Jewish Journal

Financial planning and religious belief

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 19, 2011 | 2:57 pm

In an article about why financial planners talk with their clients about religious beliefs, which they see as central to how their clients are going to be motivated to spend and plan for the future—duh—the Wall Street Journal includes this anecdote:

Once when a client asked about his plans for the weekend, Jim Heitman, an Alta Loma, Calif., certified financial planner, says he didn’t hesitate to mention that he would be attending Sunday church services. The client then talked about his own Jewish faith.

Mr. Heitman says he remembered that conversation several years later at a time when his client was in “turmoil” over whether to sell a “large, complex and profitable” real-estate portfolio that caused him constant worries. No matter what Mr. Heitman proposed, the client could neither bring himself to sell nor stop worrying.

Finally, based on their earlier conversations, Mr. Heitman says he tried a quote from his New American Standard Bible, Proverbs 15:16: “Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and turmoil with it.”

A few days later, he says, the client decided to sell.

Obviously, I wouldn’t expect a Jewish client to be motivated to sell by a passage from Christian scripture. But the Book of Proverbs is a shared scripture of Christians and Jews.

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