Face to Face

What is Wealth?

by Tony DiLeonardi

What does wealth mean to you? Quick, top-of-the-mind answer.

Some people think wealth is about money or being rich in material possessions. For my purpose I desire to keep it simple. You are rich with an abundance of friends, love, family, experiences, and joy. How about being wealthy because you have an education, great health and plenty of free time? That's wealth to me. Wealth to me is human intimacy and connection.

When I ask men and women what wealth is to them, I always get different answers. Men typically answer with a goal in mind (i.e., lake house, college funding) and women will tend to answer with words like freedom and security. These are very different answers to the same question. So what does this tell us? Well, for starters it makes it clear that women look at wealth in terms of life values, not just the value of the wealth, highlighting the significance of the emerging values-based conversation.

Like success, there can be many definitions for wealth. I personally love the word abundance. It's become quite a catchword lately. Since the debut of the movieThe Secretin 2006, the idea of scarcity versus abundance has exploded. Of course, these concepts have been around for ages, but they continue to receive wide interest and appeal even today. In basic terms, scarcity is living in the mindset of lack, the fear of never having enough or losing it all. On the flip side, there is abundance, living the life you love, always having and creating more.

Do you live your life in abundance or scarcity? Do you believe that there are enough resources for everyone or do you feel there is a limited supply? How do your beliefs influence your practice? How does your mindset affect your clients?

In her book,The Soul of Money, global activist, fundraiser, and speaker Lynne Twist introduces an alternative to this scarcity and abundance consciousness and demonstrates how we can replace feelings of scarcity, guilt, and burden with experiences of sufficiency, freedom, and purpose. She writes, "Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency. By sufficiency, I don't mean a quantity of anything. Sufficiency isn't two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance. Sufficiency is…a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough." She goes on, "When we live in the context of sufficiency, we find a natural freedom and integrity. We engage in life from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete. We feel naturally called to share the resources that flow through our lives-our time, our money, our wisdom, our energy, at whatever level those resources flow-to serve our highest commitments." Wow. What would happen if you engaged this approach with yourself, your family, and your clients? I'll give you a hint: intimacy.

I've become convinced that so many wealth professionals that I have met have the desire to create intimacy, but because they are knee-deep in running a dynamic practice, they don't know what to do. Let's see, you manage hundreds of clients, you build portfolios, stay in tune to the markets and the laws. You provide advice on tax questions and estate questions. You meet with and stay on top of too many product providers. You answer servicing questions about updated zip codes and going paperless. You prospect and you run a team. Oh, and you have a personal life, too.

Think about where you are in your life and your practice. How would your employees or clients describe you? What is your identity? Do they know you intimately? What do you do to foster more meaningful interactions with them?

Even better, who are your clients? What are their dreams? Are you tuned in to their needs, wants, and concerns?

Take the time to ask yourself these questions, you'll be glad you did!