Far out Friday: Top 10 holiday reads for financial planners

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The holidays are about to kick off and it’s time for lazy afternoons in the sun, sprawled out with a good book in one hand and a glass of something cold in the other. To give you something to work with when you head into your local bookshop/library/literary website, here are Wealth Professional’s picks on what to read if…

You’re in the mood for drama, big money and excessive hedonism: The Wolf of Wall Street (Jordan Belfort, 2007)

In the 1990s Jordan Belfort, former kingpin of the notorious investment firm Stratton Oakmont, became one of the most infamous names in American finance: a brilliant, conniving stock-chopper who led his merry mob on a wild ride out of the canyons of Wall Street and into a massive office on Long Island. But an insatiable appetite for debauchery, questionable tactics, and a fateful partnership with a breakout shoe designer named Steve Madden would land Belfort on both sides of the law and into a harrowing darkness all his own - told in his own (hilarious and downright disturbing) words.

You liked Freakonomics and want to understand why you do the things you do: Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness (Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein, 2009)

Drawing on decades of research in the fields of behavioural science and economics, authors Richard H. Thaler and Cass R. Sunstein offer a new perspective on preventing the countless mistakes we make—ill-advised personal investments, consumption of unhealthy foods, neglect of our natural resources—and show us how sensible “choice architecture” can successfully nudge people toward the best decisions.

You want to start thinking outside the square: Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets: Surviving the Public Spectacle in Finance and Politics (Will Bonner & Lila Rajiva, 2009)

Collectively, people think and act in ways that are different from how they think and act as individuals. Understanding these differences, says William (Bill) Bonner, a long time maverick observer of the financial world, is vital to preserving your wealth and personal dignity. From the witch-hunts of the early modern world to the war on terror, from dot-com mania to the real estate bubble, people have always been caught up in frauds, conceits, and wild guesses-often with devastating results. Bonner and co-author Lila Rajiva show groupthink at work in an improbable array of instances throughout history and reveal why swimming against the current pays.

You’re feeling a little voyeuristic: The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy (Thomas Stanley & William Danko, 2010)

The bestselling The Millionaire Next Door identifies seven common traits that show up again and again among those who have accumulated wealth. Most of the truly wealthy in America don't live in Beverly Hills or on Park Avenue-they live next door to everyday people.

You just can’t seem to relax: How to be Idle (Tom Hodgkinson, 2005)

From Tom Hodgkinson, editor of the Idler, comes How to be Idle, an antidote to the work-obsessed culture which puts so many obstacles between ourselves and our dreams. Hodgkinson presents us with a laid-back argument for a new contract between routine and chaos, an argument for experiencing life to the full and living in the moment. Ranging across a host of issues that may affect the modern idler sleep, the world of work, pleasure and hedonism, relationships, bohemian living, revolution he draws on the writings of such well-known apologists for idleness as Dr Johnson, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson and Nietzsche. His message is clear: take control of your life and reclaim your right to be idle.

...You have need to manipulate, er, persuade someone: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion (Robert Cialdini, 2006)

Influence explains the psychology of why people say "yes"—and how to apply these understandings. Dr Robert Cialdini is the seminal expert in the rapidly expanding field of influence and persuasion. His thirty-five years of rigorous, evidence-based research along with a three-year program of study on what moves people to change behaviour has resulted in this highly acclaimed book.

You’re into oddball biographies: Confessions of a Wall Street Whiz Kid (Peter Grandich, 2011)

Confessions of a Wall Street Whiz Kid is a thought-provoking, real-life story of the ups and downs and ups again of one of Wall Street’s ‘half-famous’ financial geniuses, Peter Grandich. In this light, witty and painfully honest autobiography, Grandich shares his thoughts about the accumulation of wealth and the hidden flaws of traditional financial planning. He exposes some of the dirty business of Wall Street and takes readers on a journey through his battles against panic attacks, suicide attempts and depression, and he shares how his faith not only helped him regain the will to live, but acts as the foundation for his financial beliefs. A contrarian by nature, Grandich also explains what he sees as the next great threat to the US…

You want to predict the future: The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail but Some Don't (Nate Silver, 2012)

Most predictions fail, often at great cost to society, because most of us have a poor understanding of probability and uncertainty. Both experts and laypeople mistake more confident predictions for more accurate ones. But overconfidence is often the reason for failure. If our appreciation of uncertainty improves, our predictions can get better too. This is the “prediction paradox”: The more humility we have about our ability to make predictions, the more successful we can be in planning for the future.

In keeping with his own aim to seek truth from data, Silver visits the most successful forecasters in a range of areas, from hurricanes to baseball, from the poker table to the stock market, from Capitol Hill to the NBA. He explores unanticipated commonalities and exposes unexpected juxtapositions. And sometimes, it is not so much how good a prediction is in an absolute sense that matters but how good it is relative to the competition. In other cases, prediction is still a very rudimentary—and dangerous—science.

You want to get ahead: Ineffective Habits of Financial Advisors (and the Disciplines to Break Them): A Framework for Avoiding the Mistakes Everyone Else Makes (Steve Moore, 2010)

Based on a 15-year consulting program that author Steve Moore has led for financial advisers, Ineffective Habits of Financial Advisors (and the Disciplines to Break Them): A Framework for Avoiding the Mistakes Everyone Else Makes details proven techniques which allow advisers to transform their business into an elite practice: business analysis, strategic vision, exceptional client service, and acquiring high net worth clients. Told through the story of a purely fictional and completely average financial advisor, each chapter begins with an ineffective habit that is then countered with a discipline that improves business results and adds value.

You want to read local: A Financial Tale of Two Cities: Sydney and Melbourne's Remarkable Contest for Commercial Supremacy (Jim Bain, 2007)

A financial tale of two cities describes the intense commercial rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne over a period of 150 years. The story of this contest for commercial supremacy is based on Jim Bain's own long experience in the Australian financial-services industry, and particularly his exposure to the competition and fierce rivalry that existed between the leading Melbourne and Sydney-based banks, merchant banks, fund managers and stockbrokers.

P.S. If your favourite isn't on the list, recommend it in the comment box below.