investing

Building Wealth With a Higher Purpose

This former monk found out the hard way that money is not the root of all evil.

Doug Lynam is a partner at LongView Asset Management, a chartered retirement plans specialist and the author of From Monk to Money Manager.

You were in a monastery for 20 years, where you took a vow of poverty. Now you help people build wealth. How did that happen? I grew up in a rich family where money was used as a tool to manipulate and wound others. The environment was toxic. From that, I thought money was the root of all evil, so I joined the monastery to rebel against materialism. However, once I took over the monastery’s finances and saw we were deep in the red, I learned the other extreme, poverty, was equally toxic. We thought because we were living a life of service that things would work out for the best. Avoiding money came back to bite us.

What else did you learn while handling the monastery’s finances? None of us, including me, wanted to accept responsibility for our collective decisions that put us in a bad financial spot. I saw the same pattern in monastery visitors, and I see it in my clients. It’s not the math that’s the issue, but the emotions. You can lie in a confessional, to yourself, and even to God, but you can’t lie to your financial adviser. Numbers don’t lie.

Your philosophy on building wealth relies heavily on hiring a planner who is a fiduciary and recommends investments that fall under the environmental, social and corporate governance umbrella. Why do you believe this is best for clients? We know that sustainable investing isn’t just a feel-good issue—it’s a smarter way to invest. Firms that operate with strong ethical principles are often better run. At LongView, we believe it’s our fiduciary duty to help clients build wealth while also protecting the future we are investing for. As in yoga, which I practice daily, it’s about mindful balance.

Does your spirituality influence your philosophy on charitable giving? Yes. Money without compassion is irresponsible and abusive, and compassion without money is sentimental and feeble. We give as an expression of love; however, we can’t be charitable if we have nothing to give. Building wealth ethically isn’t about being selfish. It’s discovering the joy of using money to make the world a better place without compromising your financial future.

Most Popular

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of
careers

Dying Careers You May Want to Steer Clear Of

It’s tough to change, but your job could depend on it. Be flexible in your career goals – and talk with your kids about their own aspirations, because…
September 13, 2021
5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio
dividend stocks

5 Top Dividend Aristocrats to Beef Up Your Portfolio

The 65-member Dividend Aristocrats are among the market's best sources of reliable, predictable income. But these five stand out as truly elite.
September 14, 2021
7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom
commodities

7 Best Commodity Stocks to Play the Coming Boom

These seven commodity stocks are poised to take advantage of a unique confluence of events. Just mind the volatility.
September 8, 2021

Recommended

ETFs and Mutual Funds with Todd Rosenbluth
Index Funds

ETFs and Mutual Funds with Todd Rosenbluth

Which is better: ETFs or mutual funds? And how do you decide where to put your investments? CFRA fund expert Todd Rosenbluth has some answers. Also, h…
September 22, 2021
How to Calculate Your Net Worth
savings

How to Calculate Your Net Worth

Run an inventory of your assets and liabilities to find out how much you're worth.
September 20, 2021
Yes, Your 401(k) Has Its Perks, But It’s Not the Only Way to Save
how to save money

Yes, Your 401(k) Has Its Perks, But It’s Not the Only Way to Save

Tax diversification can play a vital role in stretching your retirement savings. Here’s how to achieve the flexibility you need with a three-bucket sy…
September 20, 2021
These 2 Emotional Biases Could Kill Your Retirement
Investor Psychology

These 2 Emotional Biases Could Kill Your Retirement

Are your emotions sabotaging your retirement plans? Some basic knowledge and careful introspection can go a long way toward avoiding major pitfalls.
September 20, 2021