The best finance books to add to your bookshelf.
Now that everyone has had the opportunity to rekindle their love of reading and at-home learning, it’s time to bolster your to-read list. And what better books to read than ones that can improve your finances and your career? Anyone who works in finance knows how deep the rabbit hole of information goes. There seems to be an endless depth to the well of knowledge available to financial professionals. Sometimes you know what you’re after when you dip your bucket into its pools, but other times it’s nice to have a recommendation to guide you. This list highlights 15 great finance books you probably haven’t heard of. From behavioral finance to understanding how money really works; from books by insurance salesmen to financial advisor books, this list of the best books for financial advisors won’t let you go thirsty for knowledge.
“The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve” by G. Edward Griffin
While the title may sound better suited to a Halloween reading list than a list of the best finance books, make no mistake, this “creature” is one all financial professionals should know about. Anyone who deals in finance had better understand money and the Federal Reserve. And no one explains it better — or more engagingly — than Griffin. Written like a detective story, over the course of 608 pages, Griffin pulls back the curtain to reveal “the magician’s secrets” that “create the grand illusion called money.”
“An Economist Walks Into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk” by Allison Schrager
It’s hard to resist a book with a title like the start of a bad nerd joke, which is good because Schrager’s book should not be resisted. It should be devoured. At only 240 pages, it won’t take long to do. In fact, you might wish it took a little longer. An economist and award-winning journalist who has devoted her career to studying how people manage risk in all areas of their lives, Schrager is uniquely suited to helping readers do the same. As financial advisors know well, risk cannot be avoided; the question is how to measure risk to maximize your chance of getting what you’re after. In her book, Schrager teaches the five principles for dealing with risk. They may just change how you look at investment risk forever more.
“Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
If the awards this book has won aren’t enough to pique your interest as a financial advisor, maybe the glimpse inside your clients’ minds it can provide will. Kahneman, winner of the Nobel Prize in economics, explains how humans “are hard-wired to make ‘quick’ decisions because it takes less physical energy,” says Chris Buck, head of capital markets and sales at ROBO Global. As such, “investors tend to jump to the easy conclusion and follow the herd.” With the help of “Thinking, Fast and Slow,” financial advisors can better understand how their clients make decisions, and perhaps wean them of detrimental behaviors.
“Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Richard H. Thaler
Also by a Nobel Prize in economics winner, “Nudge” is a must-read for financial professionals, says Pete Clemson, CEO of Evati, a personal finance company based in Evanston, Illinois. “While not specifically about finance, it talks about how to change behaviors to be financially successful. It’s even kind of humorous, if you have a bookish finance sense of humor.” “Nudge” looks at how we make choices (which we often do poorly, apparently) in life and finance, and how to make better ones. What’s more, if you know how people think, you can help “nudge” them to make better decisions, a superpower any financial professional would be glad to have.
“The Quants” by Scott Patterson
In his New York Times bestseller, financial journalist Scott Patterson takes readers into the world of the quants, “technocrats who make billions not with gut calls or fundamental analysis but with formulas and high-speed computers.” Patterson takes us inside the heads of these math whizzes without forgetting his readers may not live and breathe formulas. “This rollicking romp through the history of quantitative finance traces the decadeslong development of quant models along with the colorful characters who developed them,” says Steve Sanduski, a certified financial planner and co-founder of ROL Advisor. “(It’s) a great primer on how quants dominate the market written in a highly engaging narrative that is hard to put down.”
“Advice That Sticks: How to Give Financial Advice that People Will Follow” by Moira Somers
Giving advice is easy; getting your clients to follow your advice is less so. Financial psychologist and executive coach Dr. Moira Somers knows how frustrating financial nonadherence can be. She also knows, from her clinical and consulting experience and research into positive psychology, behavioral economics and neuroscience, how to increase the chances that it won’t happen to you and your clients. Her book looks at the five main factors that contribute to whether a client will follow through with your advice. It’s a thought-provoking, practical and at times humorous resource for any advice-giver.
“Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts” by Annie Duke
Everyone has heard the story of the investor who struck it rich with a lucky bet on the next hot stock. You’ve likely also heard the story of the investor who was ruined by an unlucky play on a stock market lemon. The one thing both have in common: luck. For you or against you, luck plays a role in every situation, according to former World Series of Poker champion Annie Duke. The trick is to let go of your need for certainty and instead focus on assessing what you know and what you don’t so you can embrace uncertainty to become a better decision-maker. In “Thinking in Bets,” Duke teaches you just how to do this.
“The Alchemy of Finance” by George Soros
Called “The Man Who Moves Markets,” Soros is often hailed as one of the most profitable money managers in the world. In his book, he shares the strategies that earned him the title. A philosopher at heart, Soros has treated the financial markets as his laboratory to astounding success — and detriment to Great Britain, whose monetary system was the victim of said success. If you turn the last page of this great finance book with the same perspective of financial markets you had upon opening the front cover, you read it wrong.
“No Longer Awkward: Communicating with Clients Through the Toughest Times in Life” by Amy Florian
At its heart, financial planning isn’t about money; it’s about people. “No matter how skilled you are at managing money you might have to help a client when they are dealing with grief,” says Misty Lynch, a certified financial planner and director of financial planning at Beck Bode in Boston. “Avoiding feelings is a mistake a lot of advisors make because it makes them feel uncomfortable.” But advisors can be a huge help to clients during emotional transitions. Amy Florian’s book will teach you how. “(It) gives practical tips on how to quit saying, ‘I’m sorry’ or go-to phrases and have a real meaningful conversation about what your client is going through,” Lynch says. “And if you can ever hear Amy speak, do yourself a favor and sign up. She is brilliant.”
“The Secret Life of a #1 Salesman” by Solomon Hicks
Solomon Hicks knows how to sell. Routinely finishing top of his game, he’s taken his expertise and translated it into “The Secret Life of a #1 Salesman.” In addition to selling, Hicks “provides a perspective of how (financial professionals) should be ethically and individually,” says ShirleyAnn Robertson, a financial advisor with Prudential in Schaumburg, Illinois. His book “speaks to you being the best individual you can be, and then to pour that into your clients” without depleting yourself. Robertson particularly loves Hicks’ work because having someone to aspire to be like is what continually motivates her and keeps her excited about the financial industry.
“The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor” by Howard Marks
In the words of Howard Marks, “You can’t predict. You can prepare.” After decades as a professional investor, Marks compiled excerpts from memos he sent to his clients to create “The Most Important Thing.” In it, Marks “explains his rules-based process, investment philosophy and thoughts on risk in a truly remarkable and effective manner,” says B. Brandon Mackie, a certified financial planner and managing associate at Felton & Peel Wealth Management in Georgia and New York. The result is not an investing manual or how-to book, but rather one man’s philosophy and words of wisdom from a lifetime of experience. “It reads more like a novel than a finance book, and you’re learning from a professional — an expert that manages over $100 billion in assets and has been a professional investor for 50 years,” Mackie says. “Passing on the chance to absorb that wisdom is a mistake in any market.”
“AI Super-Powers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order” by Kai Fu Lee
This may sound like a strangely specific finance book recommendation, but Kai Fu Lee would tell you otherwise. “There is little doubt the technology arms race described by Lee will have massive market implications, including the most recent trade wars with China,” says Travis Briggs, CEO of ROBO Global U.S. Any financial advisor not versed on how the U.S. and China compete and cooperate is only doing herself and her clients a disservice. As one of the world’s most respected experts on artificial intelligence and China, Lee offers words to remember.
“The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success” by Daniel Crosby
Psychologist and behavioral finance expert Daniel Crosby is the man you want guiding you through investors’ heads. Trained as a clinical psychologist, Crosby has applied his behavioral insights to his work as an asset manager and as a bestselling author. In “The Laws of Wealth,” Crosby “spills the secrets about making money moves toward meaningful goals while mitigating behavioral risk,” says Joy Lere, a psychologist and consultant specializing in behavioral finance. In his “practical, tactical and engaging guide to achieving investing success,” Crosby “helps readers understand how to avoid unwittingly getting in their own way,” Lere says. A great book recommendation for financial professionals of all stripes, but particularly for financial advisors who want to capitalize on behavioral-induced opportunities in the market.
“Women of The Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (and How You Can Too)” by Meredith Jones
“If you want to have a fighting chance of winning the Wall Street World Series, then it will behoove you to throw like a girl,” Lere says. “While the finance industry remains a field dominated by male players, Jones hits it out of the park with this valuable playbook.” Drawing from behavioral and biological investment research and interviews from top female money managers, her book shows why women make better investors. “She helps readers understand the ways in which females in finance have a tendency to show up on the field in unique ways cognitively and behaviorally that ultimately yield a powerful edge and create outsized investment returns.”
“Security Analysis” by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd
Every financial advisor knows about “The Intelligent Investor,” but how many have unearthed the great finance book that is “Security Analysis”? First published in 1934, it laid the foundation of value investing before value investing was a thing. The latest edition includes 200 pages of commentary by leading Wall Street money managers, so you get to hear not only from “the Father of Value Investing” himself, but from modern practitioners of his philosophies as well.
Great finance books you haven’t read, but should.
— “The Creature from Jekyll Island: A Second Look at the Federal Reserve” by G. Edward Griffin
— “An Economist Walks Into a Brothel: And Other Unexpected Places to Understand Risk” by Allison Schrager
— “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman
— “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness” by Richard H. Thaler
— “The Quants” by Scott Patterson
— “Advice That Sticks: How to Give Financial Advice that People Will Follow” by Moira Somers
— “Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts” by Annie Duke
— “The Alchemy of Finance” by George Soros
— “No Longer Awkward: Communicating with Clients Through the Toughest Times in Life” by Amy Florian
— “The Secret Life of a #1 Salesman” by Solomon Hicks
— “The Most Important Thing: Uncommon Sense for the Thoughtful Investor” by Howard Marks
— “AI Super-Powers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order” by Kai Fu Lee
— “The Laws of Wealth: Psychology and the Secret to Investing Success” by Daniel Crosby
— “Women of The Street: Why Female Money Managers Generate Higher Returns (and How You Can Too)” by Meredith Jones
— “Security Analysis” by Benjamin Graham and David Dodd
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