Financial Planners Need to Read Shakespeare

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Check out “The Enduring Value of the Humanities,” Craig Lee’s article about the humanities at St. Olaf College, a liberal arts college in Northfield, Minnesota.  Here is a small taste:

As the founder of GW Randall & Associates, a successful financial planning firm in Santa Rosa, California, Greg Randall ’96 spends much of his time in the fiscal weeds. He performs investment analyses, financial research, and future value calculations — all essential components of the full-scale financial plans he creates for individuals and families.

But what makes him successful isn’t just his facility with financial algorithms and investment formulas, though that’s essential: it’s the real, human connection he makes with his clients as they work through their entire financial picture. “All of my work with clients starts with questions,” he says. “What are your most deeply held values? What’s meaningful and significant to your life? What is your goal for your money?”

That connection is where Randall’s degree in the classics has proved to be indispensable. The readings of Plato and Seneca, for example, taught him to think about ethics, values, and what matters most in life. He uses those insights to help his clients uncover their own foundational beliefs and link them to their finances.

In fact, Randall believes learning from history’s most revered thinkers is so critical that he recommends it to all the young planners he meets. “Financial planners who are early in their career will ask me about what books they should read to know financial planning,” he says. “I say — only half in jest — ‘Go read Shakespeare.’ Our business is all about what motivates people: their dreams, their fears, and their deeply held beliefs. And that’s what Shakespeare’s [works] are all about.”

Randall is far from alone in finding lasting value in the humanities. Nearly two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have degrees in the humanities, and in the past few years, Google has hired thousands of employees with humanities backgrounds.

Read the rest here.

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