YOUR PRACTICE: Summer reading picks for financial advisers

July 5 Fri Jul 5, 2013 4:59am EDT

July 5 (Reuters) - As people head for vacations this holiday week, we asked five financial advisers to recommend books suitable for the beach but still relevant to the wealth management industry.

Their choices may help other advisers make their businesses more efficient, rethink how they communicate with clients or take a more skeptical view of the financial services industry.

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Rob Schein, managing director and partner at HighTower in Palm Desert, California, recommends "Berkshire Hathaway Letters to Shareholders 1965-2012," by Warren Buffett.

The legendary investor has long been known for the anecdotes and quips in his popular annual Letter to Shareholders. This compilation, published this year, gives readers the unedited version of letters from more than two decades.

Reading Buffett's book is like getting an MBA for $20, Schein said. Obviously advisers can learn from the sage's investing wisdom, but Schein, whose team oversees $750 million in client assets, recommends advisers read the letters from an entrepreneurial perspective, applying the mantras about business efficiencies and long-term market prospects to their own practices.

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Mag Black-Scott, president and chief executive of Beverly Hills Wealth Management, a firm with just under $400 million in assets under management, chooses "Bull by the Horns: Fighting to Save Main Street From Wall Street and Wall Street From Itself," by Sheila Bair.

This 2012 book by the former head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation is a scathing account of the recent financial crisis. When Black-Scott first picked it up, she thought it would feel like homework. It actually reads like a novel, she said.

"If you're in this business, it's a must-read" because it will remind advisers to question what is relayed to them as a given by regulators and financial institutions.

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Liz Lockwood, a private wealth adviser based in Houston with UBS Wealth Management Americas, a unit of UBS AG, recommends "Be the Hero: Three Powerful Ways to Overcome Challenges in Work and Life," by Noah Blumenthal.

Lockwood, whose team manages $2.2 billion in client assets, is an avid reader of self-help books, a genre she says slows her down to where she can see things from the perspective of her clients and staff.

In his 2009 book, Blumenthal, an executive coach and corporate speaker, says individuals have to break out of a victim's mentality and find ways to put themselves in charge.

That message has helped Lockwood be a better boss and adviser, she says. Instead of assuming that her assistant would know to put a portfolio review together ahead of a meeting with a client, she now takes time to lay out her daily expectations for her staff.

She also finds that she's more patient with rude clients. When a client was brash with her about a sophisticated trade he wanted done on an extremely tight deadline, Lockwood remained patient and assumed the man's out-of-character behavior was probably due to something in his personal life. That helped her complete the trade to the man's satisfaction, and he remains an important source of her revenue.

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Mark McLeland, a financial adviser based in Fort Worth, Texas, with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, a unit of Bank of America Corp, picks "The Wealthy Barber," by David Chilton.

This 1989 personal finance book, presented in the form of a novel, follows residents of a Canadian town as they get advice from the local barber and financial guru on topics like investing, mortgages and insurance.

McLeland, who manages $400 million in assets, said that when his clients' kids express an interest in personal finance, he gives them Chilton's book.

It's a funny and nonthreatening introduction to money management, he says. In fact, if McLeland ends up having one of them as a client, he asks what chapter most interests them as a way of starting a dialogue.

His favorite advice from the book: "Invest 10 percent of all you make for long-term growth."

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Russ Hill, chief executive of Long Beach, California-based Halbert Hargrove, recommends "How Will You Measure Your Life?" by Clayton Christensen.

In this 2012 book, the Harvard Business School professor uses his research on success and failure to provide insights on how people can find fulfillment in their careers and personal lives.

Hill, whose firm manages $2.2 billion in client assets, provides e-tablets to all his staff and periodically sends them books to read. This one provides a philosophical and academic explanation for why the culture of the firm is so important, he says.

The book inspired Hill to make sure all his staff in his firm's six offices are dealing with clients the same way, every time. One of his favorite quotes in the book: "If a culture is formed, people will autonomously do what they need to do to be successful."

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