Can a financial advisor — presumably hired to improve a client’s net worth — have an impact on the client’s self-worth?
Does an advisor even have permission to tread in this sensitive area that many would regard as a personal and not a professional concern?
Much like Pharrell Williams sings in “Happy,” Donna Skeels Cygan feels like happiness is the truth — and thinks clients’ happiness is fair game for a financial advisor.
“My role is to not only grow my clients’ assets or protect their assets, but to also help them enjoy the assets,” says the Albuquerque-based fee-only advisor in a phone interview with ThinkAdvisor.
When last in touch with the principal of boutique firm Sage Future Financial, she was hitting the road promoting her book “The Joy of Financial Security.”
Now Cygan has published a short new e-book, “Invest in Joy: 8 Happiness Strategies,” that she hopes advisors and their clients can use to broaden the scope of their investment objectives to include living rich rather than just becoming rich.
“[The book] is 16 pages. I very deliberately kept at that, so if printed double-sided it will be an 8-page booklet [matching the eight strategies],” says Cygan, who advises readers: “They should just choose one [strategy] that resonates with them.”
The advisor — and professional joy investor — says some strategies will resonate more than others depending on a person’s current life stage. Three strategies that Cygan is currently emphasizing are Nos. 3, 4 and 6 in her e-book.
No. 3 (“Lead a Healthier Lifestyle”) is, ironically, her No. 1 priority right now.
It rose to that level just this Sunday.
Cygan belongs to a financial advisory study group, a common practice among advanced planners, that meets twice a year.
The group was meeting in California last weekend, but because of a sinus affection, Cygan said she would participate via GoToMeeting.
When she presented her set of nine professional strategic objectives — one of which was getting healthier — the other advisors in the group “ganged up on me,” Cygan recalls.
“‘It’s been on your list for years,’” they objected. “‘You need to raise it to a higher level or take it off your list.’”
Her colleagues gently told Cygan she needed to make her own health the first priority. As a veteran advisor, Cygan is accustomed to putting her professional obligations first, but the intervention worked.
“I’m totally committed at this point,” she says of her exercise and nutritional plans, adding that the support of this cohesive group has the added benefit of adding to her personal happiness.
Indeed, her association with others not only holds her accountable to her health goals but are of the essence of Happiness Strategy No. 4: “Laugh More: Have More Fun.”
“I’m intense. I work very hard. Putting things in my life that make me laugh more makes me happier. I have do to do it deliberately — it doesn’t happened automatically for me.”
Cygan says that scheduling time with friends and relatives noted for their sense of humor and travel all promote laughter. Coming up: six days in South Carolina with girlfriends who met when they all worked for the same Chicago firm 30 years ago.