We all prefer to think of ourselves as rational beings but in truth, we are much more spontaneous than we realize. I, too, like to believe I am always rational, but I also think of myself as intuitive when it comes to sensing people's needs or even what works when it comes to artistic choices for On Wall Street.
Those two sides to everyone's minds is the crux of Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman's new book Thinking, Fast and Slow. Kahneman notes in his book that most people identify with "the conscious, reasoning self that has beliefs, makes choices and decides what to think about and what to do." However, he also states that the "hero" of his tome is the fast-thinking side, which is automatic and includes our innate skills. "We are born prepared to perceive the world around us, recognize objects, orient attention, avoid losses" and fear threats in nature, he writes.
Understanding these concepts is part of what underlies the discipline of behavioral economics. With that in mind, this month, contributor Michelle Lodge discusses the concepts of Kahneman's book and how it applies to the world of financial advisors in Five Questions. So, see what Kahneman has to say, especially when it comes to overconfidence and outcomes for investors who trade frequently.
After all, it's the job of the financial advisor to not only help clients meet their financial goals but in doing so, keep them from making irrational, emotional decisions that aren't in their best interests. Every advisor wants the rational client but in the worst of times, it is the irrational one that so often surfaces.
Helping clients make intelligent choices when they are consumed by emotional matters is a situation that is often the case for Michael Scott, the subject of our cover story. In "Counseling Clients Through Mental Illness," Scott discusses how his personal experience drove the direction of his Ameriprise team's practice. Whether it's a family member with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or some other problem, Scott's team knows that each situation needs its own customized solution, and delicate and judicious handling.
This team has built a partnership with a local Framingham, Mass.-based chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness or NAMI. In association with that group, Scott has now started hosting sessions on financial planning and wealth management for families with these dilemmas.
This month, we also take the conversation global with Tom Roseen of Lipper in his piece, "The Emerging Markets Push." He examines the MSCI All-Country World Index and points to the fact that over the last decade, it has increased its emerging market exposure by nearly 215%. And, he notes that it is "a move that has been matched or closely matched by managers who benchmark to it."
On the back page in Life Stories, we find out what shaped Lisa Shalett's remarkable success and the route she took to becoming chief investment officer at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management.
As always, please read this issue with a discerning eye and send us your comments. Tell us what you like, what you dislike and what you feel was most compelling.
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