Book Review: Changing the Conversation by Gary Klaben

Changing the Conversation : Transformational Steps to Financial and Family Well-Being
Author: Gary Klaben
304 pages
Navigator Press (October 1, 2010)

I agreed to read and review this book because I was a stockbroker for almost 30 years. The author Gary Klaben is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and possesses a MS in Financial Services. I was around when stockbrokers started financial planning by getting their Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. A ChFC is a step up from CFP and requires passage of three more tests for a total of nine.

One day at the dog park, JD told a story of a husband and wife that wanted to distribute some assets for estate tax purposes.  They had been farmers for many years, worked from sunup to sun down and had been fortunate.  They decided to give $33,000 to their son each year at Christmas.

Well, when the son received his money, he immediately got married, traveled to Nepal, wined and dined his new wife and bought her a whole bunch of jewels.  When he arrived back home he was immediately looking forward to Christmas again.

This year when he opened his present he found a shirt and a towel.  His Mom said, “We got you the towel so you wouldn’t get tears on your new shirt.”  It’s hard for parents to see their hard work frittered away.

In truth, Klaben writes, we don’t prepare our children and grand children to deal with money.  The New Year  seems an appropriate time to look at how we need to change the conversation about money.

Klaben argues that the financial products industry needs to change the conversation.  Wall Street needs to change from creating products that extract money from the customers to one that is concerned with meeting their clients needs.  “The consumer is now in the driver’s seat.”  The new business needs to provide deep support.  The need is for business or anyone in the service business to offer trusted expert advocacy in our complex world.

In the goal setting section, Klaben says that successful people have goals, write them down and are disciplined.  They practice the necessary things to reach their goals.  At this time of year what better question to answer is Klaben’s:

“If we were meeting here three years from today, and we were to look back over those three years to today, what has to have happened during that period, both personally and professionally, for you to feel happy with your progress?”

Later, Klaben tells us how to reach our goals by breaking the goal down into small steps.  He uses the example of wanting to run a marathon a year from now by breaking it down into three month goals and then into 30 day goals.  You are forming a habit.

Gary Klaben is a refreshing throwback to an earlier time.  In the chapter “Do the Correct Thing” he writes, ” All the money and material possessions we pass on pale by comparison to what we stand for and how we conduct our life.”

This is an excellent book and easy to read.  The author fulfilled his intent to help you anticipate life’s inevitable changes by understanding the role of money.

I encourage you to comment on this book review. Whoever writes the best comment will receive my copy of “Changing the Conversation” free.



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