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Top Five (+2) Best Books for Advisors (and Clients)

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We keep hearing that nobody reads books anymore. Yet the bestseller lists show that there are still plenty of readers out there who continue to snap up business, investing, management and finance books. Sure, they may be listening to audio books on their smart phones or reading the Kindle version that they ordered online. The point is, they’re paying attention to what’s being published and hungry for solid information and well-told stories.

So what are the top five best books for advisors? Here are the latest results, as of Oct. 28 and in no particular order, of the best-selling and most popular reads—and keep in mind that the list below represents AdvisorOne’s picks, compiled specifically to appeal to advisors’ tastes. Our results combine data gathered from The New York Times business best sellers list,, Barnes & and Nielsen BookScan at the Wall Street Journal online.

No. 1: Questions Great Financial Advisors Ask…and Investors Need to Know, by Alan Parisse and David Richman, published by Kaplan Business.

This book lays out the questions that savvy advisors must ask in personal conversations to gain an understanding of clients' deep-seated feelings about money. Here’s what one client had to say about the book in an Amazon customer review: “I was given a copy of the book by a financial advisor. Her only comment to me was to look it over if I had a moment. I can't say that I related to everything in the book as it's written from the perspective of the advisor. But I can say that after reading it, I changed the way I looked at my financial person and how he related to me. Some of the things I thought? Why didn't I feel he had a personal relationship with me? Why didn't I believe he was interested in me and how I related to money? After some soul-searching and interviewing a few advisors, I have a new money manager—and I like her approach a lot. In fact, I've decided to put my grandchildren's trust funds with her as well.”

No. 2:The Intelligent Investor: The Definitive Book on Value Investing. A Book of Practical Counsel (Revised Edition), by Benjamin Graham, Jason Zweig, and Warren E. Buffett, published by Collins Business.

Originally published in 1949, this book has sold more than a million copies and still tops best-selling business book lists. Warren Buffett has called it “the best book on investing ever written.” The gimmick-free revised edition, edited by senior Money magazine editor Jason Zweig, lays out the wisdom of value investing.  Advising investors to take a big dose of reality when confronting market ups and downs, the book’s key topics


address the use of discipline, research and metrics to analyze securities and achieve profits over the long term. Be prepared for a sensible read.

No. 3: The Million-Dollar Financial Services Practice, by David J. Mullen Jr., published by AMACOM.

Mullen reveals how to become a “top-producing” financial advisor using the method he has taught at Merrill Lynch, which involves templates, scripts, letters, action plans for relationship building and time management. Judging from the comments on the Amazon page, Mullen is either a brilliant teacher or a simplistic salesman. But either way, he details exactly what an advisor needs to accomplish to get the job done. There are no shortcuts here—the point is planning.

No. 4: Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, by Dan Ariely, published by Harper Collins.

We like this book here at AdvisorOne, and our sister print publication, Investment Advisor, does too—which is why author Dan Ariely was featured in the magazine’s cover story by Olivia Mellan last April. (The Financial Planning Association likes Ariely as well—he spoke at the FPA National Conference in October). Ariely is an expert on why we are all far less rational in our decision-making than standard economic theory assumes. “Our irrational behaviors are neither random nor senseless: they are systematic and predictable. We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of the basic wiring of our brains,” he says. The New York Times is an Ariely fan, too, saying his sly and lucid book “is not about your grandfather’s dismal science…. Predictably Irrational is a far more revolutionary book than its unthreatening manner lets on.”

No. 5: Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose, by Tony Hsieh, published by Business Plus.

Okay, books about business leaders overuse the term “visionary.” But you’ve got to love a, yes, visionary entrepreneur like Zappos CEO Tony Tsieh, who says that “The idea of starting a worm farm is my earliest memory of a business idea.” Delivering Happiness is Tsieh’s memoir about how his corporate culture dedicated to customer service and employee empowerment led to Amazon’s acquisition of Zappos


for more than $1.2 billion in 2009. Yes, that’s right. Tsieh is a billionaire shoe salesman. And now, he’s a best-selling author. His memoir about the online shoe store that blows away the competition currently ranks as a top seller on Amazon in a broad variety of book categories: professional and technical, business management, leadership and customer service.

Two More to Consider

These books make good gifts for clients, college students and others seeking inspiration and wisdom about personal finance:

The Richest Man in Babylon, by George S. Clason, published in hardcover, paperback, a Kindle edition, an audio version and a revision “updated for the 21st century.”

This popular little classic, written in the 1920s, remains up to date because it offers agelessly sound advice written as a series of supposedly ancient Babylonian parables. Millions of readers have been helped by this book, described by Barnes and as “the greatest of all inspirational works on the subject of thrift, financial planning, and personal wealth.” Within its 160 pages, the book offers up the “secrets” of how to earn, spend and save money wisely. One commenter on the Barnes and Noble site calls it “The Bible” for the modern-day business person, saying: “I am a college student just learning the ropes of financial independence and welfare. As soon as I read the first chapter of this book, I was hooked! The ‘7 Cures for a Lean Purse’ were especially helpful to me, since I am still learning how to successfully adhere to my budget.”

Strengths Finder 2.0: A New and Updated Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s “Now, Discover Your Strengths,” by Tom Rath, published by Gallup Press.

We’re all sophisticated investor types here in AdvisorOne world, so this book may appear a bit gimmicky to our over-educated eyes. Still, this book is wildly popular—it’s the No. 1 seller in Amazon’s business and investing, management and leadership, and motivation and self-improvement categories. What does this book say to readers? It tells them that they don’t have to let their natural talents go to waste, that they can apply the book’s strategies to their strengths and change their lives forever. The book includes a StrengthsFinder assessment, an action-planning guide, and a Top 5 theme report that’s probably a whole lot more complicated and results-focused than this here Top 5 book list. This tome would make a great gift for that special unemployed someone in your life who’s seeking a major self-reinvention.

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