Some financial advisors score a client’s success by their portfolio performance or the amount of dividends they can drum up or the amount of money preserved during estate planning.
But scoring happiness?
That’s what one team in Newport Beach, Calif., decided to do. Compak Asset Management, formed in 1999 by Moeez Ansari, in 2013 launched a program called Live 360 that tries to teach clients the science of happiness and tracks their success to see if they are being fulfilled.
The program was created in conjunction with Sonja Lyubomirsky, a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Lyubomirsky studies human happiness and is the author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach To Getting the Life You Want.
“Our team has converted her particular program and research into a four-month program for our clients, where we sit down with them and deliver a proactive program for the clients,” Ansari told a panel at Fidelity’s Inside Track Conference in Manhattan in late October. “And it’s voluntary. Some people just say, ‘Just manage my money, don’t mess with my happiness.’ But it’s surprising how many people have come to these seminars and said, ‘Can I bring my neighbor? He’s not very happy.’”
Ansari calls it a practical way to implement Lyubomirsky’s research which, he says, surprisingly suggests that 50% of what makes you happy is set in stone—stuck in a person’s DNA and impervious to the effects of money. (In other words, you’re either a happy person or you’re not.) Another 10% of happiness is based on life circumstances, Ansari said.
But 40% can be managed and influenced by the things you do. “It’s called hedonic adaption. How as human beings we adapt to the good things and bad things, which is good for survival. There’s research that if you buy a new car you get a bump in happiness. But it only lasts for a very [short] period of time. Or when you get married you get a bump in happiness.” (That lasts for two years, he joked.)
But just sitting down on a weekend and writing out things a person should be grateful for and saying to somebody that you care about that you love them, “That’s what makes a difference,” Ansari said.
The four-month program starts with a four-hour class in which the firm shares Lyubomirsky’s research and then offers activities, a website and consultation with a “happiness coach.” About 100 of the firm’s 900 clients participate in the program, said Feroz Ansari, Moeez’s brother and a senior principal and portfolio manager with the firm.
For its efforts, the firm won Fidelity’s inaugural “Be Greater” Award in the category of firms with $250 million to $1 billion in total assets under management. Compak manages some $400 million.