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Philosophy corner: What is wealth?

July 3, 2021

Schopenhauer, everyone’s favorite German philosopher, said, “Wealth is like seawater. The more one drinks, the thirstier one gets.”

For many people, it’s true. No matter how much wealth they amass, they still thirst for more. A vague sense of dissatisfaction haunts and drives them.

Our chief investment officer Barbara Leclerc earned her PhD in philosophy from Stony Brook. She has her own take: “The situation is paradoxical — wealth is actually freedom from money.”

Freedom from money

Pile up a certain amount of wealth and you can find emotional and physical security. Then come some juicy existential questions. Beyond wealth, what do you want from your life? What legacy do you want to leave? What kind of values do you want to preserve?

Long ago, we focused most of our energy on managing investment portfolios. Now a core part of our work involves helping people wrestle with — and answer — life’s big questions.

These questions can loom especially large when contemplating retirement. “How much of your identity is tied to your work?” “What happens when your life is no longer focused on earning income?” “How do you define fulfillment now?”

This is where creating objectives beyond the financial realm can lead to deeper meaning. Very often those objectives include philanthropy, or preserving your values for the people you care about. The beauty is, for those privileged enough to break free from money, their objectives can be just about anything they want.

– This is not a solicitation, or an offer to buy or sell any security or investment product, nor does it consider individual investment objectives or financial situations.
– Information in this material is not intended to constitute legal, tax or investment advice. You should consult your legal, tax and financial advisors before making any financial decisions.
– IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: Pursuant to IRS Regulations, neither the information, nor any advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax related penalties or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein.