field of experts. There’s a lot of material out there, but it’s important to know that not every single one is going to be right for you, or offer the best insights. Do you follow financial experts or personal finance bloggers, YouTubers, or podcasters with industry experience? There’s a good chance they’ll have solid recommendations.
Finally, here are our top 10 picks (+ one bonus) for the best wealth management books for Canadians.
Family Wealth Management: 7 Imperatives for Successful Investing in the New World Order by Tom McCullough and Mark Daniell
It’s a title that gets straight to the point. Family Wealth Management explains how to balance sound financial decisions with the overall goals and values of your family. Essentially, this wealth management book helps families put themselves back into the investment and wealth management process.
Tom McCullough is the Chairman and CEO of Northwood Family Office and an Adjunct Professor of Finance at the Rotman School of Management (University of Toronto). Mark Daniell is a former senior partner at Bain & Company, and has written several books on wealth management and business.
It’s traditional portfolio management practices, meets innovative techniques and goal-based approaches. Some of the titular imperatives addressed include establishing clear values for the family, setting long-term strategies, and selecting experienced and trusted advisors.
Bonus: McCullough’s book Wealth of Wisdom: The Top 50 Questions Wealthy Families Ask (written with DR. Keith Whitaker, President of Wise Counsel Research) is a great companion to Family Wealth Management. Questions answered by leading experts include saving and spending in retirement, crafting a legacy, preparing for the mental incapacity of family members, and the ever-important “Are you wealthy?”
The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko and The Next Millionaire Next Door: Enduring Strategies for Building Wealth by Thomas J. Stanley and Sarah Stanley Fallaw.
Most truly wealthy people don’t really live where or how you’d think they live.
Common myth correlates wealth with income. In The Millionaire Next Door, Stanley and Danko explain that actually wealthy people are quite low-key — for example, they drive a common-model used Ford or Toyota as opposed to a luxury car. From their research, the authors gleaned seven common traits among the wealthy:
- Living well below their means
- Allocating time, energy, and money efficiently in ways that build wealth
- Being self-made
- Having a greater interest in financial independence than on showing off social status
- Bringing up children to be financially self-sufficient
- Choosing professions with the flexibility to be self-employed.
The Next Millionaire Next Door: Enduring Strategies for Building Wealth is the revised version, published in 2018 with Stanley’s daughter Sarah Stanley Fallaw, PhD. With the wealth vs. income myth still around, the authors look at what has changed in the 20 years since the original book.
What personal finance or wealth management lessons did you learn in school? If you said “absolutely none at all,” you’re in good company.
Andrew Hallam was a high school English teacher who realized that classic nugget of money wisdom: being wealthy isn’t a matter of income. His goal with Million Teacher is to explain financial independence, and how anyone can build wealth. The updated version from 2017 outlines why you should invest in index funds to build wealth, how to avoid scams, and studies on dollar cost averaging versus lump sum investing.
The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
Sure it’s from 1926, but The Richest Man in Babylon is a classic of the personal finance and wealth management book genre.
Framed around a collection of parables set in Ancient Babylon, this book centres on core elements of building and managing wealth. While it’s broad themes cover foundational advice, it’s still a back-to-basic book with a highly relevant message for wealth management. For example, the very first parable is about saving 10% of your income. As the book continues, parables address spending control, having a long-term outlook, and investing in what you understand.
Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
While not a wealth management book, Thinking Fast and Slow is about how we make choices.
Kahneman, a Nobel Prize-winning economist and psychologist, outlines two systems that drive how we think and choose:
- System One is fast, intuitive, and emotional
- System Two is slow, deliberate, and logical
Thinking Fast and Slow is about the capabilities and biases of both systems. Money is heavily tied into psychology and our emotions, and we make financial decisions every day. Lessons learned in this book can be applied to these choices, both big and small.
The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success by Dr. Daniel Crosby
Like Daniel Kahneman, Crosby is psychologist. He’s also a behavioural finance expert — a subject that’s been emerging in recent years.
At the outset, The Laws of Wealth outlines ten hallmarks of good investor behavior. Examples include ‘Forecasting is for Weathermen’ and ‘If You’re Excited, It’s Probably a Bad Idea.’ From here, Crosby introduces a new way of looking at behavioural investment risk. While it might read as fairly academic, he includes real-world examples, studies, and graphics to explain his points.
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham
When Warren Buffet describes a book as having “changed his life,” you know it’s worth a look.
Written in 1949, the core theme of The Intelligent Investor is value investing. It’s an approach that “shields investors from substantial error and teaches them to develop long-term strategies.” The book even goes back to the beginning, to the history of the stock market and how to perform stock analysis.
The most recent edition includes modern insights and parallels from financial journalist Jason Zweig.
That old adage “less is more”? It’s one of Carlson’s guiding principles. And in A Wealth of Common Sense, he applies this framework to investing.
The financial market is complex, but, Carlson argues, it doesn’t require a complex strategy. Such strategies often end up doing the opposite and end up being a key reason why an investor makes a mistake. A Wealth of Common Sense is about the long-view, not short-term performance benchmarks: “The only benchmark that matters is achieving your personal goals, not beating the market,” he writes.
How To Retire Debt-Free & Wealthy by Christine Ibbotson
A recent addition to the spectrum of wealth management books in Canada, How To Retire Debt-Free & Wealthy centres on the idea that many people wait too long to cement their retirement plans. What follows is, of course, panic.
Ibbotson, a finance coach, Licensed Financial Advisor and author of a syndicated financial advice column, recognizes the reality that financial planning can easily fall by the wayside. She takes readers through accessible and realistic steps — from cutting debt to wealth management. Stories of real clients who hit their retirement and wealth management goals can be found throughout.
Raising Money-Smart Kids: How to Teach Your Kids About Money While Learning a Few Things Yourself by Robin Taub
Financial literacy is necessary for all Canadians, regardless of net worth. And while it’s one thing to know how to manage your finances, it’s quite another to teach your kids how to be money-smart. Enter Robin Taub, a Chartered Professional Accountant who originally published Raising Money-Smart Kids through CPA Canada in 2011.
Outlined as a roadmap through each life stage, an updated version of Raising Money-Smart Kids was released in March 2020. According to one interview, Taub explains that there are three questions at the core of her book:
- Why is it important to teach your kids about money?
- How do you actually go about teaching them?
- What are the key topics to teach at every age?
Taub’s updated version also acknowledges our increasingly mobile and cashless world, recognizing how this might change the way we teach our kids about money.