Book Reviews on Money

It’s Time for “Your Power Pivot”

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Your Power Pivot: Shifting the Paradigm of Work/Life Empowerment

If empowering women is one of your goals, I have a recommendation for you: Read the book Your Power Pivot: Shifting the Paradigm of Work/Life Empowerment. Written by my colleague and friend, Lauran Star, the book is a smart, sassy look at how women need to learn how to shift their thinking and behaviors to achieve greatness. (click to tweet)

The conversational tone of Your Power Pivot makes it feel as if you are sitting down with Lauran chatting over lunch. Lauran shares with you the ups and downs of her own journey in search of personal and professional empowerment.

The book is sprinkled with not only her personal experiences but statistics and hard facts to support her theories on empowering women. While I don’t agree with everything she has to say, especially about gender and the pay gap, the book, like Lauran, makes you think hard about your position.

Want to go from just surviving at work and home to thriving in life? Then you must read Your Power Pivot: Shifting the Paradigm of Work/Life Empowerment. Then buy it for your 10 closest girlfriends!

5 Reasons You Need to Read “The Confidence Code” by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

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The Confidence CodeIronically, I started reading this book in a moment of self-doubt. I was headed to a keynote presentation and, for a variety of reasons, was not feeling confident. In an effort to find my mojo, I opened the book. Two hours later, the plane landed, the book was finished and I was ready to rock my speech. While every reader of The Confidence Code may not read the book at the perfect moment as I did, it is still worth checking out.

Here are the top reasons you need to read this book:

1. The conversational tone. I felt like Katty Kay and Claire Shipman the co-authors, were speaking to me. They are New York Times Bestselling Authors of Womenomics and admitted to having times of self-doubt too. As the reader, I was on a journey of discovery along with them. It was nice to know they didn’t have all the answers but were committed to asking the right questions. Their questions were very similar to the ones I ponder myself, when it comes to my work with women and wealth.

2. The multimodal approach to finding the answers. Unlike most authors, Kay and Shipman interviewed experts from a variety of fields including neuroscience, anthropology, sociology and psychology. The blend of the experts’ opinions and their own personal discoveries were unique and made it an enjoyable and enriching way to spend a plane ride.

3. Their relationship. So often women who co-write books or work as business partners don’t remain friends. These two seem to appreciate their differences and celebrate them. The mutual respect and appreciation for each other provides a great role model for women as they achieve success. Unfortunately, many women feel threatened when a colleague is successful, and I enjoyed seeing how these two managed it. While I am sure it’s not perfect behind the scenes, their honest ability to challenge and still honor each other was inspiring.

4. The interviews with powerful women. This book included interviews with women many of us only dream of having conversations with. Interviews with Monique Currie, a WBNA superstar known as “Mo”, to Christine Lagarde who oversees the International Monetary Fund to Hearsay founder, Clara Shih, a millennial with a brilliant mind and drive to go along with it, sprinkle the pages. These interviews add spice to the research presented along side of them.

5. The curiosity and candor. These authors are clearly curious, want to find the answer to solve the female confidence crisis and are transparent about their own journey. While the book doesn’t tie it all up in a bow with some easy to follow tips and tools, it does move the conversation on women and confidence in a very meaningful way.

If you are an advisor working with women who sometimes lack financial confidence, The Confidence Code is a must read. (click to tweetThis book is also a must read for a woman wanting to understand your self-doubt or a concerned citizen interested in helping young girls grow into women comfortable in their own skin.

Book Review: Strangers in Paradise by James Grubman

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Strangers in ParadiseStrangers in Paradise: How Families Adapt to Wealth Across Generations (FamilyWealth Consulting, 2013) by James Grubman, Ph.D., was required reading for my Bentley University Graduate students. The class was the psychology of financial planning, and it was a course that I inherited from Dr. Grubman in 2009. At the time I took the teaching position, Jim said to me, “There really is no textbook written for this class.” I replied, “Write it!” And it looks like he took my advice.

Strangers in Paradise is a wonderful book that lets readers know how the journey from middle class to affluence can be a bumpy ride (click to tweet). In a world where “wealthism” prevails (prejudice against those with affluence), this book is an insightful look into Dr. Grubman’s decades of work with high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth families. The book is based on a theory that he developed along with Dennis Jaffe, Ph.D., in a paper they co-wrote in 2007. They draw a parallel between the experience of an immigrant acculturating from a foreign land and the experience of a wealth creator entering the land of wealth. The struggle between what is familiar and what is new and the questions about how to survive and thrive without losing one’s history and culture abound. The analogy is strong and the insights are many. Some affluent families avoid acculturation, others assimilate slowly and the healthiest families find a way to integrate and adapt to this new culture. Grubman calls this “adaptation” and offers tips and tools for helping your clients make their way through this often unrecognized but challenging time of transition.

If you are a wealth manager, estate attorney, wealth creator, family member or a family business consultant, this book is a must read. It will help you challenge your own assumptions about what it means to be wealthy and assist you in being a valuable resource to your high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients.

Strangers in Paradise is much more than a textbook. It is a long overdue, well-written addition to the field of wealth psychology and wealth management. I highly recommend you add it to your reading list this year, not because Jim is a professional friend, but because your clients need a safe place to talk about their journey.

Book Review: When She Makes More By Farnoosh Torabi

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When She Makes MoreFarnoosh Torabi is a financial expert, speaker and TV personality who takes a personal approach in her latest book, When She Makes More: 10 Rules for Breadwinning Women (Hudson Street Press, 2014). Besides loving the title, I also think this book is well written, witty and thought provoking, making it a must read for anyone working with executive women.

Reading it makes you think more deeply about gender roles and how individually and culturally we are in a time of great change. The book also offers practical strategies for navigating this often unchartered territory for couples, many based on the author’s experience as the primary breadwinner. Many of these concepts and observations resonate with me based on my work with affluent executive women and my own experience making more. However, I am left with the question of whether the changes in financial behavior and the dynamics in these relationships are a direct result of the women earning more or is it more indicative of the personality type of career-driven women and the men they attract. My guess is it’s both.

There are many statistics in the book that are useful and especially eye-opening if you have not seen them before. The primary research in the book seems thin. I respect Brad Klontz, the author of the primary research, which makes me wonder if it’s just the reporting of the data that left me flat. As a writer who uses case studies and extensive interviews, I did enjoy the real life scenarios sprinkled throughout the book that helped the author’s 10 Rules come alive.

My favorite part of the book was the focus on encouraging more money conversations between partners as well as with parents. While I wish there was more of an emotional element to these sections, it is a great start to helping clients and couples engage in money talk that is open and honest. And this is never a bad thing.

As with any work on gender roles, there are generalizations, and I believe it really boils down to how each partner thinks and feels about money and the relationship as a whole. One area that surprised me was the theme of the male self-esteem being bruised by the female partner bringing home more bacon. I do understand that some men might feel this way, but in my experience, it is not as widespread as the author implies. Or maybe I don’t want to believe it is as widespread, as my own experience is very different. My husband always seems happy to support my success and jokes about wanting to stay home with the cat. However, by reading this book, it opened my eyes to the fact that we may be the exception to the rule. Reading When She Makes More prompted me to ask more thought-provoking questions and to not assume I know how my husband actually feels about our financial roles and responsibilities. Now when in doubt, I ask. This alone make this book worth the investment.

Book Review: The Talk Between Adult Children and Their Parents

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The Talk Between Adult Children and Their ParentsThis easy-to-read, brief book, The Talk Between Adult Children and Their Parents by Jack Tatar, is a great primer on how to talk with your parents about legacy, inheritance, and end of life wishes. The beauty of this book is its simplicity, with most of the chapters being excerpts from articles written by the author for Collecting this information and offering it in small, bite-size pieces helps overwhelmed adult children and parents discuss these important but often easily avoided conversations.

My favorite sections were titled “How to Have the Talk” and “What are the Six Vital Questions to Ask?” as both offered key points on effective communication and ways for the reader to put himself or herself into their parents shoes. Having gone through this personally on both sides of my family, these are key take-aways for those not familiar with the best ways to engage in money and wealth conversations with family members.

The only downside to the book, from my perspective, is it does not contain more resources for the reader to refer to and instead almost solely focuses on the author’s services. Despite this oversight, I would highly recommend this book as a gift for a client or someone you care about who is worried about an elderly parent.


Book Review: The Keys to the Ladies’ Room by Adri Miller-Heckman

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The Keys to the Ladies' RoomSince the book came out in 2012, I have been looking forward to reading Adri Miller-Heckman’s book, The Keys to the Ladies’ Room: A New Business Model for Financial Advisors. As a fellow advocate for female-friendly practices in the financial services industry, I was interested in finding out how her real life experience as an advisor would translate into practical tips and tools for advisors.  I am happy that the book did not disappoint.

This book is easy to read and a great guide for an advisor looking to fine-tune his or her marketing and outreach efforts. While it starts off addressing the needs in the field for advisors to be better equipped to counsel women, it ends up being a book about niche marketing and authenticity. Both are important lessons for any financial services professional to master.

Adri’s experience training and working in the financial field definitely shows through in her stories and recommendations for readers. While I would have liked more on how to specifically target women clients, I was pleased that so many pages were dedicated to reinforcing key marketing concepts such as defining your ideal client and creating a message that communicates your values and resonates with your prospect.

If you are interested in being more successful with female clients, I recommend you get a copy of The Keys to the Ladies’ Room.  You won’t be sorry you did.

Financial Services Professionals: Do You Want to Blog But Don’t Know How?

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Financial BloggingIn her new book, Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts To Attract Clients, Susan B. Weiner, CFA, teaches financial services professionals how to craft a blog that is effective and makes you shine. Topics include how to brainstorm topics, writing for the reader, and writing compliance-friendly posts. As an experienced blogger, I discovered fresh techniques for generating ideas for blog posts from Susan’s book.

The strength of this book is it caters to all types of learners. Susan does not provide one technique, or a my-way-or-the-highway approach to blogging. Instead, she offers many techniques and ideas that speak to linear thinkers, visual learners, and those who want to think outside the box. This resource also includes a time line to keep you on track, which is incredibly helpful – for those new to blogging and for old timers like me.

I highly recommend picking up a copy of Financial Blogging today. It is a must-have resource for anyone in the financial services arena who wants to or already is marketing their services online.

Order your copy of Financial Blogging: How to Write Powerful Posts To Attract Clients today at

Do You Know What to Say at a Client Wake?

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No Longer Awkward

On June 6, I participated in The Legacy Companies’ Network Meeting. I had the pleasure of hearing Amy Florian present on what to say and what not to say at a wake or funeral. It was enlightening to discover how many of the common words we offer at these difficult times are at best unhelpful and at worst upsetting to the grieving spouse or family. While all these sayings are well-intended, learning to express your sympathy more effectively and empathetically is vital if you want to be comforting and supportive to clients and their family members at these difficult times of transition.

According to Florian, 70% of new referrals come at times of transition. Therefore, knowing what to say is not only the sensitive thing to do, it makes good business sense as well.

Here are five things not to say at a wake:

  1. “I am so sorry.” This is a common statement to make at a funeral but puts the grieving client in the position of taking care of you and is a conversation stopper.
  2. “You have my sympathy.” Similar to “I am sorry for your loss,” this statement has no benefit to the survivor and does not open up a dialogue.
  3. “At least…. (he didn’t suffer, he was surrounded by his children, etc.)” or “Be grateful…(he died at home or peacefully, etc.)” Because you do not know the back story of the survivor or their religious beliefs, these types of statements can really miss the mark. While they may make you feel better, they do little to comfort the grieving person.
  4. “Time heals all wounds.” Time does not make the loss any less great and by saying this you are minimizing the loss and sadness the person feels in the moment. As time passes, the person continues to say goodbye and do the emotional work of grieving, but it won’t make the wound of the loss go away.
  5. “Call me anytime.” Again, while well-intended, this puts the responsibility for the phone call on the widow or widower. This person is already overwhelmed and is struggling to complete daily tasks. Instead, let the grieving person know that you will call them next week to check in. This shows support, that you care, and that you know that it will take longer than one day to grieve.

So what do you say? Express your sadness regarding the loss and share a story or memory about the person and then ask the grieving client about their favorite memory. For example, say something like, “I don’t know what you are feeling right now, but I was sad to hear of Bill’s death. I will always remember Bill for his big smile. What is your favorite memory of him?” This approach puts the focus and attention on the person who is grieving and also helps the client or the client’s family member share their stories of their loved one. Sharing memories helps the client celebrate the person’s life, recognize his or her death, and begin the long process of saying goodbye.

Want more of Florian’s wisdom? Check out her recently published book, No Longer Awkward: Communicating with Clients Through the Toughest Times of Life. I ordered my copy during her talk as it was clear her work is an important addition to the field and so helpful both personally as well as professionally.

Book Review: Stop Asking for Referrals

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Stop Asking for ReferralsStop Asking for Referrals by Stephen Wershing is a must read for financial advisors looking to grow their practices through referrals. Wershing  discusses the psychology behind referrals and why clients are motivated to give you more business. He also shares tips and tools for defining your niche to be very specific and how to make yourself referral-worthy.

I share his philosophy in that if you have to overtly ask for referrals then you are doing something wrong. This is especially true with female clients who don’t like pushy sales approaches but love to help out and tell their friends about a good thing. Check out Stephen’s work at The Client Driven Practice and purchase his book on Amazon.

Book Review: Winning in the Trust and Value Economy

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Winning in the Trust and Value EconomyThis book is a must read for anyone serious about succeeding in the current economy. The author, Meridith Elliott Powell, offers insights into the psychology of today’s customer and how you need to be more client-centric than ever. Meridith not only intelligently makes an argument for a new approach in the “new normal” but offers readers specific tips and tools to make the necessary changes they need to succeed. If you want customers to rave about your company, then make the investment in this book today! Trust me, you won’t be sorry.

Here is what other professionals are saying about Winning in the Trust and Value Economy:

“Successful people do things others don’t. In an increasingly competitive and cautious world, this book will equip you with strategies to build trust, grow your value, and leverage the difference your difference makes.”Margie Warrell, Forbes Columnist, Master Coach and Best-selling Author of Stop Playing Safe

“A must read for anyone with the burning desire to win and succeed in this challenging new economy. Meridith Elliott Powell has written a truly innovative and powerful book that openly shares the secrets, the tips, and the strategies of exactly how to make this economy work for you.”Dean Lindsay, Author of The Progress Challenge and Cracking the Networking CODE

“Thought-leader Meridith Elliott Powell has struck gold with her newest book, Winning in the Trust and Value Economy. No matter what line of work you’re in, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that the global economy has changed, and finally there’s now a roadmap to make the new economy work for you! Full of practical wisdom and strategic advice for business owners and professionals, this straight-talking, no-nonsense guide will have you laughing out loud at the fun and upbeat real-life stories of how to succeed.”Suzi Pomerantz, Master Executive Coach, CEO of Innovative Leadership International and best-selling author of Seal the Deal