by Doug Lennick, CFP®, with Kathleen Jordan, Ph.D.
Reviewed by Jon Ford, CFP®
Jon Ford, CFP®, of CF Financial Planning Solutionsm Inc. in Mesa, Arizona, writes a regular "Financial Fundamentals" column for the Cedar Falls Timesin Iowa.
Doug Lennick has been a keynote speaker at FPA annual conferences in Nashville, Boston and Anaheim. His casual, engaging and informed speaking style has endeared him to many of us, so much so that we could be deluded into thinking of him as a close friend rather than a consummate salesman.
His book is written with the same appealing and charming style. In nine of ten chapters, Lennick teaches the reader how to make smart, responsible, values-based decisions with and about money in the face of competing and difficult-to-deal-with emotions. He calls this ability financial intelligence. (Italic emphasis is the book author's).
He teaches readers how to make responsible decisions by identifying values, preparing for the certainty of uncertainty, and examining a situation in terms of the 4 Rs: recognizing the involved elements, reflecting on one's personal interpretations of those elements, reframing the interpretation in order to put a personally positive yet realistic spin on it, and responding with a decision that is consequently consistent with one's values, goals, and reality.
As portfolio analysis has adopted multi-variant statistical methods to add order to its complex realm of numbers, Financial Intelligence does a nice job integrating elemental psychological and neurobehavioral concepts from reality, rational-emotive and cognitive behavioral therapies in order to add more personal control to individual decisions about complex money matters.
Various exercises offer a rich source of personal insight. I especially liked "Understanding Your Baseline Frame," a self-assessment about attitudes and approaches to the world. Afterward, the reader is encouraged to ask a trusted friend to evaluate the same areas, offering an external opinion of optimistic versus pessimistic, thriving or struggling, good financial skills or not, and the like.
According to his website bio, Lennick helped product salespeople of American Express and Ameriprise Financial set and then break national sales records. The book reported that Ameriprise advisers who scored higher on morality measures earned clients more money, and that an adviser dropped a client who, contrary to his own values, intended to invest a large part of his savings in real estate. I had to wonder if it was more the drop in client investible assets that affected the adviser's decision. The bottom-line dollar gain or loss could be easily regarded as the heart of the illustrations. Reframing is not a new idea, but one used by salespeople for millennia.
Besides the financial intelligence definition sited above and found early in the book, the only other comment receiving italicized emphases by the author was a summary opinion declaring that how the adviser is paid is not important. Ten times more is written about how advisers are paid than about advisers' integrity. I found his product sales bias a distraction to an otherwise remarkable book. Read the book -- you decide.
FPA Press (2010)