Written by Don Logay
The phrase “money doesn’t make you happy” is a popular adage – but how you spend it just might. In a recent article on Consumer Psychology, a team of researchers noted “If money doesn’t make you happy, then you probably aren’t spending it right.”
While simply put, Certified Financial Planner™, Mike Alves agrees. He is Founder and Managing Director of Vida Private Wealth in Pasadena, California, a unique firm that is first and foremost in the relationship business and combines extensive experience in the financial services industry with a commitment to understanding a client’s family values and goals.
“All too often, financial advice for high net-worth individuals with abundant wealth… especially those with assets into the tens or hundreds of millions… focuses solely on investing,” he observes, “and while this is important, it overlooks the profound benefits and opportunity that wealth offers to also pursue lifelong dreams and interests… and to incorporate one’s core values into a more rewarding and meaningful day-to-day lifestyle.”
LIFE | PURPOSE | WEALTH
Today, there are all kinds of advice on “How to Make a Million”… or even multi-millions. However, there’s very little valuable information on how to handle it once you’ve succeeded.
That’s where Vida Private Wealth excels. In addition to all of the traditional financial planning services and sciences available today – that saves money on taxes, enhances returns, protects property and limits risk, to name but a few – Mike Alves offers a unique “Financial Life Planning” process that helps clients align wealth with their personal values to make more rewarding values-based financial decisions.
The company slogan, “Life, Purpose, Wealth,” condenses a complex challenge into a basic working formula that states: “Wealth with purpose creates a meaningful life.”
Sounds simple, but 15-years of delving deeply into the lives, inner-thoughts and lifelong dreams of high net-worth families – exploring viewpoints with dramatic results – is proof of concept.
FINANCIAL LIFE PLANNING
The process begins with a personalized discovery meeting. “Our Financial Life Planning process includes probing questions, listening and guiding a client to envision the life they would like to live,” Alves states, “which, in most cases, means a happier and more purposeful life.”
“While each client has different paths as to their wealth,” he notes, “there are similarities in how it impacts lives. Whether wealth is inherited, self-made or the result of a sudden windfall… in every case, it represents a substantial and sometimes quick dramatic change in lifestyle.”
However one develops a life of wealth – or transitions from living an income and wages-based life to financial freedom – experienced behavioral finance analysis is the key to avoiding impulsive emotional based decisions that can be unrewarding, unfulfilling and less than ideal – even possibly destructive and self-defeating.
Vida Private Wealth’s Financial Life Planning process entails getting a clear picture of one’s personal values, priorities, circumstances, and purpose and then aligning wealth with their values to design an ideal version of a fulfilling life.
Alves notes that it is not unusual to find a client who – after decades of hard work and dedication – sells their business for tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars and to then see them stress, or even go into depression, for lack of understanding how their wealth is impacting their life.
The question: Are they controlling their wealth… or is it controlling them?
PASSION FOR TRAVEL
One of Mike Alves’ long-term clients is a great example of shifting control. John assumed ownership of a small, but highly profitable, family business started by his father 40-years earlier. Over three decades, John fine-tuned the small operation to serve clientele worldwide.
Year after year, John focused on building the business and, in spite of generating abundant wealth, continued to be frugal and an under-spender in nearly every respect. As a result, he was not enjoying life.
Sitting down with John and Christine, and employing the principles of Vida’s Financial Life Planning over a period of time, Alves began to revisit their lifelong interests, goals and values that had fallen by the wayside over years of focusing solely on the family business – and soon the couple realized they had inadvertently abandoned their love of travel.
As a result, today – with financial wellness and longevity also in place through traditional financial planning – John and Christine are now avid globetrotters, and using their wealth to live and enjoy their values and explore their dreams.
“They travel almost every month and I get phone calls from all over the world… with John telling me he appreciates how much we’ve helped him… and postcards and photos from Thailand and the Philippines… with Christine recounting their newfound well-being and happiness.”
It is but one of Vida’s “Financial Life Planning” proof of concept.
DIFFERENT SITUATIONS / SAME RESULTS
Vida Private Wealth files contain numerous similar stories of high net-worth clients whose lives were profoundly changed and made better with Financial Life Planning.
One wealthy couple with three children lived in a large beautiful home in the Los Angeles area. All of the benefits of a successful career and secure finances were in place, but something was missing.
Cloaked in the principals of Financial Life Planning, the couple and Alves started talking and searching for answers. At one point, the couple had a “breakthrough” moment in which they realized they wanted to make their house a sanctuary, a place where they could be happy and feel comfortable and fulfill their passion for family life.
In rapid order, they planned to remodel, renovate and even to declutter their home. Personalized touches were to be added that matched interests and values that were missing – such as outdoor sports items for the kids, and a Dad’s “Man Cave”. As their house became a home, the couple also rediscovered their love of dancing and planned to start doing so once again. Through the Financial Life Planning process, they were able to find and resume a happier life.
In another instance, a longtime client was facing divorce. Over a lengthy five-hour dinner, originally intended to discuss splitting assets, Alves listened intently and, with hours of conversation and Financial Life Planning principals as a guideline, a previously missing sounding board gave new perspective.
“It began with talk about money,” says Alves, “instead, it resulted in reconciling and a 28-year marriage was saved.”
Mike Alves also adds Next-Gen education into the mix. He focuses on young family members as well, subtly helping to introduce and instill sound financial principals from pre-teen years to those well into their twenties who will one day be managing the family’s wealth and legacy. “I believe we are one of the few firms that do so,” notes Alves.
WHO NEEDS A COACH?
One could logically ask, if these individuals and families are smart and talented enough to garner wealth and amass such fortune, why would they need a coach?
Mike Alves points out that extremely talented athletes – whether a star football player, an Olympic competitor or a championship boxer – all still need a coach to help them develop a winning game plan. The objective viewpoint of an experienced coach is often the extra ingredient that helps propel talented individuals to even greater success.
A talented coach knows how to communicate and when it is time to build a supportive team. Financially speaking, this could involve resources from CPAs to estate planning attorney’s, commercial real estate brokers, bankers, life coaches, financial therapists, family counselors, family business consultants… and the list goes on.
Vida’s Financial Life Planning acts as a sounding board and helps clients gain self-awareness, clarify goals and determine lost or missing values. “Along with sound financial planning,” states Alves, “we help to unlock hidden potential… to realize and achieve longtime interests and values.”
“Consider it Wealth 3.0,” he adds, “aligning wealth and purpose for a more meaningful life.”
Securities and Advisory services offered through Cantella & Co., Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.