Tuesday Talks with Brian Etherington: Wealth & Well Being

A leading cultural and spiritual question of the current era is how to make wise decisions in an age of affluence. The increase of personal affluence and wealth has put before increasing numbers of people the opportunity to decide something substantial: whether and how they wish to move from an emphasis on the quantity of their wants to the quality of their needs and in turn,  the needs of others.


Many of us have known both financial success and financial challenge. While most people believe that having more income would make them happier, research confirms that the truth is far more complex than often assumed.


People surveyed about their own happiness and that of others with varying incomes tend to overstate the impact of income on well-being. Although income is widely assumed to be a good measure of well-being, researchers find that its role is less significant than predicted and that people with higher incomes do not necessarily spend more time in more enjoyable ways.


This is not to suggest that we should divest ourselves of all our worldly possessions. It is, however, to acknowledge that understanding wealth, and understanding the responsibilities of wealth, is important to ensuring our own well-being.


The Meaning of Money

According to noted Princeton professor and economist Alan B. Krueger, “The belief that high income is associated with good mood is widespread but mostly illusory.  If people have high income, they think they should be satisfied …,” says Krueger. “Income, however, matters very little for moment-to-moment experience.”


Accepting and understanding this seemingly conflicting reality, allows us to better accept the challenges and opportunities affluence offers. We believe that these insights into the realities of wealth, equip us to counsel our clients in a far more effective way than simply attempting to ‘manage money’. For us, getting to know our clients, and helping them to understand the opportunities available to them, and for them, to create meaningful legacies and purposes for personal wealth, is of fundamental importance.


Healthy, Wealthy and Wise

We believe we have a responsibility to help our clients gain that important foothold in the climb to personal satisfaction and well-being. By offering people the opportunity to shape meaningful endeavors – aligned with their own interests and allowing them to offer direction to future uses and applications – we help enfranchise our clients’ sense of purpose.


We believe that recent economic trends for wealth transfer are of tremendous importance, and that increasing levels of personally held wealth, combined with increased longevity, present affluent people with a unique opportunity to use these assets to create positive lifetimes and legacies that affirm not only their wealth, but their wisdom.


Brian Etherington is the Chairman at Etherington Generations; a risk management firm that specializes in family life insurance and estate planning. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada in 2004 and a recipient of The Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 for community service, as well as The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012. He is a Founding Chair of the Special Olympics Canada Foundation  and a chair on the advisory council for the 2019 International Youth Games presented by Special Olympics Ontario.