Blog - February 20, 2020

Reading Recommendations

If you’re trying to get your head in the right space for moving forward financially, we have some unique recommendations. No matter where you are in life (or finances), there’s a book on this list that will provide the information you need to get inspired for the next phase.

These aren’t your grandma’s financial advisor’s book recommendations. Sure we love some of the classics, but we also know that there’s a lot more to securing your financial future than telling you to craft a really good budget.

Some of these books provide straight-up insight on how to approach your personal finances, or specific advice for handling major financial milestones; a few are focused on the serious business of investing; and others are more about why we make the decisions we make (and how to maybe make some better ones).

These books have all been read and recommended by one (or more) of White LeBlanc Wealth Planners’ partners, who also happen to be some of the most experienced and highly credentialed wealth management professionals in Canada. They’re also pretty clever, if we do say so ourselves.

Trying to discern the truth by examining data isn’t as easy as we may think.

To write The Signal and the Noise Nate Silver spent a lot of time with people who forecast for a living, and are especially good at it, to determine why they’re so successful at pulling accurate predictions out of massive amounts of information.

Whether they’re working in the area of weather, sports, gambling, or the stock market, Silver tries to understand how they do what they do. Are they actually good at it, or are they lucky? And regardless of the answer, why are they more successful than others in their same line of work. How much is guesswork or instinct vs. science?

In the end the real question is: Is prediction a useful tool, or is it actually a more risky approach to life?

“Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? If drug dealers make so much money, why do they still live with their mothers? What makes a perfect parent? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?” – From

In 2003 the New York Times Magazine sent Stephen Dubner to interview a young economist at the University of Chicago. This seemingly innocuous assignment led to a bestselling book: Freakonomics. The book comprises a collection of articles by Steven D. Levitt who has a reputation for applying economic theory to subjects not normally covered by economists. Levitt spent his time attempting to unravel the mysteries of everyday life by applying economic theory. In exploring subjects ranging from cheating spouses, to crime and parenting, Levitt and Dubner hypothesize that economics is, at its core, the study of how people get what they want, especially when others want the same thing.

Why do we find it so difficult to own up to our mistakes? Turns out there’s a mechanism in our brains that prevents us from admitting we goofed up. (I can hear you thinking “Great, it’s not our fault!” No. Stop that. You’re wrong, just keep reading.)

Mistakes Were MadeBut Not By Me delves into this mechanism and shows us why we’re capable of owning up to our blunders and shows us exactly why we should – by outlining the ways in which not admitting them damages all areas of our lives.

Well…your lives. We already read this.

“Entertaining, illuminating and – when you recognize yourself in the stories it tells – mortifying.” – Wall Street Journal

“Every page sparkles with sharp insight and keen observation. Mistakes were made – but not in this book!” – Daniel Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness

Family businesses can bring many blessings into the lives of those involved. More time with loved ones and, if you’re successful, a comfortable lifestyle with flexibility that allows the family to work and grow together.

However, in terms of what comes when one generation decides it’s time to step back, or when one family member doesn’t agree with the decisions of another? In short, things can get very complicated. In Leaving a Legacy David Bentall shares insights from his own business as well as best solutions to the varied challenges faced by some of the most successful family businesses in America. Their stories and best practices may be able to help those of you who own a business to better navigate the tricky waters of succession.

Oh humans. We’re a quirky bunch. In You Are Not So Smart, David McRaney gives us some powerful insight into just how flawed our brains can be. A funny and wry look at our irrationality, this book is also a celebration of what is a uniquely human pattern of behavior: believing intensely in something we feel in our soul is absolutely true and right, and cherishing that belief in a way that makes us feel wise and enlightened.

Except, as it turns out, we’re wrong and it’s stupid.  You’ll love this book if you already know you’re not as smart as you sometimes feel. Which is pretty much everyone who has kids, at least. And probably most of us who have pets. Even keeping a plant alive probably means you’ve figured this out, so read it and have a good laugh and then try to remember to apply some of this insight to your decision making.

Markets do not play nice. In fact, they do not behave in any way that is wholly rational or predictable.

In The (Mis)Behaviour of Markets author Benoit B. Mandelbrot with Richard Hudson show us just how dangerous the markets can be and the risk they can pose, particularly if we are ever foolish enough to believe we have mastered them.

The ability to simplify complex mathematics has made Mandelbrot one of the world’s most influential mathematicians. His clear communication of complicated theories has impacted everyone from financial analysts to economists and after reading this book you won’t think of the Markets the same way again.

Yes, it’s an oldie. But it’s still a goodie. Mostly because people haven’t changed, and neither has the reality of the things we all need to do in order to move ahead, financially.

There have been updated versions that retain the wisdom of the first so feel free to choose the version you prefer. If you buy the original, you’ll only have to get past the decidedly dated references (a “good” income of 30K, for example), because the advice contained in Chilton’s The Wealthy Barber is an evergreen, simple and common-sense approach to personal finance.

You’re overpaying, underestimating and procrastinating. Maybe not on a life-altering level, but it’s happening.

We don’t say this in judgement. We’re all doing it, every day.

In Predictably Irrational Dan Ariely explains why we think things that are more expensive work better, why we overpay for some things and not others, and why we think we’re making super-smart rational decisions when we decidedly are not.

The good news is that our irrationality is predictable, and we can work to overcome it. Or not – it’s up to the individual. But reading this book will give you valuable insight into your own behaviour and that of the people around you. Knowledge is power, afterall!

In this non-fiction tale, Michael Lewis (author of The Big Short) gives us an opportunity to meet the Flash Boys, a group of men who discovered there were flaws in the system that created an advantage for some – especially high frequency traders – while creating an obstacle for others. These men abandoned successful, high-earning careers at Wall Street firms in order to expose those who exploited the system – and to attempt to create a system that would mean the markets were fair and open for all.

The book is controversial, as you might imagine, with many Wall Street muckety-mucks writing it off as closer to fiction than non. Whatever you take away from it, getting to know the real-life players involved will give you a renewed faith in humanity because here are a group of people who banded together, and sacrificed much, in order to relentlessly pursue what they believed was the moral path.

Let us know what you think of our choices, once you’ve had a chance to read one or two. Or read them all, we did.

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