1. My Money Journey by Jonathan Clements
You may recognize Clements as the former Wall Street Journal columnist and current Humble Dollar website editor. Clements’ latest book includes the personal stories of contributors to the personal finance website he founded and leads. These well edited personal stories document both the successes and failures of a range of individuals—some professionals and some self-taught novices.
2. From Strength to Strength, Arthur Brooks
If there is one thing advisors and financial professionals love, it is a self-help book. Brooks, a Harvard professor and previous president of the American Enterprise Institute, has written a lot about happiness. This book describes how our brains and abilities change throughout our careers and lifetimes. Our agile brains early in our career steadily gain knowledge and skill. Later as our brains age, we are better at synthesizing knowledge, becoming wiser if less facile with numbers or technical information.
2.5 The Road to Character, David Brooks
Here’s a bonus pick if you like From Strength to Strength. Like Arthur Brooks, David Brooks, not a relative, has also written many books on finding meaning. I recently re-read David Brooks’ Road to Character, a collection of mini-biographies in which Brooks attempts to better understand people we might all describe as “good people.” He documents the struggles several commonly acknowledged leaders faced in their journeys toward righteousness. Included are such legends as Dwight Eisenhower, Dorothy Day, Victor Frankl, Francis Perkins, George Marshall, Mary Ann Evans/George Eliot and others.
3. Poverty by America, Matthew Desmond
While advisors work mainly with people of means, many are committed to helping those of lesser means by teaching the steps to financial independence. Few authors have made as much impact in documenting the challenges of poverty in the U.S. as Desmond. A few years ago, Desmond’s book Evicted was a best seller, illustrating the housing challenges faced by the poor. His most recent book documents some of the more difficult hurdles the poor must overcome. Desmond’s troubling depiction of some of these barriers doesn’t make for an easy read. But this is important reading for those hoping to help the poor achieve important financial milestones.
3.5. Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh
Here’s another bonus pick on a similar theme. Like Desmond’s book, Smarsh’s work documents the challenges of poverty by telling her own story of being raised in rural America by a series of strong women. Hers is an inspiring story of overcoming challenges to get an education and become a successful writer. Extra bonus pick: Smarsh’s latest book about Dolly Parton, She Come By It Natural.
4. The Art Thief by Michael Finkel
For a fantastic look into the art world, this true story of a series of art heists across Europe gives insight into the complex and fascinating world of fine art valuation. This is a must-read for both art lovers and wealth managers serving art collectors.
5. Trust by Hernan Diaz
A 2023 Pulitzer Prize winner, this novel tells the story of a self-made financial tycoon during the early twentieth century. The complex story of his financial success and how it was achieved during the roaring Twenties and the subsequent economic depression is told from multiple perspectives and has many surprise twists.
6. Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance and One Man’s Fight for Justice by Bill Browder
While I read this book a few years ago after Morningstar featured Russian hedge fund manager Bill Browder at their 2021 conference, it is a timely read for the historical perspective on Russia after the fall of the Berlin Wall and its troubling insights into Vladimir Putin. In addition to documenting Browder’s firm Hermitage Capital Management’s investments in Russia during the ’80s and ’90s and the murder of his business associate Sergei Magnitsky, it also describes his efforts to pass the Magnitsky Act allowing authorities to seize the wealth/assets of foreigners who break international law.
Happy reading. Drop me a note with your book recs or your feedback on any of these titles.